- Sani2C is one of a handful of multi-day stage races still taking place this year.
- It is going to be brutally hot.
- The three editions have now been consolidated into two events.
In a year where local mountain bikers have been forced to go without stage races, the 2020 Sani2C is a bold exception.
South African mountain biking has three notable multi-day events in a normal calendar year: Sani2C, Berg&Bush, and Wines2Wales.
With lockdown having cancelled both the Berg&Bush and Wines2Wales, those riders who kept training only have Sani2C as their outlet.
Renowned as one of South Africa’s most popular and picturesque stage races, the Sani2C routes from KwaZulu-Natal’s Underberg region to a coastal finish at Scottburgh.
It lasts three days and covers 263km of testing but rewarding South African topography.
The Sani2C is ordinarily staged in May but in a year where nothing is as it was expected to be, organisers decided to reschedule for December, instead of not at all.
With the event being run unseasonably late there are many challenges, mostly related to climate. Searing temperatures and KwaZulu-Natal’s humidity will make this year’s Sani2C doubly challenging.
Early start to beat the heat
Organisers are aware that any KwaZulu-Natal mountain bike race in December risks a punishing heat profile and more frequent reptile encounters.
In an attempt to reduce heat exhaustion risk on the Sani2C’s second day, which is its most challenging, riders will start at first light. That might mean an agonisingly early cacophony of Smartphone alarms in the race village, but it should prove a worthwhile sacrifice.
Although a small pro contingent race for placings and prize money the Sani2C’s core participants have always been amateurs who juggle work, family and training to prepare.
Billed as South Africa’s largest mountain bike stage race, the Sani2C has a proud history. It started as a local fundraising event for a farm school, back in 2005.
As many teams have dissolved due to other commitments and the infrequency of training this year, Sani2C organisers have revived the race’s solo category.
The race is celebrated for its amazing ‘Umko drop’ into the Umkomaas valley, regarded as one of the most rewarding descents in South African mountain biking.
With the overall Sani2C event divided into two three-day races this year, Covid-19 has accelerated the use of digital pre-registration, something that many mountain bikers hope might become a permanent option in future.
The race takes place from 3-5 December.