On the 13th and 14th of May 2023, a band of brave riders will embark on the 2nd sani2c nonstop ride since the ultra-endurance event’s return in 2022. Last week we discussed training and nutrition for a mega day like the nonstop with Johann Wykerd (Absolute Motion) and bevan Reddy (NutriHealth) but here we’re going to get insights from some of the sani2c nonstop 2022 finishers!
What do the riders of sani2c nonstop 2022 have to say?
To get some first-hand insights on the sani2c nonstop experience and what the most important points of preparation are, we reached out to a handful of 2022 finishers to get their thoughts on this incredible ride and how to best prepare for it! As a reference for how well these riders did, 13 hours and 12 minutes was the fastest time recorded at nonstop 2022.
David Leiman (2022 finish time – 14:17:19)
WA: David, yourself and teammate Cameron managed to ride a very brisk 14 hours 17 mins for sani2c nonstop. What would you say benefitted you most in your preparation for the ride to be able to sail though the course like that?
David: I think we both surprised ourselves last year with how we rode and finished.
I think we went into the event slightly under prepared (well rested), highly motivated and excited and with no expectations.
Which turned out to be just the right mix. I think the biggest factor was also a slow steady approach to getting through the long day.
WA: Is there anything different you would do in preparation for another nonstop?
I would definitely try and do a few more longer rides to get the body used to the time on the bike. Our knees and feet took a beating.
WA: How tricky did you find the night riding and what are some helpful tips to getting it right?
David: The night riding was actually a real treat. The kms tick over so fast being utterly focussed on what’s in front of you and with no views of horizons or landmarks you tend to just ride and get on with it.
The one thing I would definitely do is wear a headlamp as well as a handlebar light. The blind spots in the single tack with just a bike light made it tricky, but I guess it all added to the vibe!
Christie Van Eeden (2022 finish time – 14:35:19)
WA: Christie, sani2c nonstop 2022 looked like an awesome ride for you and your husband Brendan! What are your thoughts on teamwork at sani2c nonstop, between riders and also support crew?
Christie: With ‘team work’ being the heart of sani2c non-stop it is important to find a team member (or members) to race with that are similar in physical and mental strength, the race gets tough and to be able to help each other through the dips is important to make it to the end.
Attitude is also vital, find a partner or team mates that have similar attitudes to you and who will want to get to the end no matter how long it takes, anything can happen in the race and if your partner’s attitude sucks it will get long!
It is such an awesome element to have your support crew involved in the racing, it makes it more fun to see them along the way and also adds to the element of preparation, your support needs to be good at navigation. Luckily sani2c is really good at mapping the stops out but having a Dad or friend that has supported and followed the racing before does play to an advantage as they are more clued up on where to go.
It is also important to make sure your support crew know each rider and that you communicate your needs in advance as you see them roughly every 15 km. It is vital to plan how you are going to approach the Checkpoints as this is where you can make or lose time if you’re racing. We stopped for 4min30 on average per Checkpoint which included our 2 big refuelling stops at Mackenzie and Jolivet. Our support was able to fix punctures in-between CP points meaning we could keep going by simply changing a wheel!
WA: How did you prepare, if at all, for the night riding and what would you advise people who haven’t ridden at night to do in preparation for it?
Christie: Brendan and I had not done to much night riding before the race, it was a bit daunting in the beginning, but the open roads and manicured single tracks turned out to be a lot of fun in the dark, I think you often end up riding better when you can’t see 100% what lies before you, but it was all very manageable and one should not overthink it.
We decided to give us the best visibility that we would ride with lights on our helmets and on the handlebars. This worked out well for the single track to have both, your confidence is just so much higher when you move your head and can see vs only seeing where your handlebar is.
On the dirt roads we only used the handlebar light as the head light tends to show the dust particles making it hard to see if the road is dusty and there are a lot of people around, it also allowed us to save the batteries on the headlights for the single track.
It is important to test your battery’s lifespan so you can make sure that you have extra batteries if they die. We, at the last minute, borrowed two battery packs and it was a blessing as the one we thought would last longer ended up dying. We decided beforehand that Brendan would ride in front on the singletracks so that I would have more light to see what happens or what is coming up in the trail and this worked out very well.
WA: It is quite well known that women tend to be very good at ultra-endurance events. What is your take on riding sani2c nonstop as a woman?
Christie: This is a race well suited to ladies who like ultra-endurance events. I personally prefer ultra-endurance events; I think it is all about testing how far you can push your body and your mind and this race will definitely challenge you, it offers a lovely combination of single track and district roads which is something you don’t find often in the ultra- endurance event and is why this race is so special.
It also offers an environment where you feel safe to race in, your support crew is with you a lot of the time and having a team or partner also puts your mind at ease safety wise. I think it is more about having loads of mental strength than anything else, ‘cause if you can’t stay in a good mental state during the ride, things will get long and bad real quick.
