If you haven’t yet done the annual Sani2c, you at least know someone that’s done it. In terms of participant numbers (over 4000), it’s the world’s biggest mountain bike stage race. We wanted to know more about the riders at the 2017 edition, so we created a survey. Here are the results.
Our survey had a total of 893 responses, which from a total race entry number of 4264 is an ideal sample size for 95% confidence level and 3% margin for error. We also received a fairly even split in respondents from the three different Sani2c events – Trail, Adventure and Race.
|Teams that started||Teams that finished||Teams that DNF||Solo starters||Solo finishers||Solo DNF||Total riders started||Total riders that finished|
The 2017 edition had the highest non-finisher percentage possibly ever, although we only have access to race finisher stats dating back to 2013. A total of 24.83% did not finish the 2017 Sani2c. For the previous four years 2013-2016, the average DNF percentage was 8.15%.
Obviously the heavy rain on Thursday night, Friday and Friday night had a big impact on the number of finishers of the Race as those were Day’s 2 and 3. Unfortunately weather challenges come with mountain biking being an outdoor sport. But the majority of mountain bikers in South Africa are recreational riders who ride/race to enjoy it. Racing mountain bikes can be tough. Racing in the rain and mud isn’t everyone’s idea of enjoyment.
Many have also learned that riding in mud can accelerate wear on your drivetrain and brake pads. This was also a reason given by some riders for choosing to head home early…
For some perspective, the split at the 2016 FNB Wines2Whales was 87.66% Male/12.34% Female; and the 2017 Absa Cape Epic was 90.9% Male/9.10% Female.
|Where do you live?||%|
|Western Cape||11.92% (16%)|
|Free State||3.26% (3%)|
|Eastern Cape||2.70% (3%)|
|North West||2.02% (2%)|
|Northern Cape||0.34% (1%)|
|Another African country||1.57% (2%)|
|I live outside Africa||0.79% (1%)|
So the majority market for this event is in Gauteng. By far. The numbers in brackets are the official percentages from the organisers. This goes some way to confirming the 95% accuracy of our survey. It’s interesting that a higher percentage of entrants (16%) come from the Western Cape than from the event’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (14%).
|How much training did you do for the 2017 Sani2c?||%|
|More than 6 months||30.33%|
|Less than 1 month||4.62%|
Almost a third trained for more than six months, which means they started their training before early November 2016. Just over a third (34.27%) did three months or less training, which means they began training for Sani2c from February 2017.
What’s the ideal? Depends on your level of general conditioning, but if you are fairly new to mountain biking, then we reckon 5-6 months is best.
|Which applies to you during your training for 2017 Sani2c?||%|
|I trained entirely under the guidance of a professional coach||5.30%|
|I did some of my training under the guidance of a professional coach||14.54%|
|I just train by feel and/or experience||56.60%|
|I’m always quite fit, so don’t do any structured training||23.56%|
By far the most riders (80.16%) didn’t use a coach at all for the 2017 Sani2c. Judging by the percentage of riders that did not finish Stage 2 in the Adventure (24.3%), the Trail (42.9%) and the Race (25.6%) from 2013–2017, we reckon there’s a definite need for some coaching (note: we excluded the 2017 Race from this stat due to the rain-adjusted stage).
|How many editions of Sani2c had you done prior to 2017?||%|
|2017 was my first||39.37% (45%)|
|More than 10||0.45%|
|All of them||0.11%|
According to our survey, almost 40% of the field were Sani2c first-timers this year. This is very encouraging for mountain biking as a whole and testament to the reputation of the event being a ‘must-do’ race for South African mountain bikers. According to the official race statistics (in brackets above), the percentage of Novices was 45%, however this may be skewed as 0 is the default on the dropdown the riders see when completing this information. So if a rider skipped this while completing their entry, this would reflect as them being a Novice.
According to the official stats from the organisers, the percentage of riders doing their second Sani2c this year was 23% and those doing their third 12%.
|Which of the following did you use while training for the 2017 Sani2c (you can choose more than one)||%|
|Heart rate monitor||80.78%|
|Standard bike computer||19.56%|
Despite power being the most accurate way to measure pedalling effort, only a fifth of the field used power measurement while training for the 2017 Sani2c. Yes, a power meter on your bike is quite pricey (from around R8000), but if you’re committed to improving your performance, it’s an essential piece of gear.
|Until the start, how well did you know your 2017 Sani2c teammate?||%|
|Not too well||6.09%|
|We hadn’t actually met before the start||1.81%|
No real surprises here. For many mountain bikers, a stage race is a great bonding opportunity. If you don’t know your teammate well at the start, you’ll certainly know him/her well by the finish, especially since teammates share a tent at Sani2c…
|Did you use sports supplements during your training for the 2017 Sani2c?||%|
|Yes, before during and after my rides||24.58%|
|Yes, during and after my rides||25.93%|
|Yes, during my rides only||32.02%|
|I’m not a sports supplement user||17.47%|
|Did you use sports supplements during the 2017 Sani2c?||%|
|Yes of course!||62.33%|
|Yes, when necessary||28.05%|
|No, I race and recover without supplements||9.62%|
Energy and recovery: Both essential during training for and racing a stage race. Humans have only been racing mountain bikes in large numbers (i.e. recreationally) for less than 30 years. The human body isn’t quite adapted to this yet. Some are able to manage energy and recovery through a regular diet, but the majority seek assistance from modern supplements.
|When it came to massage during Sani2c 2017, which was most applicable to you?||%|
|I had to have a post-stage massage||30.33%|
|A post-stage massage was something I had if necessary||26.49%|
|I didn’t have any post-stage massages||43.18%|
There’s something very satisfying about a good old sports massage on sore muscles after a hard ride…
|On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Greg Minnaar and 1 being Norman Novice, what would you score your MTB skill level at?||%|
This was an interesting stat for us as we also run TREAD Volvo Skills Clinics around South Africa. TREAD Skills Chief Instructor, Sean Badenhorst, says he’d score himself at about a 6.5 on this scale.
“I rode the Sani2c Race this year and was stunned at how few riders I encountered were able to ride singletrack smoothly. So much unnecessary braking. Riders can save so much energy and have faster race times just by learning how to carry speed through corners and along singletrack,” said Badenhorst.
Perhaps those that took our survey aren’t quite aware of just how skilled Greg Minnaar is… check Greg’s Winning Lenzerhiede Run!
|Regarding your MTB skills preparation for the 2017 Sani2c, which is most applicable||%|
|I have done a few skills clinics||12.47%|
|I have done one skills clinic||15.99%|
|I haven’t done a skills clinic, but probably should||54.99%|
|I’m Greg Minnaar||16.55%|
Only 28.46% have done at least one skills clinic. We had a good chuckle at the 16.55% who said they’re Greg Minnaar, essentially implying they don’t need a skills clinic.
“It’s important not to confuse fitness/endurance with skill, they’re quite different. For fitness/endurance you just need time. For skill, you need knowledge and practice, practice, practice,” said Badenhorst.
|How many years have you been mountain biking?||%|
|A year or less||5.52%|
|More than 20 years||5.19%|
Quite a lot of mountain biking experience at the 2017 Sani2c – one indication of a quality event with some stimulating routes!
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