Pic Coetzee Gouws. Kevin Evans
BOE Sani2C, Underberg-Scottburgh, 3days, 300km
You have to love the enthusiasm that surrounds this race. It’s created such hype within the mountain bike community and has clearly become the race to do. Hence the reason that they now have three races running back to back over the week to accommodate the numbers.
I would be lining up for my 6th time, and third with Dave as a partner. And we were eager to put the previous years misfortune on the final behind us and reclaim the Sani2c title, one which I have had the privilege of winning four times.
Part of this plan was to make the racing as hard as possible from day 1, usually an unexpected move as the stage is fairly short with not too much climbing. But having raced through the route ten days ago in Joberg2c, we saw how hard it could potentially be. And as we hit the first 7km, we opened up the taps and forced ourselves off the front, establishing a small gap. The chasers were Stewart and Lill of FedgroupItecConnect/Bonitas and a pleasantly surprising second team of ours, made up last minute consisting of James Reid and Charles Keey from Blend Properties. As they were also essentially a backup team for us, they were able to just sit on the wheels of our pursuers and not contribute to the work being done.
Dave and I pushed hard and kept a solid tempo, one that we could maintain till the end of the stage. Meanwhile behind us, Lill had snapped his chain in the last 10km, presenting the opportunity for James and Charles to take second place about 2minutes back, whilst Stewart and Lill managed to come in third about 5minutes back.
Day two is always the highlight of the race, and words cannot describe the 40km of singletrack that descends into the Umko Valley. It really is something special, and having the route fresh in our minds, we were really able to enjoy the near perfect conditions on the day and just have fun.
The real racing started for us around the 45km mark through the rough tracks in the valley where we were able to put our bikes into action and use our strength as a team on the climbs to ride away from the same two teams. I found the second half of the stage quite hard with the legs feeling the effort of the previous day, but I guess we were all in the same boat. Dave and I rode a flawless stage to take our second win, and again, our backup team managed to take second place as Stewart and Lill had a slow puncture to contend with, essentially taking them out of contention for the win.
The final day, and one, which cost us the race a year ago, we were adamant not to make any mistakes. We were also hoping to try and somehow get our second team to take a stage win. Not sure how everyone was feeling, I could feel my legs were good, and as soon as we hit the first climb, Stewart battled to keep up with the tempo that Lill was setting. As soon as we saw this, Dave took over and forced the pace, taking James and Charles over with us. From there we had a four-man team trial, making no mistakes over the 75km course, all the way down to Scottburgh beach and up to the school fields.
It was really special to watch the two youngsters ride onto the field ahead of us to take their first stage win in this event, whilst Dave and I could really savor the moment, enjoying our second and fifth win respectively in this fantastic event.
Our performance over the three days is definitely a reflection of the head space we are in thanks to the great sponsors and support we have behind us, making it all happen.
Next race will be Trans Germany, and Dave is in great shape for this race. I will decide in the next couple of days whether I go over and ride as back up for him, or take a well deserved break before the second half of the season arrives.
1st Evans/George (Nedbank Team360life) 8hrs30min
2nd Reid/Keey (Nedbank Team360life/Blend)
3rd Stewart/Lill (FedgroupItecconnect/Bonitas)