SA Enduro Champ Keira Duncan to ride KAP sani2c with his 84 year-old grandfather
Many KAP sani2c riders know the name Arthur Duncan from the 2018 event. Arthur, then aged 83, completed the tough 265 kms over three days at last year’s sani2c Adventure edition, riding from Underberg to Scottburgh with his son-in law Stuart Watson. Arthur will be back for more in 2019, this time teamed up with his 18 year old grandson, who happens to be the Men’s 2018 SA Enduro Champ Keira Duncan.
Keira Duncan (18) and his grandfather (84), all set for the KAP sani2c 2019
We asked the two about their riding careers and how they plan on tackling sani2c together, while getting some insights into riding sani2c as a team from the event’s official coach, Johann Wykerd from Absolute Motion in Hilton, Kwa-Zulu Natal. The pair, entered as team PYGA Infiniti, live on an organic vegetable farm in the Karkloof just a stone’s throw from the outstanding Karkloof MTB trails, and while Arthur is 84 years’ old, he is an accomplished road and MTB cyclist, after he took up the sport 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,” 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.
Arthur at the 2018 sani2c finish, here with Farmer Glen (middle) and his riding partner and son-in-law Stuart Watson
“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, 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.”
Keira Duncan has since 2015 racked up an impressive 36 age category wins, 30 top five overall podium results, and 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 sharp downhills, Keira is amped to get out on the sani2c trails: “I will be getting myself onto 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’ at the sani2c. It’s going to be tough but a great challenge.”
Keira Duncan is the Men’s SA Enduro Champ, see here on the Hakahana Trails in Gauteng
Arthur Duncan trains twice a week with Absolute Motion so Johann Wykerd, sani2c official 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.”
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.”
Smiling faces on Day 2 says it all: Stuart Watson (left) with Arthur Duncan at last year’s KAP sani2c
Johann’s tips are:
- 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 … 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.
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. Yes the trails are awesome, the food is amazing, everything is perfect … but the thing that really stands out for me is the sense of being part of something very special.”
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!”
The Trail version of the sani2c is from 14-16 May, the Adventure is 15-17 May (all entries sold out) and the Race is 16-18 May.