We are just under two weeks away from the KAP sani2c, and with today being day 7 of the Old Mutual Joburg2c, the race now follows the KAP sani2c route that begins at Glencairn farm in Himeville, and sees riders pass through breathtaking scenery of KZN and down to the coast at Scottburgh, where both races finish.
We chatted to KAP sani2c Route Manager Andrew Houston to find out if there are any changes or surprises along the route this year, and it seems that his paddling experience is finding some influence on the job. Houston, age 25, has participated in seven Dusi Canoe Marathons and grew up around the sport.
Paddlers will be familiar with having a choice between two sections along the three-day Dusi Canoe Marathon route, and now KAP sani2c riders will be able to choose between “Iconic”, or the gentler but longer "Hlegabafasi", in order to ascend the Umkomaas Valley.
“We have an exciting new element this year, where we will be giving riders a choice between the Iconic climb, which is the gruelling climb out of the Umkomaas Valley on day 2, and a new section,” he says. We are offering an option of a gentler gradient throughout the climb, BUT it is slightly longer. We won't say how much, but we are hoping there will be seconds in it.”
The “Iconic” Climb was introduced last year to try and improve the experience for riders, taking them on a more adventurous, wilder path and along less district roads.
“The climb itself is brutal, short sharp bursts of pain halted by only a few short pedal strokes of release for what feels like an eternity. It is enjoyed more in hindsight for the riders, over a beer at Jolivet. If you can conquer Iconic without putting a foot down, you are a "beast" and deserve something to show for it. We give you a sticker!”, he chuckles.
The new section’s name "Hlegabafasi" means "laughing women" in IsiZulu, and is the name of the Hornbill bird that is seen in the valley. Race founder “Farmer” Glen Haw and Houston were out scouting the route when they heard the screeching laughter of the bird, and so the name stuck.
This option is only for KAP sani2c riders, the Old Mutual Joberg2c competitors will have no choice but to face the Iconic Climb on their day 8, without the option of the lesser gradient.
“The route is otherwise largely similar, with one or two slight changes from tree felling, and course our team has done what they can to try and let you go a little faster on the single track,” says Houston.
The innovative format of the KAP sani2c race sees the three-day route covered by three different groups of riders, with the Trail starting on 8 May and the Adventure beginning on 9 May. The Race, attracting local elite riders both local and international, sets off on 10 May, making the event the largest mountain bike race in South Africa.