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How to become a Sani2C mountain biking black mamba

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Race founder, Farmer Glen, with some of the event’s very committed Black Mambas. (Photo: Sani2C)
Race founder, Farmer Glen, with some of the event’s very committed Black Mambas. (Photo: Sani2C)

During its 18-year history, Sani2C has become one of South Africa's most popular stage races. 

The race has done this by putting the route and rider first, continually improving, and adding elements that see many riders return year after year. Grant Macpherson is one of three riders who have returned each year, completing every edition of this race.

Mountain biking looked very different 18 years ago, when mountain biking was still a fringe outdoor activity. 

"Road cycling was the biggest cycling discipline at the time, but I was part of the Jeep team back in those days, and we did a lot of adventure racing which included a mountain biking element," says Macpherson.

"There weren't many stage races on the calendar, but the Imana Wild Ride was one of the originals. I did that and met Farmer Glen. When he launched Sani2C we were interested. For 18 years, I've been coming back," explains Macpherson.

Macpherson recalls that while the calendar comprised a variety of one-day races, stage racing seemed to be the next big thing.

"Mountain biking as a sport was much different then. The participation numbers were nowhere near what they are now. It was often the same people doing the same events, so you quickly got to know many of the other riders," recalls Macpherson.

Macpherson admits that Sani2C now holds a special place in his heart, which keeps him coming back, "As I come from KZN, Sani2C is always a special experience for me."

"The race has become an institution on my calendar and it is a few days that I take for myself and go and ride my bike, to recharge my batteries. It is an opportunity to see the friends that I have made at events over the years. Doing Sani2C is a relaxing few days for me. I always come away refreshed."

"I raced at the sharp end of the field in the early days but have enjoyed doing the event at a more sedate pace in recent years. You have to enjoy and absorb every moment of the race because it is one of the best," continues Macpherson.

Race organiser Farmer Glen has not rested on the laurels of a successful event. He is always trying to improve the route and rider experience. 

"The scenery along the route is just spectacular, and the event and race village facilities have continuously improved over the years," says Macpherson. 

Macpherson recalls that the weather made things interesting on more than one occasion. "I rode with my wife twice. The one year it rained so much we couldn't go through the valley. On another occasion, it was so muddy that I had to throw my clothes away. There was no way they would ever come clean again."

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