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Marathon/XC bikes from • • • •
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Trail bikes from • Specialized • Felt • Trek
SLX – Shimano’s new sweet spot
I SS U E 2
ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2009
Gloves, helmets shoes, shorts and eyewear
Winter 2009 R36.95 (incl VAT)
Montagu • Baakens Valley Rietvlei Farm • Howick
EVENTS Dirtopia, Cape Epic PMB World Cup
WOMEN’S BIKES Hip or hype? TECH Rear suspension demystified
TOP RIDERS | BEST RACES | SKILLS | TRENDS | GEAR | NUTRITION
REMARK-ABLE “I have learnt all I need to know about the things that are admirable in the human condition from things with two wheels and the people who ride them. If I wait long enough all the opposition will eventually die of old age, so I will get back on a podium one day, or my Alzheimer’s will be so bad I won’t remember I wanted to.” Geoff Vorpagel, ‘Pelvic Trust’, Page 80 “It wasn’t long before I turned my attention to bike tricks and the elusive wheelie. How many pages are there in the bible? That’s how many hours I spent worshipping the art of wheel lifting. Thirty years later and I am still on bended knee, praying for a little lift.” Andy Ellis, ‘Stoke’, Page 16 “I started riding dual suspension bikes back in 2004. People called me a granny back then, but these days, the trend is moving more and more towards dual suspension and I’m very settled, both for XC and marathons.” Tania Raats, ‘My Bike’, Page 78 “I spend some time climbing hotel stairs when I’m in Europe or the United States on stopovers. Ninety minutes is about 500m ascent. Then to prepare for my nights under the stars you might find me sleeping outside with the dog on the grass in my bivvy sac.” Tim James, ‘My Fitness’, Page 76 “Hardly anyone ever asks me, but if I had to pick the day mountain biking started, it was the day Joe rolled out his first Breezer, inspired by Repack.” Charlie Kelly, ‘Take your mark. Get set. Grow!’ Page 22
4 SOUL PROVIDER Editor’s welcome DROOL Dreamy rides in South Africa
8 CLUTTER Dept. of Current Affairs STOKE Wheel of Fortune
CLOSE TO HOME Rietvlei Farm,
Gauteng 36 URBAN TRAIL Baakens Valley, Eastern Cape
CONSUMER Are you getting bang
18 SKILL Ride steep, rocky drops
20 FUEL Fine Italian fare HERITAGE Take Your Mark. Get Set. Grow!
28 WEEKEND AWAY Montagu, Western Cape
32 CLOSE TO HOME Howick, KwaZulu-Natal
TREAD WINTER 2009
for your buck?
44 EVENT Alec Lenferna, the man behind the MTB World Cup
MANUFACTURER Patrick Morewood talks about his
new XC model
BIKES & GEAR
MARATHON BIKES from Merida, Silverback and Pivot
54 TRAIL BIKES from Specialized and Felt
58 WOMEN’S BIKES from Santa Cruz and Trek TECH Rear suspension demystified
70 REVIEWED Shorts, eyewear, gloves and more
74 REVIEWED Shimano’s SLX groupset MY FITNESS Tim James
Contents Freeriding was one of the 15 events at Dirtopia â€“ Page 88 Photo: GREG BEADLE
ON THE COVER The Specialized Enduro SL tackles a rocky descent at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Krugersdorp. Photo: AUBREY JONSSON
SUBSCRIBE AND WIN PRIZES WORTH R85000! Page 42-43
MY BIKE Tania Raats
MY CHALLENGE Geoff Vorpagel
RACES OF NOTE Pietermaritzburg World Cup,
Cape Epic, Dirtopia
92 CALENDAR Races in June, July and August BLEND Konstant Greyling
TREAD WINTER 2009
Photo: DOMINIC BARNARDT
Editor: SEAN BADENHORST firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editors BARRY McCALLUM, ANDY ELLIS Contributing Photographers GREG BEADLE, AUBREY JONSSON, MARK WING Creative Director: NOLENE SAUNDERS email@example.com Contributors: SVEN MARTIN, GARY PERKIN, CRAIG DUTTON, WARREN VAN RENSBURG, DOMINIC BARNARDT, CARL SCHOLTZ, WAYNE PETTIT, www.oakpics.com; SUZIE ASSENMACHER, DONOVAN JACKSON, ANTON BOSMAN, GEOFF VORPAGEL, CHRISTA NORTH, JASON BRONKHORST. Publisher: DONOVAN JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Publisher: JOANNE BADENHORST email@example.com Brand Manager: MARK JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Address: 22 Collins Street, Kensington B, Randburg, 2194 For advertising or subscription enquiries, email email@example.com or call 0832797797 TREAD magazine is published with passion quarterly by Retread Publishing CC. All material is copyright and may not be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the publishers.
More trails please...
ountain bike racing is strong in
especially for small towns in outlying areas.
In addition to helping with trail-building advice
this country. We’ve got a packed
What better way to discover our wonderful
or hands-on support, we’ll help promote, both
calendar of high quality events
country than on a mountain bike?
new and existing trails. We just need you to
that would make mountain bikers
Our sole benevolent beneficiary is Amarider,
tell us about them. Email anything trail related
in other countries soooo jealous! And despite
a non-profit organisation that creates new
to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s build a
the current economic crunch, mountain bike
trails (find out more at www.amarider.co.za)
mountain bike trail network of note!
events are still attracting big numbers.
in a way that creates both economic and social
One of our TREAD initiatives is TREAD Trails. A section of our business (that happens to
improvement to the areas through which the
be my personal passion) aimed at building and
We also have our own expert TREAD
promoting mountain bike trails throughout the
trail-building team that’s eagerly working on
country. Many mountain bikers enter events in
new trail initiatives on private land.
Feedback on the launch issue of TREAD
order to have a safe, marked environment for
It’s a win-win situation. More trails means
has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you
a ride. We want to make sure you don’t have to
more places to ride. There’s no reason
for your support! I hope you enjoy this issue as
enter an event to do a satisfying ride. We want
why South Africa shouldn’t be the premier
much as we enjoyed putting it together. And for
to grow recreational mountain biking.
mountain bike destination in the world.
those who want more of TREAD between
It’s most encouraging that plenty of private
We’ve got the most diverse terrain, including
editions, visit our website which we’re steadily
landowners are opening their hearts – and their
a number of mountain ranges. And, compared
developing into THE online gathering place for
gates – to mountain bike trails, which is proving
to most northern hemisphere countries, we
mountain bikers with soul.
to be a growing source of tourism income,
have good year-round weather.
TREAD WINTER 2009
TREAD WINTER 2009
Go with the flow
he KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is one mountain bikingâ€™s hot spots with a variety of mostly hilly wilderness
terrain thatâ€™ll either make you breathe hard or take your breath away. Here, riders negotiate a floating bridge across the Karkloof River, during the recent Mr Price Karkloof Classic.
PHOTO: MARK WING
Clutter Following on the huge success of the recent Nissan UCI World Cup in Pietermartizburg, Nissan has extended its support of local mountain biking with the Nissan MTB Series, which starts in Pretoria on 20 June. Photo: GARY PERKIN
here are an estimated 25 million Garden Gnomes in Germany, which is nothing
more than a bit of trivia about Gnomes since we couldn’t think of any other way to start this article. But it neatly takes us to a second paragraph where we can go completely off topic from the rest of the magazine and introduce Dawie the Garden Gnome, who first caught our attention just after the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg when he jammed our in-box with photos of himself posing with mountain biking celebrities. More of a gravity fan than a cardio one, Dawie made himself right at home in the pits and on the course in Maritzburg, boldly going where no Gnome had gone before. He’s moved from Pietermaritzburg to Port Elizabeth and has become a mountain bike fundi. His experiences are being immortalised at www.treadmag.co.za where you can see him photographed with more MTB celebs than any other human – or Gnome – ever…
Dawie with Greg Minnaar and Rob Roskopp, owner of Santa Cruz bicycles
NISSAN MOUNTAIN BIKE SERIES BOOSTS GAUTENG CALENDAR
ountain biking has fast become one of the
“It’s a relatively flat course which makes it nice
most popular participation sports in the
and fast for the top racers, but a comfortable
country. Mountain bikes are currently outselling
enough challenge for those just wanting a fun
road bikes by around more than 25 to one as
time on their bike,” said John Paul Pearton,
more active people are drawn to the range of
winner of the 60km race held at the same
physical challenges and health benefits the
venue in 2008. “Its close proximity to Joburg
and Pretoria is sure to make it a very popular
With around 45 percent of the country’s
mountain bikers based in Gauteng and a
To cater for everyone that attends the
shortage of high quality events in the province,
Nissan MTB Series events, whether riding or
the new Nissan MTB Series is expected to
supporting, plenty of off-the-bike facilities have
provide a significant boost to the local racing
been arranged, including a beer tent, kiddies
play area, Dros Food Court, a comfortable
The five-event series starts this month and
Nissan chill area with plasma screen televisions
runs until November with one event per month,
(for rugby fans) and the Dylan Victor Extreme
excluding August. The first leg, on Saturday, 20
June at Tyger Valley College, east of Pretoria, caters for all levels of mountain biker, with
2009 Nissan MTB Series
three races: 60km, 30km and an 8km fun ride.
• Saturday 20 June: Nissan Tyger Valley
All finishers will get a medal and all pre-entrants
• Saturday 18 July: Nissan Diamond Rush
will receive a great goody-bag.
• Saturday 5 September: Nissan Down &
“Mountain biking is a great family activity, so the events in the Nissan MTB Series are geared to cater for all ages,” said Series Director, Fritz Pienaar. “We’ve secured some of the best mountain biking trails in the province for the
Dirty • Saturday 24 October: Nissan Sammy Marks 6-Hour • Saturday 21 November: Nissan Pecanwood
events and experienced riders will like the
Dawie with Jared Graves, winner of the men’s 4X
fact that the first event at Tyger Valley is 40%
Had a ride, or a coffee, or a beer, or a pic taken with a local or international mountain biking celeb? Well, tell us about it by sending your pics and story to email@example.com
“Quote/comment from Nissan representative
TREAD WINTER 2009
singletrack on a single 60km loop.” to go here…,” said XXXXX XXXXXX, XXXXXXXXX XXXXXX of Nissan South Africa
For more information on the Nissan Tyger Valley event, as well as other events in the Nissan MTB Series, visit www.mtbseries.co.za or call 083 6866293.
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TREAD WINTER 2009
Clutter UCI praises PMB World Cup
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given high praise in its final report on the recent Mountain Bike World Cup, presented by Shimano, sponsored by DCM Chrome, held last month in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The UCI’s comprehensive 15-page report on the most prestigious cycling event ever held in Africa, heaped praise on the organisers, the city of Pietermaritzburg, the region of KwaZulu-Natal and the South African mountain biking community for the successful staging of the new event, a strong indication the event will be re-awarded to Pietermaritzburg in 2010. Although the UCI identified some areas that could be improved upon, none were of any huge significance and the Event Director, Alec Lenferna, was satisfied: “We knew there were some areas that were not 100% and we had already identified these elements in our internal meetings, so the report by the UCI held no surprises for us. It was the first time that a Triple event (Downhill, 4X and Cross-country) had ever been staged in Africa so we had no template to work off really and we are very satisfied with what has come out of the report.” Among the areas that received the highest praise from the UCI was the level of the support from the public. Approximately 17000 enthusiasts streamed into the competition arena adjacent to the Cascades Shopping Centre on the northwest perimeter of the city over the three days. It has also been calculated that the event generated at least a R19 million boost for the city and surrounding areas, with more than R15.5 million spent on accommodation, restaurants and in the retail sector. The organisers also spent more than R2.1 million with local suppliers who provided services and infrastructure. In addition to millions of Rands worth of print and online media exposure, both locally and abroad, the event received a total of 949 hours of television coverage in over 190 countries. The estimated size of the global TV audience for the Pietermaritzburg event is over 2 billion.
