Tormented by torrential rain and icy temperatures the 2017 KAP sani2c was no ordinary affair! – By Oli Munnik
With 4,500 enthusiastic riders spread over three events (The Trail, Adventure and Race) the KAP sani2c is the world’s largest mountain bike event in the world. Torrential rain and icy temperatures battered riders to such a degree that sani2c veterans declared the 2017 event the toughest in its 14 year history!
While the first two waves of riders (in the Trail and Adventure) escaped the majority of the Biblical weather, it was the racing snakes that bore the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury. The Trail enjoyed ideal weather throughout; the Adventure had a cold, muddy Day 3; while the Race was forced to divert away from the iconic Umko Drop as conditions were simply too wet, slippery and cold on the morning of their second day.
Farmer Glen, who needs no introduction, woke before 4am on day 2 of the Race phoning various role players (rapidly communicating in both English and Zulu!) to get input on the situation in order to make an informed decision. With rain having fallen steadily throughout the night, Farmer was left with no choice but to divert riders along what is known as the ‘Wet Route’. In his words, “we simply cannot drop into the Umko, riders will literally slip off the cliff and there is no way to safely evacuate any injured riders”. Farmer was devastated.
In a matter of 45minutes, lead motorbike riders, medics, the local traffic police, water table personnel as well as a host of others were all up to speed making the necessary changes to ensure rider safety – especially seeing the diverted route would take riders along a tar road open to traffic.
The team of farmers who operate the ‘Spur Stop’ at WP 2 perfectly exemplified the ‘can-do’ ethos of the sani2c ‘family’ by rapidly moving their infrastructure inside their local farmer’s association building creating a warm safe haven for shivering riders – remarkably, they had the foresight to clear a new entry and exit to the building to make life just a little bit easier for riders – this despite being pitch dark and rain falling heavily.
While riders were forced to choose between riding and abandoning on both the morning of Day 2 and Day 3, those who did choose to tough it out were rewarded with the satisfaction of a very rare finisher’s shirt – more than 50 per cent of the field decided it would be better to head home. For many, the decision to stop was a practical one. The mud and grit destroys drivetrains and, with prices being what they are, it was simply an economic decision.
To all those who braved the elements, bravo, you are tough as nails! And for those of you who decided to call it a day, there is always next year! Either way, I will see you at Glencairn Farm in a year from now for what we can only hope will be a week of glorious sunshine.