As part one of a two part series, we head to the ever friendly (and often relentlessly windy) Cape Town to take a closer look at mountain biking in and around the mother city.
With Tokai taken from us by wildfires during 2015, and Cape Town mountain bikers having to find alternative playgrounds to get their daily or weekly endorphin fix, trail riding in Cape Town has become somewhat of a controversial topic. Linking up the legal bits in a legal manner, wasn't straight forward and required some urban hacks involving a lot of tar roads.
The alternative and less accepted option was to ride rogue on illegally built trails, or dedicated foot paths built for hikers. That was until the recent announcement by SANParks and the Table Mountain MTB Forum that soon, many paths on Table Mountain will become shared-use trails. It is the start of one glorious mother city trail network stretching all the way from the city centre to Tokai. We start off by showcasing the Rhodes Memorial area and riding South through the Constantia green belts.
5:30am. Bikes loaded and heading for Table Mountain.
Beautiful views of the entire Table Bay, Bo-kaap architecture, and Robben Island.
Layers of early morning mist with Simonsberg dominating the skyline.
Good morning, Cape Town!
Parking at the end Table Mountain road, it's a quick pedal along the tar road to the top of Plum Pudding, which will lead you down towards Rhodes Memorial.
Dropping in at the top of Plum Pudding with views stretching all the way from Muizenberg to Stellenbosch.
Devils Peak dominates the view from my garden and every time I step outside, the trails beckon to me. Sometimes the motivation is hard to find as there's no such thing as an easy ride on Table Mountain! Once I HTFU however, the reward always outweighs the effort! I feel privileged to live in a city and to have a huge mountain on our doorstep to play on and show visiting riders. Now that we are officially allowed to ride on the Green Belt trails (and soon more), long, legal urban rides to Tokai are finally a reality!
Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica
Pink Watsonia's line these trails all year long, closely guarded by our very own proudly South African Silver Tree (Leucadendron argenteum) - an endangered plant species found nowhere else but in this part of the Cape Peninsula.
Dropping into the Rhodes Memorial trail.
Dawn patrols don't always pay off, but sometimes you hit gold with some incredible backlit singletrack freedom.
To get to the Constantia green belt, its about a 10 km drive/ ride from the bottom parking of Rhodes Memorial.
Successful trail sharing lies not necessarily in segregation, but in tolerance and common courtesy between all trail users. A little bit of empathy for others' impression of your activity goes a long way too. Slowing down to smile, greet, and pass a walker slowly takes little effort on the rider's part, but goes miles with the overall mountain biker/walker/hiker relationship. We shouldn't forget that we're all out there for the same reason, and with so many areas in and around Cape Town being opened up to mountain biking, it is ever more important to not be a chop!
Harry Millar engulfed by ivy-clad, bendy trees and getting lost in a sea of green. It might be South Africa's driest year in recorded history, but some parts still remain green and fresh, offering great relief from the otherwise bone-dry and dusty trails...
Towering trees and 8 km of pristine singletrack just a few minutes from the CBD.
Lush, rainforest like vegetation surrounds this entire trail, validating and reaffirming its title over and over.
Cheers Cape Town! To be continued...
This project is made possible by:
Rhodes Memorial GPS: 33°57'48.0"S 18°27'32.1"E
Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Harry Millar
Permit: Purchased from the TMNP offices
Read more about the Constantia greenbelt trails here.
All images by Ewald Sadie