Annette Oosthuizen grabbed the opportunity to ride in one of South Africa’s most popular stage races. The KAP Sani2C is in its 12th year and every year the waiting list grows substantially with everyone wanting in on the action. Annette and her partner began riding mountain bikes roughly 5 years ago and although being in the master’s category, they have loved every second of riding trails. We loved Annette’s tale of pushing herself through tough times and we all know that this is what stage racing is all about. Sometimes getting older seems like a difficult thing but from Annette’s tales we know that age has everything to do with being the best version of yourself in the sport that you love.
Well done ladies… you are an inspiration!
It was at a friend's birthday, one year ago, that I got the opportunity for an entry to do the SANI2C. Then the reality sank in, I asked my partner Sharon to do the ADVENTURE with me, and so the training began. We started serious training with the “Grumpy Old Men”, Jurgen, Phillip and Ian, doing longer rides on weekends trying to get six hours in the saddle. In January we joined the PAIN CAVE in Benoni for interval training during the week. We downloaded a 12 week training programme and stuck to it as closely as we could.
Before we knew it, the time had arrived, and when I opened my eyes we were loaded into Batch L ready to start. To do the SANI2C as a first timer is quite nerve wracking. How much training must you do? How far must you ride, how many hills must you climb and will you ever be fit enough? There is so much that you don’t know and so much that you still need to learn. The big question - WILL I COPE WITH THE CLIMBING AND HOW TECHNICAL IS THE RACE? DAY ONE This day is 82 km with around 1200 meters of ascent. We started from Glencairn Farm - which is one of the Sani2c villages. I found the first 40 km fun and fast with beautiful flowing single track through the pine forests, which had its own unique smell of pine. I made the mistake of not having my GPS on the screen that indicated my heart rate, and needless to say did not pay any attention to my heart rate, which subsequently went into the red zone too often. Just after the 1 st water point the real climbing began and it was starting to get hot. At this point i started to pay for not keeping my heart rate under 80% of my maximum. I had to really dig deep and deeper still.
There were around 36km left - how was I going to manage this?? My riding partner , Sharon kept on telling me that I can do this, to stay focused, don’t give up and with her help, I kept on pedaling. They made us climb 'til the end!! When I realised that the finish line was just 50 meters away I could not keep the eyes dry. My emotions just took over and I could not believe that I had managed to finish stage one! We finished at around 16H00 and after a shower we had something to eat, a beer or two and started to rest and recover for day two.
This day is around 95km long and 1500 meters of ascent. After a good nights rest - luckily not too much snoring from our neighbour's tents - we rose ready to attempt day two . Our starting time was 8h05 and we had mentally prepared ourselves for a long day in the saddle, as many people had all warned us of this day. We started off with great single track through some more pine forests and then the MIGHTY UMKAMAAS VALLEY greeted us. I have never experienced something so special. The single track is technical on the downhill, but we had our strategy planned. TAKE IT EASY, DON’T FALL, JUST ENJOY AND FINISH!! I felt so small while I admired the views and landscape, and to think ‘I AM DOING THIS ON MY BIKE’ - AWESOME!!
After the flowing riding of this first 40km of downhill and flat singletrack that crossed over the river several times, we reached the days monster - the ICONIC CLIMB! Well we did not ride it, we barely walked it as it was so steep and technical. I must say, this spoiled the day for me a little. It took us over an hour to get to the top of this ‘hike’!! I also did not see anyone else in our batch riding it.After the climb, it is about 5km to the 2nd water point. This was a well deserved one. A pit stop in the pine forest with a Spur burger and a few minutes to relax and psyche ourselves up for the last 35km. I still felt strong and my riding partner had recovered from her ICONIC meltdown. We were ready to tackle the last section. There were still a few climbs coming our way, but our heads and legs were strong and the scenery was breath- taking. We just kept going and felt like we are the "Kings of the jungle" as nothing could break us. After all, the worst was over, for this day... After around 8 hours in the saddle, we finished in high spirits and had enjoyed the day, apart from that silly ICONIC. Now we only had one day left. It dawned on us that we were going to make this!
We had a good, long, hot shower, a great supper and a good night's rest. We only had one guy snoring a bit next door……….. DAY THREE This day is around 82km with 833 meters of ascent. (This is supposed to be the easiest day of all three) After waking up during the night, we could only hear one thing! RAIN on our tent roof!!! OH NO!!!! It rained and rained. We started in the rain and we finished in the rain. Luckily we were prepared with the correct clothing for a rainy day and we dressed appropriately. We left joliviet farm around 8h30 and did not know what to expect. We just wanted to finish in time, not to slip and fall or break something on the last day. In about the first 10km, our bikes were full of mud. I stopped and washed the bikes in a small river, just to allow us to change our gears. Not long after this, they were muddy again. Needless to say we slid downhill and also uphill……if you can imagine this…LOL The group we started in were all in high spirits, and we had a lot of laughter and chatter around us. We were dripping with water, everything was wet and full of mud.
We kept our spirits high and just took it easy and kept on pedaling. I do believe that this day was one of the most beautiful days of the Sani, if not the most. The single track is absolutely awesome and the landscape and sugar canes made up for the weather. My partner and I felt strong, (this was our strongest day on the bike so far). We took the climbs easy, spinning them out in our granny gear, and we took the downhills in our ‘slide’ and the flats through the mud!! After a long day riding in the rain through mud and puddles - and luckily for us, no mechanical setbacks - the end was in sight, before we knew it we were on the floating bridge at Scottburgh - WE HAD FINISHED THE SANI2C 2017!!! Wow! We could not believe it!! What an achievement and we felt like we had CONQUERED THE WORLD!!! Best put this ride on your bucket list, and if we can conquer it, so can you!!
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE KAP SANI2C VISIT:WWW.SANI2C.CO.ZA