Personal Safety from Crime
South Africa is a developing country and infamous for its crime rate. Participants must be aware that personal safety should be a concern and you should take precautions so as to not put yourself at any additional risk. That said, we have barely had an incident worthy of reporting Freedom Challenge started since 2004. People you will encounter area are generally very friendly and welcoming towards cyclists, particularly since the inception of the Freedom Challenge Scholarship Fund, an initiative that helps provide promising kids in the area with an improved education and head start for a better life.
We advise the following safety precautions for your consideration:
Ride in groups or pairs where possible
Stay vigilant when approaching people or groups
Communicate early to local people that you are friendly with a polite wave, smile and preferably a greeting in the local language:
Zulu - "Sawbona" Hello
Sesotho - "Dumela" Good day
Xhosa - "Mholo" Hello
If in any doubt, then cross the road or take as wide a birth as possible around bystanders
Try to avoid stopping at rural taverns for water / re-supply
Try avoid any prolonged interactions with inebriated people (often loitering around taverns)
You may choose to carry pepper spray for self-defence but we recommend this only be used as a last resort if your personal safety is at risk
Do not flash large sums of cash, electronics or jewellery when stopping in local villages
Try find secluded places to camp / sleep off the road and out of site from passers-by
Please be polite and courteous when asking advice or for water
Threat from Dogs
You will encounter dogs on the route and they can be a bit unwelcoming at times. If you are unable to confidently outride the dog then the best course of action is to stand your ground and shout loudly at the dog to go away. These rural dogs can be unfriendly but they are almost always submissive to your assertive commands.
It is always advisable to get vaccinated against rabies if you take part in these sorts of events regularly.
There are between 130 and 160 different species of snakes in South Africa. Most of them are not dangerous to humans. However it is not a good idea to try and disturb them or pick them up as this is when snake bites most often occur. Read tips on what to do if you encounter a snake.
Remember that these snakes live here and play a vital role in our ecosystem and will only try and bite you if they feel threatened. Do not try and chase it away, the consequences might be fatal. Generally snake bites are extremely rare, having said that, always be aware of the more dangerous species including (but not limited to):
Puff Adder and Berg Adder
We advise doing some research on how to identify snakes in the South Africa region and First Aid advice for snake bites.
Research portal: https://www.africansnakebiteinstitute.com
Even though this route is very much “off the beaten track”, vehicles are probably still your biggest threat. As cyclists you will likely be very aware of this threat by now but please be reminded:
Ensure you have forward and rear facing lights
Reflectors on bike, helmet and outer wear are also highly advised
Lights to be on from 6pm till 6am at the minimum, preferably always when on vehicular roads
Always ride on the extreme left hand side of road
Never assume the driver of a motorised vehicle has seen you
All riders must be carrying a first aid kit and assist other riders with first aid should they require help. There is a race medic on the route but the course spans a large, often inaccessible area so first aid is essential. There is also a race doctor on call for telephonic consults and medical advice.
Race office will be on call 24/7 to receive calls regarding emergencies and get medic or assistance to you ASAP. If you have an emergency outside of mobile reception then the satellite tracker can be used to notify race office and/or medical response teams that you require help.
Emergency protocol will be discussed in more detail during race briefing.
Satellite tracking using SPOT gen3 satellite trackers is included in your entry fee. Riders must ensure trackers are switched on and skyward facing for the duration of the ride. If you have an emergency outside of mobile reception then the satellite tracker can be used to notify race office and/or medical response teams that you require help. Spectatorship tracking will be via https://maprogress.com
Trackers will be issued at race registration. Tracker mounting and operation will be communicated in race briefing and tracker mounting will be checked on the start line.