Day two of the Freedom Circuit saw some much improved weather. The Sun came out to play which dried the roads quickly and lifted the spirits immensely.
Greg Blackwell was the 1st to leave CP 2. Nic S was not far behind and managed to catch up with him before the third checkpoint. Unfortunately Nic suffered some mechanical issues with the bearing on his front wheel seizing on the approach to Masakala. He was forced to wait a couple hours for a new front wheel end will then have to serve a further one hour penalty before leaving the final checkpoint for receiving outside assistance.
The Hillcrest trio of Sarah, Shaun and Greg were not far behind and they all left checkpoint three with Greg Blackwell and Mark Basel before lunch. Another long day for these 400 front runners as they made their way from checkpoint 2 all the way to the final checkpoint at Ntsikeni Lodge only arriving after midnight. We will have to wait to see if there is a dash to the finish line for race honours. It seemed as though Greg Blackwell’s decision not to sleep on the first night took its toll on the second night as his speed reduced significantly so he had a long night only arriving at Ntsikeni after daybreak.
Further back the 400 riders seem to be enjoying themselves a bit more in a better weather end most elected for a shorter day, about 65 km from Centocow to Flitwick. Andrew Pearson and Gerrit VD Merwe pushed through for another 70 km to sleep at Masakala. The Barkley brothers decided to short-course themselves and left Masakala around midnight with William du Plessis. The three were planning a big push through Ntsikeni all the way to the finish.
Enslin has been leading the 700 km race pretty much since the start. He was out of checkpoint three before noon for a massive push to CP4- Vuvu around midnight.
Peter Maritz also pushed through to Vuvu all through the night arriving just before 7am. Tim James spent some time recovering at Flitwick as he was struggling with nausea and then pushed through checkpoint three and chose leave the trail and sleep at Tinana. Ole departed CP3 at 2am leaving himself seven hours to make the 48 hour cut-off. Unfortunately he missed it by about 15 minutes in the end but he has elected to continue on the 700km route unofficially end hopefully he will still make it to the finish before 9am on Saturday, which will still give him an official 400km finish. He has shown amazing guts and determination, all the while with a massive smile on his face. Inspirational stuff.
The remaining 700 riders have all downgraded to the 400 km route so things should be busy at Masakala, St Bernards Peak Lodge and Ntsikeni tonight.
Casualties on the second day included Richard Kelly who withdrew between Centocow and Flitwick. Sieg Lange called it quits at Masakala.
Words: Chris Fisher
Pictures: Llewellyn Lloyd