As the remaining riders march westwards towards the finish, the good weather continues along the trail. After today’s large batch of finishers, there are now more riders across the finish line than still out on the trail. Those that remain are: Gary (Batch 7),  had another short day out on the trail, riding from Prince Albert to Gamkaskloof and enjoying the perfect weather along the way.


Tim and Didi (Batch 5), who left Rouxpos this morning, passed through Anysberg on their way to Montagu. After a short stop there, they continued on towards McGregor, where they will arrive for a late supper.


Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3), Estelle and Wikus (Batch 4) all rode through from McGregor to Trouthaven today. Leaving early meant they arrived by lunchtime and could spend the afternoon resting and relaxing before the hike up Stettynskloof tomorrow.


The large group that left Stettynskloof this morning included father and son Pierre and Leonard, Kobus (Batch 6), Carl, Russell, Paul, Mark and Sean (Batch 5), as well as Graham (Batch 4) - first to arrive at Diemersfontein were Pierre and Leonard, followed by the trio of Carl, Paul and Russell, then Sean and Mark - all making it to Diemersfontein before dark. The remaining two, Graham and Kobus took a bit longer to get out of the kloof and ran out of daylight on the last tricky descent off Du Toits Kloof Pass but they eventually figured it out and were happy to finally cross the finish line.



A large group of riders crossed the finish line at Diemersfontein yesterday, among them a mix of trail veterans and rookies alike. Each had their own stories to tell of the highs and lows over the last three weeks spent riding the Freedom Trail. Charl vd Spuy earned his second Finisher’s Blanket, posting his quickest finishing time to date of 16d7h10min. For Ingrid Avidon, this was Blanket number three, her finishing time of 16d8h55min was the second fastest ever for a lady. Nigel Payne earned his second Blanket, also posting his quickest finishing time to date of 18d11h40min. For trail rookies Bruce Koller and Lance Rorich, it was their first Blanket each, both in a time of 19d9h15min. Andrew Walker also received his first Finisher’s Blanket in a time of 21d9h15min. For trail veteran Chris Morris, this was Blanket number four, in a finishing time of 20d9h12min.








More good weather, with sunshine and dry roads meant the march towards the finish continued in earnest:


Gary (Batch 7) left Willowmore late last night in an attempt to double through Prince Albert and make up some time - unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan and he had to take shelter in a farm house due to freezing overnight conditions. He tried to go early again but in the end settled for Prince Albert as his stopover tonight.


Tim and Didi (Batch 5) left Prince Albert in the dark on their way to Gamkaskloof in the hopes of doubling up to Rouxpos today. Things seem to have worked out better for them and they are on track to reach Rouxpos later this evening. 


Estelle and Wikus (Batch 4) slept over at Anysberg last night and got going early for Montagu, then later continued to McGregor for tonight, arriving just by late afternoon.


Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3) started their day at Rouxpos, leaving really early and ticking off some tricky navigation in the dark on the way to Anysberg. They then continued to Montagu and after a brief stop, got going again for McGregor, where they are staying tonight.


Graham (Batch 4), Kobus, Pierre, Leonard (Batch 6), Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) and Mark and Sean (Batch 5) all left Montagu this morning and had a fairly relaxed ride through to McGregor in ideal conditions. After a brief pitstop there, they all continued to Trouthaven, arriving just before dark for beers and a braai - tomorrow the last hurdle of Stettynskloof awaits.


Chris (Batch 3), Andrew W (Batch 2), Bruce and Lance (Batch 4) all took on Stettynskloof today on their way to the finish. They worked well together as a group and made good time up the kloof, reaching the exit around lunch time - from there it was a relatively easy ride down to Diemersfontein and a well deserved finish for them all.


Ingrid and Charl (Batch 7) took on Stettynskloof in the pre-dawn darkness and were well up the kloof by first light. This meant that they were able to exit before lunch time, after which Charl blitzed through to the finish on his own, arriving just after lunch. Ingrid had no issues in the kloof but took a wrong turn on the descent off Du Toits Kloof pass and ended up getting to the finish via a circuitous route through Paarl. But she made it and adds another Blanket to her collection.


Nigel (batch 5) left Trouthaven with the others this morning but took a wrong turn off the path early on and ended up on his own in the kloof for the rest of the day. Taking a high line out of the kloof gave him some great views of the recent snows but it definately wasn't a quicker option. He finally rolled across the finish line just before dark, to earn his second Finisher’s Blanket.




Mark Basel completed his first Freedom Challenge when he arrived at Diemersfontein last night. His only previous experience was doing the Spring Ride to Rhodes and for a RASA rookie he had a remarkably composed and calculated ride. Having spoken to previous Blanket Wearers during his preparation, he had done his homework and was well prepared. Once out on the trail, he enjoyed the challenge of navigating everyday and the diverse landscapes but the highlight was definitely the hospitality of the hosts along the trail. He earned his first Blanket with a finishing time of 19d13h45min - well done Mark.



It was a beautiful day out on the trail today, with the weather clearing and the sun coming out for the first time in a few days. This allowed most of the riders to make good progress along the trail:
Gary (Batch 7) wasn’t in any particular rush today, so after a leisurely start from Dam se Drif, he arrived in Willowmore just after lunch and settled in for the afternoon.
Tim and Didi (Batch 5) took on the long road to Prince Albert today, fortunately the weather was kind to them with no pesky headwinds, so they got to enjoy a beautiful day out in the Karoo.
Estelle, Wikus (Batch 4), Mandy and Sarah (Batch 3) all left Gamkaskloof this morning and enjoyed a crisp, clear morning going up the Ladder on their way to Rouxpos - Wikus and Estelle pushed on to Anysberg for the night, while Mandy and Sarah stayed at Rouxpos.
Graham (Batch 4), Kobus, Pierre, Leonard (Batch 6), Carl, Russell and Paul (Batch 5) and Mark and Sean (Batch 5) left Rouxpos after a hearty breakfast this morning and enjoyed a blissful ride through to Anysberg before pushing on to Montagu for tonight - there was talk of having a night on the town tonight and were headed to the local steakhouse for dinner.
This morning Grant (Batch 4) was still in McGregor after spending yesterday trying to recover from his illness - unfortunately there was no improvement and had to withdraw from the race  today.
Ingrid, Charl (Batch 7) and Nigel (Batch 5) spent last night at Montagu and today rode through via McGregor to Trouthaven - there they joined Chris (Batch 3), Andrew W (Batch 2), Bruce and Lance (Batch 4), who had all ridden through from McGregor today. So tomorrow there will be a veritable army marching up Stettynskloof to wards the finish.
Mark (Batch 3) was the lone rider coming up Stettynskloof today - he got an early start which helped and made it out of the kloof well before dark. The descent off Du Toit’s Kloof Pass proved a bit more tricky in the dark but he persevered and eventually rolled across the finish line just before 8pm.

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