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Equipment

 

Bike Recommendations

 

We advise using mountain bikes with at least 2.0” tyres . Gravel bikes are permitted but please be warned that the riding is very technical and rough in sections and only extremely skilled riders should even contemplate gravel bikes. Particularly on the 700km course.
 

GPS Navigation

 

There are no route markings. Riders are required to carry their own GPS devices (and keep them charged) for navigation and must follow the designated route. Riders must thoroughly acquaint themselves with the operation of their own GPS devices prior to the event. The final route will be sent out in both .GPX and .FIT formats 10 days prior to event start.

 

It must be noted that this event is not intended to replace any of the traditional Freedom Challenge events (where map and compass navigation is used) but rather offer a different kind of experience with different challenges, albeit on some of the same magical trails. 

Weather Expectations

 

Late April is generally a good weather window but cold fronts can pass through the area this time of year. Temperatures can drop below freezing at night and rise to mid 30’s (Celsius) during the day. There are occasional afternoon storms this time of year and riders should be prepared for all eventualities. 


Mandatory Equipment List

 

The following mandatory equipment must be carried by all riders for duration of the event. Random kit checks will be carried out and any rider not carrying mandatory gear item(s) may be immediately disqualified. 

 

  • Front and Rear lights

  • Helmet

  • Basic first aid kit - this includes bandages, antiseptic/sterile wipes, hydration salts, medication

  • GPS (for Navigation)

  • Mobile phone

  • Satellite tracker (provided by race organizer)

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Thermal layer (top)

  • Space blanket 

 

Advised Equipment

 

  • Riding Gloves

  • Winter Gloves

  • Thermal bottom layer

  • Lightweight shell

  • Waterproof bottoms

  • Thermal socks

  • Thermal headwear

  • Bivvy / tent / sleeping system

  • Dynamo hub and/or power bank

  • Bike spares

  • Water carrying system for minimum 3 litres

  • Water purification tablets/drops

  • Emergency food 

  • Extra space blanket or 2

 

Rider Safety

 

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, whilst riding through this area in Freedom Challenge events since 2004. People in this 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. For more info on the FCSC visit: https://freedomtrailfoundation.org

 

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: “Dumela” (“Good day” in Sesotho)

  • 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.

 

Snakes

 

There are around 25 types of snakes that live in the Southern Drakensberg Region and of those, only four are potentially dangerous. The Puff Adder, Berg Adder, Night Adder and the Rinkhals. Avoiding danger from these 4 snakes comes down to common sense and applying the rules of the bush. 

 

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. If you come across one of these four sakes, retreat slowly and quietly and remember that the Rinkhals can spit up to 3 metres. Do not try and chase it away, the consequences might be fatal. Generally snake bites are extremely rare in the Southern Drakensberg area, having said that, always be aware of the more dangerous species.

 

We advise doing some research on how to identify snakes in the Southern Drakensberg region and First Aid advice for snake bites.

 

Research portal: https://www.africansnakebiteinstitute.com

Vehicles

 

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

 

Emergencies

 

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. 

Tracking

 

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 when entering start chute.

Scratching

 

If a rider scratches from the race then it is essentially their own responsibility to get themselves off the race course. Race office will assist with logistics where possible and when convenient but any cost involved will be for the scratched rider’s account. Scratched riders' logistics are not a priority of race organisers and you may need to wait until event competition for evacuation. Scratched riders may still finish the course in their own time.

 

Race Rules

 

You are expected to ride in the spirit of self-reliance, integrity and equal opportunity. Rules in an event such as this are to try and keep the ‘playing field’ as fair as possible but rules are largely self-policed so there is no point in cheating as you are mainly cheating yourself. 

  1. ​Riders must follow the designated route 100% and must sign in/out at all checkpoints. There is a tolerance of max 100m on the (less precise) cattle track network sections. Riders may leave the course for resupply/medical/mechanical/accommodation but must return to the exact point of departure from the route to recommence their ride.
     

  2. If a rider leaves the route due to navigation error they must return to the exact point of departure from the route to recommence their ride in order to avoid penalty. If rider makes navigational error and does not return to point of departure from designated route they will receive a penalty of at least 3 times any time saved.
     

  3. No 3rd party support, private lodgings or resupply. All food and equipment must be carried from start or acquired at commercial services available to all riders. Rule of equal opportunity. Riders may receive assistance/spare parts/food/water from fellow riders. Riders may not see family, friends, personal supporters on the route.
     

  4. Riders must carry all mandatory equipment items for the entire duration of the ride. Any equipment left at a checkpoint is considered a donation and may not be collected later including any items left in re-supply tub.
     

  5. Riders must have a front facing light and at least two red rear facing lights on their bikes and/or bodies. All lights to have independent power sources. At least one front and rear light must be on from 6pm - 6am.
     

  6. Riders must wear bicycle helmet whilst cycling.
     

  7. Riders must keep their mobile phone on and be reachable for the duration of event.
     

  8. No doping (WADA Prohibited List 2020). Race organiser has the right to conduct random testing  and if a rider tests positive they will be disqualified and banned from event for life. 
     

  9. This is essentially an individual race but riding in groups/pairs is encouraged and there is no specific rule against drafting.
     

  10. If a rider breaks a rule they will be disqualified or given a penalty. Disqualified riders must leave the course. All penalties must be served at Final checkpoint (Ntsikeni) outside building after signing out. 

The race director and/or race referee will be responsible for enforcing the rules at their discretion. Any penalties/disqualifications may be appealed in writing within 72 hours of race finish and will be adjudicated by referee panel.