- by Mike Finch
Yep, the talk is true. The Subaru Sani2c is probably the best race in South Africa. There are harder races. There are easier races. There are races that attract bigger international fields. There are races that perhaps have better views.
But when it comes to pure rider experience the world’s biggest mountain stage race puts on a show that few could argue is the best in town. The attention to detail, the smoothness of the single track on Day 2, the amazing goodie bag, the atmosphere and the man that everyone can’t help loving, organiser Farmer Glen Haw.
I spent last weekend at the race riding it with my son. He finished and loved every minute of it, while my weekend consisted of mechanicals and cramps and eventually ended when I went over the handlebars 5km into the final stage – a stage that should have been the easiest and most fun of them all.
So while I was immensely proud of my son for his achievement, I was bitterly disappointed that I didn’t finish with him (for the record, we were barreling along some of that lovely smooth single track when I momentarily took my right hand off the handle bar to put my hydration pack nozzle in my mouth. As I did my front wheel hit an innocent rock and I went over the handlebars. I ended up with torn ligaments in my right arm).
But my personal performance has little to do with what makes the Sani2c successful. There were the small things: like getting the category winners to dance on the stage at each evening’s prize giving and having a picture of you riding across the water bridge put in your tent while you’re at dinner. And there were big things: Like the condition of the single track that made running it feel like you were on a tar road at times.
In fact, the first 40km of day 2 is probably the reason why many do the Sani2C and Farmer Glen knows it. He takes pride in the smoothness of the track, in making it fast and flowing and challenging all at the same time. It’s a massive thrill just to ride track like that and Farmer Glen and his team are constantly striving to make it even better.
To experience this race was a privilege. To expound on the many things that make this race special would simply take too long. But suffice to say that the attention to detail, the pure mood of the race born from Farmer Glen’s consistently jovial manner and the challenging (especially day2) but rewarding route is a winning recipe.
I will be back next year (if Farmer Glen will have me). There is just no way I want to miss that final stage again.