Lezyne Smart Wallet For obvious reasons, you don’t take a wallet with you when you ride, but that could all change if you have a Lezyne Smart Wallet. It’s slightly bigger than your average wallet and has compartments for tyre levers, patch kit and a multi-tool. It’s also got a pocket for money and another for your credit card or medical card. And if you’ve got a small cell phone, there’s a waterproof, sealable pocket for that too. Made from waterproof nylon fabric with a strong Velcro flap, it’s a compact way to keep all your bits together and it fits perfectly into a traditional lower-back jersey pocket. Price: R 290 Contact: www.twowheelstrading.co.za; 041 368 5708
TREAD WINTER 2009
A BEER WITH…
Is one-wheel mountain biking half the fun of two? Not according to Ruan Deyzel, one of a growing band of fat-tyred unicyclists. How many unicycle mountain bikers are there in South Africa? It is still very new here, so probably 30. Is it growing fast? Definitely, the Mountain Unicycle is the model that is the most popular. We only started to promote this discipline in the past year but the interest is increasing daily. How did you get into it? My friend Fanie Kok was the guy who got one first from a cycle shop and I learned with him. He broke that specific model in two days – it was a cheap Chinese import – and that is when we met Alan, owner of OddWheel unicycles. We bought two decent unicycles and got hooked! Is it more fun or satisfying than regular mountain biking? In some aspects, definitely. Going downhill, taking drop-offs and winding singletracks. It makes the simplest singletrack into a maze of obstacles to conquer. It definitely improves your balance and co-ordination and we’ve seen our regular MTB skills improve dramatically. How long did it take you to learn how to ride the unicycle? It took us about two days to learn, but we’ve seen some guys ride about 20 odd metres after half an hour. It can become addictive. Why should we try it? Well, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have on one wheel <chuckles>. Also it’s a massive challenge and the feeling of accomplishment after you’ve done a section of singletrack is incredible. It’s a great form of cross training for mountain biking and strengthens the core muscles like you won’t believe. What does a typical MTB unicycle cost? The most popular model (Qu-Ax Cross 24”) costs around R2300, these models are quite rugged and you will definitely have to go out of your way to break it. They are strong and rigid and can take a lot of hammering. The top of the range model will cost around R5000, but it’s bombproof! Where are they sold? There’s an online shop – www.unicycle.co.za. Do you do shows? We do shows on request, and since this is something that attracts a huge amount of eyes and interest you get quite a crowd if you stay at one location. But generally we do it more for the fun and enjoyment of doing something different. You were seen doing the downhill course at the MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg. How was that? Jip we did, that was a lot of fun and very scary at some places, the atmosphere was electric from all the action and we got a huge cheer as we went past on some sections. Most people thought that we were mad, but it was a blast and it was great to experience a part of the historical event.
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: AUBREY JONSSON
TREAD WINTER 2009
Clutter Read this…
I forgot about this one after yet another Amazon delivery went awry, but I got a mate in the UK to courier me a copy of Downhill: The Life
Compiled by Barry McCallum
Cycle of a Gravity Goddess. It’s American great Marla Streb’s tale of how she went from lab biologist to bike messenger to off-road legend. All the reviews I’ve read praise Streb – who has ridden, and
won, everything from XC, DH, dual slalom, cyclocross, MX races –
In the last issue of TREAD, we told you
for her forthrightness, humility and guts. Her message is simple:
about the world premiere of Clay Porter’s The
if you love something, live it; if you don’t have passion, you have
Tipping Point in Pietermaritzburg. Now, we
nothing. (Hope it’s got some photos…particularly the nude she
can tell you how to get your greasy paws on
posed for – with bike, of course – in Outside magazine.) For those
a copy of his take on each round of the 2008
who want to tackle Meurant Botha’s punishing 160-kilometre race in
UCI Downhill World Cup Series and the World
the Cape next year, Streb also penned Bicycling Magazine’s: Century
Championships. It’s just become available exclusively from VAS Entertainment. Order it at http://www.kickerfilms.com/the-tippingpoint-p-541.html I was a tad disappointed when The
Training Program: 100 Days to 100 Miles, which should provide some pointers. The book was written when she introduced her older brother, and busy family man, Dave, to the sport and whacked him into shape. I’ve seen it in Exclusive Books, but a search of the website doesn’t list it.
Collective – the bunch of guys behind the eponymous film The Collective as well as Roam and Seasons - announced that there wouldn’t be a fourth film. The good news is that the some of the key members reformed under the Anthill Films banner and have been filming a new offering, called Follow Me, which will hit screens early next year. Even better news is that you don’t have to wait that long to see what’s coming … there are plans to flight ‘webisodes’ up until the release, and there is already some footage and a demo reel at www.anthillfilms.com. “The film’s central concept,” says Darcy Wittenburg, “is no one rides alone – focusing on the idea that the best times we have on our bikes is when we’re riding with our friends.” Featured riders include Sam Hill, Gee Atherton, Steve Smith, Thomas Vanderham, Matt Hunter, Ben Boyko, Kurt Sorge and Geoff Gulevich. Expect a departure from The Collective’s distinctive
“Our goal is to really push ourselves as filmmakers to come up with something completely original” says Wittenburg.
Surf this… Hate golf? Do you, like Mark Twain, believe it is a “good walk spoiled”? Maybe if it was played with these rules, it could be a little more appealing… - - -
No Golf Clubs, Golf Courses, Golf Rules, little wooden ‘tees’ and especially No Golf Clothes of any kind! Rifles, handguns, shotguns, etc., are all acceptable “clubs”. (…And most importantly…) You MUST ride to the X-treme Mountainbike Golf Game on a mountain bike and carry all your own equipment. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Read more about the niche sport created by a bunch of “dangerous right-wing militants who preach a scorched earth policy if the bastards won’t let us ride” at http://www.mountainbikemilitia.com/ gungolf.html. Surf the site, and rediscover your redneck roots, and find out where to be and what to do when Carmageddon comes… Talking about those keeping it simple, you gotta love the folk at www.singlespeedoutlaw.com who are about just three things: “ONE SPEED BIKES. BEER. MUSIC”. Simpler still are the guys behind www.smokebikes.com, who proudly declare their mission statement: “One Gear/ One Break/No Coasting”. They produce crazy fixie MTBs, which are given even crazier names like Damn Fool, Pinhead and Thoughtless Wonder. Listen to this... Coming soon: Pearl Jam have been busy of late. They’ve dumped Sony, their label of almost two decades, remastered the classic Ten album, shot a commercial for new distributor, the US retail chain Target, with Cameron Crowe, and are putting the finishing touches on their latest album called Backspacer. While the first single is only slated for release in July, and the album in the following months, the band gave a preview of one of the tracks, ‘Got Some’, on Conan O’Brien’s first hosting of The Tonight Show. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtX_wcDPaHg TREAD’s Classic track: ‘Hell is for Children’ by Pat Benatar. This song, from the 1980 album Crimes of Passion, was one of Benetar’s biggest hits. I’d never given the lyrics much thought until
Got a website, book, CD or DVD you think we should check out, drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and write ‘Media’ in the subject field.
TREAD WINTER 2009
recently when watching NWD7: Flying High Again. My eldest son, Conor, said he didn’t like the song, which is the backing track to Kyle Strait’s segment. I found this interview by Benatar on www. songfacts.com: “…the New York Times did a series of articles about child abuse… I came from a really small town… and I had no idea that this existed, not in the little gingerbread place I came from. I was stunned… It turned into (a) thing that I don’t think any of us foresaw. The anguish is there.”
My Wheel of Shame
American upbringing gave him an edge over me: a barefoot Trompie with a catty stuck in his khaki shorts. He introduced me to the glamour of skateboarding, football and baseball. The boy had a fresh set of skills, and a stash of smuggled Playboy magazines
By Andy Ellis
holed up in a tree house at the bottom of the garden. Man, I loved that tree house. We spent hours building the jumps and berms, integral to a respectable BMX track, in a nearby veld. On completion came the belly laughs, bruises and blood from riding a 1975 Chopper on terrain it wasn’t geared for. Come to think of it, that bike – with its mangy front wheel – wasn’t good for any degree of hooliganism on any surface. It wasn’t long before I creamed it into a twisted wreck. In a moment of Western diplomacy the American proposed a solution to my shortfall on the bike front: a swap, just until I’d greased my dad enough for him to buy me another bike. His BMX for my pellet gun. We spat in our palms and shook on it. While the American was out stalking, and decimating, the pigeon population I
ll I need is a little rolling momentum
I can’t wheelie. I described a recurring,
scrambled on the BMX. The jumps came
before I load a calculated amount
intensely vivid, dream I’ve had since
easy – I pedalled at them with little concern
of weight into the front shock,
childhood. In the real world of bike riding
of consequence and they rewarded me
shift to the back of the saddle
I’m good for one precious second of hang
with sufficient airtime and indescribable
and then gracefully lift the wheel off of the
time, and then it all comes crashing down:
exhilaration… except for the time my foot
gravel. Sometimes I feather the back brake
my capable-biker image, applause, loose
slipped off of the pedal and I crushed my
to fine-tune the balance, but that’s seldom
women, the whole bloody fantasy. I can’t
balls on the top tube.
necessary, and even then, the move, it’s so
wheelie, and that’s why I snarl at those who
It wasn’t long before I turned my attention
subtle you’d never notice. Yeah man, just
can. Go ahead, slap me with the might of a
to bike tricks and the elusive wheelie. How
like that. I can wheelie forever. Further than
Tik-starved gangster for abusing you earlier.
many pages are there in the bible? That’s
Hans Rey. It’s how I roll.
Nothing can eclipse the intense pain of
how many hours I spent worshipping the art
Can you keep your wheel lifted for as long
jealousy I have endured over the decades,
of wheel lifting. Thirty years later and I am
as you please? Well then I hate you. Freak.
not even medieval thumbscrew torture.
still on bended knee, praying for a little lift.
You heard me. Bloomin show-off. Mountain
Google that, if you’re over 18. Witness my
The trouble with all things arty, like drawing,
bikes are made with two wheels. Both of
is that there is no middle ground - you either
The trouble with all things arty, like drawing, is that there is no middle ground - you either can or you can’t.
can or you can’t. People, the wheelie gene is not in my blood. But in my dreams… I’m poetry on pumped rubber. I have the wheelie dream at least
them are meant to roll on the ground. If you
The obsession began with a three-speed
once a month. Honest, I do. It always begins
lot insist on hanging sack over the back wheel
Chopper. I was nine or 10. The kid next
with me riding my bike and wondering if this
then do me a favour and go get a unicycle.
door was the son of an American contract
is the moment that the curse will be lifted.
I hear Boswell Wilkie is hiring clowns. What?
worker. BMX had yet to make its mark on the
I pull back and yes! I’m up for the duration
What about the first bit about my one-
Highveld, but this snot-nosed, cocky Texan…
of the sleep cycle. In the afterglow of the
wheeled prowess? Ah bollocks, the shame.
he had one. And he could wheelie the thing.
dream I lie in bed and bask. Sometimes I
Despite being my age, his first world, all-
believe it’s true.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Drop. Rock. And Roll Being able to tackle rocky descents is one of the more formidable skills to master. While it appears to be a very physical challenge, the bulk of it is mental and confidence plays a big role. By Sean Badenhorst
As with most MTB skills, balance and momentum are key. If you go too slowly, you’re likely to come to an unscheduled stop and topple over because you’ll be unsuccessfully trying to maintain balance. If you’re going too fast, you won’t have enough time to choose the best/right line and this could see you execute a dishonourable dismount. Hesitation is a big no-no so you really do need to be committed to the descent in order to clear it.
Do this: 1. If possible, lower your saddle about 50-80mm to give you more room to move. 2. Approach the descent at what you feel is an ideal speed – not too fast, not too slow (each will be slightly different). Stand up with pedals parallel, knees and elbows slightly bent and look ahead to find the most appropriate line. Scan the early part of the descent, as well as further down to ensure you’re able to continue unhindered all the way down. 3. Once you’ve committed to a line, you must stick to it. Maintain your speed only touching the rear or both brakes if absolutely necessary – and even then, just feathering them. Lean off the back of the saddle and, if necessary right back so that your stomach is resting on the saddle. Use your hips to adjust your weighting on the bike if necessary as steering isn’t always an option. 4. Maintain your focus and keep looking ahead to where you want to go. If you let your thoughts wander, so will your bike. Keep the speed/ momentum constant and relax your legs and arms in order to soak up anything your suspension can’t.
Some things to remember: • You can never really lean too far back, so don’t be afraid to. • You’re unlikely to ever take exactly the same line each time you tackle a specific steep rocky descent. • Don’t hesitate. Commit and stay committed all the way down. You’ll have a big smile at the bottom guaranteed! PHOTOS: Aubrey Jonsson
Sean Badenhorst looks ahead to where he wants to go
TREAD WINTER 2009
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Available from Doctors, leading Pharmacies, Dis-Chem Pharmacies, Health Stores or from SOLAL Technologies. The most useful health website in SA: www.solaltech.com Visit our website for free downloads, comprehensive product information, booklet guide and chart, price list and to watch a free online video on how to use nutraceutical supplements safely and effectively
Tel: 011 783 3939 or 086 11 SOLAL (Health Line) Fax: 011 783 3399 TREAD WINTER 2009 email: email@example.com
Buon Appetito By Christa North R.D.
When you’re hungry, really hungry, you don’t want to waste time picking your way through your food to get to the good stuff. This could be why mountain bikers find the Italian staples, pasta and pizza, so attractive. Let’s face it; plain pasta and the actual pizza base are dull without the wide variety of ingredients or toppings that make Italian one of the most popular food options in the country. They’re also widely available which means that you’re never far from your next square – or round – meal. Here are some suggested options, depending on your gastronomic goals: I’m watching my weight: PASTA Pasta is naturally a low-fat food, so it’s the topping you have to watch out for when keeping your weight in check. Tomato or vegetablebased sauces will therefore be the best option. Avoid if there is any suggestion of creamy, white or cheese sauces. Go for whole wheat or durum wheat where you can and keep the portion size in check! Examples: Aglio e Olio at Mimmos, or Pomodoro at Col’Cacchio, or Arrabiata at M&A. PIZZA Ways to make a pizza more weight-friendly include choosing a thin base, losing all (or at least most of) the cheese, and sharing the (smaller-sized) pizza with someone else, thereby cutting down on your portion. The preferred toppings for the weight-conscious should be vegetable or chicken based; and watch out for the extras such as avocado and Parmesan. Col’Cacchio Pizzerias get them as healthy as they can come. Try their Funghi Erbe or the basic Margherita.
