Updated: Jul 10
Friday 9 July | 23h00
Sitting in Osseberg with tears running done his face it dawned on him that he was not going to make the 1300 gate. He was alone, the kind of alone you experience when you realize all the effort, pain and fighting to stay awake might have been for nothing…
This was Leon Erasmus in 2017, but this story can wait for another report.
I am not superstitious, in fact I believe things happen with a reason, always! That reason might, at that point and time, not seem fair, but looking back things sometimes make sense. For the rest I am going to have to wait for my Redeemer. Today at around 11:24 I felt the same feeling I had in 2017. Only this time it is not me but my, 2019 Freedom Brother, Fjord Jordaan. As I sit here writing this, I get all emotional and mad at the same time. He should have ridden faster he should, have stayed in Slaapkrans, he should have skipped Hadley… But I know he gave it his all to try and get away, that’s why he left Slaapkrans and its warm embrace. Chapeau!!!
I did not really watch or read any comments today as I needed time to reflect on this year’s rendition of the Freedom Challenge. It has been a year like none I have seen before. We lost the thoroughbred racers early and were left waiting to see if the leading contenders will make more squabbles in the dark. We had more sick people on the race than I can ever remember. We had almost every rider on the trail experience some kind of mechanical issue. And on day 9 of the racing batch, the race will be neutralized to restart tomorrow at 0600 at the Eastern Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve gate.
If you have only tuned in now this, is the summary at the sharp end. Alex Harris arrived in Pietermaritzburg as the favorite to take the race honors. His focus of improving the fastest known time (FKT) to Rhodes and then to carry on the see how it goes, seemed ambitious due to the lack of gear he had with him on the bike. Unfortunately, we were not afforded the opportunity to see if the minimalist kit list would be good enough. Alex pulled out in Malekgonyane after hurting his ribs in Nstikeni Reserve. Next was Chris van Zyl. After showing his intent in the first 5% of the race, he joined Gavin Horton, Fjord Jordaan and Carlo Gonzaga after getting lost in the Umkomaas Valley. They were christened the Muppets for their ability to get lost as soon as the stars woke. They split up in Rhodes with Carlo joining Casper and Axel, Gavin resting to recover form a chest infection and Chris and Fjord joining to ride to Slaapkrans. Slaapkrans became the final resting place of Chris van Zyl’s RASA, surrendering to the “tougherer” tests the Freedom Challenge expects of you.
Meanwhile Gavin rested for a day and came back stronger than ever, time trailing like a man on a mission. Gavin caught up a massive amount and will try a bold move in Mordor (aka Osseberg by day) to try and link up to his friend and fellow contender Fjord in Cambria. Casper Venter and Axel Poser paired up and rode very conservatively. This seemed to have helped Axel to be one of the 3 contenders as he rode himself into contention by joining Fjord in Cambria. Fjord made some strategic errors along his Freedom trail, but his decision to stay in Hadley will be most costly. He missed the 1300 Baviaans gate and will now restart his race tomorrow. The brothers Nigel and Adrian Payne started in the racing batch. Although never really planning to start here, they never gave us any reason to question their presence, as no one really set the pace normally associated with the racing snake label.
Fjord and Axel are in Cambria joined by Jason Wesson and RG du Toit. RG suffered a double calf muscle tear (he is unsure how this happened, but we all know the Ogres are rife and love calve muscles)
Roger and his Merry Men had an easier day today after arriving in Rouxpos at 23:30 last night. They had ‘n lie-in and rode to Montagu @ 07:30. Roger gave us same feedback: “Had a real epic FC day yesterday. Rain, 50-80km/hr wind and the worst mud (couldn’t even push our bikes tyres and cranks wouldn’t turn)…one of those epic FC days (including Die Leer). Rockfall has “disguised “ the start a bit…had fun, but there were some grumblings”
Kemsley Wood takes the Eland Whisper award as rider of the day. After arriving in Prince Albert at 18:00 he left the percale linen of Dennehof at 03:00 and rode to Anysberg. This after only stopping in Willowmore for two hours. He is showing some real intent to get home as soon as possible, well done Kemsley!!!
Derrick Bingham and Kevin Meier are by now snuggly wrapped up in their Dennehof duvets. They have been keeping within themselves and we will surely be enjoying their ride.
Sandy Inglis keeps on keeping on and will be resting in waffle-topia aka Rouxpos. He has been consistently consistent.
Pierre Singery, Derrick Muller, Andrew Green, Brett Andrew, and leading lady Sarah van Eeden have been riding together since Bucklands and are resting their weary bodies in Willowmore this evening.
Greg Perrett and Richard Cole are in the company of Hestelle and Rouxné at Dams-se-drif and should be rocking it tonight after a short stint from Cambria.
Charl van der Spuy, Greg Philps and Jan van de Putte are with Bennie and Anine in Hadley and will be treated to a Karoo meal and Aga Stove warmed kit tomorrow morning when they will attempt Osseberg (might wake up Gavin and the Ogres…)
Dr Kwaai (aka Casper Venter) his assistant the Harlequin (aka Carlo Gonzaga) are in Kleinpoort for a show attended by Merak and Oliver Greaves and Greg Fisher. Some news from the Casper and Carlo show: “While riding side by side Casper looked behind and strayed from his line which resulted in his handlebars interlocking with Carlos. Carlo came down hard damaging his helmet and doing some damage to his rig. A new derailleur hanger and aerobar screw replacement had them back on the road. Carlo has decided that he will not ask the RD if he can serve a 6-hour penalty for a riding partner replacement as he has become rather fond of Dr Kwaai.”
Gary Scoular is in Toekomst at the main house and not the lodge as previous years. He is still having issues with his tooth but it seems to be on the mend..
Scott and Victor were joined by Franci and Paul. They seem be to jo-jo-ing all day, but in the end will share Fietskraal’s hospitality tonight. Tomorrow they will cross the halfway mark and as sweepers will herd the flock to Diemersfontein.
At time of press, Gavin was still in Mordor dancing with the Ogres… to be continued.
Race pics | 9 July 2021 | Llewellyn Lloyd // Reblex Photography