Early in 2015, the greater Cape Town area lost a few of its flagship trails due to wild fires. One of which was Jonkershoek - a piece of land with immense scenic beauty, and loads of trails for both hikers and mountain bikers. Months of downtime allowed for logging and getting the trails safe again, which meant zero access to the public. During that time though, two very talented individuals, Bennet Nel and Hylton Turvey, put their heads together and resurrected the playground that we've all been missing so much. Aptly naming one of the trails, the Red Phoenix.
At the time of writing this article though, the trails are unfortunately not open to public yet. There are many factors affecting the opening, but with a little luck and a lot of holding thumbs, mid November 2015 might be it. Don't quote me on that though. Another small matter is that the entry fees have doubled from R25 to R50 per person. R50 however is still not a lot money at all if you consider what you get: a full day's riding at one of South Africa's most scenic and best mountain biking locations.
Watch out for the baboons! They were here first.
We started off with the new double black diamond, high above the valley floor. It's steep. And loose.
Trails don’t build themselves and land advocacy can be tricky at the best of times so when I heard about who was involved with the rebuild of Jonkershoek and about some of the developments planned, I was fizzing with excitement. The red route is a flow trail which is my new favourite trail in SA for sure – not too many man made features, a lot of raw trail with natural gradient, high speeds and some slower techy features too. The double black route is the most technical legal trail in SA IMO, its brutal, requires speed to float over the holes and is going to take skill levels to new heights. What great work has been achieved by Hylton and Bennet and the businesses that support them – these and all trail builders are to be celebrated and cherished, for without them we would all be roadies…. Trails for everyone!
Trail builder Bennet Nel dropping into the double black diamond from the service road. Needless to say, and as the name states, these trails should not be attempted by any non-advanced riders.
A minefield of rocks and boulders awaits as you descend the double black.
Just few minutes away from Stellenbosch CBD, Jonkershoek was the perfect spot for many of us. Pine trees offered shade during summer, while the incredible singletrack network provided enough for a full afternoon ride. I was excited and worried to see what will the new jonkershoek look like! And I must admit I was blown away by the incredible work done by Benett and his team. I think everybody will find his way to enjoy the trails, from the flowy red route to the steep and technical black trail. Like the phoenix, Jonkershoek is more alive than ever!
After the first 3 fruitful building seasons, on proper funding, this 4th one was very hard. Fire caused so much harvesting, that the issue was not trial building, but more the patience and interaction with management. And to top that, hardly any rain has fallen - making it even harder. We must hope and pray for some rain. I do want to add a big thanks for the widespread support and patience from the public.
Matthieu and Myles scoping out line options over the knuckle.
Viewing the Jonkershoek mountains for the first time since the fires was like upgrading to HDTV. The incredible clarity of these majestic mountains is staggering! The Red trail is a work of art providing massive amounts of speed and flow. The new black trail is chock-a-block full of gnarly features that will keep advanced riders and long travel bikes very happy indeed. When you hear the noises coming from rocks shifting, tyres scrabbling and suspension bottoming it makes you realise how lucky we are to be living in this age where trails like this are created and bikes are built to ride them!
Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica
Out with the old and in with the new.
Might as well have been in New Zealand...
Cheers to having Jonkershoek back in business and to riding trails until the sun sets.
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Riders: Daniel Dobinson | Matthieu Hamel | Myles Kelsey | Bennet Nel