by in Qhubeka

This Thursday (18/10) was incredibly special for me, I got to hand out the Qhubeka bicycles that were raised through my completion of the Freedom Challenge. The handover was in conjunction with Wildlands and Qhubeka to a group of treeprenuer recipients in the Buffelsdraai area north of Durban. 200 bikes were handed over, and I had the honour of making a small presentation to the community.

These bikes will assist adults in getting to their workplace, and more importantly the children to get to school quicker and more efficiently than walking. Too often sports people raise money through their efforts without a true indication of how much of that money gets to the community on the ground – in this instance the bicycle were very evident and handed out in front of our eyes.

Thank you MTN and Qhubeka for allowing me to combine my Freedom Challenge journey with this fantastic initiative.

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My race video…..

22 Oct
by in Race Updates

Finally after plenty of procrastination I got round to editing the hours of footage from my Freedom Challenge race. The process brought back fantastic memories, I just hope my very amateurish videos can do the race the justice it deserves – enjoy:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Part 9:

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Finish photos

07 Jul
by in Race Updates

More to come…..



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by in Race Updates

Wow, were do I start…….

Andre and I rolled into Diemersfontein Wine Estate (RASA finish) at 1:45pm this afternoon, making my race time 19 days – 7 hours – 45 mins. The final day is all about Stettynskloof, a very rocky a steep portage (majority carrying bike) for 8km that should take anywhere between 4-6hours. Andre needed to be in at the finish by 3pm to secure 6th spot so we were on a proper race strategy. Strict departure ate 6pm so that we hit the portage start at first light at 7pm.

Our nav through the stricky lower section went very well and fortunately the threatening weather at the start of the day cleared. The key to this kind of terrain is to keep a constant steady pace with short sharp breaks if required. At the take out we opted for the steeper but shorter earlier ravine on the right, then doubled back around the rear of the ridge to the jeep track……for us novices this turned out to be a wise call and made up further time……we intersected the jeep rack at 11:43, dead on for the sub 3pm pace. Lifted by our cunning ascent of the legendary Stettyns we pushed hard over the final 50km incl Du Toits pass (which for our legs now seemed like a minor crest) and flew down the valley into Diemers. We did stop to toast our happiness at the top of Due Toits with 2 mini Red Bulls…not that we needed any wings.

We arrived so early ahead of schedule that both families were caught of guard, but the reunion with all was fantastic, even on the second lap of the dam 🙂

Riding with Andre since Tenana has been a wonderful learning experience and really helped me to push my boundaries that much further and take confidence in my ability, on top of that he is a world class gentleman and someone who I would gladly call a friend.

Finishing an epic adventure is always a surreal feeling, however over the closing days I have plenty time to mull over the key emotions I have experienced and what makes this race so special:

  • This race is raw, there is no candy coating or kid gloves here…….the race organisers are as tough as they come, and in that integrity lies the root of what makes this the hardest race in SA
  • The folk that do this race do not do it for the branded kit…..this is a very inwardly focused event, that generates a level of respect from a select few that have also left pieces of themselves strewn across South Africa. This is humbling, and trait found very rarely in our sports landscape these days
  • The people of this country that live outside of our ‘metro’ zones are the heart of this land. Their generosity and genuine desire for us to suceed is inspiring. To spend just one night with each one of these families/communities is a privilidge that few get to experience
  • The ability for the human body and brain to focus in on a single purpose then fragment that into a succession of milestones that must be overcome is staggering. If that power could be harnessed on a greater scale across a wider populas image the possibilities….
  • We are all fallible, and without the ‘safety net’ of friends/family/faith our achievements would not be as lofty or audacious
  • We live in the MOST beautiful and varied country, and exploring it on 2 wheels under your own power is about as pure as it gets!

Lastly a huge thanks to Meryl, David, Glen and Andrew for putting together this incredible experience……I am proud to be a RASA finisher member and will long be in your gratitude for facilitating this journey of a lifetime.

I have been filming a documentary along the route, so will be editing that and posting soon, plus enriching the blog posts retrospectively with pictures… check back soon.

Cheers, Jody

2012 Freedom Challenge, Race Across South Africa Finisher

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by in Race Updates

So can you believe that today was the penultimate day of my Freedom Challenge, but as everyone always says….there is no easy day on this route. In a way the days riding was a synopsis of the entire race: long days riding – 161km’s, a minimum 2 hour portage, tricky nav around Kasra, district road head winds, and breathtaking scenery.

I opted to sleep in at Montagu, so only departed at 7ish….then got totally engulfed by the beauty of the winelands and dawn, so the net result was only getting into McGregor at 10am. Here I finally indulged my craving of 2 weeks – a chocolate Sterie Stumpie. Bliss.

The pull over the mountain into Kasra via some demanding navigation was actually enjoyable on my own, as finally my narrative deduction skills are getting on par. At the Kasra stop the ladies laid on a fine spread with the best oxtail stew I have ever had. The portage out of Kasra was included in the Epic one year and received massive criticism – but to us it was all standard practice and does not feature in the top half of obstacles.

The run into Dwarsberg Trouthaven took forever and due to my slow start I was chasing the sum proper…..I lost, just as a went through the Brandvliet Prison area in its isolated setting betting the Dwarsberg and the massive dam below. Nothing gets you pedalling quicker that that chill through your spine as you pass and unsavoury area alone at night on a bike.

Waiting at Trouthaven was my long lost pal Andre, who just missed the window to attack Stettynskloof in last light. It is fantastic to know that we will ride the final day together tomorrow……but best of all is the thought that I get to see my wife and parents. This has been in incredibly fulfilling journey for myself, but my partnership with her is what I cherish above all else.

