Start: MacKenzie Country Club, Eastwolds, Ixopo, 6.30am
Finish: Jolivet, 10km south of Highflats
Total ascent: 1 550m*
Water Point 1: 39km Water Point 2: 64km Water Point 3: 80km
Ave max temp: 35.4°C Sunrise (MacKenzie): 6.34am Sunset (Highflats): 17.16pm
Massage Services: Yes
You’ll be woken at 4.30am for Day 2.This is a long and arduous day by any ones standards.
You’ll start by hurtling down 7km of district road before entering the start of the Ant’s dual track. Thereafter it is Funny Music, Butterfly and Soda Falls before Wow exposes the jewel of sani2c – the mighty Umkomaas Valley. These tracks will offer some of the most spectacular views should the early valley mist afford the opportunity. The fast track is broken by short sections of forest roads, which allow for scuttled overtaking opportunities.
Yankee Doodle is one of the highlights of the race and the first taste of things to come for the next 30km. You are led into Murray’s Meander, which has to be some of the most dramatically positioned single track imaginable – at first glance, it would seem that a route above the towering cliffs that drop down to the Umkomaas could not be possible.
After some breath-taking riding past Shange’s Homestead and the new Umko Lodge, the path leads you into Nick’s pass. Dropping into this valley, these fast switchback descents will have your brake pads sending hot whiffs of warning to those behind. Here you will find the pride of the route builders – a 3km purpose-built bench-cut mountain bike pass known as Sosiba’s Section. Thereafter, you will pass the cheering children of our adopted Msayana School, the School New contour path is more typical sani2c signature flowing trail.
You now find yourselves in the heart of sani2c country. Fast-flowing sweeping curves allow you a quick glance at the Umkomaas River, which grows ever closer as you continue your descent.
A sharp right bend takes you into Mchunu’s Pride, a smooth, fast, bush-lined footpath leading you past the remote homesteads of Mchunu’s two wives, many children and grandchildren. Leaving the dancing Mchunu’s behind, you enter the real African bush where the flowing single track of Heaven or Hell races through the thorn trees for 3km before the final climax of Tamika’s Detour. All too soon you bottom out on the banks of the Umkomaas River.
The pace and adrenalin rush now changes as the route flattens out and you follow the banks of the Umkomaas. Nyala Flats is fast and hard-packed and follows the gentle gradient on towards the Chep floating bridge.
After crossing onto the north bank of the mighty Umkomaas, you enter game farms and Giraffe Alley for some 10km of mountain biking euphoria. You soon into a 5km fast section through a proper farm belonging to William Mapstone.
The Peri Bridge will have a few extra surprizes for you and after riding the rapids you will be taken you back across the river and onto Mike’s Woodburn’s farm.
At the 39km mark you find the first seconding table of the day manned by the school boys of Maritzburg College. After Freeman’s Farm you will warm the legs on the bush tracks that lead towards the Ixopo River Valley. The remote farms of this area are teaming with kudu, bush pig and nyala. This game track is not the only thing that rises – the altitude, temperature and your heart rate rise as you make the long, winding climb through Steve’s Spruit. You will cross the river 14 times on wooden bridges. This is a pleasant but challenging climb for the well prepared but you can spend too many matches if you not wise.
After crossing the river many times, you will enter Dawn Valley Farm. For the 2017 event we have a new route out of the valley. This comes at a cost, in the form of Iconic Climb. It is a test for the best but will be an achievement for those who reach the top without having to put a foot down. After passing the trig beacon, you wind through the African bush on Out of Africa 2 and pop out on a 3km section of district road. Let the strong guys in your group pull you through to the Spur Table where you can refuel and recharge the body for the last third of the stage. On leaving the table two new sections of single track, named Mandy’s Mumble and Songololo, will lead you back down into the valley. Enjoy this decent and prepare your head for a 5km valley road climb. The Black Mamba riders with a good memory may recognize their surroundings and the climbs of Haaibo 1 and Haaibo 2 which were used way back in 2005 to 2007. Be comforted by the fact that it only gets cooler as you leave the valley and approach the Sappi timber plantations Sappi plantations that surround the hamlet of Highflats. You are now back onto familiar racing grounds and everyone should be reoriented by the time they reach Fisherman’s Trail and Highflats Church, where you will find the third seconding table for the day.
From here it is a further 20km of undulating forest roads past Knocker Farm, Judy’s Corner, and Puddle Alley. The official finish line will be found 2km from the end of the stage in Jolivet. We have made this call for safety reasons as the final 2km is tricky with loads of road furniture which catch the weary. The now Unitrans Mile will transport you slowly and safely to a welcome finish at the revamped race village on Jolivet Farm. This day will be remembered by most as one of your most challenging ever on a mountain bike.
Local Trail AssociationKwaZulu Natal Mountain Bike Commission (www.kznmtb.co.za)
More Stats for S2C_D2_2017 mountain bike route
Altitude change-1,546 ft
Altitude min1,185 ft
Altitude start4,130 ft
Altitude end2,583 ft
Distance climb26 miles
Distance down31 miles
Distance flat1 miles