Trail Daze: Jonkershoek rising from the ashes

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.

 

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Watch out for the baboons! They were here first.

 

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We started off with the new double black diamond, high above the valley floor. It's steep. And loose.

 

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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! Myles Kelsey

 

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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.

 

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A minefield of rocks and boulders awaits as you descend the double black.

 

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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! Matthieu Hamel

 

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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. Bennet Nel

 

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Matthieu and Myles scoping out line options over the knuckle.

 

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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

 

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Out with the old and in with the new.

 

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Might as well have been in New Zealand...

 

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Cheers to having Jonkershoek back in business and to riding trails until the sun sets.

 

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iRideAfrica hosts skills clinics, cycling day trips and holidays and high quality bike rentals.

 

Riders: Daniel Dobinson | Matthieu Hamel | Myles Kelsey | Bennet Nel






78 Comments

Comments

droenn, Oct 28 2015 10:24

Anyone know where I can pick up a bag or 2 of skill before mid November?

nox1111, Oct 28 2015 10:37

This needs a Pinkbike props

leaboy, Oct 28 2015 10:42

sooo what about a review of the remainder of the trails, for those that dont enduro, bro....

Eddy Gordo, Oct 28 2015 10:42

Damn, I want to work for iride.........

What are the requirements?

Myles Mayhew, Oct 28 2015 10:42

Me too... I need a bag or six. Looks like the black could be HELLUVA fun - LOVE those rocky sections. Will definitely scope it out when it's open. 

skipperw, Oct 28 2015 10:44

Awesome photography. 

TYGA, Oct 28 2015 10:46

I can't "like" this post enough!  

BikeGenie, Oct 28 2015 10:47

I'd gladly pay the extra money to use the trails...hoping it gets to the ones deserving it

Warren_G, Oct 28 2015 10:49

OMG frothing hard! Can't wait :clap:

craig82, Oct 28 2015 10:54

Soooo excited right now.

Headshot, Oct 28 2015 10:57

Aah what a superb place Jonkers is becoming again...

Pointer, Oct 28 2015 10:58

How much of these will be do able with a hardtail......

Myles Mayhew, Oct 28 2015 11:02

How much of these will be do able with a hardtail......

I'd recommend staying off the black. Red Phoenix should be fine with a hardtail unless your name is Norman NoSkills... Apparently it's like Fire Hut was, but steeper and faster. Fire Hut was a VERY flowy trail... Absolutely sublime though. 

 

I wouldn't go near the Black trail on a hardtail unless you had tons of skill. Even then, probably not advisable. 

sawystertrance, Oct 28 2015 11:03

I'd recommend staying off the black. Red Phoenix should be fine with a hardtail unless your name is Norman NoSkills... Apparently it's like Fire Hut was, but steeper and faster. Fire Hut was a VERY flowy trail... Absolutely sublime though. 

 

I wouldn't go near the Black trail on a hardtail unless you had tons of skill. Even then, probably not advisable. 

Myles, where is the Red Phoenix trail? Is it Neverending?

Pointer, Oct 28 2015 11:05

I'd recommend staying off the black. Red Phoenix should be fine with a hardtail unless your name is Norman NoSkills... Apparently it's like Fire Hut was, but steeper and faster. Fire Hut was a VERY flowy trail... Absolutely sublime though. 

 

I wouldn't go near the Black trail on a hardtail unless you had tons of skill. Even then, probably not advisable. 

Thanks Myles

Myles Mayhew, Oct 28 2015 11:07

Myles, where is the Red Phoenix trail? Is it Neverending?

No clue, tbh. It's one of the new ones. 

 

EDIT: No. Neverending is the Blue trail. Still there. 

 

Red Phoenix is, well, red. But I reckon it's also a blue ito difficulty. 

 

Trail Development Update: All trails stemming from The Waterfall Trail Head are almost complete. We hope they open late this coming week or early the week after. This is dependent on the arrival of signage and the completion of the Red Line. Bennet is about 400 meters from it's completion meaning the Trail Head located high-up where Neverending Story starts. Most of us are familar with the Blue Line (Neverending Story), which is an excellent trail. The Red Line will enable even higher speed with many cool features for those with the skills to take them (optional). The Black Line is really a different trail to what we have known in Jonkershoek and many other areas; very technical we recommend only long travel bicycles and the usual protective gear. Be patient ... the trails will officially open soon.

sawystertrance, Oct 28 2015 11:12

No clue, tbh. It's one of the new ones. 

