As I mentioned in my previous blog to the race the Sani 2 C is one of the iconic races in South African mountain biking which I have yet to have had the chance to take part in until this last weekend.
The race was all and more than what I expected it to be. The event is phenomenal to say the least in all aspects of it from the riding to the hospitality of the local communities!
Our trip started with in Pietermaritzburg where my parents hosted the team for the evening. Thanks Mom and Dad! I took the boys down to the Pietermaritzburg World Cup Course at Cascades on Wednesday for our pre-race spin. The course blew their minds and I could understand why, I had forgotten how fun it was since I was last there.
Asrin Cycling Team Camper
Team meeting at the infamous rock garden!
Oli Munnik getting into the Sani vibe!
Last spin before the race.
That afternoon we made our way up to Underberg for the event registration.
Racing on day 1 heated up quickly with the 360 Life team of: George and Evans spicing things up at the sharp end some 10km into the stage. Hasi and I found ourselves chasing with the RE:CM pair of Woolcock and Roberts before finally settling into a group including the pairing of Oli Munnik and Andrew Mclean(Cycle Lab/Toyota/Go Pro), Team Contego’s Hannekom brothers and the Robert Daniel/Momsen pairing. The course was so fast and I was surprised at how quickly we arrived at the finish of the 80 km’s at an average speed a whisker under 29km/h.
Mckenzie Club overnight stop day 1.
Day 2 promised to be the queen stage with just under 100kilometres of racing and almost 2000m of ascent awaiting us. The highlight of the day would surely be the descent into the Umkomaas valley on some pristine single track! The views were amazing with the sun piercing through the horizon. It was an experience I won’t forget anytime soon. My legs had now ‘woken up’ and Hasi and I combined well together riding out of the valley and along the flatter roads to the finish we turned the gas on to finish the stage in 11th position which moved us up to 10th position in the general classification.
Singletrack into the Umko Valley.
Image Credit: Sani2c
A ‘donkey’ used to heat water for the showers. It’s seriously HOT!!
Ishmail showing us his culinary skills!
The third and final day of the race promised to be a fast one with but it wasn’t all downhill to the C and we encountered a few tough climbs along the way. We had a 50 second buffer on the Robert Daniel/Momsen pairing of Sim and Pfietzmeir and we were eager to defend our top 10 position. We found ourselves with the pair some 15km into the stage and comfortably rode with them. This was until I had a chain problem which we managed to quickly fix. Hasi rode like a machine to pace us back to our group. Unfortunately a second chain problem, this time worse than the last, also saw a group ride past us as I fixed it. We now had to put in a serious team time trial effort to try and hang onto our top 10. Crossing the palates laid across the beach we could just make out the group ahead of us. A huge effort up the tar road climb to the finish saw us catch them. Hasi and I had really laid it all out and had come so agonisingly close.
Pushing up one of the cane road climbs.
Image Credit: Fullstop Communications
We finished in 11th place overall only 12 seconds off the 10th placed team of and 40 seconds of the 9th placed team of. We had finished 10th in the elite men’s teams.
All in all, the race was an amazing experience and one which I really enjoyed.
Both Asrin Cycling Teams finished!
I have some big thank you’s to make. Firstly to Asrin property Developers for getting us to the start line and for your support through the event, thank you Nizaam and Ishmail, I value and appreciate your support so much. To give you an idea, in order to make sure we had coffee in the morning Nizaam organised a lead cable to a nearby camper’s generator to plug the coffee machine into!
Thank you to Grant and his crew at Adrenaline Cycles for looking after my Cube and the team’s bikes.
Thank you to Megan and her team at R.E.S.T for the massages.
Lastly but certainly not least, to Hasi, for being a great partner and for all your help. Riding with someone of Rene’s calibre is such a privilege and I learnt so much. Off the bike it was a laugh a minute and I had so much fun!
If you haven’t yet, catch the race highlights on Supersport and see what we got up to.