The Trail Daze crew head to the home of the G.O.A.T - Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.
To those that have been involved in the South African cycling scene for the last decade, Pietermaritzburg and more specifically Cascades MTB Park would have come up a few times. Hosting multiple mountain biking events, most notably the 2013 World Champs and a 2014 World Cup, it has seen the world’s best come here to compete. With constant building and digging happening over the years, the network of trails and singletrack scattered across this hill has expanded considerably. Local pinners Sam Bull and Travis Browning took me out for a very dry and dusty day to showcase a bit of what is on offer at this legendary MTB location.
If you do consider riding here, remember to bring along your climbing legs, and lungs, and make sure your bike can get into granny gear… This place is steep, and there is no real warming up - just straight into an above average gradient. Another thing to note about this trail network is that it’s not graded in any official manner or marked with official signs, which means bringing along a local or two would be very beneficial. But even though it lacks the structure of other bike parks, it’s still an extremely varied and exciting playground just waiting to be explored.
Riding at Cascades is bitter sweet in a way. The descent from the top is unreal and keeps you on edge the whole way down. But the climb to the top is always brutal. You never quite judge your ride on distance but more so time spent in the saddle to get to your ultimate trail. I've been fortunate enough to watch Cascades MTB park evolve from the beginning.
Cascades has always been a big part of riding for me… It’s where I did my first ever downhill race and through the early stages of high school, we spent every afternoon there building and riding dirt jumps with the crew. As my riding career progressed, it became an integral race venue, ranging from nationals to my first ever world cup race. Fast forward to now, it’s in my backyard, not even 5 minutes away from where I live, and I go there for my morning rides and weekend shuttles.
I've raced downhill, enduro even one or two XC races there. It has something for every type of rider to enjoy. We are really lucky to have it right on our doorstep. A huge thank you to everyone that has added their own personal touch or trail over the years. We have all had many happy days shredding because of it!
This place offers a great variety, from flat jumpy trails to super steep, rough, and bumpy sections that have formed over time. You have to really work for your descents though as the climb is very tough, but you are rewarded with epic downhills.
This episode is made possible by:
Cascades MTB Park GPS: 29°34'14.3"S 30°21'12.6"E
Riders : Sam Bull | Travis Browning
Permit: free apparently
All images by Ewald Sadie