- By Oli Munnik
Glen and Mandy Haw (and the rest of their team) have achieved the seemingly impossible. They have once again raised the bar as far as mountain bike events are concerned. The 2012 edition of the Sani2C was utterly and absolutely RADICAL! I reckon I can confidently surmise that there are 4500 mountain bikers currently suffering from a severe case of Post Pinning it Depression (PPD). And if you happen to be one of them, or know of someone who is under the influence, fear not, it’s normal! PPD is practically guaranteed after an event like Sani2C. The only known cure is to enter for next year!
Less than a week before the Depart in Underberg, I was without an entry or partner … all I knew was that I was gonna ride come hell or high water. Funnily enough it was The General (Shan Wilson) who hit me up while I was out training, with the proposition of riding with one of South Africa’s cycling legends, Andrew ‘the super-ballie’ Mclean. Looking back, I am so stoked that I answered Shan’s call. A quick conversation with Andrew confirmed that he had an entry and was keen to ride with me. I had killed two birds with one stone. From our convo I quickly realised that the details would take care of themselves. He assured me that all I needed to do was get to the start line in Underberg. And from there, all that was left to do was to rock ‘n roll! Sounded like my kinda vibe.
Having ridden the 9 day Old Mutual Joberg2C as an individual, it was awesome to ride the Sani2C with a partner. Having a team mate really does make one up one’s game. In a team of two there is always that drive to push oneself just a little bit harder, so as not to let your partner down. And if there was ever a partner not to let down, it was the super ballie!
As a partnership, we were very well matched. Both of us pushed ourselves, turning those pedals like there was no tomorrow. He seemed concerned that he would hold me back on the single track but unsurprisingly Andrew manned up big time and hooked those trails like a true pinner. He often had me on the ropes but was always mindful, riding at a constant pace allowing me to recover and find my breath when needed. After 3 great days of racing, Andrew and I pinned it into 8th overall. We were stoked. On days 1 and 2 Andrew and I finished in 9th and 7th respectively. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that statistic except for the fact that, had we ridden the same stage times in 2011, we would have won both stages and set new course records! Now if that doesn’t tell you about the level of mountain bike racing in South Africa I don’t know what will! Okes are hooking it. The podium was dominated by the 360Life duo of Kev Cat and Dave George, closely followed by Charles Keey and the little big lightie James Reid from 360Life/Blend who finished 2nd overall. The FedGroup Itec Connect duo of Brandon Stewart and Darren Lill took 3rd overall.
Although the racing up front is fierce, the Sani2c is about so much more than just racing, and even mountain biking for that matter. The level of local involvement in the three events is remarkable and a true testament to the brilliance of Glen, Mandy and co. Every single community living along the route directly benefits in some way or another. Be it mobile phones from Nokia aiding communication in the isolated valleys, grants for local schools to employ desperately needed teachers, or simply planting trees and providing start-up capital for vegetable gardens, the Sani2c touches the lives of thousands of people, improving their quality of life. The pride with which these locals, both rural-urban and traditional, invite the riders into their areas is pretty magic and it is great to see them lining the track waving and supporting.
With the young Haws, Tamika, Murray and Bianca waiting in the wings, I have no doubt that the three Sani2C events, the Trail, Adventure and Race are certainly here to stay for a very, very long time. Having already ridden four Sanis, I hope to be able to ride every single one in the foreseeable future! I would seriously advise you to do the same. That’s if you are able to get an entry!
Long live the Sani!
Oli is currently living the dream as a professional mountain biker, racing for the GT squad based out of Cape Town. Keep up with Oli on his blog http://olivermunnik.wordpress.com