Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Put your wheel on the line – It's Race to Cradock 2016 time.

The Race to Cradock (RTC) is the first Freedom Challenge event of the year. It's a great way to get the show on the road. Although, at 600km's, it is 100 km's longer than the Race to Rhodes (RTR), it is a faster race. I expect that the winner to Cradock this year will roll across the finish line at least 10 hours quicker than will the winner to Rhodes in June. Unless the weather intervenes significantly. In which case the margin will be even bigger – Bad weather in June trumps bad weather in March.

Last year, in the first edition of RTC, we saw how fast riders were able to cover ground. The transition times we had become accustomed to were blown away. A fresh pair of pistons out of Rhodes are a heck of a lot faster than a pair of secondhand legs that have been dragged over the Maluti's.

The added bonus to RTC is the lack of disparate strategies. RTR happens at the same time as the Race Across South Africa (RASA) so you have the short haul specialists riding alongside the real gladiators. The Cradock event has no such split. The goals and challenges are all the same. The talent is undivided. If you want to test your endurance mettle against your peers then it's the perfect event.

I anticipate the winning time will be under 48 hours. 48 hours is the key. It's tantalisingly short enough to invoke a nonstop strategy. Nonstop in that riders won't sleep at support stations but may power nap next to the road. Getting from Rhodes to Romansfontein requires a good 3 day effort for the average rider. I imagine bacon and eggs will be slipping down racing snake gullets as some riders cover that distance in a little over 24 hours.

But don't be overly distracted by the racing snakes. Enjoy them for the freak show that they are. Remember, endurance racing snakes can be found in specialty deli's rather than in family pack portions on supermarket shelves – they are in the minority. Fun and excitement abounds with every start day.

The navigational challenges of RTC are a lot easier than RTR but there have been some real pearlers on this section over the years and I don't expect that this year will be any different.

Oil your chain or stock up on popcorn. Whatever your involvement, it's going to be entertaining to the max.

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