Historically, in the world of films, sequels have not always been successful... But some have stood out, and so we bring you Jonkershoek episode 2, as we sample some of the new and old on a moody, winters day in the middle of August.
Throughout the 30 episode history of Trail Daze
, we’ve not revisited many trails or trail locations. The idea was always to promote as many different trail riding locations as possible, over as wide an area as possible within South Africa. But just like a favourite movie or song never disappoints, and brings back memories of good times, Jonkershoek has delivered over and over and deserves another 15 minutes in the spotlight.
Upper Canaries, Lower Canaries, Bennet’s Red, The Plumber, Never Ending Story, Fire Hut, Flow Trail, Black Diamond, Zululand and the list goes on. With countless hours of resurrection, housekeeping, and the building of brand new trails going on for almost two years since the devastating fires, riders are now treated to more options than ever. In the previous Trail Daze outing to Jonkershoek, we sampled two trails namely Bennet’s Red and the new Double Black Diamond. This time around we experience a brand new (and unopened at the time of writing this) section called Zululand, and a trail absolutely synonymous with Jonkershoek, Upper Canaries.
Daniel and I were joined by two names that have also become synonymous with inspiring and progressive trail building, Bennet Nel and Hylton Turvey. Together, they and their team of builders have slowly but surely chipped away at this beast, and provided us with an ever expanding playground - and both of them shred...
I remember it started in 2012 with Fanie, Harry, and I on a ride in Karkloof. Fanie and I were sitting at the top of a road gap after descending some trail, quietly staring for some time at the view then he said, "I think you should come and build in Jonkers". They returned home to Stellenbosch and a few months later I was in conversation with Bobby and Bennet about coming down for a few weeks to build trails.
When you're offered a chance to ride a brand new trail with two of SA's most celebrated trail builders, you drop everything and go ride! Jonkershoek is already a magnificent place to ride and getting better every year thanks to these builders and the vision of the team backing them. The new addition to the trails is going to be a firm favourite, offering amazing flow, beautifully crafted berms and a variety of jumps. I can’t wait to get back there!
It's amazing to be able to build in Jonkers. The scope is huge, and the progress slow as we first had to fix the skeleton that remained after the fires. If we didn’t have that setback, and had the funding in place, we would probably have had a mini Whistler by now. There is so much still on the cards… wish-list trails, extending existing trails and building trail heads way up high to make the future plans work. Hopefully also a couple of park-style trails in the near future… My favourite trail to ride is probably Canaries, through flow trail and down to the gate. I mean where else can you do a gravity run for 11 minutes without stopping?
Immediately I was drawn to this area - the natural features that stood out, the carves and textures of the land. That place has a powerful presence about it that humbles you very quickly. Jonkers is not a place you just pop into scratch a trail in and pop out. You have to take the time to walk and scout and really get a feel for where the trail is going because of the features, and also visually what the area offers and the feel it has. Like where there is a little stream flowing by with some incredible vegetation that attracts the sounds of the wild life. I often think of it, you probably wouldn't find yourself on this piece of the mountain if it wasn't for the trail taking you there.
There is just as much of an effort that goes into finding the trail as there is building it. But with Jonkers, I began to realise the trail is almost laid out for you. The way the rocks have fallen, the way the valleys run. It's all there waiting to be unveiled. I think that really hit me when building the Plumber. All the rock features lined up. Not one was out of place and for me, a trail has to flow. I'd rather miss a few features than kill the flow, but this all linked together. Bobby has given us a lot of freedom to do what we do which I really appreciate. I think he gets it in terms of letting us do what we do and he knows that will flow into something good. That man gets so fired up about the trails and if it wasn’t for him, a lot of what is happening in Jonkers wouldn’t have been possible because of the connections and relationships he has made.
Building in Jonkershoek is not your average backyard build. The upper section where I am currently building is properly alpine, making it extremely difficult to dig. But it is extremely rewarding to being up there and the exposed to nature. The annual funding and push from MTO and Specialized to get everything cleaned up since the fires is very important, and without that, we wouldn’t have been where we are today.
This episode is made possible by:
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve GPS: 33°58'07.0"S 18°56'05.2"E
Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Bennet Nel | Hylton Turvey
All images by Ewald Sadie