Trail Daze | Helderberg - The Stairway to Heaven

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Having hosted countless mountain biking events, ranging from XC to Enduro to DH (some of them at National level), the Helderberg Trail Network certainly does not need any formal introduction.

With around 40 km of marked trails, all starting from the family friendly coffee shop, the terrain caters for all skill levels from the very beginner to the very experienced. In addition to coffees, the kiosk sells light meals and drinks, and with a petting zoo and braai facilities on the premises, one can easily make a day of it. With input from professional mountain biker Andrew Neethling, land owner Jan van Schalkwyk and resident trail builder Duran van Eeden have come up with a selection of red and black route options, which can be configured and combined to suit your ride. And with views from Stellenbosch to Gordon's Bay, and across the entire False Bay towards Cape Point, it should be on any mountain biker's bucket list to shred these trails until the sun sets behind Table Mountain.

 

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Do not cycle alone. You can't form a train by yourself. 4 is better.

 

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Helderberg trails HQ. Coffees, breakfast, cakes, cold drinks, fresh produce and other mouthwatering eats. Check.

 

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Quick caffeine spike before we head up. With an elevation gain of about 600m, the climb is long and relentless, but the trails have been built to contour up gradually where possible.

 

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Granny's Forest - the only part of the trail network under tree canopy. From here things open up as you ascend the exposed Helderberg face.

 

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Countouring up with our destination in sight at the foot of the Helderberg mountain.

 

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Views for days across False Bay, and all the way to Table Mountain.

 

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As high up as we can go. Dropping in from here, it's downhill all the way to the bottom, with various line options to get you there.

 

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The steep, upper rocky sections are what make the Helderberg trails one of the top DH and Enduro destinations in the country. Proper technical, loose trails that can catch you out at any moment if you don't show the required respect.

 

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Helderberg Trails hold a special place in my heart for good reason. I grew up in Somerset West, just down the road from the mountain range. I have been riding this mountain ever since I can remember. It has been my training ground. I actually did my first Downhill race on this very hill back when I was 13. I could not pass up the opportunity to help redevelop and build Helderberg Trails with my partner Jan Van Schalkwyk. We pride ourselves on providing trails for every type or rider and skill level. Andrew Neethling

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Singletrack from the mountains to the ocean. #winning

 

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I might sound biased but I have seen trails centres all over the world and love the variety we have and know we have worlds class trails. The higher you climb the better the views get. You got to earn it here but its more than worth it. You get some serious panoramic views of False Bay and the Winelands. Once at the top, you have a variety of trails to choose from to get you down. We want the rider to come out and form their own loops and combinations. Andrew Neethling

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After growing up riding the Helderberg mountain for at least 15 years, it's amazing to have Helderberg trails 5 minutes ride from home. I've done my fair share of riding around the world and I can honestly say we have some amazing riding right on the doorstep. Not many places you can be five minutes from the beach or five minutes the trails. Jonty Neethling

 

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I would say that the Helderberg trails are the closest playground we have to a 'Euro' style bike park. Not only do they have shuttle access (Yay for multiple gravity runs!) but many of the trails are machine built through beautiful clay based soil meaning wide trails, sturdy berms, and jumps of all sizes. The builders have not shied away from trails that make use of the steep terrain and natural rocks toward the top of the mountain but cleverly, have also built some easy, flowy trails for all levels of rider at the base of the the mountain. Riding with these three super-skilled riders on their local trails was great but the highlight of the day was having a Springbok bolting alongside me as I plummeted down the 'S4P' berms as the light faded to night. Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica

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Three's a party. Four's a train.

 

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Helderberg trails will always be a special place to me. I grew up on the neighboring farm, and as a lightie just starting to ride bikes, my dad and I would always ride the original trails. Recently the new trails have become a training ground for enduro and XC riders. The technical trails and amazing scenery overlooking the Helderberg basin just creates a world class riding atmosphere. Whether it's an after-work-burn or a long shuttle day, Helderberg trails has everything you need from big bike park style berms and jumps, to raw rocky sections. True bike riding. Matt Lombardi

 

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Another average sunset as seen from the Helderberg trails. Put this on your bucket list - you won't regret it.

 

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Helderberg Trails GPS: 34°01'56.3"S 18°50'02.5"E

Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Matt Lombardi | Andrew Neethling | Jonty Neethling

Permit : R50 at the Helderberg Trails Kiosk

 

All images by Ewald Sadie

www.esphotography.co.za

instagram: @ewaldsadie

 

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17 Comments

nox1111, Oct 24 2016 07:06

Lekker! Awesome as per usual!  Nice work!

Super_mil, Oct 31 2016 10:49

Nicely done Oom Sadie.

