Friday, June 06, 2014

Freedom Challenge-bound

The weather finally cleared so I took the bike, kit, and gadgets out for a spin this afternoon. Loaded bikes are always a bit of a downer in the beginning, but after a few days you get used to extra weight and the heft becomes your new normal — or so I keep telling myself.

This week has been unseasonably cold in Cape Town — there was a dusting of snow on the mountains this morning, and reports of 6 below (Celsius) just a little farther inland. I managed to get everything but water, electronics, and a select few items of clothing in my bike bags, and Liehann's friends marveled at how we might possibly stay warm with whatever was located in these seemingly small bags. There's actually a fair amount of winter layers and spare bike parts, as well as two bivy sacks that I can double up — as I also am genuinely concerned about becoming so lost that I have to spend a night out in -10C.

When we tell others about the Freedom Challenge, most inevitably ask about the training, and whether we feel fit for this journey that will involve anywhere from twelve to eighteen hours of riding per day. I've been fretting about everything else for so long now that the question catches me off guard. Fitness? Who cares? If I were to rank my concerns, the list would look like this:

1. Navigation
2. Mechanicals
3. Water availability
4. Nutrition/food availability
5. Weather
6. Crime
7. Fitness

Not that riding and pushing bikes all day on muddy doubletracks and eroded cattle trails is going to be easy in the least. I have a nervous pit in my gut, and these pre-race days are always the least fun of all the days. Liehann and I are setting out on Saturday morning to drive across the country to Pietermaritzburg.  As such, my blogging opportunities beyond this point will be slim to nonexistent. I wanted to post some links for tracking our progress, if friends or readers are interested:

Beat has been refining his "Slogtastic" software to create a tracking page for the Freedom Challenge. He even went through and drew in the route from an old GPS track and maps. I'm jealous because Beat  (and anyone else who clicks on the page) will have a better idea where I am than I will. The page is currently still in progress but should be posted soon at this link:

If that doesn't work, my direct location page is here:

I likely will have no opportunities to update my blog during the journey, but I will post occasional text updates via my Delorme InReach to my Twitter page:

Official Freedom Challenge site:


  1. Good luck Jill! Can't wait to hear the stories and see the pictures you came back with!

  2. Dang, I was hoping you'd have some magical (Beat) way to blog during this adventure. Will follow you as best we can via the links.

    Ride long and prosper....and stay warm.

  3. As always, looking forward to following you on your latest adventure, reading about it afterward, and seeing your always well-composed, striking photos. Good luck and grand adventure!

  4. Best wishes for a safe adventure and improved weather. Happy cycling!!!
    I loved your previous post but it wouldn't let me comment. Amazed at how you managed to exit the park.


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