Sani2c began as the dream of Farmer Glen, an avid mountain bike enthusiast and co-organiser of the Imana Wild Ride. read more
In 1998, together with a few local nutty mountain bikers, he completed the first trial run. The following year, he scouted and refined the rugged path with the objective of establishing a world-class route. He invited friends and experienced mountain bikers to join in on the infamous dry runs.
Glen's wife, Mandy has been there from the beginning, as back up to Glen and his scouts. Mandy would drop them off in the middle of somewhere and then pick them up later in the middle of nowhere. This support has been a feature of the success of sani2c. In fact, if it were not for Mandy, Glen would still be out there somewhere, lost.
The entire route was scouted and developed on mountain bikes, providing its pioneers with first-hand experience of every road, path and rock, climb and descent. Still today, countless hours are spent debating potential routes, usually while perched on a mountain top or pedaling through rows of tall cane. Essentially, sani2c dominates the conversation whenever Glen and the scouts are together; such is their passion for this event.
Glen was confident that a worthy route had been established and agreed to by all the relevant landowners and authorities.
February 2005 saw the inaugural sani2c, which was highly successful, despite the heavy rain and muddy conditions of Day 2. Public response to this new "lifestyle event" was overwhelming and the race grew to massive proportions.
Reaction to its success and an overwhelming demand for entries for the 2006 event had the alarmed organisers in a state of near panic. They were faced with the dilemma of disappointing more than 700 mountain bikers if they were to remain on the original 300 team limit for the race in 2006. After careful deliberation, the decision was taken to increase race numbers to accommodate 500 teams in 2006.
The 2006 event saw Subaru coming on board as the title sponsor. With their assistance, the event was elevated to the next level and was a resounding success despite the increased numbers and torrid conditions experienced on Day 1.
The 2007 Subaru sani2c was restricted to just over 600 teams. For the first time since its inception, the weather gods smiled on the event and all three days saw near perfect conditions. Later that year, Subaru sani2c was awarded the status of Best Cycle Race of the Year at the Annual South African Cycling Awards evening. But sani2c has always known that they are only as good as their next event.
Demand for entries and pressure from communities wanting to participate in the event saw some radical changes for the 2008 event. The decision to change the format of the event to be run as two separate races, split into the sani2c Adventure and the sani2c Race, was a world first. This allowed further opportunities for community involvement and accommodated all teams on the 2007 waiting list. It also warranted improving facilities at the overnight race villages. The two 2008 events were a huge success.
The new event format proved to be a massive hit and the demand for a place on the Subaru sani2c Adventure has become most sought after. In 2008, sani2c was, once again, awarded the status of Best Cycle Race of the Year.
When entries opened for the 2009 event, 93% of the previous year's teams re-entered. However, due to different partners riding with previous entrants, the event still enjoyed a massive list of newcomers. To handle the increased numbers, the route planners have developed a number of innovative new ideas for Subaru sani2c and every year they will try come up with new and exciting innovations.
Subaru sani2c 2010 saw an even larger demand and the size proved problematic. As a result, the 2011 race field was cut down to 650 teams per event. The weather during the 2010 event also proved a challenge and unfortunately the glorious Umkomaas section was not ridden. Nevertheless, sani2c 2010 was another great event.
sani2c 2011 saw some big changes. Traditionally the ride had always been held in March. Although often a dry month in southern KZN, March can experience late summer rains - and these had disrupted plans every second year since the inception of sani2c. After months of negotiating and juggling of dates with other sporting events and planning around farming operations, the dates for sani2c was moved to May, a dryer and cooler time of the year in southern KZN, and better suited to mountain biking. And, bang on, 2011 saw three days of perfect riding conditions.
After the great success of the 2011 event, the demand for entries was at an all-time high. This, together with the many requests from organizations wanting to get involved, prompted the sani2c team to look at the opportunity of adding a third event. After much deliberation, the Trail was added for 2012. May of that year saw 1400 inaugural Trail riders heading off to the coast. What a boost it was for our many old and new beneficiaries whose hard work was made that more worthwhile because of the third event.
2012 brought a name change too - Nedbank sani2c. This was Nedbank’s first year as title sponsor but in reality, the bank had been with Nedbank sani2c since 2009. Initially, Nedbank was represented by riders enthused by the event, the communities it serves and their fellow competitors. Having experienced what was on offer first-hand, the group came on board under the old BoE banner. The sani2c team was honoured to be associated with Nedbank and appreciated the great relationship that was built up over the years.
2013 was the year of the bridges at Nedbank sani2c and saw the introduction of the new 600m 360Life floating bridge. This proved to be a great climax to the event. Due to low cost housing developments north of Umzinto the day 3 route was significantly changed, with approximately 20km added to the overall distance. No longer was the final day a dash to the coast! All in all these proved good additions, which were well received, by the riders and are now set to stay.
2014 was the 10th birthday of sani2c. A big fuss was made over our nearly 20 “Black Mamba’s” who had done all 10 events since inception. The weather gods and everything else shone for our 10th anniversary event. “The Barn” concept was introduced at the race villages and it was universally accepted that sani2c’s 10th year was the best yet.
2015 was the year of the new and improved event. Nedbank sani2c made groundbreaking decisions to upgrade and build towards permanent race villages. These new developments provided all riders with a new experience as well as simplified things for the communities and race crew.
During the latter part of 2014, Glencairn Farm was purchased with the view of setting up a new race registration venue. After 10 years, the race started from where it was originally planned to begin – Sani Pass.
Jolivet farm, the venue for the 2nd overnight stop, was also purchased in 2014 and the demolishing and building of permanent structures began. After years of squeezing into small marquees and dinning in adjoining farm sheds, Farmer Glen demolished all the old buildings and erected a new kitchen and dining area. The “Barn” concept also gained great momentum. At sani2c we are serious about our sport becoming "the new golf" and investments into permanent race villages are a priority.
After the surprise loss of its title sponsor Nedbank in late 2015, sani2c decided to change its strategy on sponsorship. Instead of attempting to attract a partner through the traditional sponsorship routes, the sani2c event team decided to attract potential partners with its well proven social upliftment model.
The organising team innovatively restructured sani2c to attract a partner through CSI and B-BBEE opportunities – and the result was that KAP Industrial Holdings Limited, a JSE listed company, announced a B-BBEE partnership with sani2c in January 2016.
KAP’s decision to partner with sani2c was made due to the event’s strong social upliftment element which aligned well with the KAP culture. It’s an exciting partnership where all parties stand to benefit, none more so than the communities who have worked so hard to position the event where it stands today.
Building at both Glencairn Farm and Jolivet also continued and a permanent building team was employed year round.
However, sani2c never forgot that ‘Route is King’ and, in appreciation of this, 2016 saw many route improvements, especially on Days 1 and 2, where trail builders eliminated transition and tricky sections and instead added signature sani2c flowing trails.
This will be remembered as one of the worst in terms of weather. The Trail riders were the lucky few who got to the beach in sunshine, the Adventure riders just snuck down the Umko Valley, while the Race was re-routed around the Umko and had a cold and miserable two days. However, this did not dampen the spirts and it was another sani2c for the history books.
With the race villages not demanding as much setup time more time was spent on tweaking our existing routes. Our trademark “fast flowing trails” was abided by while well designed switchbacks, berms and the correction and inclusion cambered sections was added to the trails. The dual PG Bison floating bridge, with its resident “Henry” as well as the now famous “Iconic Climb” will always be remembered!