Headshot, Oct 31 2016 12:44

Lekker - had a great enduro there yesterday!

keithbe, Oct 31 2016 01:02

That looks damn cool. Looks like I'd need adult diapers to get through that. Not cool.

Duane_Bosch, Oct 31 2016 01:12

Shuttle day this weekend. Just saying...

iRide, Oct 31 2016 01:19

That looks damn cool. Looks like I'd need adult diapers to get through that. Not cool.

Not all crazy rock gardens. In fact most of the trails there are wide , flowy and incredibly well built! Only the top section is steep and rocky . Go and check the trails out!

Moridin, Oct 31 2016 01:24

Rode the black last week with my son, who regularly does the black, as well as hurricane and enduro rocks for his training. Plenty places to book yourself into Vergelegen for an extended stay up on the mountain. Still walking some sections until I learn the lines. Already lost a bit of skin on this mountain.

 

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DoomedUser, Oct 31 2016 01:44

Awesome!

lerouc, Oct 31 2016 01:46

Rode the black last week with my son, who regularly does the black, as well as hurricane and enduro rocks for his training. Plenty places to book yourself into Vergelegen for an extended stay up on the mountain. Still walking some sections until I learn the lines. Already lost a bit of skin on this mountain.

 

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Will will freak out if he sees a BMC parked against his post.  :ph34r:

Moridin, Oct 31 2016 02:30

No man. William and I are big mates. :thumbup:  We usually have endless discussions about XC in his shop. He still owes me an answer to a mail I sent him a while ago. Darren also still owes me a 100mm air spring.  :ph34r:

Stressed Eric, Oct 31 2016 03:38

another tough day at the office for these unfortunate riders.

iRide, Nov 01 2016 08:05

another tough day at the office for these unfortunate riders.

Well if it makes you feel any better, there was a strong, frigid wind blowing while we did this shoot so it really was a tough day at the office!

Headshot, Nov 01 2016 10:21

What makes Helderberg and Steilte so cool is that the XC track climbs generally have a lekker gradient and are easy to pedal up if you are reasonably fit, even on an enduro bike. Its a bit of a maze of trails though. I've done two enduros and two shuttle days there and still rode some tracks I'd never seen before last Sunday... 

 

Moridin - time for a longer fork on that bike, or maybe a trail bike? 

Moridin, Nov 01 2016 11:56

What makes Helderberg and Steilte so cool is that the XC track climbs generally have a lekker gradient and are easy to pedal up if you are reasonably fit, even on an enduro bike. Its a bit of a maze of trails though. I've done two enduros and two shuttle days there and still rode some tracks I'd never seen before last Sunday... 

 

Moridin - time for a longer fork on that bike, or maybe a trail bike? 

 

It's got a 120 Reba now.

 

Maybe one day I will have money for a Pyga Stage Max, or Pascoe. Or Trance.

 

At this point I am very confident with the red trails on Helderberg. The black trails, enduro rocks, hurricane (some parts) and the black XCO rockgarden still scares me.

Serious Panda, Nov 01 2016 12:39

These trails are awesome but is still a bit too technical for most xc recreational riders. I would recommend keeping the xc line down completely off the black down lines, and complement the more challenging parts with easier options on the xc line down.

lerouc, Nov 01 2016 12:45

What makes Helderberg and Steilte so cool is that the XC track climbs generally have a lekker gradient and are easy to pedal up if you are reasonably fit, even on an enduro bike. Its a bit of a maze of trails though. I've done two enduros and two shuttle days there and still rode some tracks I'd never seen before last Sunday... 

 

Moridin - time for a longer fork on that bike, or maybe a trail bike? 

 

I made it all the way to the top for the first time 2 weeks ago and only got off the last little climb on the concrete. Just tooooo steep that last section but what i am saying is if i can make it to the top with my fat ass anyone can and then the awesome tracks down...

 

Can't wait for the new years membership to open...with all the *** on the wannabee trails i will move all my riding to here.

Moridin, Nov 01 2016 12:54

The red, to the top at the 4X4 route has improved a lot to make it rideable for riders with average skill. There used to be a difficult part in Pins And Needles coming down where the water used to cause ruts, but they have now bypassed this with a very easy trail. The Let's Flow section can still cause problems since you pick up speed there, so you just have to watch there for the water damage at the point where the berms change direction. If you make a mistake there you might lose quite a bit of skin.

 

Highway 61 is really so easy now, even an unskilled rider can do that fast and at the same time practice their berm riding skills.

 

In fact, I would grade the red as it stands now more as yellow. A few rocky drops might make it more interesting, and at the same time prepare you for the drops on the Chicken Rocks (Delilha) and other trails on the black.