Many KAP sani2c riders know the name Arthur Duncan from last year’s event.
Arthur, then aged 83, completed the tough 283km over three days, riding from Underberg to Scottburgh with his son-in law Stuart Watson.
Arthur will be back for more punishment at this year’s race, this time in a memorable team-up up with his 18-year-old grandson, who happens to be the Men’s 2018 SA Enduro Champ Keira Duncan.
We asked the two about their cycling careers and how they plan on tackling sani2c together, while getting some insights into riding the race as a team from the event’s official coach, Johann Wykerd from Absolute Motion in Hilton.
The pair, entered as team PYGA Infiniti, live on an organic vegetable farm in the Karkloof just a stone’s throw from outstanding Karkloof MTB trails, and while Arthur Duncan is 84 years old, he is an accomplished road and MTB cyclist, after he took up the sport in his 60s.
“Earlier this year I competed in the KZN Provincial Road and TT Championships winning both titles. In February I participated in the SA Road Championships winning a silver medal,” he says.
Modest about his achievements, this extraordinary “granddad” says of riding sani2c again: “At my age I understand it is a hugely challenging event and an achievement for anyone to finish, so I know it is going to be a very tough three days. I am thrilled that my son-in-law Stuart will also be riding again, this year with his son, David, so we will have three generations on the bike at sani2c.
“I was lucky enough to ride the first six sani2c events, and coming back last year, it was wonderful to see how Farmer Glen has grown and improved the overall experience for the riders, the comfort and service offered at the race villages. He has retained the same basic route to get us from the Drakensberg mountains to the sea, yet he has improved the course to make it an event that should be on every mountain biker’s bucket list.”
Keira Duncan has since 2015 racked up an impressive 36 age category wins, 30 top five overall podium results, and an astounding 13 overall wins! He won last year’s Kingdom Enduro in Lesotho and will be heading to Europe in June to take part in the 2019 Enduro World Series.
Skids and wheelies
Although well aware that three days of challenging MTB riding is very different to his usual short sharp downhills, Keira is amped to get out on the sani2c trails: “I will be getting myself on to a Stage bike from PYGA to pace myself on, and although it’s almost the opposite of what I’m used to riding, being a short, snappy, steep angled bike compared to my long travel, slack Enduro bike, I’ll definitely still be able to do some skids and wheelies, having as much fun as I can. I look forward to pushing my ‘distance limits’. It’s going to be tough but a great challenge.”
Arthur Duncan trains twice a week with Absolute Motion so Johann Wykerd knows him well: “Older athletes have a lot of endurance, but not the explosive power to get up and over steep technical features. Keira is a very good technical rider and super fit. Knowing Arthur he might feel he is holding Kiera back and might therefore push too hard at the start..…so my advice to Kiera will be to get Arthur to lead from the word go and to encourage Arthur to ride his own pace.”
We asked Johan about team dynamics on a stage race event like sani2c: “This is in my opinion the most important aspect to having a good race. If partners are mismatched and either or both have aspirations to achieve a good result, this can be the longest three days of your life.”
Johann’s tips for sani2c
1. Make very sure both partners are totally honest with regards their aspirations
2. If you suffer, tell your partner
3. If your partner is having a bad day, put him/her in front on the climbs and help him/her on the flats
4. When one of the team is suffering communication needs to improve … the more you know of each other the more you can assist … often the stronger rider on day 1 will suffer on day 2
5. Be patient … no one wants to be the weaker partner, but it happens and there is nothing you can do about it. Making a scene will destroy any chance of enjoying the most iconic event in SA.
Johan will himself be doing his 5th sani2c this year: “I did the first three sani2c events and then last year I did my 4th after a 10 year break. I have ridden my bike all over the world and have done all the large and popular stage races in South Africa. Nothing beats this event when it comes to fantastic hospitality … from the start to the end you feel like you are part of a very special family.”
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Keira looks forward to making special memories with his grandfather: “Extremely excited for the event. Definitely going to be an experience of a lifetime riding with my legendary grandfather!”
Watch Keira shredding the trails on his home turf of Karkloof:
The Trail version of the KAP sani2c is from May 14-16, the Adventure is May 15-17 (all entries sold out) and the Race is May 16-18.