You would expect an 18-year-old national enduro mountain biking champion to ride a stage race with a downhiller, or another enduro adrenalin junkie.
And an 84-year-old grandfather is unlikely to team up for three days of riding from Underberg to Scottburgh with a young racing snake, right?
Arthur Duncan is known to a few KAP sani2c riders from the 2018 event when he completed the 283 km, three-day Adventure edition of the event with his son-in law Stuart Watson. Arthur will be back for more in 2019, and he has again teamed up with a relative, but this time it is his speedy 18 year old grandson, who just happens to be the Men’s 2018 SA Enduro Champ, Keira Duncan.
The pair are entered as team PYGA Infiniti. They live on an organic vegetable farm in Karkloof, just a stone’s throw from the well-known Karkloof MTB trails. Arthur is 84 years’ old and always one of the “more experienced” riders in an event. Besides his age, he is an accomplished road and MTB cyclist who has been riding since he was in his sixties.
“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,” said the octogenarian.
This extraordinary “granddad” says he is aware of the challenges facing him as he rides sani2c for the second time: “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, and the comfort and service offered at the race villages. How 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 exciting and memorable event that should be on every mountain biker’s bucket list.”
Since 2015 Keira Duncan has 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.
As you might expect, although knowing that three days of challenging MTB riding is very different to his usual short fast downhills, Keira is amped to get out on the sani2c trails.
“I will be getting myself onto a Stage bike from PYGA, 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’ at the sani2c. It’s going to be tough but a great challenge.”
Arthur Duncan trains twice a week with Absolute Motion’s Johann Wykerd, so the official sani2c coach 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.”
Wykerd also gave some advice about team dynamics on a stage race event like the sani2c.
“(Team dynamics are) 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.”
Wykerd, who will himself be doing his fifth sani2c this year, offered some tip to make sure sani2c partners get the most out of the three day race:
- Make very sure both partners are totally honest with regards their aspirations;
- If you suffer, tell your partner;
- If your partner is having a bad day, put him/her in front on the climbs and help him/her on the flats;
- When one of the team is suffering, communication needs to improve. The more you know of each other the more you can assist – and remember, often the stronger rider on day 1 will suffer on day 2;
- 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.
The Trail version of the KAP sani2c is from 14-16 May, the Adventure is 15-17 May and the Race is 16-18 May.