Hill & Zellhuber ready for Sani Dragon challenge

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

Experienced campaigner Andrew Hill will partner up with defending Sani Dragon champion Reinhard Zellhuber for the 2017 edition of the race that will take place in the Southern Drakensberg from 30 September to 1 October.

Team TIB’s Hill is no stranger to competing in the Southern Drakensberg and despite missing the event in 2016 he is excited by the opportunity to once again ride in the only mountain bike event that incorporates Sani Pass.

“I rode the Sani Dragon with Tyronne White in 2016 so I am familiar with the race and riding up Sani Pass but I think there are a few changes to the route this year which is exciting,” Hill said.

“I have spent a lot of time riding in the Berg and I am very familiar with the challenges that come with the terrain but racing there is always something I look forward to.”

The Sani Dragon is a two-day race with the opening day’s 50km route comprising of a large loop incorporating some of the most scenic district roads, jeep tracks and single track in the Underberg and Himeville area.

The day will start at the Premier Hotel Himeville Arms and finish at the Premier Resort Sani Pass.

The second day is 42km in length and is a race to the summit of the famous Sani Pass and back, starting and finishing at the Premier Resort Sani Pass.

To be able to ride up and down Sani Pass is the highlight for Hill.

“Riding up the pass before it is tarred is definitely something that I feel should be on any mountain bikers bucket list.

“It is going to be a hard slog up but the race back down is going to be an exciting one,” Hill commented.

Young Zellhuber is going to be a strong partner for Hill and he is looking forward to riding with the East Griqualand star over the two days.

“Riding with Reinhard is going to be hard and fast but I am looking forward to it.

“The Sani Dragon fits in well into a big block of racing for me before I prepare to head to Mauritius for a race later in the year,” he explained.

With some of the most demanding terrain set to test both riders and equipment, Hill believes that there are a number of other challenges that riders face when competing in the Drakensberg.

“Yes the rocks and tracks are demanding but I find that the altitude is the toughest part about racing in the Berg.

“It is especially difficult when you are riding up the pass and you get to the final few switch-backs.

“You cannot stand and put power through the wheels because you lungs and legs are burning so you have to try and keep your peddle strokes consistent for that final section.

“Concentrating on this is always difficult when you also trying to fight the altitude!” Hill added.

The event will be based at the Premier Resort Sani Pass and takes place over the same period as the annual Underberg Farmer’s Association (UFA) Agricultural Show. The events will follow a Team of 2 format but there will be also be a Solo category.

There will also be a Lite event with distances of approximately 35km on Day 1 and 26km on Day 2. Day 2 will be to the South African Border Post and back. Both days starting and finish at the same locations as the main race.

Entries for the event are open until 22 September and can be found at www.sanidragon.co.za