TREAD WINTER 2009
It’s understandable why road cyclists are so fixated on coffees. Italy has always been one of the greatest road cycling nations and its coffee variations are part of the road cycling culture. But mountain biking’s roots are in California where cappuccino only really became widely available in the early 1990s. That’s around the time when mountain biking went from being an American sport to a global one. And Europeans, with the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees in their back yard, didn’t waste any time in embracing all forms of mountain biking and incorporating it into their cultures. This was around the same time they started drinking cappuccino throughout the day and not just to accompany breakfast, as had traditionally been the case. Cappuccino is one of the most popular hot drinks for South African mountain bikers too and here’s why it’s not a bad thing: Milk is one of the most nutritious foods you’ll ever find, and it builds muscle! The protein in milk consists of whey (80%) and casein (20%). Both are high-quality proteins, but whey is quickly broken down into amino acids and absorbed into the bloodstream, hence a very good protein to consume after your workout. If you are watching your weight, go for the skinny cappa. Coffee is a complex chemical mixture reported to contain more than a thousand different chemicals, including carbohydrates, lipids, nitrogenous compounds, vitamins, minerals, alkaloids and phenolic compounds. Caffeine has become an even bigger topic of interest in research studies, which have drawn a wide range of conclusions on its effects. On the plus side, regular consumption of caffeine can reduce the chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, has been linked to protecting the body against gallstones and improving alertness. In addition, it appears to enhance mood and temporarily improve physical stamina. Keep in mind that moderation is the key – three cups per day of caffeinated beverages yield these positive results. On the flipside, caffeine can interfere with sleep patterns when you drink it a few hours before bedtime and has been associated with an increase in blood pressure and homocysteine.
Fuel Who cares about weight gain, I just want fuel for tomorrow’s big ride: PASTA High in carbohydrates but with a low GI; pasta is the ideal food for fuelling up! The pasta portion should be big and the extras small. Take your choice of pasta with Arrabiata or Napoletana sauces. Filled pastas such as ravioli are good choices – try Butternut Capelletti or Spinach Panzerotti (Col’Cacchio) or Woolies’ Greek Pasta Salad. And drink enough water, as pasta requires plenty of water for effective carbo-loading of the muscles. PIZZA Pizzas are better suited for recovery after rides. But if that is your main pre-ride option, focus on toppings that you know will go easy on the stomach (no chillis!) and avoid gas-forming toppings such as avocados, garlic, onions, leeks and peppers. Try a seafood or Hawaiian pizza!
That ride was a killer! Give me (gasp) something to (gasp) eat now: PASTA A starter of focaccia or garlic bread will give a quick sugar boost. Then move onto traditional lasagna or spaghetti bolognese, which help boost energy levels and also feed the muscles. At home, keep Woolworths’ noodle boxes in the cupboard e.g. Noodle Box with Pad Thai Noodles & Sauce. The noodles will release carbs quickly. PIZZA For quick recovery, pizza is the way to go! It is that high-GI pizza base that will get those sugar levels up fast. The less toppings on the pizza, the quicker carbohydrates are released into the blood. However, we also need some proteins and by choosing meaty toppings such as bacon, mince or anchovies, you will add some vital salts as a bonus, while recovering the muscles.
HOME vs ROAM Sure, it’s more fun to eat pizza and pasta at Italian restaurants, but you can make your own at home too. PASTA Pasta is the ultimate fast food as it only takes 8–10 minutes to cook. While it is cooking, chop up some tomatoes, lettuce, basil leaves, olives, feta and a tin of tuna for a tasty pasta salad. Woolworths has a range of delicious ready-made sauces available to add to your homemade pasta dish: Slimmer’s Choice Tomato & Herb Pasta Sauce, Chunky Roast Vegetable Pasta Sauce or Bolognese Sauce. PIZZA Various ready-made bases are available at supermarkets and are usually fairly high in salt, which, after a ride, might be an appropriate option. Ready-to-use foods from the cupboard such as tinned tomatoes, tuna, mushrooms, asparagus, pineapples; and cheese, garlic, feta and sliced ham from the fridge, will have you a pizza topping in no time. Use tortillas as a base for a lower-kilojoule option and last nights’ leftovers for a quick topping. Keep Woolworths’ Cheese & Tomato Pizza bases in the freezer.
Christa North is a Johannesburg-based Registered Dietician who tackles dietary challenges in a refreshingly practical way. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 886 3690.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Take your mark. Get set.
t started innocuously enough,” writes Joe Breeze of the bunch of guys who would gather to throw themselves down a twisty, sketchy fireroad on a mountain in Northern California in the 1970s. While there has been much debate, but little agreement, on who actually invented the mountain bike, there is no doubting the fact that the sport of mountain biking was born around the slopes of Mount Tamalpais, at a race called Repack… By Barry McCallum
TREAD WINTER 2009
The Racing “Ten minutes on Repack was the most condensed lesson in off-road racing you could get in 1976, and you either learned fast or you took up tennis instead.” – Charlie Kelly
s Kelly recalls it, the hill got its name sometime after a ride known as the Thanksgiving Appetite Seminar ended on that stretch of road in ’74: “One trip down that hill put years of wear onto a coaster brake, and if you did not immediately
disassemble it and repack all the bearings with grease, the hub would seize up very shortly afterward.” It became, Breeze writes, a popular, but illicit, downhill thrill for groups of friends for some years, “but whenever you get a bunch of competitive types together, someone is going to claim they are the fastest”. On October 21, 1976, Kelly organised a race to find out just who was. Set off at two-minute intervals, in a time-trial format, all but one of the 10 riders succumbed to either the deep erosion gullies running down the road, football-sized rocks, the trees lining the route or the off-camber, loosely packed corners. Alan Bonds, according to some, adopted a less reckless approach and stayed upright to claim victory. Those first Repack racers couldn’t keep that much fun all to themselves,
View from Mount Temalpais
TREAD WINTER 2009
and folk from around the Mount Tam area and beyond started pitching up regularly to line up at the start on a ridge on Pine Mountain and launch themselves into the slight uphill rise before the plunge would begin… The first downhill would lead to a fast blind
The Bikes and Gear
“The relationship of klunkers to mountain bikes is like primates to humans… they’re not the same, but they are related.” – James McLean, interviewed in Klunkerz
left, and into the steepest section of the course. This was said to be an angry mess of ruts and
rocks – and a misjudgement could make you
airborne and off-line for the next corner, and the series of nervy blind sweeps after that. The fact that it took up to 60 metres to stop the bikes led to landmarks on the course earning monikers like Danger ‘X’, Breeze Tree and the more ominous Vendetti’s Face.
Cruisers, beaters, bombers, ballooners, fat-
“I don’t think the Schwinn designers were
“Out of control, you must make a rapid
tyres… the bikes had different names in the
thinking about us when they designed those
decision, off the edge, or lay it down,” writes
towns dotted around the slopes of Mt Tam.
early fat-tyre bikes…”
Kelly in his maiden journalistic effort for
But dump the fenders, the chainguards and
It was Breeze to whom the first serious
Bicycling magazine. “Lay it down...damn...
any other unnecessary accessories, and you’d
riders turned when they wanted a bike
torn shirt, bloody elbow…(the shirt was old,
have a clunker.
designed and built to race off-road. In 1977,
so was the elbow).”
Although many cycling historians say that
Kelly approached him to build a light and strong
After a quick remount, the Repack racer
‘clunking’ has been around as long as the
clunker. Breeze agreed and based his bike on
would enter the most spectator-friendly
bicycle has, the Canyon Gang is often credited
the geometry of the Excelsior and welded 10
section: a series of fast switchbacks where
as putting on the first off-road ‘race’: a free-
frames*. These adopted a diamond-style with
maximum cornering speeds would be reached.
for all down Mt Tam to Larkspur Canyon to win
straight tubing and extra braces running from
a baggie of weed.
the top tube to the rear dropouts (Photo B).
This on a single-speed coaster would involve throwing the bike into a huge powerslide, in
These early clunker riders used anything
Two years later Kelly became a partner
which there would be three contact points with
they could get their hands on. Anything that
in the business, which would give the sport
the surface; the two wheels almost parallel to
broke was simply binned.
its name, ‘MountainBikes’, with Fisher, who
the road, and a trailing foot keeping the rider off the abrasive gravel.
One of the members, Marc Vendetti, who
turned up his nose at Breeze’s frames.
would later lend his name to the infamous
However, when Fisher approached the
“I’m going way too fast,” gasps cycling
landmark on Repack, joined the road racing Velo
prolific frame builder Tom Ritchey, he was
historian Frank J Berto, “if I’m going to wipe
Club Tamalpais in 1972 and introduced Breeze,
unaware that he had already been inspired to
out, let’s do it in style… Unreal. I didn’t fall…
Kelly and Otis Guy to off-road riding. These Marin
make his own custom clunker with 26X2.125”
Pedal, pedal, there’s the finish line.”
County roadies set out to modify the clunkers to
wheels after seeing a Breezer. Ritchey opted
better their efficiency and performance.
not to use the lateral braces on the Breezer
Breeze is the man who crossed that line the fastest in the most editions of race – 10 – but
According to Berto, choice components
(Breeze too would drop these on later
it was his biggest rival, Gary Fisher, who still
of the period included the Morrow coaster
models), and chose thicker material for the
holds the fastest time, four minutes 22 seconds
brake (which gave a Cupertino bike club its
downtube to increase strength and rigidity
down the two-mile (3.2km)-long course.
name) for the singlespeeds; and Suntour
Equipment failures – snapped forks, broken frames, twisted handlebars, buckled
thumbshifters, TA cranksets and Magura brake levers for geared clunkers.
The geometry was identical to the Breezer and so the Excelsior geometry remained in
wheels – meant that many riders didn’t make
An important development in the industry,
it to the end, and the injuries suffered were
notes Berto, came in 1976 when Bonds sought
Whereas Breeze had a reputation for
ugly. It was a broken arm at a race in ’79 –
out the ‘Legendary Wocus’, a bike shop owner
being fastidious and methodical, Ritchey
and a subsequent lawsuit, albeit unsuccessful
who had a ‘motherlode’ of old bikes rusting
was known as the ‘General Motors’ of frame-
– which prompted Kelly to call an end to the
out back. Working with Fisher and Kelly, he
building. He cranked out quality frames for
reconditioned the frames and built up clunkers
MountainBikes for the next four years, before
for resale, which ‘helped the Marin mountain
a fall-out with Fisher, and helped push the
with races sanctioned by the National Off-
bike movement reach a critical mass’.
industry into the mass market.
Road Bicycle Association (Norba), and then a
The preferred frame was the Schwinn Excelsior
special 20th anniversary edition in 1996.
(Photo A), but, as Breeze jokes in Klunkerz,
In 1984 and ’85 Repack was revisited
the DNA of the off-road bike.
*All 10 of the original batch of Breezers apparently still accounted for. TREAD WINTER 2009
For some insight into the origins of mountain biking – and Repack – get a copy of the Klunkerz DVD.
“We were a bunch of stupid hippies turning the world on its ear, the whole bike world…” – Gary Fisher.
The 1970s were a good time for alternative
for the Sons of Champlin rock band, he
sports in California. Skateboarding’s Z-Boys
became the pioneering promoter of the
from Los Angeles’ Dogtown were pushing
race scene and the foremost chronicler of
the limits on vert; the movie On Any Sunday
mountain biking. Prior to publishing the first-
gave motorbike freeriding a boost; Steven
ever mountain biking publication, the Fat Tyre
Spielberg’s blockbuster movie, ET, made the
Flyer newsletter in 1980, he penned the first
world aware of BMX bikes; and the growing
article on off-road racing – ‘Clunkers Among
media interest in what the Marin downhillers
the Hills’ – to appear in the mainstream
were doing was spreading.
printed media. It was published in Bicycling
The pioneers of these radical exploits
in January 1979. No article on the history of
would go on to make their lifestyles their
the sport can be written without visiting his
livings. “Marin’s clunkers and their riders
archives. He stills rides his bike every day.
had a counter-culture image,” Berto notes, but they would go on to fashion their fad into something formidable.
Ritchey and Breeze were slightly more mainstream people. Like Fisher, Ritchey raced road bikes at a
Although Fisher was a talented and
high level. But he was also an accomplished
accomplished cyclist, he was always on
bike builder by the time he had left high
the periphery of the sport. In 1968 he was
school. After the split with Fisher, and with
suspended from competition because
the entrance of Asian manufactures into
his hair was too long. He made a return
the market, Ritchey stopped concentrating
to competitive riding when the ban was
on frames, and became one of the most
overturned in’72, but Fisher became known
respected developers of components in the
as the ‘hippie capitalist’ after being shown
industry – “his desire to build better parts
the door for being too old by the USA Olympic
wasn’t rooted in some grand business plan –
cycling team in 1979. With Ritchey’s quick
many parts simply didn’t exist and the ones
turnover of frames, and the ambition, as
that did required substantial improvement”.
