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Cape Town is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It was first discovered by Portuguese explorers looking for a sea route to India and later became a refreshment stop for passing traders in 1652. This brought a multitude of different people and cultures to the Cape over the years.
Not only are the people diverse, but the landscape and terrain is too, which makes for some amazing riding opportunities within a relatively small area. Most of the best trails are on the outskirts of Cape Town on the escarpment which separates the Cape Flats from the Overberg. This area is predominantly farmland, with wine vineyards holding most of the weight and a few protected nature reserves scattered in between.
Andrew Neethling grew up here and started his career on the trails on Helderberg Mountain and Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, which have both grown into amazing trail networks that can keep you busy all day!
The MTB scene in Cape Town has always been strong, but in recent years it has seen a huge boom with tons more riders and a lot of the farm owners adding trails on their property. So much so, that some areas have a number of farms working together to be able to extend these trails further, which makes the riding experience even more amazing. More riding trails have been opened up around the CBD itself too. Table Mountain has always had a lot of hiking trails, but bikes have not been welcome until recently, with some of the most beautiful mountains and views in the world you couldn't have a more picturesque place to ride.
Andrew invited Scotty Laughland to join him and show the Scott what summer and dry dusty trails are all about. Being used to mainly snow and mud it was a welcome change for him. Having raced the Enduro World Series, Scott has had his fair share of time on the saddle and didn't take long to get used to the loose gravel and granite rocks the Cape has to offer.
“Helderberg Trails is literally where I did my first downhill race. It is crazy to think back to then. I remember going up there in the weeks leading up to the race on my fully rigid hardtail alongside my brother and some mates to ride and practice. We just used to push up we were so excited. We were mostly riding some hiking trails and the odd single track made for the race. Helderberg Trails is the mountain where I would spend a ton of time shuttling leading up to local races as it was right in my hometown as a teenager. I guess it really was so a huge factor in helping my career. It has honestly come full circle as I helped build, fund and run the trail centre and bike park on the very hill I raced dh for the first time. I have been riding this spot for easily 20 years.”
“Jonkershoek has a deep history in SA Mountain Biking. It is one of the oldest and most popular places that was legal for mountain biking back in the day. I raced my first XC national here and actually my brother raced the downhill. Funny to think he was younger but raced a dh race before me. We then went onto to racing many dh races in Jonkershoek. It was one of the few places that would host dh races. I learnt a ton racing on this mountain. Jonkershoek has really grown and the trail network is very impressive now. The views are just amazing and you can ride here for hours. Helderberg Trails and Jonkershoek went from raw trails built by eager mountain bikers to fully fledged trail centers that are world class. They have purpose built trails with marked routes for different skill levels. Trail builders are now employed to build and maintain these trails. These places still host races but are mostly used by everyday mountain bikers which is great to see.”
Cape Town CBD
“Riding around the CBD of Cape Town is very special if you think about it. It shows how popular mountain biking is getting. From in the past where we would poach some of these places to ride to now being fully legal and marked trails. There is a great mix of terrain from granite rock to forest to rock terrain. The views are probably the most impressive when you ride around Lions Head or under Table Mountain.”
The trails in and around Cape Town have not only grown in number, but the quality of the trails, combined with the views has brought a lot of international attention to our backyard. It is amazing to see the progression and it's undoubtedly the best way to see our beautiful country. Enjoy watching Andrew show Scotty the beautiful gems of the Cape!