Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"My" Freedom Challenge

It's that time of the year again. Winter. Something I associate with biting cold, chapped hands, eating oranges by the dozen and the crisp silence of the Karoo nights. There is another iconic association that has crept onto that list. Meeting the Freedom Challenge riders.

Every year it's different, but usually a combination of cold, wind and rain along the route from Willowmore to Prince Albert make it a somewhat dreaded stretch. THAT road, 168km of relentless slog has a special surprise this year; sand and corrugations as they have not been in recent years. The road has become synonymous with the "Coffee Shop", but things have changed and now the site of the famous Annie's Cuca shop is deserted...........Annie you should know that Marnitz stood there and cried. He had ridden all the way and all he found was this.....

This section takes riders into the Western Cape (the name Koup is another story on it's own) and onto the psychological home stretch.

You Kouping ?

First rider I met was Glen. Singlespeed Gentleman Extraordinaire. I consider myself fortunate to meet people like Glen (and honoured to help sort out niggling technicals on his bike).

Exiting the mobile coffee shop

Fresh out of the Karoo Singlespeed Workshop

And then Ray, Mechanical Ray to some. The call came in to say he had a trashed rear gorilla but he was carrying a spare one (yes, I know the image of Ray riding along with a spare gorilla in his backpack may confuse some readers, but he was!) After trying to do the "over-the-phone" DIY number for a few minutes, I realised that Ray needed my help. 93km out on the road was another special meeting. Special for me and special for Ray. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to head out there, meet complete strangers and just click. One time. Thanks Ray.

Racing again...Mechanical Ray

Two Wheels. One Dark Lord
We cruciFix your bike
Anytime. Anywhere


  1. Dude - nothing darth vaderish about you. More an answer to a prayer for most!

  2. Guys like you make life worth while. Did not meet up with you when I went through there on my own on 29 April 2010, but hope we have better luck when I do the freedom challenge next year. You can foilow me on One Giant Challenge

  3. @Santacruzrulz: You're missing the chocolate filled pancakes at Julia's (it will rise from the ashes of Annie's Cuca shop in time for the Aussies)
    @Philip: Look forward to meeting you. Keep in touch johanndotrissikatgmaildotcom

  4. Dear Pearl,
    Thank you for the compliment. To those of you who don't read Japanese, it said "Reach Nursing and lonely 你的 無聊 喔 oil additive BLOG"
    Which is PearleY's way of saying: Don't forget the lube, brother.

  5. Johann,

    You are one of the Freedom Challenge legends that encompasses the spirit of this event. I will remember you for many years to come - respect and mucho thanks once again!

    Mechanical Ray

  6. Ray,
    Thank you for the compliment, but remember, YOU rode the distance!

  7. Hey, my name is Claire Poulin, my friend and are looking to do the full tour this november, all of the booking/reservation links on the website are down and the contact email doesn't seem to work, do you happen to know of who we might be able to contact? we'll be coming from the states and are hoping to book our tickets soon before the prices get too high, sorry to bother you on here, I just didn't know who else to contact. You can reach me @
    any info is very greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much and happy trails!

  8. Hey Claire,

    See you in November.
    You have my contact details.
    I look forward to meeting you.