Non-Stop Dusi Canoe Marathon paddling icon Eric Bothma (background) is relishing returning to the Valley of a Thousand Hills this weekend when he and his Subaru Smurf Ballies team mate, Mark Christie (front) tackle the 2016 BSi Steel dusi2c from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg, through the Valley of a Thousand Hills, to Durban's Blue Lagoon. Jetline Action Photo/ Gameplan Media The 49 year-old adventure fundi is best known for his remarkable record of, until this year’s ‘Dusi in a day’, completing every edition of the Non-Stop Dusi since its formal inception in 1996. Many had expected Bothma to become the first person ever to complete the ‘Dusi in a day’ twenty times however a hip operation shortly before the race saw him relegated to the side lines and delayed his achievement of 20 Non-Stop Dusi finishes until 2017’s race. The iconic paddler is however back in action and being a keen mountain biker as well, is raring to return to the Valley he loves for this weekend’s dusi2c journey. “It was a bit disappointing to miss out on this year’s Non-Stop Dusi but it was definitely the right decision for me and I was completely at peace with my decision,” explains Bothma. “I had quite a long layoff from paddling after my hip operation but I was back on the bike pretty quickly in order to prepare for sani2c, which I did with my daughter, and now I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s adventure in the Valley!” he adds. Dusi paddlers Andrew Houston (front) and Bianca Haw (background) know the rivers and paths of the Valley of a Thousand Hills like the back of their hands and will now look to enjoy the region's beauty from the saddle of their mountain bikes as they take on the 2016 BSi Steel dusi2c from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban's Blue Lagoon this weekend. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media While having found peace with his decision to sit this year’s Non-Stop Dusi out, Bothma admits he is looking forward to returning to the paths of the Valley that he knows so well and taking in the vastly different Valley experience the dusi2c offers to his paddling adventures. “Even though the dusi2c is along a very similar route to the Dusi and Non-Stop Dusi, paddling through the Valley and cycling through Valley are hugely different experiences! “When you paddle, you don’t actually experience the whole valley; on a bike you get to go to places you don’t normally see when you’re paddling. “It really is just so pretty down in the Valley, and it’s right on our doorstep! We travel all over the country – to Jo’burg, Cape Town, etc. – just to do stage races and yet we’ve got such a brilliant race right here on our doorstep!” The dusi2c’s unique mountain biking atmosphere is another element of the two day event that Bothma relishes being part of year after year. Having paddled across Inanda Dam during his more familiar Dusi efforts, Owen Gandar - together with his BSi Steel dusi2c 1 team mate, girlfriend and fellow paddling enthusiast, Tamika Haw - will now cycle around the Valley of a Thousand Hills body of water during the 2016 BSi Steel dusi2c from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban's Blue Lagoon this weekend. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media “The dusi2c is a proper mountain bike race – there are natural paths, rocks, falling, the works! “The vibe is also just so great as well though. “It is really nice and chilled, everyone is so laid back as they enjoy some quarts at the end of the first day – it’s brilliant! “Also, I’m at the stage of my paddling career that I don’t stay at the overnight stops of Dusi anymore. Now, with the dusi2c and the Mfula Store overnight stop though, we get to enjoy that element of things all over again. “The dusi2c really, really is such a special race!” Bothma is all set to team up for the third time with old family friend and long-time supporter of race organiser Famer Glen Haw’s events, Subaru Pietermaritzburg’s Mark Christie, an occasion the pair look forward to annually. “The Christie family and my family are as good as family; we’re that close. “Mark and I have done two dusi2cs together before and three in the same riding group when we’ve ridden with the kids, etc. “I really enjoy doing dusi2c with Mark and I cannot wait to ride it with him again at this year’s race.” Bothma is certainly not the only member of the paddling fraternity set to enjoy the Valley from the saddle this weekend though. Former Dusi competitor, Warren Price knows the Valley of a Thousand Hills well having spent many hours racing its trails and rivers during his paddling days and will now cycle the region - including around Inanda Dam - during his podium challenge at the 2016 BSi Steel dusi2c from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban's Blue Lagoon this weekend. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media 2016 FNB Dusi sixth place finisher Owen Gandar and fellow elite paddler, his girlfriend and Farmer Glen’s daughter, Tamika Haw will combine as BSi Steel dusi2c 1 in the mixed race while Haw’s younger sister, professional mountain biker and fellow paddler Bianca Haw will tackle the challenge with boyfriend, and fourth placed Dusi finisher, Andrew Houston as Team Sani Racing. The third of Farmer Glen’s children and top paddling talent, Murray Haw, will also enjoy the trails when he tackles the event with Skidmarks team mate Terri Leyland while the family affair continues with Andrew Houston’s younger brother, Alan – too a top paddler – teaming up with Slick and Tyre’d partner, Tim Lee. Social paddler Calvin Harris will combine with Marco Avellini to form the BSi Avellini combination while former Dusi elite, Warren Price and his Safire partner, Trevor Rowe trade their paddles in for a mechanical steed and look to mix it up at the front of the race and challenge for an overall podium position. The 2016 BSi Steel dusi2c mountain bike race takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban's Blue Lagoon on 11 and 12 June. For more information visit www.dusi2c.co.za.