KAP Sani2c


I’m introducing my son to South African mountain bike stage racing by combining as a Dad-and-Son team at the 20th edition of the KAP Sani2c, the world’s biggest mountain bike stage race. Here’s how and where we trained, what we used for energy and recovery, what injury challenges we faced and a nice family bonus.

By Sean Badenhorst

Original post published on treadmtb.co.za

It’s a week before we start the Adventure edition of the 2024 KAP Sani2c, a 285km, three-day mountain bike haul across southern KwaZulu-Natal. Cade is young and strong and enthusiastic. I turn 54 next month and haven’t done a stage race since 2020. I experienced injury (two fractured vertebrae) and illness (quite serious asthma) in the past two years, which saw me lose all of my endurance-riding condition. So it’s been a comeback of sorts for me.

Having done many, many stage races over the past 20 years, I know what’s required to prepare for one – and it’s mostly endurance. You can’t fake endurance – it requires long hours in the saddle; and patience. We’re just planning to finish with smiles. No other goals. Oh, and to enjoy the whole experience as a Dad and Son pairing with the aim of encouraging other young mountain bikers to give stage racing a go.

We have done a long ride every Saturday for the past 10 weeks or so. I don’t think long enough, but it is what it is. We started at a very low base, but we have been quite consistent and that counts for something. Cade has done a five-hour 90km ride and I have done a 4hr40min 64km ride. We have done other rides too, obviously – an average of four a week including our long Saturday rides.

KAP Sani2c

We had to pull out some warmer gear for recent training rides in order to stay comfortable in the Autumn weather

Where we trained

We did most of our long rides at Northern Farm because it’s about a 25-minute drive from home and because it’s pretty safe with marked, maintained trails. There’s also good post-ride beverages and a decent bike wash. Most of our riding has been on singletrack, which is slower than gravel roads but way more stimulating. We have also done some training rides at Taroko and Hennops trails parks. And we were fortunate to do two training rides at Summerplace Game Reserve, which has wildlife, plenty of great riding and absolute safety. Weekday rides have mostly been at St Stithians School, which is near our home, or on the indoor trainer and the Zwift app.

With a week remaining, there’s nothing else we can really do other than maintain our rhythm of riding consistently and staying healthy. We’ll do longish rides this weekend because our race starts on Wednesday, so we get to rest on Monday and Tuesday.

Cade has continued his twice-a-week strength training and flexibility routine with Tamryn McMillan in Fourways and I have been doing no strength training or flexibility work because I’m either riding or recovering from riding while working.


We both had bike fitments done on our Specialized Stumpjumper EVO bikes in early January to ensure we were in optimal riding positions. I started to experience intense calf pain and it turns out that raising my saddle 10mm at the fitment was causing it. So, we dropped it 5mm and it seems to have done the trick. Cade crashed and injured his wrist. Fortunately, nothing broke, but it was sore and it did create some disruption for a couple of weeks. Overall though, we’re healthy and grateful for that.

KAP Sani2c

Cade has been doing all his riding in lace-up trail shoes, so we decided to invest in a pair of shoes more suited to longer-distance riding – Specialized Recon 2.0

Energy and recovery

For energy on our rides we have used Biogen’s Cytogen, a high-quality carb drink that’s easily absorbed and tastes good (we like the Cherry flavour). On longer rides, we have also munched on a Biogen energy bar to get something more solid in. Post-ride, we have used Biogen’s Recovergen, which is packed with protein, some carbs and plenty of phosphates.

We have mostly ridden with one bottle because the bikes we did most of our training on (Specialized Stumpjumper EVO) only have one bottle cage. However, we will be doing the event on Specialized Epic 8s, which are designed for this kind of riding/racing and accommodate two large bottles, which is ideal for such long stages.

We both take Biogen Collagen each night, a protein supplement that supports bone, joint and skin health and I also supplement with Biogen Vitamin D3.

KAP Sani2c

Normally we ride the Enduro lines at Summerplace Game Reserve, but this time, we focussed on distance and tackled other trails. You can see Cade’s left wrist is strapped after his fall

Race strategy

With Cade being stronger than me, he will ride in front on the flattish sections of the route. I will tuck in behind him to save some energy in his slipstream.  On long climbs, we will climb separately at our own comfortable pace. His pace is way faster than mine, so he will wait at the top for me and capture some photos and video clips for our media content. On descents and singletrack we are similar, so will take turns to lead.

We are starting steady on Stage 1 (89km with 1023m ascent) because we want to finish with some composure. Steady being my comfortable pace and Cade just soft-pedalling with his old man. On Stage 2 (96km with 1896m ascent) we will possibly ride hard to the top of the Umko Valley to minimise ‘traffic’ for what I consider the race highlight – the 30km singletrack descent to the river below. And then just steady from there to the finish on the longest stage. It’s hard not to get caught up in a fast-paced start on Stage 3 (86km with 1042m ascent), but we will try and resist, depending on how we are feeling…

We will stop at all waterpoints for a stretch and chain-lube at least. And probably some Coke and water at the second and third water points if needed.

KAP Sani2c

Many of our week-day training rides have been at St Stithians School, which is near our home and which has a stimulating 7.5km trail

Family affair

KAP Sani2c offers a supporter package option which makes it possible to share the experience with non-riding family or friends. Our oldest son, Kalon, who is a professional dancer based in the USA, is home for a short visit, so he and my wife, Joanne, have taken up the supporter package and will be joining Cade and I on our first stage race adventure. It’s all very cool and should be a memorable experience for our whole family!

Follow our KAP Sani2c experience as a Dad-and-Son team via Instagram:

Me: @sean_badenhorst | Cade: @cade.bad | TREAD Media: @treadmtb_sa

Also, be sure to follow the 20th anniversary edition of KAP Sani2c on all of its media platforms – it promises to be huge! Instagram: @_sani2c | Facebook: @Sani2c | X (Twitter): @sani2c

For more information about the event itself, click here.