Wende Cragg She was the ‘token woman’, but her importance to the sport can never be overstated. Cragg took part in many of the early epic rides and even put in a sub 5:30 time at Repack. However, she is better known for her exploits behind the lens; the famed Camera Corner on the course is said to be named after her Nikon. Her Rolling Dinosaur Archive, which is the most comprehensive visual record of the early days of mountain biking, appears in part in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 1989. At first she toiled on a heavy clunker, but in 1978 she took delivery of the fourth Breeze-produced bike, which, incidentally, was raced and crashed by Ritchey at Repack in 1979 before he started building his own mountain bike frames. According to her Hall of Fame induction notice, “Wende has experienced the shift from spontaneous rides, learning something new every ride, to the high tech industry it now is for many of her friends and old riding partners. The carefree buddies of two decades ago now run corporations, write books, have babies and pay mortgages – ‘I decided long ago that I’d rather be hungry with plenty of time to ride than full and watching my bike sit on the living room floor. My priorities have not changed.’”
Fisher says, to “make a company out of
Breeze also raced on the road as a teen,
this thing and spread it all over the world”,
and it was a cycling tour of Europe and a
he built an industry around himself. After
meeting with Cino Cinelli, which inspired him
path network in Holland on that 1970 trip –
shedding Kelly as a partner and Ritchey as
to start building his own bikes. He is also still
rather than to pure off-road riders.
a supplier, he launched his eponymous bike
active in the industry today. Breeze is well
As a potted history of the sport on the
company and, would over the next three
known in cycling advocacy circles, and these
Breezer Bikes website concludes: “The
decades, become the face of the sport.
days provides Breezer bikes and components
lineage of today’s mountain bike industry
Kelly, too, was not the most conventional
to the commuter and utilitarian markets – he
traces directly to the ‘playing around’ and
character. In between his duties as a roadie
is said to have been impressed by the cycling
work of a few Californians.”
TREAD WINTER 2009
4X racing at the 2008 MTB World Champs PHOTO: Gary Perkin
“Hardly anyone ever asks me, but if I had to pick the day mountain biking started, it was the day Joe rolled out his first Breezer, inspired by Repack.”– Charlie Kelly So, more than three decades on and now clad in Lycra or baggies, what do we owe to those moustachioed, denim-clad lunatics who raced down Repack? Everything… Although some of the friendships would later sour, they created the ethos of mountain biking that we know today. The Repack racers were a bunch of buddies getting outdoors and seeking thrills. This exists in all the branches of our chosen sport – freeriding, downhill, XC, marathon racing, trials, all-day epics, stage racing… By constantly looking at ways to build bikes and parts better suited to handle the conditions they faced, the Repack riders put in motion an industry that constantly rethinks, innovates and redesigns. Sure, some ideas become obsolete over time, but the basic concept remains the same: make the bikes light, strong, fast and easy to stop. Kelly, Breeze and Fisher were also instrumental in making the sport official, so it would not be just another ‘Californian exuberance’. They were among the co-founders of Norba, which sought to finalise rules of the sport and give it the legitimacy they believed it deserved and which it enjoys to this day. Do yourself a favour. Buy or borrow an old coaster-brake bike. Find a suitable downhill. Ride it. See what it was like for them. Then, and only then, will you know what we owe to Repack.
Klunker or clunker? In Klunkerz, McLean specifically says “klunkers with a k”, and one rider is seen sporting a T-shirt that reads “I’d rather be klunking. However, many commentators and archivists – like Breeze and Berto – of the time use ‘clunkers’. Schwinn, in 1978, put out a bike called the Klunker V, which adds to the confusion. Both spellings are used in this story, according to the source material. Sources: ‘Joe Breeze and Breezer Bike History’ on www.breezerbikes.com; ‘The Gary Fisher Story’ at http://www.fisherbikes.com/gary/story; ‘History’ on http:// www.ritcheylogic.com/history.phtml; Charlie Kelly’s Repack Page and ‘Clunkers Among the Hills’ – by Charlie Kelly on sonic; Klunkerz – 2006 film directed by Bill Savage, and biographical information from www.klunkerz.com; From www.mtnbikehalloffame.com: ‘Repack History’ by Joe Breeze, ‘Larkspur Canyon Gang’ by Dave Richards, ‘The Search for the Cupertino Riders’ by Joel Smith; ‘The Birth of Dirt: Origins of Mountain Biking’ by Frank J Berto
Feeling nostalgic? Want to rewind? Join TREAD for a Repack Revival at Breedtsnek, Magaliesburg. A downhill dash on cruiser/clunker bikes where there will be a healthy dose of jeans, facial hair, takkies and beer. Visit www.treadmag.co.za for details.
M O U N TA I N B I K I N G W I T H S O U L
TREAD WINTER 2009
Hard Rock Hotel
The Capeâ€™s early settlers rattled their ox wagons over wild mountain passes in search of a better life. Saddle up and get a little taste of what that took. By Andy Ellis PHOTOS: OAKPICS.COM
is for gnarly rock. M is for lung-busting ascents. M is for dizzying switchback descents. M is for jaw-dropping beauty. Bet you didn’t know that. Neither did we until we decided to bend the English dictionary into our travel bags
and head for the Little Karoo. M is for Montagu. Wait, the grammar gets better. M is for mileage – and that is exactly why you should go there. The town was originally settled in the 1840’s. But it wasn’t until some colonial type chucked a stick of dynamite at the surrounding mountainside and blew a hole in it, thankfully making the town accessible to us lot. Imagine a half-round entrance to the home of cartoon mouse. That’s the imposingly tight ‘gateway to the Little Karoo’ that you’ll tunnel under after a two-hour drive from Cape Town. And don’t forget to stash a box of tissues in the cubbyhole – you’ll want to mop the drool as you enter a cauldron of insanely twisted and towering rock formations that demand your attention and rob you of all motor coordination. In fact, rather pull over and gather your senses before you absent-mindedly drive into the river that sheepishly squeezes around the hard-angle terrain. It’s a wonderland.
M is for shut up and get on with the reasons to go mountain biking. So lets go: If you’re building a base for marathon riding, training for a multi-stage race or simply addicted to riding endless undulations over rugged terrain, then Montagu is the perfect fix for a base camp. Accommodation is plentiful and evenly weighted over the fulcrum of affordability. You can choose to continue in the town’s frontier spirit and pitch a tent or you can embrace the comfort of the colonial influences that featherbed Montagu’s history. We, erm, forgot to pack the tent and opted for the Mimosa Lodge – a fine food and hospitality affair that is biker friendly. Some of the best riding in Montagu is on private farmland. Mindful of the fact, the Mimosa Lodge and 20 on Church (an alternate accommodation option) have tethered the exclusive services of local mountain goat, Ben Esterhuizen, who facilitates access to the area’s best kept riding secrets. Simply state your profile, from entry-level novice to hardcore mofo, then get set and go.
The Riding If you’re after the romance of forest singletrack oozing a spongy mulch of pine needles and leafy ferns that noo-noo blanket errors in judgement and lapses of concentration, then stop reading this now. TREAD WINTER 2009
There is nothing soft about riding, and crashing, in Montagu. The going is on hard-packed clay, rutted gravel and loose rock that switches back on exposed cliff faces. Even the flora has a chiselled feel. Hard, thorny, scrub skirts the trails and occasionally sticks out a grisly hand to claw at your handlebars. We quickly learnt to keep focus on the straight and narrow. Out of a broad selection of kilometre-notching training and fun rides, no trip to Montagu is complete until you’ve had a stab at the notorious Waboomsberg. The ride is based on an infamous 4x4 route and has been made popular with mountain bikers by Ron Brunings, the man behind the Dusty Sprocket initiative that strives to attract bikers of all abilities to the area. Brunings, a Montagu local, has mapped scores of rides for your pleasure. The Waboomsberg is one such route. The round trip covers 43km and includes an axe to grind on the kind of dirt roads that typify ultra distance stage races en route to the crux of the climb. Can you make the assault without a dismount? Send us a postcard. At the summit the shaky quads of even seasoned pros need to prepare to hover over the pedals for the cheek-flapping descent that is super fun and technically engaging. It didn’t take us long to realise that riding in the Little Karoo is not about manicured jumps, meticulously hand-carved turns and fairytale wooden bridges. It’s raw wagon-trail riding in a wild and expansive landscape. Stop for a minute to absorb the mountainous sprawl and be sure to entertain the suspicion that the ghost of a Boer commando is taking aim at your arse down the barrel of his Mauser. You’re on his turf. Ja man, it’s intimidating riding deep in the folds of the Langeberg Mountains. The feeling of isolation, the challenge of the terrain - it’s a ball-busting, mind-altering, spirit-lifting piece of exhilaration to the extreme. You’ll be giddy at the experience and, after a day of riding, certain that the area’s influences can only make you stronger.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Trail Review – Krakadouw 45km MTB Challenge Our trip to Montagu coincided with the annual Mountain Mania event that hosts a 45km and 80km race. The routes are typical of the type of riding facilitated by Ben Esterhuizen.
Region: Little Karoo Closest City: Cape Town Trail Description: A mix of dirt road and jeep track interspersed
with single track that lead to steep climbs, maximum elevation 634metres, and technical descents Distance: 45km Novice: 5/10 Intermediate: 10/10 Advanced: 8/10 Tyres: Go for gravel biting knobblies and more air pressure to avoid pinch flats if you don’t run tubeless. Best thing: The feeling of being out there – isolated in the mountains, but with a cosy warm-hearted town to come home to. Best season: All year round. There are extremes in winter and summer but the microclimate of the region leans towards moderate averages. Get there: Head out on the N1 from Cape Town towards
The Mimosa Lodge is an indulgence in fine wine, dining and
Worcester. Turn right at the Worcester/Robertson turnoff. Turn
accommodation. The double-storey main building is a 150-year-old
left onto the R60 to Robertson and through to Ashton. Continue
national monument that has been renovated to offer modern luxuries.
straight on the R62 to Montagu.
Besides the nine classic rooms, accommodations include recently built
Cost: Facilitated rides offered to guests of Mimosa Lodge and 20
suites that are set in an expansive garden. The heated pool, manicured
on Bath are R50 per person.
lawns and indigenous plants, an orchard, veggie and herb patches provide
Secure parking: Yes.
a colonial farm feel to the very private grounds. The rooms are well
Be Careful Of: Heading out without local knowledge. Ride with
appointed, luxurious and spacious. You’ll feel like a king, and after a long
a local, at least once, to avoid frustrating dead-ends and barriers
day in the mountains you’ll be salivating over the thought of being served
an award-winning dinner before finally tucking into the fluffed linen of
Be Sure To: Take time to stare; listen to the blaring quiet.