 

EDIT: No. Neverending is the Blue trail. Still there. 

 

Red Phoenix is, well, red. But I reckon it's also a blue ito difficulty. 

 

Trail Development Update: All trails stemming from The Waterfall Trail Head are almost complete. We hope they open late this coming week or early the week after. This is dependent on the arrival of signage and the completion of the Red Line. Bennet is about 400 meters from it's completion meaning the Trail Head located high-up where Neverending Story starts. Most of us are familar with the Blue Line (Neverending Story), which is an excellent trail. The Red Line will enable even higher speed with many cool features for those with the skills to take them (optional). The Black Line is really a different trail to what we have known in Jonkershoek and many other areas; very technical we recommend only long travel bicycles and the usual protective gear. Be patient ... the trails will officially open soon.

Thanks. I read all that but wasn't sure if Red was new or had been developed over Never Ending.

KathF, Oct 28 2015 11:17

Red isn't a commonly used IMBA trail grading colour in South Africa as we usually have blue routes in general, that may include elements of red, but for those who would like the definition:

 

RED: DIFFICULT

SUITABLE FOR: Regular cyclists with experience of moderate trails.Suitable for offroad quality mountain bikes.

TRAIL TYPES: Any usable trail with pushing or portage unlikely to exceed 2% of total distance.

GRADIENT: A wide range of climbs and descents of a challenging nature.

SURFACE / WIDTH: Widths from 1m, and any usable surface. Likely to include singletrack and other technical sections.

ACCEPTABLE HAZARDS: The route should be judged on the basis that a reasonably experienced rider riding within his/her level of skill and prevailing ground conditions, would not be expected to fall.

 

Really cool pics Ewald! Those trails will definitely get someone over their fear of rocks ;) Looks amazing…and that's not "Enduro" - Enduro's a flipping race format - that is serious mountain biking. 

Myles Mayhew, Oct 28 2015 11:24

Red isn't a commonly used IMBA trail grading colour in South Africa as we usually have blue routes in general, that may include elements of red, but for those who would like the definition:

 

RED: DIFFICULT

SUITABLE FOR: Regular cyclists with experience of moderate trails.Suitable for offroad quality mountain bikes.

TRAIL TYPES: Any usable trail with pushing or portage unlikely to exceed 2% of total distance.

GRADIENT: A wide range of climbs and descents of a challenging nature.

SURFACE / WIDTH: Widths from 1m, and any usable surface. Likely to include singletrack and other technical sections.

ACCEPTABLE HAZARDS: The route should be judged on the basis that a reasonably experienced rider riding within his/her level of skill and prevailing ground conditions, would not be expected to fall.

 

Really cool pics Ewald! Those trails will definitely get someone over their fear of rocks ;) Looks amazing…and that's not "Enduro" - Enduro's a flipping race format - that is serious mountain biking. 

Very #Enduro™©®

 

Or is it #DownDuro now. #UpnDownDuro. #EndurBro & #EndurVrou?

KathF, Oct 28 2015 11:39

Very #Enduro™©®

 

Or is it #DownDuro now. #UpnDownDuro. #EndurBro & #EndurVrou?

 

#DownDownNowNow #UpUpMuchLaterSkater

iRide, Oct 28 2015 12:17

Damn, I want to work for iride.........

What are the requirements?

 

We are always look for freelance guides (especially in the Stellenbosch area). Requirements? Qualified guide & first aid certificate (preferably wilderness based) and PDP drivers license.

 

On the riding front, you have to be elite level in terms of fitness and technical ability to keep up with the best customers and have the patience of a saint to ride with the slowest!

Eddy Gordo, Oct 28 2015 12:47

We are always look for freelance guides (especially in the Stellenbosch area). Requirements? Qualified guide & first aid certificate (preferably wilderness based) and PDP drivers license.

 

On the riding front, you have to be elite level in terms of fitness and technical ability to keep up with the best customers and have the patience of a saint to ride with the slowest!

Damn, I am probably one of the most unfit and slowest around.

I was referring to working on the trail daze experience though.

Beer4Recovery, Oct 28 2015 03:21

I can't believe this in South Africa!!

 

Awesome photography and the trails looks mint!

Rockrabbit, Oct 28 2015 03:50

Are any trails in Jonkershoek open yet? Im heading to Stellies this weekend and looking for some trails to ride. Any suggestions?

droenn, Oct 28 2015 03:52

Stick to Eden / Coetzenberg and Bottleray this weekend. Hopefully we get the green light to hit up Jonkers next week?