2024 marks the 20th edition of SA’s original mountain bike stage race, the KAP sani2c. It’s all set for an amazing vibe. Here’s your event preview.
‘Farmer’ Glen Haw and family are excited to welcome new riders and see the long-standing regulars again at the 20th KAP sani2c next year. The 2024 edition welcomes back some of the best of the old and rings in plenty of new, including route tweaks, continuous facility upgrades, and a host of 20th-birthday surprises. The KAP sani2c Trail returns, now catering for all eMTB riders from 23 April-25 April. The Adventure is from 24-26 April and the Race takes place from 25-27 April.
Over the years, when sani2c became so popular it would sell out immediately, the event grew and was split into the Adventure and the Race, with the elite racing being part of the Race. The Trail was added in 2012 when entries for the Adventure also became hard to come by. In 2020, with a postponed and paired-down event happening in December due to COVID-19, the Trail was dropped, but now it makes a comeback as the event that will cater for eMTB riders.
The ‘Trail’ is now for eMTB riders – and their friends
KAP sani2c has welcomed eMTB riders to enter sani2c for several years, and from 2024, the Trail event will be the eMTB race, with a podium and leader jerseys. eMTB’s will not be allowed to enter the Race or Adventure events. Conventional bike teams may join the Trail, which will facilitate mixed parties of eMTB’s and conventional bike teams. This shift will mean that eMTB’s are well catered for and feel welcome at sani2c.
The Haw family values
The sani2c has seen 20 years of development by the Haw family, who are dedicated and passionate mountain bikers actively participating in events. The route is exclusive to the event, as farmers open their farms just once a year for the event period. Dedicated route builders from the community create and maintain 265 km of manicured trails, and build sturdy bridges for multiple river crossings. The race was established in 2005 as a fundraiser for Lynford school, where Ixopo dairy farmer Glen and Mandy Haw’s children attended school at that time. The family has stayed focused on this vision of supporting the local communities along the route, and each year millions of rands are paid out to the communities that provide services to the event, including over 23 schools. It is these community relationships that help to make the sani2c the feel-good, proudly South African event that puts a smile on every rider’s face.
Three days of riding bliss
The sani2c route is the number one priority for the team, because while chill lounges, tasty treats and a hot shower make for a good time, it is the trail that makes sani2c unique. As Farmer Glen says: “If the trails are not incredible, it detracts from the experience. Our trails are well established now, so we are able to focus on improvements and innovations. Our dedicated trail-building teams ensure every aspect is perfect.”
In 2024, riders who know sani2c and the finish on day 1, can look forward to a significant difference. With the last 30 km changing, the uphill climb to the finish at Mackenzie Club has been eliminated. Day 1 covers 82 km, and includes the magnificent PG Bison floating bridges over the Mossbank Dam near Pevensey, where newbie riders may be surprised by the friendly ‘crocodile’ in the water. It is an early start on day two as there are 97 kms to cover, including the ‘Umko Drop’ – a bucket list in itself. The legendary 40km descent into the beautiful Umkomaas Valley, with handcrafted switchbacks, keeps riders coming back again and again to experience the thrill and provides views that take your breath away.
While the Umko Drop is extraordinary, many riders say that Day 3 is their favorite of the stages. It is a fast 86 km and covers a wide spectrum of landscape, from the indigenous forest, to the challenging hills of Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, sugar cane fields and farmlands. The smell of the sea draws you across the Hansgrohe floating bridge onto the beach at Scottburgh, before riding up to the Golf Club to finish your sani2c experience.
Hospitality and Race Villages
The three permanent race villages have been developed with the riders in mind, to ensure comfort and relaxation after an epic day of riding bikes. After 20 years, the team has learned what works and what doesn’t, and good bathroom facilities and ample catering are assured. The event has also invested in infrastructure at the Scottburgh Golf Club, ensuring more hot showers are available at the finish venue.
Glencairn Farm is situated near the base of Sani Pass, and if you choose to stay at the race village the night before the start, beautiful views of the southern Drakensberg mountains greet you as you emerge from your canvas tent in the morning. With the race now taking place at the end of April, you will find the temperature somewhat milder than in the past.
Each race village is serviced by the community that surrounds it, and volunteers from schools and other organizations ensure everything runs smoothly. There are community members who have grown up working on the sani2c and who passionately start preparing for the following year, the minute the event ends – the annual sani2c is built into their DNA, and this commitment is felt by the riders as they move through each race village.
The hospitality includes snacks like Jolivet Farm’s homemade crunchies, and thoughts of the banana bread at Mackenzie Club is what drives many riders over that finish line on stage 1. While the steak braai on the final evening is a definite highlight, sani2c caters to all dietary requirements and the chickpea and lentil dishes get rave reviews. Exploring Coffee takes care of caffeine needs, and for those a bit less focused on their Strava, the bar will be open in the afternoon and into the evening.
The sani2c Black Mamba Legends
There are 293 sani2c faithful who have completed ten or more sani2c events, and they are known as the Black Mambas. There are three dedicated Black Mamba ‘Legends’ who are yet to miss an event, Flavio Scarpa, George de Beer and Grant Macpherson. Farmer Glen says: “It would be fantastic to have these guys back on the sani2c startline. It is because of riders like this that we do what we do. When we see how passionately the riders enjoy sani2c, it keeps us focused on making it better and better.” Entries for the 2024 KAP sani2c open today at 9 am. Visit www.sani2c.co.za to learn more.