WA: Are there any particulars on bike setup, nutrition, training etc that you would recommend for the ladies planning to ride nonstop in 2023?
Christie: The more preparation that you put in for Sani non-stop will obviously help get you across the line faster and happier. It gets long out there if you do not have a good level of fitness. I luckily had an amazing coach – Marike Vreken who helped me get as fit as I could with the little time I had, a training plan helps you have structure and train with purpose.
Nutrition is also a factor that you can’t neglect on a long race like this. Our nutrition strategy was to eat a decent meal at 2 of the stops, Mackenzie and Jolivet. We kept it light by eating a woollies wrap and then in between stops on the bike we would fuel up on as many solids as possible, ie dates balls, wors and potatoes, we knew eventually our bodies would not be happy to eat towards the end and that is why we made sure to use nutrition in our water bottles that fuelled us with calories to keep going, with a rehydrate added on every second bottle refill.
You have to know your supplements and have to be sure that you can constantly drink it for 13+ hours. We used Tailwind as it has a very subtle taste and we never felt like we couldn’t drink it anymore.
Bike fit wise we didn’t change much, we only added Spir Grips to give us another place to hold the handlebar to give our hands a break as that is something that fatigues the most in our opinion.
Laurin Little (2022 finish time – 15:05:48)
WA: Laurin, yourself and James looked like you had a very speedy nonstop ride! Was your ambition to push the pace as much as possible or were you just finding a good groove?
Laurin: We were just in a good groove and tried to keep a comfortable pace that we could maintain for a long time.
WA: What would you say was the toughest part of the route and how would you best prepare for that in attempting another nonstop?
Laurin: The hardest part of the route was probably when we got to Vernon crooks about 30 km to go, you would have ridden 230 odd km by then.
To best prepare for this part of the route is to not chase a fast pace at the start.
You are going to be tired at that point, so I would say just stick to your plan from the start and don’t get caught up in the hype and pace of the other teams around you at the early part of the race.
WA: What did your seconding crew do well and what would you say are the most important things any crew needs to get right for nonstop?
Laurin: Our seconding crew was awesome. They understood our goals and needs for each point. They knew the route (as they had ridden sani2c) so could motivate us for what was to come. To make nonstop a great adventure you need to plan before the start with your support crew!
Gareth Myles (2022 finish time – 21:52:32)
WA: Just short of 22 hours on the bike is monster day! Did you enjoy the course so much that you just didn’t want to get off of it! Haha.
Gareth: I was teasing my partner in the lead up to the ride that 12 hrs wasn’t enough time to decide if we were having fun or not. So we had loose plans to turn around at Scottburgh and start heading back home! Needless to say after 22 hrs of awesome trails and crazy beautiful riding, we decided that 22 hrs was just about right. We could stop, happy.
WA: Are you planning to ride nonstop again and if so, what lessons from 2022 are you going to apply in your next ride?
Gareth: I’m aiming to make this race every single time it happens. I’d go to underberg tomorrow if it was on! I simply love the event. The riding, the trails, the support along the route, the relaxed feel of the event, everything really just fits together to create an unforgettable experience. I learnt to get comfortable with being cold and learnt to have a couple more changes of dry, warm weather kit with the support team on the way
I also learnt that the people that do these type of events, both organisers and competitors, are a special kind of mad and discussions on all your various aches and pains as well as how they could make these events more difficult are all encouraged topics of conversation at 2am on a dark road somewhere between underberg and scottburgh.
Also you can probably call Farmer Glen every ugly name you can think of and he’ll still smile. Even in the middle of the night!
WA: Have you picked up any tricks to stay comfortable on the bike for that long, if it is even possible?
Gareth: Staying comfortable on the bike for that length of time is virtually impossible. You’ll be sore at some stage without a doubt. I guess staying comfortable is really about having many, many hours on the saddle in the lead-up to the ride. A strong core helps too.
For me though the most useful thing was to regularly change positions. Alternating between standing, a relaxed riding position, a more aggressive “aero” position, and perhaps even sitting up totally to keep fatigue and pain out of the muscles of the back. A good, well padded pair of gloves with decent padded handlebar grips are also very helpful.
Takeaways from the brave riders of nonstop 2022
- Get in a lot of bike time and work on your core strength
- Plan ahead in detail what you will need at each checkpoint with your seconding crew.
- Changes of kit with your support crew for different weather conditions.
- Try out your nutrition plan before to make sure it is palatable for long days / high consumption.
- Wear gloves with good padding and soft grips on your handlebars
- An additional hand position (using something like a Spir Grip) is beneficial.
During the race
- Slow and steady wins the race!
- Don’t get caught up in the hype, stick to your plan.
- Change up your riding position regularly during the race
- Use a helmet light as well as a handlebar light
- Have a backup set of lights + batteries