your cosy bed to recharge for the next ride. Should you be on more of
Contact: 023 614 2351, email email@example.com. If making
a budget, 20 on Church is supremely comfortable and offers a weekend
use of other accommodation in the area, contact Alan Brown:
package from R700 per person for bed & breakfast. The package includes
two nights accommodation and one facilitated ride.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Howick Trail By Mark Wing
REGION: KwaZulu-Natal CLOSEST TOWN: Howick TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Apart from the fact that you can start from any point on this trail, the beauty of it is that it has organised starts in the town of Howick – two on Saturday and the same on Sunday from the Howick Private Clinic. This ensures you’ll have locals who are familiar with the trail as ‘guides’. Riders are requested to sign an indemnity form, a copy of which must be held on you at all times as requested by SAPPI, which owns the land of which much of the trail passes. It’s worth adhering to. There is something for everyone as the trail, which consists of around 70% singletrack, winds through forest, indigenous bush, grasslands and sugar cane fields. Farm roads and jeep track complete the kind of riding you will encounter on the trail. There are enough hills with fairly technical singletrack descents for novices to ‘cut their teeth’ on. Some may be lucky enough to spot bush buck, reed buck and duiker. There is a host of bird life around with large raptors quite a common sight. Crossing dam weirs and riding close to water offers up a lot of water-birdlife too. DISTANCE: It’s up to you, anything from 5km–80km. NOVICE: 5/10 INTERMEDIATE: 5/10 ADVANCED: 10/10 TYRES: A good general-condition tyre would be best to handle the variety of terrain. Obviously expect more mud in summer and fit an appropriate tyre. BEST THING: You can ride for virtually the whole day doing up to an eight-hour ride encountering very few gravel roads. WORST THING: Hills. Bring your climbing legs and lungs because there’s plenty of climbing (and descending). BEST SEASON: All year round. GET THERE: From the N3 either from Durban or Johannesburg take the Tweedie/ Howick North offramp and proceed to Howick. At the second traffic light at the intersection with the Curries Post Road you will find the Howick Private Clinic on the right hand side. It’s about 3km from the N3. GPS: S29 28.582 E30 13.136 COST: There is no cost if you would like to test the trail once or twice. However, should you want to ride it regularly, you would need to buy a SAPPI permit for R50 per year. SECURE PARKING: Yes, at the Clinic. BE CAREFUL OF… the weather. When it turns, it comes with little warning so have some rain/cold gear, particularly in the afternoons. BE SURE TO… complete the indemnity form at the Clinic. And don’t miss a post-ride replenishment session at the Corner Post restaurant (opposite the Howick Private Clinic). CONTACT: 033 3307788. Speak to Grant at Adrenaline Cycles or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: MARK WING
Rietvlei Farm By Barry McCallum
REGION: Gauteng CLOSEST TOWN/CITY: Johannesburg DESCRIPTION: This safe and secure course in Brackenhurst, Alberton – developed and maintained by Wendell Bole and the folk at The Cycle Hub – is a combination of easy jeep track and singletrack, which caters for the little ones and fun riders, as well as experienced off-roaders. The trails are well marked and colour-graded (from yellow, through green and blue, to black), which allows the rider to gauge his or her progress before moving on to the next challenge. Although on the short side, it provides some unexpected challenges to the most skilled cyclists, like rocky technical ascents and drop-offs. Rietvlei serves as a venue for provincial XC races. The Cycle Hub is located at the premises, which is always handy should you have forgotten to pack everything you need for your outing. There is also a zoo, spa, putt-putt course and other facilities to occupy noncycling members of the family. DISTANCE: There is a short loop of 3 kilometres and the XC route measures in at a shade over 7 kilometres, but you can tailor your own ‘lap’ distance. NOVICE: 10/10 INTERMEDIATE: 7/10 ADVANCED: 6/10 TYRES: Not critical, just make sure your rubber is grippy. BEST THING: The downhill singletrack sections through the forest are flowing and fast. WORST THING: ‘Wendell’s Revenge’ – cleaning this climb, which is loose and rocky in places, is a measure of a rider’s skill and fitness. While not long, it will get the heart rate up. BEST SEASON: It’s an all-season course, although the wind gets right through the Lycra in the colder months. GET THERE: From Joburg, take the N12 and get onto the R59, and look for the Swartkoppies offramp. Turn right at the robot. The farm is about two kilometres down the road after it leaves the built-up area. GPS: 26°18’44.64”S 28°04’47.61”E COST: Entrance to picnic area costs R15 (12 and younger) and R25 for others; it’s R30 to park your car inside the gate, although you can park outside too. SECURE PARKING: Yes (but it costs R30) BE CAREFUL OF... some of the drop-offs. They can take you by surprise if you’re new to the trail. BE SURE TO... chill out in the picnic area afterwards. You can braai or grab food and drinks from the coffee shop. Also pop into the bike shop to check when the night rides are planned. CONTACT: 011 867 0143/5 or 079 041 1488; email: info@rietvleifarm. co.za; www.rietvleifarm.co.za; www.thecyclehub.co.za
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: WARREN VAN RENSBURG
Baakens Valley/ Guinea Fowl Trail By Albert Retief
REGION: Eastern Cape CLOSEST TOWN/CITY: Port Elizabeth TRAIL DESCRIPTION: There are many options on this trail, and riding conditions can vary from very loose rocky gravel to smooth flowing single track. The trail runs right down the centre of Port Elizabeth. Basically, it is the rather irritating valley that you have to constantly drive around to get anywhere in the Friendly City. It stretches from as far up as the Kragga Kama road, all the way down to the ocean. The trail is maintained by the Nelson Mandela Metropolis and there are cool bridges and parts of the trail are regularly cut back. DISTANCE: The distance will depend on where you start. If you are adventurous enough to find the very top of the trail, it will be approximately 17km down to the sea. NOVICE: 2/10 INTERMEDIATE: 4/10 ADVANCED: 9/10 TYRES: Get something with good sidewall protection. Any of the Maxxis LUST tubeless tyres are good. Mud is not really an issue even after rain; the rocks and thorns are more of a concern. BEST THING: You will find some very exhilarating and testing technical sections. They will challenge even the most skilled riders. If you live in PE, the trail is always close by. So a quick technical ride after work is always an option. WORST THING: You need to make sure that you ride with a friend. Or even better, two friends. There have been some robbery incidents in the valley. Having said that; I have ridden the trail alone on many occasions without any problems. You will walk with your bike. But this is good hike-a-bike practice. BEST SEASON: Any time of the year is good. The trail is not affected by wet weather as much as other trails. Try to go on the one day when the wind is not blowing, The prevailing wind will be at your back on the way down the valley, and it will be a headwind on the way back up, which can be painful! GET THERE: The best place to start if you are new to the trail is from Cyclo Pro bike shop on William Moffet Drive. There is a quick path into the best part of the trail from there, and if you are really nice to Rob Rudman at the shop, he will be able to point you in the right direction. COST: FREE SECURE PARKING: Yes BE CAREFUL OF... Bad people jumping out from behind a bush... BE SURE TO... Contact Fat Tracks and ask when they are doing their next social ride down the valley. Riding with a local will unlock the potential in this trail. There are some awesome hidden XC tracks from years gone by... CONTACT: Rob Rudman at Cyclo Pro. www.cyclopro.co.za or Fat Tracks www.fattracks.co.za
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: WAYNE PETTIT
Are you getting
BANG for your
BUCK? The cost of entering a race has become more relevant in this tough economic climate. So we decided to quiz some race organisers of some of the country’s most successful events to find out whether or not we’re being taken for a ride. By Donovan Jackson*
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: SVEN MARTIN/SPORTZPICS
TREAD WINTER 2009
e’ve been witness to all kinds
in the world. Our price per night in 2009
Yes, most definitely. We have 14 staff that
of speculation, discussion and
was cheaper per night than most of the
work full time on the race throughout the
now even investigation by
shorter stage races in SA, including all the
year and this excludes all the contractors
the Competition Commission
popular ones,” he says. “If you consider
like route designers, emergency and medical
into the high prices of bikes and accessories.
all that takes place at the Cape Epic that
services planning and much more.”
But what about the wallet-crunching cost of
does not happen at these smaller races, it’s
Businesses also employ people; Haw
participating in mountain biking events? It is
incredibly good value for a full eight-day
explains that on the Sani2c there are no
particularly the multiple-day events which have
mountain biking experience.
volunteers. “The people who work on the
us sweating before the race has even started.
He gives some insight into what it costs
race are rewarded and we make sure they
Some of the entry fees are gasp-worthy,
to run the race: “This year our total catering
are rewarded well. That’s all part of making
especially that of the Absa Cape Epic. Some
related expenses for riders, crew and
sure that we produce an event of the highest
even feel that it is the race organiser, and not
hospitality was close to R5m – so most of
quality and from which the people of the
the route designer, who should be called ‘Dr.
our entry fees are swallowed up just by our
community see a real benefit,” he says.
Evil’. In 2010, the eight-day race will cost
you R25 200 per team.
Profitable? Vermaak doesn’t dodge
Farmer Glen Haw is as much a part of the
the question. “Well, let’s just say that we
Per two-rider team, the lesser known six-
Sani2c as the Umkomaas Valley is; his name is
have a R5 million credit facility with the
day Cape Pioneer Trek will cost R11 900. The
synonymous with this top-class event. With
IDC [Industrial Development Corporation]
Subaru Sani2c is R7095 for three days and
the entry fee for 2010 pegged at R7095, Haw
that remains fully drawn down. So no one is
York Timbers Sabie Experience is R3250 for
agrees that it is a fair amount of money to pay.
retiring just yet if this is what you mean.”
four days (but it is not full service).
“The race is fully serviced, so don’t think it is
Coward says it took five years for the Sabie
Others are more reasonable (with
expensive. Also, if you look at where the money
Experience to become slightly profitable.
Sabie Experience arguably falling into this
is going, straight back into the area, I think
“[Any profit] is held over to the next year
category), with races like Gauteng’s Cradle
most agree that it is reasonable,” he says.
because of increases in expenses as well
Quest at R1200 and the Klein Karoo MTB stage race at R550 for three days.
Fiona Coward, organiser of the Sabie
as uncertainty over sponsors in the current
Experience, notes that everyone requires a
economic climate,” she says, while adding
However, before we even speak to
salary to survive. “We use the talents that
that profits have never been more than 5%
the race organisers, let’s consider some
we have to earn a living. For some of us, we
are privileged to work and earn an income
She says about two thirds of turnover
Chief among these has to be supply and
in an industry that we are passionate about.
goes directly to race expenses which include
demand. The right price for any goods is ‘what
And riders should realise that these are
items such as medics, time keeping, race
the market will bear’. There is absolutely
businesses just the same as wherever they
office, marshals, route planning, marking
no shortage of demand for entries for the
work. Same expenses, same challenges,
and clearing, rider goodie bags and
country’s premier races. For example, Kevin
same tax/auditing requirements and so on.
giveaways, prizemoney, race infrastructure
Vermaak, founder of the Cape Epic, reveals
It doesn’t matter whether they are cycling
(like marquees), hire of facilities, medals,
that 100 guaranteed entries put up for sale
importers, retailers, clothing manufacturers
race leader jerseys, number boards, travel
online, one year before the 2010 event, were
or event organisers,” she says.
expenses and crew accommodation.
sold out in less than 100 seconds.
And consider this, from Vermaak: “Our
“Another 15% goes towards promotion of
Another principle, that of ‘value’ has to
total entry fees in 2009 covered about 30%
the race which includes advertising, website
follow closely behind that of supply and
of the total cost of organising the race;
maintenance, TV production, media releases,
demand. Remember what investor Warren
every rider that participates should REALLY
branding, sponsorship leveraging and reports
Buffett said: ‘Price is what you pay, value is
be thankful to the major blue chip sponsors
to the stakeholders,” she says.
what you get.’ Arguably, the great majority of
that have got behind this race [or it could not
It is hard work. No, really.
people who have paid these sums of money to
happen as it does].”
And for those who may think putting on a
take part in one of these races, will be back
major stage race is all roses and happiness,
for more. The Sani2c, for example, claims a
Being a business means a sustainable race
return-rate of 90%, a definite indicator that
As businesses, races provide a ‘product’ that
a farmer, not an event organiser. “The race
participants are satisfied that they have
just about all of us want: to be able to race
started as I was on the fundraising board
received value for their money.
or just ride our bikes safely in spectacular
of Linford School; it just got bigger and
Value versus cost
settings. There is no reason why the people
bigger. It has to be run as a business now,
Vermaak says the entry fee for the Epic may
who put many hours of hard work into these
there are people employed full time and as a
be a lot of money, but it is not expensive.
businesses should not profit from them. Says
consequence of the race, a lot of places along
“We’re still one of the cheapest stage races
Vermaak: “Is the Absa Cape Epic a business?
the way [including Linford and the Mackenzie
TREAD WINTER 2009
think again. Haw says he is first and foremost
Consumer PHOTO: DIMITRI NENKOV
Pariticipants at the Sabie Experience have access to some of the country’s most pristine forest trails. PHOTO: CRAIG DUTTON
The Umkomaas Valley is one of the jewels in the Sani2c crown.
Club] could not continue to operate as they
Your right to choose
do,” he says.
You are the customer of the races which are
“It is a social responsibility which comes with
on offer in this country, which also gives you
its stresses and strains. By all means, it is not
the unalienable right to choose whether or
easy and it’s not always a pleasure. However,
not any given event represents good value
once I have committed, I see things through.
to you. While everyone wants to do the big
People may think we’re making millions, but
ones, it remains a reality of another economic
it is definitely not easy money. It takes a lot of
principle that this is just not possible: not
work and a huge risk,” Haw notes.
everyone can afford it. That’s cold comfort
Just like any other well-run business, race
– but there are plenty of existing and new
organisers do it all for their customers. They
events on the calendar which provide more
strive to create unique experiences, include
new and challenging terrain and the creation
Demand for entries across the major
of lasting memories. Doing that takes a lot –
stage races in this country indicates that
of money, and effort.
mountain bikers do see the value in the price
As the industry has grown, so has the
tag; Haw says his race has a 90% return rate.
demand for well organised events offering
“However, we don’t see it as a ‘supply and
riders a memorable experience, points out
demand’ thing to put the cost of an entry
Coward. “The Absa Cape Epic set the bar
up. Rather, we have a budget, we calculate
and all other events have had to rise to the
it and come up with a price which covers
occasion or lose entries and/or sponsors.
everything including a margin for profit. We
And I must mention that sponsors are key to
don’t take advantage of the demand to push
any successful event. Without their input,
the price,” he says.
major events could not happen or would be
As for Vermaak, he remains driven by the
substantially more expensive,” she says,
vision which saw him put on the first Cape
echoing Vermaak’s earlier comment.
Epic back in 2004. “Our goal is to be the best
Coward quite rightly notes that most
in the world in this category of racing, and
mountain bikers have never worked on an
we’re nowhere near the most expensive.
event and have no idea of what goes into the
Anyone that thinks we’re expensive should
planning and execution. “Sabie Experience
do a simple internet search and also compare
remains one of the more simple structures
what we provide compared to these other
[compared to Sani2C and Cape Epic] but we
races. With the Absa Cape Epic, you’re also
work on the event all year round to ensure
buying into a mountain bike racing brand, not
that it maintains a high standard. Also, an
just participating in a race,” says Vermaak.
event of this magnitude requires that kind
He remains confident in the value
of attention. [Certainly] riders are entitled
proposition offered by his race, fully agreeing
to decide where to spend their hard-earned
that anyone has the right to complain if they
cash and they will have to decide which
feel ripped off. “Sure they are justified to
events give them the most back. But in
complain if they feel they are taken for a
general, events are expensive to put on
ride. Of course. But this is clearly not the
and there are very few sustainable quality
case at the Epic since our entries sell out so
ventures because of the funds required to
quickly,” he concludes.
keep them going,” she says.
