SANI2C 2015

Sani is always a firm favourite on my racing list and has been for a number of years. The attraction is primarily based on the journey from the berg to the beach and all the rolling hills in-between. I find the race still has its farmer local charm but it’s turned into a BIG event and continues to up its game every year. This year a big drive and focus was placed on improving the race villages by making them more permanent and user friendly. The new Sani2c race registration and now joberg2c race village at Glencairn was a welcoming change to the Underberg primary school of the previous years as it really set the tone for what the riders were going to expect on their way to the sea. The 1st night at Mackenzie club was similar to all the other races before but the biggest change was at Jolivet farm just 10km south of Highflats. A large roofing structure had been erected with a kitchen and permanent rider chill-zone adjoining. This made life far easier in the race village for the riders and the organisers and has set the bar high for other events around the country.
The racing upfront was quick and fast with a number of big teams making the start list this year. I had unfortunately had a last minute partner substitution with my original partner breaking his wrist in a crash a week and a bit before our sani2c start. This made things quite tough as I struggled to find a partner in the last remaining days before the race. Chris Wolhuter from team Altec Auto page stepped in at the last minute to take up the partner position for Team TIB. Chris and I had never raced together before and it was an unknown pairing which we’d have to work through over the first couple of kilometres of racing.
The start was quick and fast as the group hit the Oaks single track and then after the racing break usually happens going up into the pine trees after the biggest climb of the day. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get into the break of the top 3 teams and had to chase hard all day to get back the time lost on the climb. We paced hard and with 20km to go we were in 4th position, I had heard the route was slightly different in the final 5km and the notorious final hill was now a series of undulating farm tracks leading up to the finish line. After chasing all day we crossed the line in 6th place after a bit of cramp slowed Chris in the final 5km. After the dust had settled we were happy with the result and lucky to not have conceded more time in the final run into the line.
Day 2 has always been the tough big day at sani2c with a very fast drop into the Umkomaas valley via a series of amazing sections of single track. The names like Soda falls, Yankee Doodle, Murray’s Meander and Nicks pass were some of the names that come to mind as we dropped into the valley bottom. At the bottom of the pass we were forced to inflate my front tyre which had lost a fair bit of pressure going down the pass. I bombed the tyre with a CO2 canister and we then had to chase back onto the leading group along the inyala plans trail network. We reached the lead group just before the 1st water point and started the climb out of the valley via the Ixopo river valley. My tyre had deflated again and we were forced to stop once more loosing the front 7 teams who sped up the road. After replacing the faulty leaking valve core and inflating the tyre once more we were on our way. We were now in 20th place and had to fight our way back up through the teams to where we were originally. The tyre issues were not over for the day as the pressure continued to drop; we were now out of bombs and had to use a foot pump at the 2nd and 3rd tech zones loosing additional time in the region of 10 minutes in total according to the Gamin running time vs the official race time. We crossed the line again in 6th place and were content we pushed our hardest and left nothing in the tank.
Day 3 is always a fast sprint to the sea with a distance of 80km covered in just over 2hr40minutes. The race usually spits at about the 15km mark were a short kicker climb usually sets the placing for the day. This year was no different to others in that the break was formed early on and the top 4 teams stayed away till the finish line. We again missed the break and had to pace back all day. The problems were about to start for us as we hit the Vernon Crooks nature reserve where I had a side wall cut on my back tyre on a high speed corner. The puncture wouldn’t seal up and we were forced to plug the side wall and use some super glue to help keep the plug in place. After loosing another 4 to 6 minutes we paced back towards the teams ahead of us and reeled in consecutive team after team who had passed us whilst fixing the puncture. We had some help from a couple of the teams in our efforts but most of the work Chris and I had to do along the flat rolling district roads. Our final finishing straight was the floating bridge over the lagoon and in the last 50m of the bridge the plug had decided to explode out my back tyre and rapidly deflate the tyre, making my last couple of meters across the line on foot.
Sani will always remain on my radar and I’m making sure I’ll come back next year and attempt again to step onto that illusive podium.

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