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by in Race Updates

Today was one of those where your preconceived ideas of a stage are way off base.

After the finish of yesterdays section I was expecting more of the same, undulating quick district sections…..particularly after the narrative stated “well done, you have now started the run down into CPT”. First off the cold front swept in bringing some lovely on the nose headwind, and secondly I underestimated the difficulty of the Anysberg section.

I set off at a rather late 6:30 and fought headwinds for 50km to the Anysberg gate, from there the majority of riding was on cobbled or sandy riverbed – proper energy sapping stuff. Fortunately my nav is improving and riding alone with very few breaks eventually made it to the Anysberg Cottages overnight stop at 1pm. After heating some stew and drinking close to a litre of long life milk I set off. For 30 odd km the wind died down and I made excellent progress. Naturally my mind drifted towards jumping Montagu on to McGregor or Kasra, but as I cleared onto the plateau for the last 50km the wind again picked and so did the nagging achilles pain.

I settled back knowing that now my arrival on Friday had been sealed and took the time to soak up the descent and arrival into what feels lile metropolis of Montagu.

I would have liked 19 days but its the finishing that counts and was not prepared to go into the red zone now over 1 day.

My wife arrived in CPT this evening, so I am so excited to have her ‘nearby’.

Todays ride was 146km with 2000m of alt gain, taking just under 11.5 hours.

Tomorrow takes us to Dwarsberg/Trouthaven approx 145km. Weather looks better.

Bike and body hanging in there, both starting to creak rather badly, but not surprising…..stay tuned!


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by in Race Updates

Today was a superb day for me. I dealt with some self doubt issues and came through more positive than ever.

After my bodies implosion between Willowmore and Prince Albert I had fears that this was the slide backwards and a hang tough to the finish.

However the added sleep and space for me to apply my mind as a lone rider culminated in one of the most rewarding days I have had on a bike. My legs actually got stronger as the day went on, and I had a clarity of mind that was last seen in Allendale.

The route today played a massive role in my improved well being….i am a huge fan of mountainous expanses, and ‘Die Hell’ is the definition. The magnitude of this landmass is astounding, and the fact that we climb up and in – run the ravine – then hike out the top end is a privilidge of note. Thank you David W….I know this section is a touchy one but from a riders perspective we a extremely appreciative that you continue to fight for our cause.

In terms of numbers, todays ride was 128km long, took 11h25m, and climbed a massive 3420 metres alt gain. Whats even more impressive is that I only have 377km to go to the finish.

Given that there is a 7 hour portage very near the finish that must be attempted in daylight leaves me with some interesting options. Go hard tom for 230km to Kasra, then very early push for Diemersfontein…..or stick to the sensible 3 day in on Friday plan. All will be decided a Montegu tomorrow.

I feel like I am now in the Cape, and that alone has lifted my spirits…..but the thoughts of wife and family are still my biggest driving force to that very special wine farm.

PS. Andre, I am thinking of you bud as you ride through the night…..what a legend!

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Speed wobbles….

02 Jul
by in Race Updates

Riding out of Williowmore at 11:45pm after just had ‘breakfast’ was not only fantastically un natural but incredibly exciting.

The first 30km past fairly quicky, but then we made a nav blunder which meant doubling bacl at least 10kms. Whilst this was going on the temp was plumetting… 5am I was falling asleep on the bike and totally numb. Emergency recovery immediately stepped in and we knocked on the door of a local farm hand and family. We sat/slept next to the inside fire for 2 hours to recouperate, then were on pur way.

We managed to finish the Willow to Prince Albert 170km section in 15 hours. Due to the nav and my wheels falling off Andre missed his window to push on into Gamkaskloof.

After a long chat we agree that me opting to drop off this pace is better otherwise a complete blowout is on the cards which coulf lead to a DNF. I have learnt a great deal from Andre and we be sad to see him press on earlie on his own tom morning, he is an absolute gentlemen!

150km Gamkaskloof and Die Hell lies ahead but I am going back tp my day 1 routes of pottering along and soaking up the freedom trail….

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by in Race Updates

The initial nostalgia of having the entire valley route to yourself bathed in near full moonlight at 3am wore off by 5am when weet feet plus cold equals grumpy riders.

Its a long big slog out the valley when we reached Damsedrift support station…thankfully Moira tumble dried our socks dry whilst we kipped in the sun for 45min. With 84km down we still had another 91km to make it to Willowmore.

This section is a long series of climbs and turns before settling put on the plain. With toasty feet we made good time at hit the sleepy little Willowmare at 5pm, a 14.5 hour day.

My fearless racing snake partner Andre is now concocting more jumps, so we are going to sleep from 7pm to 11pm then hit the road and ride through the night…….eish, wish me luck!

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Up and over……

30 Jun
by in Race Updates

Today we left Bucklands at the usual 5am, but despite the rilliant scenery had a tough day.

The effects of the ‘jumping’ starting to take its toll. The start of the day entailed a wide route skirting around the northern foothills of the Baviaans range, then assaulting two deep ravines then dropping into the canyon of Baviaans. The preceeding ravibes were very tough going….hot and difficult terrain to ride.

Once reaching the crest after a 30 min nap under a tree we descend the faous Osseberg Jeep track. I have read so much about this erroded steep drop off that it was rather surreal to be on it, and managed to ride 95% of it.

This bought us time for the next obstacle, wading across thing deep river crossings with bike on back no less than 11 times. Fortunately ee just cleared the last crossing as the sun set.

Near the main gate we settled into our accomm at Kudu Kaya were we are busy changing chains, pads etc.

110km day in 14 hours.

We are pushing hard tom up the valley and beyond so its a 2am start.

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