Stage race entry fees • • • •
Absa Cape Epic 2010 (eight days) R25200 Cape Pioneer Trek (six days) R11900 Subaru Sani2c 2010 (three days) R7095 York Timbers Sabie Experience (four days) R3250
Haw weighs in that that people tend to point fingers very quickly where costs are concerned. However, he makes the point that for fixtures to stay on the calendar, they have to be successful and sustainable. “Sani2C puts close to R4-million back into the community. For someone to say it should not make that money, or that Kevin [Vermaak] can’t make money, is just not right.”
* Donovan Jackson has done the ABSA Cape Epic (2008, 2009), the 2009 Subaru Sani2c, and the 2008 York Timbers Sabie Experience. All except the 2009 Epic, where half the team entry was a complimentary media entry, were fully paid for by him.
TREAD WINTER 2009
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TREAD WINTER 2009
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Who is behind: The Pietermaritzburg World Cup By Sean Badenhorst
Long-time mountain bike racing fans are still pinching themselves. It’s still hard to believe that the first round of the Nissan UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano and sponsored by DCM Chrome, actually took place in Pietermaritzburg in April. Alec Lenferna of Real Events Management is the guy that made our dream come true.
the ground? I think there were many but I suppose the biggest one was to get people – whether MTB administrators, sponsors, city and government officials, media etc, to understand what a World Cup is and what its scale and size and importance is in terms of South African and world cycling circles – and potential benefits of course. It’s not a national champs event and I think that was very evident when one
What did it take to get the UCI to grant a World Cup triple to SA?
levels? If not, what could still be improved?
I think there were a few factors at play.
I think in general it was a great success. The
Firstly, the UCI needed to have an event
crowds were excellent, Pietermaritzburg
on the African continent and this was the
Tourism and KZN Tourism were incredibly
first step. Allied to this, South Africa is well
helpful and DCM Chrome and the other
positioned for world-rated events due to
sponsors were all great. The guys from KZN
the country’s time zone and the TV-friendly
MTB and SA MTB were hugely enthusiastic and
What satisfied you most about the event?
elements that this throws up. Then I suppose
worked their guts out on the courses etc, so
I think it’s that we have created a solid
it just needed someone brave enough to take
all of that was great. However, there is still
platform for an international events
the leap and put in a bid. Thereafter it was
loads that we can improve on and the 2010
programme going forward. Lots of people
down to a bit of lobbying and making sure
event will be better than 2009. We should be
have been raving about the success of the
the UCI were comfortable with our abilities
striving to improve year on year anyway.
event and this is in itself pleasing and very
to host such an event.
kind of them. Many people have said that I
Yes and no. It certainly helped in that I know
You mention the 2010 event, do you think you’ll get a re-award for a World Cup triple in 2010? When will this be decided and on what criteria?
the systems and I also know what the UCI
I firmly believe we’ll get it. The bid document
And although this is good, I’m also a little
looks for in any bid – part of my job was to
has already been submitted and I know that
unhappy, as our aim must always be to be
evaluate bids for the Road World Champs –
we are on the provisional list for 2010. This
the best event on the international circuit
and I also know a lot of the role players as
list had to have been submitted to the UCI
and to become the standard by which other
they were either already on the Management
Mangement Board at their meeting in early
events are judged. However, for a first time
Board when I was there or they were former
June for evaluation together with a report
effort, we can be glad that the foundation is
colleagues. This fact did make life a little
from the UCI MTB people and then they
now in place.
more interesting though in that I also had to
either ratify or reject the proposals. The
be very careful not to play the ‘buddy card’
announcement for the 2010 season was
You’re not a mountain biker, what is your sporting background?
too much as we wanted to earn the bid on
scheduled for 19 June.
These days I’m built for reading and watching
merit and not on anything else.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in getting the first edition of the event off
TV and not so much for physical pursuits!
You’ve worked for the UCI in Switzerland before, did that help in any way?
Was the inaugural MTB World Cup in Pmb a success on all
TREAD WINTER 2009
looks at what was put on the ground. Allied to this is the fact that it is the UCI that dictates the terms of the event and what happens and doesn’t happen and some of the local event guys did not like that at all.
must be happy that the general consensus from the UCI and the international teams and riders is that the event was comparable with any other event on the World Cup circuit.
However, in my (much) younger days, I was a typical South African all-boys school product
Industry Focus PHOTO: GARY PERKIN
in that I played cricket in summer and rugby
Director at the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle
market in Gauteng is concerned. It was also
in winter. And because I come from the
Tour which I was involved with for three years
big enough to be able to handle the events,
early days of the TV generation, we kicked,
and then from that I was offered the UCI
but small enough to need them. Through
threw and hit any kind of ball outside the
position so I kind of fell into organising cycling
widespread international TV coverage,
house whenever we could. I got some lucky
events. But, I feel more than a lot of other
these events will increase Pietermaritzburg’s
breaks and played SA Colleges cricket and
sports, cycling does have an excitement and
international profile many, many times over.
provincial rugby for three years. I also have
an interest all of its own that I really like.
It was also linked to the fact that their city
a Phys Ed degree so sport has always been
council understood the vision straight off the
very important to me. Nowadays my knees
When we were looking for somewhere to
bat, supported the initiative and is putting
are shot so I walk whenever I can.
host our international cycling programme
their money where their mouth is.
So if you’re not a mountain biker, or any kind of cyclist, why are you interested in organising international cycling events in South Africa?
(we also have the 2009 UCI BMX World Cup in August and the 2010 UCI BMX World
Will you ever try to host a MTB World Champs in SA?
Championships in July next year), we
Funnily enough, I’ve recently been contacted
looked at a variety of potential towns and
by the UCI to determine whether we have
cities and Pietermaritzburg ticked a whole
an appetite to bid for the 2013 MTB World
I love the eventing realm and when I started
lot of boxes. The terrain in and around the
Championships. I need to liaise with a few
out in this game, I used to stage surfing
region is excellent for cycling, the weather
people first but I think it can safely be
contests and beach volleyball tournaments.
is pretty much stable, it’s geographically
assumed that we will be putting our letter of
Then I got offered the position as Event
well positioned as far as the major cycling
interest to the UCI for this event shortly. TREAD WINTER 2009
Morewood goes XC
PHOTO: CARL SCHOLTZ
The first Morewood cross-country bike made an appearance in Pretoria in May when Roan Exelby rode it to second place in the Elite men’s race. Coming from one of the world’s most respected DH brands, it’s created a stir that has reverberated across the country. We gave Patrick Morewood a TREAD cap in exchange for a quick interview…
Were you expecting such a high level of interest? I was hoping for it, but I wasn’t too sure how it would be re-
ceived. I must admit I wasn’t expecting this high level of enthusiasm and interest. It’s very encouraging.
The Morewood brand is bigger abroad than it is here, do you think the international market will be as excited about the new model as the local market is? I think so. So far, we’ve had very positive feedback from France and that’s via online forums only. We’ve created a cross-country bike that’s functional, light and stiff. On top of that we feel the bike looks really good. No reason it won’t do well abroad.
Describe the highlights for us. • Well, first of all, it’s made here.
• Every tube is unique, or proprietary as the Americans say. In
When will it be available to purchase? We’re doing a South African launch in October this year and it
other words we’ve designed molds to make each tube from
will be internationally launched next year at Eurobike. Anyone wanting
any info about the XC bike or wanting to pre-order can contact Andre
• It’s made from 6069 aluminium, which has a higher tensile than 6061, which is more widely used. It also has a better fatigue life than 6061 and of course that makes it more expensive. • By double- or triple-butting each tube, we’ve managed to make the frame light. In terms of aluminium-framed 4-inch-travel XC bikes, it’s in the top half in terms of light weight. Roan’s prototype complete bike weighs 10.1kg. • It has quite a neutral 73-degree seat tube, but the 70-degree head tube is a little more on the relaxed side of neutral, which makes it more stable on descents.
at Rush Sports on 078 1910903.
What is the model name going to be? We don’t know yet. We’ll finalise one that’s in keeping with our
other models – it will be a short, meaningful Zulu name.
Will you sell framesets as well as full-builds? Yes. What can we expect to pay? Hard to say right now. We’re not a cheap brand, but we deliver good
value for money. Pricing will be finalised in the next couple of months.
required. And of course we wanted to launch to a market that wanted
have the same homegrown aura attached to it, but it will have all the
a Morewood cross-country bike. We think our timing is good.
other Morewood values. I haven’t really thought about a 29-inch model
How long has this model been in the making? About two years. It took a while to be able to afford the tooling
What was the biggest challenge for you? There were a few, but the ones that come to mind immediately
Are you planning to do hardtail or 29-inch models in the future? A hardtail is coming soon. It will be made in Taiwan, so won’t
yet. Well, I have, but not for long because this model has consumed my thinking and energy.
are creating tooling processes to make the frame light without sacrificing strength; designing the swingarm to be light, strong and stiff; and of course getting it all to look attractive. Another challenge I’m anticipating is getting people to accept that Morewood isn’t only a DH-bike brand.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Visit www.morewoodbikes.co.za for updates on the XC bike and check out the great South African brand’s other models while you’re there.
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WINTER TEST-FEST A season’s worth of bikes and gear reviewed by our test team P50–52 Marathon/XC bikes P54–56 Trail bikes P58–63 Women’s bikes and gear P64–68 Rear suspension demystified P70–73 Shoes, shorts, eyewear and more P74–75 Shimano SLX
Polaris Vortex II Polaris is an activewear apparel company based in The Peak District in England. The location of the company is relevant because now you know that they know what they’re doing when they make a winter jacket. The Polaris Vortex II Jacket is made from a stretchy Polyester fabric that’s soft and fleece-like on the inside with a tough outer shell. It keeps you warm without being restrictive, as you don’t need loads of layers underneath. There are windproof panels on the chest and front of the sleeves that help combat wind chill, essentially the biggest discomfort culprit in South Africa. Great features include the five pockets (one with a zip closure), reflective piping for night visibility and a silicon-like strip around the bottom to keep the warmth in. Like the early Ford’s you can have any colour you like as long as it’s black. We like black so it suits us. Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL Price: R1590 Contact: www.intltrade.co.za; 087 720 3951
PHOTO: AUBREY JONSSON
TREAD WINTER 2009
MERIDA NINETY-SIX HFS 3000D | R29 099 After living in Specialized’s shadow for some time (it owns a minority share in Specialized) with a similar seat-stay suspension design, Merida has made a bold move into the spotlight with a completely redesigned dual-suspension system for its marathon/ XC range, the Ninety-Six. Merida claims the carbon-fibre top-of-the-range Team D is the lightest dual suspension bike you can get. At close to R100 000, it’s also one of the most expensive. We got the sent the more sensibly-priced HFS 3000 D to charge around on for a few weeks. THE BIKE Some bikes just look fast. The Ninety-Six HFS 3000 D is one of them. It’s not just the brushed silver colour and smooth welds; it’s also the aggressive angles – 73-degree seat
tube, 71 degree headtube – the relatively uncomplicated new-to-Merida four-bar linkage suspension design and the carbonfibre seatstays that give it a stealthy stance. The aluminium tubing is shaped using Merida’s Hydraulic Forming System (HFS), which allows for the individual shaping of various tubes to create rigidity and strength where it’s required. The headtube is egg-shaped for added strength and, according to Merida, more precise steering. We liked the ample space for a water bottle inside the main triangle. The Shimano Deore / XT component mix, FSA cockpit bits, Mavic Crossride wheelset and the highly-rated Magura Louise hydraulic disc brakeset completes a package that shouts performance without compromise. What really amazed us was the
price. Even in these economically challenging times, Merida is still able to deliver a quality bike at a very reasonable sum. THE RIDE The suspension worked best when we increased shock pressure and minimised sag to around 20 percent (from 30 percent) to get the most supple activity. Once we had the rear suspension set, the Ninety-Six was as able as it looked willing, blazing swiftly through tight, twisty singletrack and climbing with agility. Some of our testers preferred to climb with the suspension active and found it just as nimble, especially on rutted or stony surface ascents. Most descents felt good, but very steep stuff had us searching for a more centred position further than normal off the back of the saddle. Merida tends to
design its bikes with a shorter top tube, so be sure you choose the right size and, if necessary, fit a longer stem so that you’re not too ‘bunched’. The 18-inch (Medium) Ninety-Six has a wheelbase of 1080mm, which is shorter than most other brands in this category. This is great for tight riding but can affect stability on steep technical descents. The Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres were good in a variety of conditions, but are more a racing tyre so longevity and durability is limited. THE VERDICT The Ninety-Six 3000-D is as race-ready a bike as you’ll get. If marathons and stage racing is your thing, you’ll have to look hard to find a better bike at this price. Just make sure you spend time getting sized up correctly.
