The Nedbank Sani2c stage race is overwhelmingly big for an Aussie. It’s big for a South African too, with some local riders reporting a five year wait to get a entry into the event.
In fact, the largest mountain bike stage race in the world is so big that it is divided into three separate instalments: The Trail, the Adventure and the Race. Flow was at the Trail event – the one that’s about enjoying the journey over chewing the stem.
In each sub-event, up to 750 pairs of riders follow the same 260-odd kilometres of trails, but start a day apart. A total of almost 4500 entrants enjoy breath-taking landscapes, sleeping in sprawling tent villages, huge food halls, and three very different race atmospheres. Every rider receives a 100L tub for transporting their gear between each stage and will be seen wandering around the race village in one of the three warm jackets they received just for entering.
Key to the Sani2c’s success is that it’s about giving each and every participant an exceptional experience. In addition to the large scale of the event several other elements add to the spectacle too.
A floating bridge on day one has become something of an icon, although this was upstaged in 2013 by an even larger floating bridge – just before the finish line. The final 800m pedal wound over a lagoon, hit the sand, then moved with the surf. Riders who came in later in the day got the larger tides upping the challenge further still.
We joined a crew of 12 passionate riders from Sydney who have come to South Africa to experience the Sani, enjoy some of the other riding the country has to offer and tie in the mountain biking with some much appreciated charity work as well. Keep your eyes on the Flow website and issue #4 of Flow for more in depth stories from this exceptional stage race and the journey that has surrounded it.
Entries for the tenth anniversary of the Sani2c, in 2014, open in August this year. Some extra slots are set aside for international riders and a few special solo slots are available too. Keep an eye on the event website and Facebook page for up to date infomation and start planning an experience of your own!