Sani Dragon route takes in the best of the Southern Berg

Photo - Greg Labuscagne Photography / Gameplan Media

Mountain bikers heading to the Himeville-Underberg region at the end of the month can look forward to a wealth of spectacular Southern Drakensberg views and rare trip to the top of the iconic Sani Pass at the 2016 Fedauto Sani Dragon in association with Mortimer Toyota which takes place on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October.

Offering participants the option of taking on the longer Sani Dragon or shorter Sani Dragon Lite, the two-day event’s breath-taking route combines a variety of mountain biking terrains with the region’s distinctive landscapes and vistas in a challenging yet manageable and rewarding format.

“The Fedauto Sani Dragon is more about the journey than being a race,” explains co-race organiser, Doug Abbey.

“It’s an event that regardless of whether you do the Dragon or the Lite, you’ll know you’ve spent some time in the saddle by the time you cross the finish line.

“The mountain views and amazing scenery along the way more than make up for the effort riders put in over the two days though!” he adds.

Bar the difference in distances daily, the Sani Dragon and the Sani Dragon Lite offer riders markedly similar rider experiences.

“Day one is all about showcasing the district from a mountain biking perspective.

“Dragon riders complete an extra 18km loop compared to the Lite competitors but other than that, the longer and shorter events are exactly the same and take riders along a variety of jeep track, farm roads, cattle paths and forest single track.

“The first day also gives riders some incredible views of the mountains, including Rhino Peak, Hodgson’s Peaks and the entire Sani Valley.

“The second stage is a bit shorter than the first and since last year, we’ve taken a seriously technical section out.

“The first ten kilometres on day two are extremely fast but with the Dragon riders still to make the incredible trip up Sani Pass – one that most certainly will still test both the legs and the lungs – it would be wise for riders not to push too hard early on.”

While the clock stops at the South African Border Post for those involved in the Sani Dragon Lite, Sani Dragon competitors conclude their race upon summiting Sani Pass before then making their way back down to the bottom at their leisure.

“Last year quite a few teams worked together and shared the load on their way up to the top,” says Abbey.

“Apart from the welcome sight of the finish line at the top, riders are also greeted by a fantastic water table where they can stock up and recharge a bit before heading back down in their own time, many stopping to take photos or appreciate the magnificent view along the way.”

Offering enough technical challenges to satisfy the field’s racing snakes, the organisers’ primary focus remains on those embracing the event’s relaxed, take-it-all-in atmosphere as they look to experience the Drakensberg – Afrikaans for ‘Dragon’s Mountains’.

“The Fedauto Sani Dragon is a unique mountain biking stage race that offers participants two fantastic days of magical off-road cycling action in the Berg,” says Abbey. “It is however great for the district from a tourism perspective as well.”

“We look to give riders the opportunity to ‘experience the Dragon’ by showing them the area’s incredible sights and sounds as well as exposing them to the wealth of activities the region offers.

“There is just so much to do in the area that hopefully each rider’s great experiences at the Sani Dragon will see them come back to the region in the future as they bring their families with them for long weekends, during school holidays or a much needed getaway and look to explore the rest of what the Southern Berg has to offer outside of mountain biking.”

The 2016 Fedauto Sani Dragon in association with Mortimer Toyota takes place on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October. Entries can be submitted and more information found at www.sanidragon.co.za.