The 2021 KAP sani2c was one of the best editions of the event yet, with perfect weather and trails in top condition, along with nail-biting racing at the front end of the Race. Three intrepid riders, now known as the Black Mamba Legends, have done every single sani2c (riders who finish the KAP sani2c ten times earn the title of Black Mamba). Flavio Scarpa from Scottburgh, George de Beer from Durban and Grant Macpherson from Hillcrest, were bitten by the sani2c bug in 2005, and have now each completed the event 17 times.
George and Flavio shared with us some of the top reasons to take on the challenge of KAP sani2c.
There is little doubt that the descent into the Umkomaas Valley on day 2, nicknamed the Umko Drop, is one of the major attractions of sani2c. As Flavio says: “This is probably the best 25kms of riding as a mountain biker you want to do, it’s exhilarating. When you imagine that the whole trail has been hand-cut out of the side of the mountain...the ride and the scenery is breathtaking.”
“It’s amazing, I’ve done many mountain bike races all over the country, and that drop is still number one,” says George.
The three race villages, at Glencairn Farm before stage 1, at Mackenzie Club after stage 1 and at Jolivet Farm after stage 2, are known for their hospitality and abundant food and snacks. The facilities have evolved over the years and now accommodate up to 1500 riders, with permanent hot showers and structures to cater for mealtimes. With the decision to now cap entries at 1000 riders per event, the race villages are spacious and comfortable.
“The race villages have absolutely everything, there is nothing that you are short of, and I think that if you were to mention something that you felt was missing, next year it will be there, it’s just brilliant. The chill zones…. you can’t describe it, once you have done sani2c, you just don’t get enough of it,” says Flavio.
George says: “To have something at such a scale and everything works like clockwork, it’s such a pleasure. The farmers and the locals are involved and everything is there that you need, they take your bicycle and wash it, it’s just excellent.”
sani2c founder ‘Farmer’ Glen Haw, says that the route is king: “It doesn’t matter if everything else is perfect, if the trails are not great it detracts from the experience. Even though our trails are established we find ways to improve every year, and our trail building teams take great pride in the work that they do.”
George says: “sani2c is something I will come back to every year. There are many races I can just go and do without really training, but sani2c is a challenge and you can’t get away with no training. I love that challenge. The scenery, how it changes from up in the Berg, down to the sea, and the weather, it’s like it starts in winter and it ends in summer at the sea. The forests we go through, the plantations, the sugar cane fields, you get a bit of everything in the race.”
Flavio says: “The route is challenging in places, and there is fast and flowing single track. Every year they try to enhance the route. Like this year, they took out one of the hills to go around the mountain instead of up it on one section. The Mtagati coastal bush section on day 3 was amazing, the trail was clear and brilliant.”
sani2c is run on a community model - all services to the riders are provided by volunteers from schools and local organisations who then receive payment. Local farmers, teachers and parents are involved and the event has become integral to these communities. This creates an atmosphere at the race villages and water tables that is unique to sani2c, and it’s something that many of the riders see as part of their experience.
“The way the communities are involved is different and special. The communities benefit from the race so they are all friendly and involved. Even on the Saturday the kids were at school and clapping hands,” says George.
“For us coming back to the race villages, it’s like coming home - there are some people who have been working here for all 17 years we have been coming,” says Flavio.
Much like the race villages, the water points at sani2c are renowned. From boerewors rolls to donuts, from eggs and potatoes to sweets, the sani2c aid stations will have you refuelled and back on the trails in no time.
Flavio says: “I look forward to the years when I am not trying to race and can spend more time at the water tables.”
The ride of your life.
“Our 2021 event was such a success, we are freshly motivated to find new ways to yet again make it better next year. We really aim to provide the best three days of mountain biking available in South Africa,” says Farmer Glen.
Enter for 2022 now at www.sani2c.co.za
Follow on social:
Photos by Kelvin Trautman