This is where the magic is……The Freedom Challenge

Becky Sands Freedom Challenge

This is where the magic is……

Climbed to Everest Base Camp

36ONE

TransBaviaans

Cullinan 2 Tonteldoos

Cycles > 10 000km/Year

Everesting : Hall of Fame Hells 500

Freedom Challenge – Race to Craddock

Freedom Challenge – Race to Willowmore

Freedom Challenge – Race to Rhodes

……………outside of your comfort zone!

To live a remarkable life, you must take consistent action in spite of your fears and doubts, the pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

Becky Sands is an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a mother, a mountain biker, a free spirit who has a passion for long distance riding, free of the “group race for time” mindset.

Freedom Challenge
Becky Sands Freedom Challenge

A chance meeting at a race in Sondela sparked a burning interest in a unique a race with the hashtag #AdventureGuaranteed!

A race with 8 Golden Rules;

No motorized transport, Carry your own kit, No outside support, Impeccable behaviour, No Fires, No Doping and no demanding accommodation or food outside those supplied by the race organizers.

A race with no stages, only a start and a finish.

A race in which the finishers are awarded a whip, or a wire bead statue or a blanket.

This race is the Freedom Challenge!

The Freedom Challenge races are non-stop, unsupported mountain bike races along the entire Freedom Trail or sections thereof. The Freedom Trail runs from Pietermaritzburg to Diemersfontein Wine Estate, Wellington

  • Race Across South Africa (RASA) Pietermaritzburg to Diemersfontein Wine Estate, Wellington
  • Race to Rhodes (RTR) Pietermaritzburg to Rhodes
  • Race to Cradock (RTC) Rhodes to Cradock
  • Race to Willowmore (RTW) Cradock to Willowmore
freedom challenge
Freedom Challenge Batch

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”

Arthur C. Clarke

Becky enjoys pushing her limits, having spent time in Tibet trekking to base camp Everest in 2015.

Everest

When describing her love affair with the races in the Freedom Challenge, she has completed the Race To Cradock, Race To Rhodes and Race To Willowmore, she describes the experience as “it’s completely fresh, you have no one near you”

Freedom Challenge
Becky looking out over the beautiful isolated landscape

According to Becky her first Freedom Challenge the RTR was the most amazing experience, the isolation in the most scenic landscape, the reliance on your own skills, physical and psychological, the navigating by maps, spending vast amounts of time looking for tyre tracks, hiking and carrying your bike over fences and up rocky hills and the hospitality of the local landowners most of whom rarely see mountain bikers yet are so welcoming, opening up their humble homesteads, even boiling water so that you can wash under the Milkyway.

Freedom Challenge
Trekking over rocks

All this… who would not fall in love.

The Race To Rhodes was Becky’s first experience of the Freedom Challenge, she roped Sean Brown from the Pain Cave into the adventure and so began the first of three races.

Sean and Becky with RTR Whip

Having completed three of the Freedom trails, Becky describes “each race as having a different character”, the terrain,the challenges, the temperatures. The Race to Willowmore and Race to Cradock take place in March, which have warmer temperatures compared to the temperatures experienced in June and July.

RTR2019
RTR 14 June 2019 Freezing Conditions Image from Freedom Challenge

The Freedom Challenge races are non-stop, unsupported mountain bike races along the entire Freedom Trail, that means you have to carry everything you need on your person or on your bike. You are allowed to refresh your resources every 200 km however everything has to fit into a 2 L ice cream box.

So every 200 km your pre packed 2 L ice cream tub awaits you… Some of Becky’s essentials in her ice cream tub are Lindt chocolate, bombs, tubes, newspaper and vegetarian snacks.

Bike of choice – at the Race to Cradock Becky selected to ride a hardtail, to limit mechanical issues. In Becky’s RTR they had to walk 8 km into Rhodes after a side wall cut, which they could not repair.

Cycling, walking, climbing some of the skills required to complete the Freedom Challenge

The races are tough with mechanical issues often delaying estimated travelling time.

One of the key features of the Freedom Challenge is the navigation, we are so reliant on GPS that developing map reading skills and travelling through the landscape looking for signs and land marks adds an adventurous aspect to the race. Becky laughs as she mentions that map reading is not one of her best skills, and that often you can head off in the wrong direction and have to track back, taking hours to get back onto the correct trail.

Freedom Challenge Map reading skills

Map reading skills or the lack there of often result in “unintended detours”, taking races way off course.

The route is physically taxing, requiring not only riding skills but overall body strength and resilience, many fences need to be climbed and terrain is harsh with rocks that need to be traversed, lifting your bike  is an essential skill.

Not your average fence, pretty high !

Becky selected to not ride at night because navigating and looking for key features in the landscape is really limited. Sleeping at the overnight stops is often challenging with extreme fatigue and rough conditions making it difficult to fall asleep.

I asked Becky if she had felt unsafe at anytime during her journey as a woman. “Never!”, “You are isolated in a beautiful country and barely see any people, the local people that you do bumped into, look at you strangely, why would you be cycling in this area”

A scheduled hour coffee meeting flew by and we ended up chatting for close to 2 hours, the energy and excitement Becky brings to her story telling makes you want to head out into the wild and experience the thrill of the Freedom Challenge.

Only a handful of women participate and complete the Freedom Challenge, Becky Sands is a role model showing that more women should follow in this amazing journey. The Race To Rhodes is currently underway with the Race Across South Africa about to start. Follow all the live tracking of these adventurers at www.freedomchallenge.org.za

As a Dot Watcher (someone who lives through the experiences of the riders by following them on live tracking) of the Freedom Challenge I am reminded that…

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” — Brian Tracy

As a woman and a mountain biker, imagine yourself riding a bike, the wind whipping against your face. Freedom of the open road. A cool breeze sending chills down your spine. When was the last time you actively sought to push your limits?

With three Freedom Challenges completed the BIG one awaits Becky… RASA!

Becky aims to race in Lesotho towards the end of the year and has her sights on the RASA.

Becky’s Instagram handle https://www.instagram.com/beckysands45/?hl=en