A sani2c guide, with a little help from the Black Mambas

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A guide to the Sani2c

A sani2c guide, with a little help from the Black Mambas

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The KAP sani2c 3 day mountain bike stage race, with 265 kms of incredible riding from Underberg to Scottburgh in KZN, is one of the oldest, best loved stage races in SA. We put together a “sani2c 101” guide answering common questions from riders new to the stage racing scene.

We sought the input of a special group of riders, those who this year will gain “Black Mamba” status, the title given to sani2c riders who have completed ten events.

The idyllic setting of Glencairn Farm on the Sani Pass Road, where Registration and Day 1 happens

1. Where does sani2c take place?

Glencairn Farm is the location for the KAP sani2c Registration and Start. This picturesque sheep farm is on the Sani Pass road just outside Himeville, which is a few kilometres from Underberg in the staggeringly beautiful southern Drakensberg. For some, the logistics seem daunting, but “Farmer” Glen Haw and family have made it as simple as possible, by providing shuttle services from King Shaka Airport to Glencairn Farm, for you and your bike, or if you drive to Glencairn, you can book the car shuttle service from Glencairn Farm to the finish at Scottburgh, which is on the KZN South Coast. A host of volunteer drivers from the community drive cars to the finish – raising funds for Scottburgh High School, Underberg Primary School and Umkomaas Primary School, amongst others. Head straight home or book accommodation in Scottburgh for the night before taking the drive home.

2. What is the Trail, Adventure and the Race?  

For many years it was very difficult to get a sani2c entry, so much so that the organisers added a second event, and then a third. Over 5 days, three separate versions of the event take place: the Trail starts on a Tuesday, the Adventure starts on the Wednesday, and the Race starts on the Thursday. Simply put, the Trail is an excellent option for a newbie.

Make sure to pack your head lamp, a beanie and warm clothes for night time

Ian O’Byrne from Durban North sums up the difference between the Adventure and the Race: “I was talking to a friend who did the Race. He said that at 8.30 pm on the second day, he and his partner were lying in the tent discussing the race, and the guys around them were telling them to keep quiet as they were trying to sleep. On the Adventure at 8.30pm no one was in bed yet as we were all still in the pub partying until late.”

3. What are the facilities like in the race villages?

As a race that grew hugely and quickly due to its popularity, the event has had the means to establish permanent race village facilities at Glencairn and Jolivet (the race village after day 2). If you stay in the tented accommodation the night before the race, (some riders choose to stay in outside accommodation pre-race) you will find permanent showers and toilets at Glencairn that have been built by members of the local community who were trained in building and tiling thanks to sponsors Tile Africa. Hansgrohe provided the fittings, so you may find the shower facilities match the style and quality of your bathroom at home!

The permanent facilities at race villages ensures your comfort after a long day in the saddle

Massages and Physios are available and bike mechanics are on hand to help with unforeseen mechanical issues. Wifi is now available in all the chill zones so you can share your ride on social media or upload your ride to Strava.

Each evening there is a presentation where you can see highlights footage and photos from the day’s riding, and stage results are shared, and you can be sure to be entertained by the energy and passion of Farmer Glen.

4. What is the Umko Drop?

The sani2c route is made up of a staggering amount of single track and from Underberg to Scottburgh you are treated to a diverse range of scenery. The legendary Umkomaas Drop on Day 2 is a phenomenal 40km of descent, with handcrafted switchbacks taking you into the beautiful Umkomaas Valley.

Says Ian O’Byrne: “A major highlight is the drop into the Umko Valley. It’s  world class and the stuff of legends. Everyone talks about it like a rite of passage. If you haven’t done it, you are not a mountain biker!”

The legendary Umko Drop into the Umkomaas Valley is one of the many highlights of the KAP sani2c

It’s important to conserve your energies for the Iconic Climb out of the Valley and the kilometres that follow, taking you to the comforts of the Day 1 overnight at Mackenzie Club.

3. What should I pack in the black box?

You and your partner will each receive a big black box at Registration, for you to store all you will need over the three days. Each morning the boxes are packed in Supergroup trucks and transported for you to the race village.

Derrin Smith from Mid-Ilovo came sixth overall last year riding with dormakaba teammate Mike Posthumous. He says you should not forget to pack your headlamp, ear plugs and beanie, and suggests some newspaper which you can stuff into your shoes if they get wet.

Gerrit van Niekerk from Pretoria says: “After day two of my first sani2c in 2008 at the age of 62, I decided that I was too old for that kind of thing and would never do it again…now at the age of 73 I’m going for my tenth!”

The all-important black box – plan and pack well to make your ride an enjoyable one

His top tip when it comes to the black box: “Each morning of the race pack a bag with clean clothes and everything you need to shower right at the top of your box. You are too tired and dirty to try and find everything after the day’s riding.”

Watch this video below as Farmer Glen runs through his packing list for you


3. How much money should I bring?

It is said of the sani2c hospitality that you won’t need to use your wallet from the minute you register to after you cross the finish line at Scottburgh. All meals are included, and that means you will never want for anything – the chill zones have tea and coffee and refreshments available in between meal times, featuring treats such as the crunchies that riders rave about, made by local farming families and school volunteers.

The Race Village vibe can have you forgetting that you are in fact doing a very challenging ride!

There is a coffee truck in each race village – here you will need to pay for your own – and the beers are not on Farmer Glen! A cash bar is available and run by volunteers. All services in the race villages are provided by volunteers from schools and NGOs, and payment for their services goes directly to these organisations. Using this model to put on the sani2c each year has helped to build many a classroom and provide bursaries, but it has also built the sani2c community spirit that makes the event so special.

5. What should I carry with me on the bike?

Ian O’Byrne says: “Take as little to the race as possible, as Farmer Glen looks after you so well, you don’t need to carry extras. You can fill up your water every 30 km +/-.  I see so many newbies with carry packs on their back, carrying unnecessary weight.”

The event requires that you carry hydration packs or water bottles with a 3 litre capacity, but most riders feel that you need to carry very little because of the amazing water tables that offer an incredible range of nutrition too. Says Derrin Smith: “break your drinks and food up into sections and know how long it will take you to get to each point/the next water table, and take as much nutrition as is needed up to the next water table.  There is no point in packing a massive backpack with food and drink and lugging it past all the water tables. The water points are well equipped with everything you need.”

You don’t need to carry a full backpack of food, the water tables are stocked with nutritious food

The consensus amongst the Mambas is that you need only carry the essentials for your bike: “pack your basic spares, tube, bombs, plugs, tire lever, chain link and multi tool,” says Derrin Smith.

For any questions you may have about the KAP sani2c, please email [email protected]

You can still join the 2019 KAP sani2c for #morethanaride by entering the Trail or the Race at www.sani2c.co.za. The Trail version of the KAP sani2c is from 14-16 May, the Adventure is 15-17 May (all entries sold out) and the Race is 16-18 May. Otherwise, start training for 2020 and we’ll see you on the trails. Entries close on 6 May.

Source: Maryann Shaw Communications

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