TREAD WINTER 2009
SILVERBACK MERCURY 2 | R22 800 Do you have the strength, determination and thrift of a frontiersman? Sure you do. Does the cover of your passport read RSA? Sure it does. And you need a bike that can take the bite of the African experience, don’t you? The Silverback Mercury is that bike. Because it’s from the same place you are. THE BIKE Don’t underrate the Silverback Mercury 2’s broad-shouldered strength and depth of its technical design, engineering and aesthetic development. Silverback used a blend of design and engineering input from Britain, Canada, Taiwan and good ol’ SA which gives the Mercury 2’s genetics a blend of first world finesse and South African grit. The Mercury uses Silverback’s own patented Intelligent Design System Suspension Technology, a
way to ditch an extra gram is to throw up that last celery stick. Invariably, mountain bikers blame the bike. At 12.9kg, the Mercury 2 isn’t the lightest model on the ramp, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a looker. It also offered up one sweet ride, which we feel can be strongly attributed to a combination of the supple rear suspension and the stiff rear triangle, which gives the bike a feeling of rapid acceleration, especially on climbs. With racey seattube (73 degrees) and headtube (71 degrees) angles, the Mercury 2 is best suited to the snappy efforts required in marathon/ stage races and is even quite at home on XC courses. The generous stand-over height gives it a compact feel which translated into control and instant response when it came time to chuck it around on tight singletrack
turns and over logs left by malevolent trolls at night. The 100mm travel Rock Shox Recon SL up front balanced out the suspension feel nicely and the lockout was used to good effect. It took a little time to find the bike’s sweet spot for weight distribution on steep gravel inclines; but once we’d dialled the rear shock in, it claimed that sweet spot with the fervour of a Lotto winner. THE VERDICT You’d struggle to beat the value for money on the Mercury 2. But that’s something we’ve come to expect from Silverback. What we didn’t expect was Silverback’s ability to offer a dual suspension bike with such a highly pedigreed feel. It’s an affordable bike with the suspension integrity of a high-priced imported brand.
design style that’s based on the successful virtual pivot point model. The rear suspension has its core in a pivot link that is centred at the bottom bracket and is connected to the chainstay by a secondary pivot. The link creates a floating pivot point which, when used in conjunction with the chain tension, is meant to stop you bobbing like a porn star while, er, giving it stick. The Mercury 2 is draped with reliability with the mixture of a Shimano wheelset and groupset and the Fox RP23 shock. The gunmetal colour is practical, with the lightly mottled detailing softening the industrial edge just enough. THE RIDE Mountain bikers can be more obsessive over weight than supermodels. But supermodels don’t blame the camera. They know the best TREAD WINTER 2009
PIVOT MACH 4 | R22 500 (frame set only) You just know how good the offspring of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are going to be at tennis, right? Well, think of the Pivot Mach 4 in a similar light, a product of a mountain bike design talent gene pool that is Chris Cocalis (formerly Titus bicycles), Dave Weagle (yes, the brain behind the DW Link dual suspension design) and Kevin Tisue (formerly a designer at Race Face). THE BIKE Only four bike brands currently have licence to use the much-praised DW link suspension design: Independent Fabrication, Ibis, Turner and Pivot. And boy, have the folks at Pivot gone out of their way to design something different. With a single strut between the chainstay and seatstay on the non-drive side, the Pivot has no
conventional look to it. It is essentially a virtual pivot point design improved by the addition of the DW Link, which is said to balance acceleration and braking forces in a way that has minimal negative effect on the rear suspension. The matte blue colour is attractive yet practical, the cabling is neatly tucked under the top tube and there’s plenty of room inside the frame to accommodate even the longest of water bottles. The frameset comes with an ever reliable, custom-tuned Fox RP23 shock, a Pivot seatclamp and a Shimano XTR threadless bottom bracket. The above price is calculated on R8.50 to the US Dollar and is obviously subject to change. THE RIDE We can seldom refer to ‘plush ride’ and
‘exceptional pedalling efficiency’ in the same sentence. Very seldom, actually. But with the Mach 4, it just rolls off the tongue. All of our testers were noticeably impressed at the responsiveness of the Mach 4. It climbed with ease on all terrain with little, if any, evidence of pedal-induced bob. And while it offers 4 inches (100mm) of rear suspension travel, it felt like a 5-inch travel bike over rough terrain and rugged descents. There are no pivot points near the rear axle, which Pivot claims gives the bike better rear-end stiffness. We have to agree. Every pedal-stroke felt like it was propelling us forward, giving the Mach 4 superb acceleration. At 12.3kg, it’s not super-light, but our testers, who weren’t told the bike’s weight, thought it climbed
as well, if not better than any of the superlight bikes they’ve ridden. Our test bike belonged to a new buyer who had fitted his own Manitou R7 fork, which didn’t do the bike justice. We’d recommend a lockoutable 100mm or even 120mm Fox F-Series RLC. It was fitted with Geax Saguaro tyres, which performed extremely well in dry, sandy conditions – it “stuck to the trail like gecko feet,” said one tester. THE VERDICT If you’re weary of me-too brands, have a flexible budget and want a bike that’s going to improve your riding, here’s where you should be looking. The Mach 4 is the perfect marathon bike but it won’t be out of place in an XC race or a trail-riding group.
TREAD WINTER 2009
FELT COMPULSION 4 | R17 999 It may be a relative newcomer to the South African market, but Felt Bikes is a truly global brand with two decades of heritage. Best known for its road and time trial bikes, the brand has successfully expanded into BMX, urban, track, cyclocross and of course mountain bikes. The high profile South African-based Garmin adidas team races Felt bikes. THE BIKE At first glance, the matte charcoal aluminium frame, high bottom bracket, generous suspension travel (150mm rear, 140mm front) and heavily knobbed tyres told us the Compulsion is made to tackle almost anything. A closer examination of the Equilink suspension is an experience in itself. It’s Felt’s unique six-bar linkage design, which is essentially a derivative of the very effective, heavily protected DW-link
design, but with an additional ‘Equilink’, a red aluminium strut that joins the upper and lower pivots to ensure the angle remains unchanged between the seat and the chainstays, claimed to effectively eliminate any pedal bob. The disjointed seat-tube looks a bit like an afterthought improvement. While the patented Equilink design looks complicated, it’s intended to make riding uncomplicated. It’s fully active and uses a Fox Float R shock, which means there’s no adjustment and fine-tuning required and no need to worry about flipping between platform settings. Just set the sag once in a while with a bit of air and ride. The fact that the frame can accommodate a bottle cage is a bonus. THE RIDE We were a bit surprised when the hardy fit-
and-forget 140mm-travel Marzocchi Bomber fork, popped a seal on our fourth ride. Aside from that, it worked predictably well in keeping the bike well balanced, especially on rugged terrain. What we didn’t predict was what a revelation the Compulsion would be. At 14.1kgs you’d expect it to be on the sluggish side, but it wasn’t. It climbed with surprising ease, probably as a result of the Equilink’s bobeliminating design. Whether on rocky, twisty ascents or smooth, steady climbs, there was no change. It was supple and active and it climbed as fast as our legs and lungs could push it. With a shortish top tube courtesy of a steepish 73-degrees seatpost angle, you’d do well to check sizing carefully or fit a setback seatpost if you’re not keen to go up a size. This gave the bike a very sure feel in tight handling situations.
Overall, the bike was reassuringly stable no matter what terrain we tackled, even very steep, sharp descents, which are normally a little sketchy on a bike with a short cockpit. The burly Felt XAM tyres aren’t made for the dry, sandy surfaces found in Gauteng in winter and had us sliding out on fast corners. But they gripped well in all other conditions and surfaces. THE VERDICT If you want comfort and efficiency at a reasonable price, you’re looking at one very solid option in the Compulsion 4. It’s a trail bike that can handle smooth as well as it tackles rough. The fully active rear suspension means you can just ride without worrying about settings. It’s a refreshingly well-priced allround bike for anyone that’s more concerned with comfort and control than weight.
TREAD AUTUMN WINTER 2009 TREAD 2009
NEW MTB RANGE NOW AVAILABLE
It’s in our blood, ...is it in yours?
SINGLE TRACK SHORT
LADIES MOTIF VEST
For more info on a stockist near you visit www.firstascent.co.za or call: 021 787 9380
SPECIALIZED ENDURO SL COMP | R29 995 As one of the world’s biggest bike brands, Specialized has multiple models in every category of mountain bike. Last issue, we reviewed the Stumpjumper in the Trail Bike category and then decided to see just what their All Mountain bike is like. THE BIKE There’s something very attractive about the swoopy frame design of the Enduro. It brings flair to the six-inch (150mm) travel category, which is known for its brawn-overbeauty priorities. The 08 model sported a double crown Specialized fork, which has been replaced on the 09 edition with a single crown Fox 32 Float RL, a favourite among our test team, which offers up to 150mm of forgiveness with lockout, compression and rebound adjustment and a 15mm thru-axle.
The All-Mountain bike is meant to do just that – climb and descend all of a mountain – preferably with efficiency and control. The rear shock has two positions, which changes the geometry, ideal for connoisseurs of finetuning. The Enduro SL Comp is all aluminium and at 12.8kg, surprisingly svelte for a bike in this traditionally burly category. SRAM’s X-7 trigger shifters and X-9 rear derailleur and Shimano’s SLX front derailleur, take care of shifting, while Avid’s attractive Elixir hydraulic disc brakeset gives reassurance to the braking department. The Specializedbranded wheelset, complete with robust Specialized S-Works Eskar 2.3-inch tyres, neatly rounds off the all-terrain package. THE RIDE The great thing about the Enduro was that it
seemed to come with added ambition. Line selection on technical or rocky descents wasn’t quite as critical as on the Stumpjumper, which means more space for speed and ultimately, more space for fun. And that really sums up what the Enduro is all about, fun. It’s not meant to be able to climb fast. But fast is a relative term and our fit testers were impressed at the efficiency with which it rode upwards, no matter what the surface. There’s a lockout on the Fox fork, which we only really activated on very long climbs. It took a few rides to dial in the rear suspension – Specialized’s own AFR shock – to best manage small-bump absorption. But it was big bumps we were most keen to tackle – as should anyone else interested in All-Mountain bikes. The Enduro SL Comp consumed these with the
ho-humness of a staple diet. We expected the Enduro SL Comp to be noticeably heavier than the Stumpjumper, but we were surprised that it wasn’t and climbing really wasn’t a chore. The real difference, however, could be felt on the descents. Big-hit is used a lot in describing 6-inch-travel bikes and it’s appropriate. There’s not much you can’t tackle on the Enduro. In fact, it would take an accomplished downhiller to test it to its real limits. THE VERDICT This bike would be wasted on anyone who doesn’t want to ride everywhere, every day. It’s got to be ridden hard to be appreciated. The relatively light weight and climbing efficiency makes for one of the most versatile bikes around. If the prospect of true mountain bike riding (not racing) gets you out of bed on cold winter mornings, then this bike could be your soul mate.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Tested MERIDA NINETY-SIX HFS 3000D
SILVERBACK MERCURY 2
GEOMETRY SIZES: S 16-inch, M 18-inch (tested), L 20-inch, XL 21.5-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 590mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 403mm
GEOMETRY SIZES: S, M (tested), L, XL
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 425mm WHEELBASE: 1075mm SPECS PRICE: R29099 COLOURS: Black; Brushed Silver WEIGHT: 12.3kg w/o pedals FRAME: Hydroformed Prolite 66 aluminium with X-Fusion 02 RC 96mm travel shock with lockout; carbonfibre seatstays FORK: Fox F100 RL 100mm travel with lockout GEARS: Shimano XT Rapidfire shifters, Shimano XT front derailleur, Shimano XT Shadow rear derailleur BRAKES: Magura Louise Bat hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors CRANKSET: Shimano XT 44/32/22 WHEELS: Mavic Crossride rims and hubs
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 430mm WHEELBASE: 1072.4mm SPECS PRICE: R22800 COLOURS: Silver
TYRES: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution 26x2.1 COCKPIT: XM Comp lowrise bar, FSA stem and seatpost, Prologo Nago saddle
TYRES: WTB Weirwolf 26x2.1 tubeless COCKPIT: Silverback Extreme saddle, FSA Alloy seat post, FSA XC282 Riser Alloy handlebar, FSA Alloy stem
CONTACT: www2.merida-bikes.com; 011 363 2211 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E
CONTACT: www.silverbacklab.com; 021 386 7777 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E
FELT COMPULSION 4
GEOMETRY SIZES: S 15.5-inch, M 17.5inch (tested), L 19.5-inch, XL 21.5-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 557mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 445m HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 431mm WHEEL BASE: 1117mm SPECS PRICE: R17999 COLOURS: Matte charcoal WEIGHT: 14.kg w/o pedals FRAME: T700 blend carbon-fibre monocoque with DT SWISS XR shock – 140mm (5.5 inches) travel. FORK: Marzocchi Bomber with 140mm travel and lockout GEARS: Shimano Deore shifters and front derailleur, Shimano SLX Shadow rear derailleur BRAKES: Shimano BR-M486 hydraulic disc with 160mm (rear) and 180mm (front) rotors CRANKSET: Truvativ Blaze 42/32/22 WHEELS: Shimano centrelock hubs, WTB Speeddisc rims TYRES: Felt XAM 26x2.3 COCKPIT: Felt XAM all mountain stem, riser bar, seatpost and saddle CONTACT: www.felt.co.za; 043 726 3116 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 577mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 445mm
