Friday, 20 March 2015
Almost ready for Race to Cradock
Friday morning. Tomorrow I load my bike into the car and drive down to the sleepy hamlet of Rhodes in the Eastern Cape. From there I will join the tail end of a steady stream of riders making their way to Cradock. Tail end in two ways. Riders depart Rhodes in small batches every day for four days starting yesterday. My batch on Sunday is the last. The last day is typically reserved for those who want to race hard and the race winner is most likely to come from that batch. I am without question the slowest rider in that batch so will be the sweeper right out of the start gate. My batch has two previous Freedom Challenge record breakers and winners in Tim James and Alex Harris. Then we have Robbie McIntosh known primarily for his exploits on a road bike (particularly in time trials) is no slouch on a mountain bike and if memory serves has partnered Tim on the Absa Cape Epic. The last of the racing snakes is Casper Venter. I don't know his pedigree but do know he is fit and fast. My only hope of company was Allen Sharpe who has had to withdrawn with an arm injury.
The format is non-stop covering a distance just shy of 600 kilometres. There are support stations spaces roughly every 100km's and while they supply food, water, showers and beds they are entirely optional except that you must sign in and out at each.
I rode the route last week over 6 days and it is fairly straight forward. As such, it doesn't play to my strength which is navigation. For example the route to the first support station entails just 7 turns - 4 left and 3 right. The others in my start batch are going to spit it out in no time at all. I expect I will be an hour slower than the fastest rider to Slaapkranz.
Bike is finally patched together. It's looking a bit like an Oxfam hand me down but I have all confidence it will get the job down.