There is a growing acceptance of e-bikes on the trails and at stage races such as the KAP sani2c, and their use is becoming more prevalent as competitive race organisers find a space for these riders to experience the spectacular trails on offer. “We have welcomed e-bikes since 2012 and strongly encourage people to just be on their bikes, outside, enjoying life and leading a healthier lifestyle, no matter what bike they ride,” says ‘Farmer’ Glen Haw, sani2c founder.
“We have found an increase in the number of couples entering where one partner rides an e-bike, and the e-bike also works for long-time riders who have developed health issues such as heart conditions, or they have had a knee op. To keep riding with their old partner with the assistance of the e-bike, means so much to many riders,” he adds.
The KAP sani2c has facilities available to make the e-rider experience seamless, and next year Atlas Copco will be providing the designated e-bike charging racks in the bike parks. We spoke to some of the sani2c riders who took part in 2019 with e-bikes, and found a group of very happy riders who felt welcomed and included in the event.
For the second year in a row, cycle coach from Middelberg in Mpumalanga, Deon Carstens, rode sani2c with an e-bike. “I had a huge heart setback. I went for a quadruple bypass and valve replacement. My heart has significant operational functionality loss. The e-bike almost restores your previous capability. It allows for the heart to recover faster.
“You get to experience a stage race; you receive all the hospitality from the local communities – just like everybody else. The e-bike allows you to focus on the event and the experience, you are not entirely inner-focussed on performance, beating times, faster Strava’s and that sort of thing. sani2c has made a difference to so many. Now people with cycling difficulties can, with the aid of technology, still experience and contribute to making a difference.”
Charl Fitzgerald from Johannesburg enjoyed his 4th sani2c, this year on the e-bike: “My wife (being an ex-‘roadie’) found that with the assistance from the e-bike it was much easier to tackle the more technical stuff, especially on the steep climbs. I opted to ride an e-bike as well, otherwise there would have been no way to keep up with her. Riding on an e-bike simply turned it into great fun, experiencing all the beauty and nature, sleeping in tents and everything that goes with sani2c. If it was not for the e-bike, I would never have had the opportunity and pleasure of riding this event with my wife.I think many riders will now get the opportunity to take part in some of these fantastic events.”
Ben Hefer from Brits was the chief organiser of his group of twelve friends. Five used e-bikes. “Any of the e-bike riders could have done it with normal bikes but we wanted to give the e-bikes a try. We have limited time to train as hard as we would have liked and so the e-bikes helped to close that gap. The e-bikes gave us the confidence to take part in a major endurance race like sani2c without fearing that we are going to “break” ourselves or not complete the event. We have no aspirations to be on the podium, we ride for fun and enjoy the race.”
“There is a bit of a negative perception that e-bikers are unfit, overweight and that you do not need to train hard because the bike will do the race for you. Well that is so far from the truth - with the e- bike you tend to go harder and faster at it because it just feels so good, the only time I slow down is when my heart rate monitor starts to pull the brakes.”
“The sani2c was definitely one of my best sporting experiences ever and I would rate it any day just as highly as completing the Comrades marathon or completing the Ironman. The whole attitude towards the e-bikes was so positive, we had so many other cyclists and supporters cheering us on, asking if they could swop or buy our bikes, or if we can push or pull them.”
Eugene Kemp from Port Elizabeth now rides on an e-bike exclusively and did the sani2c with his wife: “Most of the best event distances exceed what we are prepared to take on now at our age. Yes, the e-bike stripped me of my bragging rights, but what it gives me in place is so much better! Having 5 hours on the bike riding through the most beautiful nature and enjoying every moment of it is priceless. That’s why we do it.
“Sometimes we ride slowly and enjoy the nature and the company of our fellow e-bikers, sometimes we ride fast and experience the adrenalin that the top mountain bike racers experience. On the sani2c we took our time on the first two days and opened the taps a bit on the last day, it was brilliant.”
Farmer Glen looks forward to hosting more e-bikes in 2020: “We want e-riders to know they are welcome and encouraged to join us, and we also want our long-time sani2c riders who for some reason are not sure they can manage the 3 days on the bike anymore, to come along and enjoy the different experience on an e-bike.” Enter at sani2c.co.za