WEIGHT: 12.9Kg w/o pedals FRAME: G2 Force Super Light Aluminium, Intelligent Design System and Fox Float RP-2 shock with 100m travel and lockout FORK: Rock Shox Recon SL Air with 100mm travel and lockout GEARS: Shimano XT Rapidfire Plus shifters, Shimano XT Shadow rear derailleur; Shimano SLX front derailleur BRAKES: Shimano M665 hydraulic disc CRANKSET: Shimano SLX WHEELS: Shimano XT Tubeless
PIVOT MACH 4
GEOMETRY SIZES: XXS 14.25-inch, XS 15.57inch, S 17.2-inch, M 18.5-inch (tested), L 20-inch, XL 21.5-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 590mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 470mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70.8 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 425mm WHEELBASE: Not given SPECS PRICE: R22500 (frameset only) COLOURS: Anodised cobalt blue or anodised jet black WEIGHT: 12.3kg full test bike FRAME: Hydroformed 6000 aluminium with Fox RP23 shock with 100mm travel, Pivot seatclamp and Shimano XTR threadless bottom bracket FORK: Manitou R7 Platinum with 100mm travel GEARS: Shimano XTR shifters and rear derailleur, Shimano SLX front derailleur BRAKES: Shimano XTR hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors CRANKSET: Shimano XT 44/32/22 WHEELS: Bontrager Race X Lite tubeless wheelset TYRES: Geax Saguaro 26x2.0 COCKPIT: Bontrager XXX Lite carbon fibre bar and stem, Titec Pluto Duke carbon seatpost, Fizik Gobi saddle CONTACT: www.twowheelstrading.co.za; 041 368 5708 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E
SPECIALIZED ENDURO SL COMP
GEOMETRY SIZES: S, M (tested), L, XL
HOW WE TEST BIKES • Our test team is a core group of experienced mountain bikers that have no
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 574mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 444mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: (low): 67degrees, (high): 67.9degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE (low): 67 degrees, (high): 67.9degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 421mm WHEELBASE: 1147mm SPECS PRICE: R29995 COLOURS: Gloss white and emerald green WEIGHT: 12.8kg w/o pedals FRAME: M5 manipulated aluminium with Specialized AFR Shock with 150mm travel and adjustable geometry FORK: Fox 32 Float RL with 15mm thru-axle, 150mm travel with compression, rebound adjust GEARS: SRAM X-7 trigger shifters, SRAM X-9 rear derailleur, Shimano SLX front derailleur BRAKES: Custom Avid Elixir R SL hydraulic disc with 185mm (front) and 203mm (rear) rotors CRANKSET: Shimano FC-M542 44/32/22 WHEELS: DT Swiss X430 rims, DT Swiss-15/disc-10 hubs TYRES: Specialized S-Works Eskar tubeless-ready 26x2.0 (rear), 26x2.3 (front) COCKPIT: Specialized Format saddle, Specialized alloy seatpost, Specialized Enduro mid-rise alloy bar, Specialized adjustable rise stem CONTACT: www.specialized-sa.co.za; 011 627 5080 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E
affiliation with any bicycle industry brands. • We have men and women on our test team. • We have test team members in Cape Town, Joburg, Pretoria and Durban. • We often invite guests to ride our test bikes and give us their feedback. • We test ride bikes for at least three weeks each, most for around double that. • We take each bike through a variety of riding terrain to get a good idea how it rides in South African conditions. • We test ride each bike with the components and tyres it is sold with. • We give honest, from-the-saddle opinion. • We only ride bikes that are available in South Africa. • We don’t only test ride brands of our advertisers, we test ride bikes that are relevant to the local mountain bike market. • We know we have the coolest job in
TREAD WINTER 2009
Gender Blender Women-specific bikes – is it all marketing hype or is there some substance to a continued global drive towards giving women a slightly different bike? By Sean Badenhorst
The Brief Four women of varying levels of fitness and skill to ride the Fuel EX 5.5 around a set course which includes long climbs, steep climbs, long descents, steep descents, singletrack and corners of varying tightness. Repeat on the Fuel EX 5.5 WSD and then answer some questions. Ride each bike again on a slightly different course, which is shorter and more technical. Answer more questions. We inflated the identical tyres to identical pressures and did the same with the fork and rear shock. We also made sure the handlebar to saddle distance was identical (we transferred the same women’s saddle with each bike change) and obviously matched saddle heights. Essentially, we wanted to eliminate any differences so that our test riders could be as in tune as possible with the differences made between the two bikes by Trek. The Bikes
Almost identical models Trek Fuel EX 5.5, only one has a WSD (Women-
designing bikes to suit the average woman’s anatomy, which is said to
WSD. The other differences are that the WSD has softer compound
have longer legs and a shorter torso than a man of the same height.
hand-grips; that both disc rotors are 160mm, while the EX 5.5 has a
n average, around a quarter of the entrants at South African
Specific Design) suffix, which means it’s been tweaked to be more
mountain bikes events are women. And by all accounts,
suited to women. The main structural differences aren’t immediately
that figure is growing. Some bike brands have recognised
obvious when you stand the bikes next to each other, but Trek says
the need to cater specifically for the women’s market by
it’s designed a steeper seat-tube angle and a shorter top tube on the
Trek was the first brand to create bicycles specifically for women so
180mm rotor on the front; and that the WSD has a women’s saddle. And
we asked them for a Fuel EX 5.5 and a Fuel EX 5.5 WSD and asked a few
of course the colour – black with silver and red detail becomes a more
female mountain bikers to tell us if they could feel a difference.
feminine white with magenta and silver detail.
TREK Fuel EX 5.5 WSD PHOTO: DOMINIC BARNARDT
TREAD WINTER 2009
Buying The results
Ultimately, all the brands that offer women’s bikes aim to improve
Overall, the two average height women (1.67m and 1.68m) felt more
comfort and control. It’s usually the extent of each that will vary. Is it
in control on the WSD bike, but the taller woman (1.72m) was more
all hype? Well, it’s obvious that women’s bodies differ from those of
at home on the ‘men’s bike’. The competitive racer (1.69m), used to
men. But whether their bikes should differ seems to be a matter of
only riding ‘men’s bikes’, initially struggled to come to terms with the
opinion. Our opinion? Twenty-five percent of all mountain bikers should
position, which is a more relaxed trail-riding one (it is a trail category
most certainly be given special attention. If that brings them increased
bike) but then decided she preferred the ‘men’s bike’ because she felt
comfort and control, then it’s hope, not hype.
a little more “stretched out and powerful”. The verdict In addition to our own experiment, we did plenty of research on this subject. There are two key elements that emerge:
Fuel EX 5.5
Fuel EX 5.5 WSD
Black - red/silver
White – magenta/
17.5 inch (medium)
17.5 inch (large)
Head tube angle:
who are more recreational in their intent. Serious racers often
Seat tube angle:
think they’re compromising on performance by riding a WSD bike.
Top tube length:
Bontrager Jones XR
Bontrager Jones XR
1. WSD is a very good option for women shorter than 1.70m in height. 2. WSD is a safe default option for women that are new to MTB or
We recommend being open-minded here. Elsewhere in this issue of TREAD, Tania Raats, a top racer, tells how she prefers the women’s bike she is now racing.
26x2.25 Tyre rear:
Most major brands, and even some smaller brands, offer womenspecific bikes, which besides the altered frame geometry and women’s saddle, can include the following: • • • • •
smaller diameter grips narrower handlebars shorter-reach (or adjustable-reach) brake levers shorter crank length easier gearing
Bontrager Jones XR
Bontrager Jones XR
Tyre pressure front:
Tyre pressure rear:
RockShox Tora 302
RockShox Tora 302
Fox Float RP2
Fox Float RP2
TREK Fuel EX 5.5 PHOTO: DOMINIC BARNARDT
TREAD WINTER 2009
Made to fit
TREAD WINTER 2009
ver since Trek began to treat women like, well, women, with its Women Specific Design (WSD) most of the world’s major bicycle brands have added womenspecific models to their mountain bike range. Some of the small brands have also given women the attention they deserve and designed bikes to offer women better comfort and control. Our women’s test team put a Trek Fuel EX 5.5 WSD and a Santa Cruz Juliana through their paces. PHOTOS BY: AUBREY JONSSON
TREK FUEL EX 5.5 WSD
SANTA CRUZ JULIANA
CATEGORY: Trail / 5-inches dual suspension travel
CATEGORY: Marathon/XC / 4-inches of dual suspension travel
LOOKS: The magenta detailing is understated enough so as not to scream
COST: R58 000 – Expensive, but if you’re a serious mountain biker
girly bike! It looks like a comfortable bike that’s non-aggressive.
wanting a serious brand, well worth the investment.
COST: R15500 – Compared to most dual suspension bikes, it’s well
LOOKS: Sleek and ready to race. The matte gunmetal gray colour is
priced. However, we rode the 2008 model. The 2009 model’s price a
neutral and practical.
little higher at R18500.
COMFORT: It’s a 4-inch-travel dual-suspension bike which is
COMFORT: We found it comfortable and easy to ride. Our fit, racing-
designed for marathon or cross-country racing. The bike we tested is
snake testers felt it was too relaxed and sluggish for their liking. Our
specifically set up for racing with top-end components, light wheels
more recreational testers liked it and felt they could ride all day
and bar-ends. Comfort isn’t bad, but this is a bike where performance
without discomfort. The suspension makes it possible to pedal over
is more important.
clumpy grass, ruts and stoney surfaces while seated, which is basically
CONTROL: Our testers developed good trust in the bike after a while
a free gift to your back, arms and shoulders!
and were able to tackle downhills they’d never have considered
CONTROL: With 120mm of rear suspension travel, and 130mm up front,
riding before. Cornering was very stable, especially for those testers
we felt very confident on tricky terrain, especially descents. It was a
accustomed to riding hardtails. The Shimano XTR disc brakes were
very stable, smooth climber, but at 15kg, not super-light. The wide,
super-efficient which does wonders for confidence.
riser-style handlebar made us feel very in control. The disc brakes
EASE OF USE: Both the shocks have lockout, which our racing snake
aren’t top-end, but they worked well enough to give us confidence in
testers used regularly, especially on smoother surfaces and on long
their ability to slow us down or stop us at short notice!
climbs. The key is to remember to unlock them for the descents
EASE OF USE: Nothing too tricky. The lockout lever on the fork is easy
and technical terrain or else you’re in for a jarring of note! Another
to reach and turn. The Pro-pedal lever on the rear shock is easy to
positive is that there’s space for a water bottle inside the frame.
reach too and if you forget to turn it back for a downhill, it’s not that
Having that option is always nice, even if you’re a dedicated hydration
big a problem because you still have suspension activity.
COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS: Shimano Deore shifters and derailleurs;
COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS: Shimano XTR disc brakes, gear shifters,
Rock Shox Tora 130mm fork; Fox Float RP2 120mm travel shock;
derailleurs and crankset; DT Swiss wheelset; Fox Float RL32 100mm
Bontrager Ranger rims.
fork; Thomson seatpost, stem, handlebar.
CONTACT: www.justfun.co.za; 011 405 3399
CONTACT: www.dragons.co.za; 021 461 6252
TREAD WINTER 2009
Tested … and it’s not only bikes where women-specific design is being seen more regularly. Clothing and accessories are also becoming more widely available with feminine structure and styling… Cape Storm Descent Long Sleeved Shirt What a versatile cycling top! It’s perfect as a form-fitting layer under a winter jacket and in warmer conditions can be worn over a vest. The Wick-Dry fabric is light, but thick enough to keep you warm from a chilly wind. It’s actually perfect for autum and spring rides. The blue and white colouring is simple and bold and you actually feel like you’re wearing a stylish top. No second-guessing on sizing like you tend to have with European or American brands. Cape Storm is a South African company and they’ve been very reasonable with their pricing. Nice touches are the reflective strip on the shoulders, the two deep – but not saggy – pockets and the UV-resistance of the fabric. Price: 395 Contact: www.capestorm.co.za
Specialized BG Ridge Fingerless gloves are fine in summer. But when the weather turns chilly long-fingered gloves like Specialized’s Body Geometry Ridge are a good option. For those that ride at sensible hours in winter, these gloves keep off the chill and offer plenty of proctection in the event of an unplanned dismount. The women specific shaping and size is perfect for delicate lady hands. Even though mountain biking is a tough sport, we still like to feel as attractive as possible. And co-ordinated, where possible, which is why we like the grippy silicone strips on the forefinger and middlefinger that allow firm contact with the brake levers. They only come in black with a dash of gray and magenta, practical with just a touch of feminity. The padding is well placed and very comfy, especially welcome on long rides, but not bulky, so you still have a good ‘feel’ for the bars which is crucial for optimum control. Sizes: S, M, L, XL Price: R535 Contact: www.specialized-sa.co.za; 011 627 5080
TREAD WINTER 2009
Shimano SH-WM80 Let’s face it, we suffer enough in impractical, but fashionable shoes off the bike, why should we suffer foot discomfort on it? If numbness in your feet is becoming a recurring concern, look at upgrading to a better quality shoe, like Shimano’s SH-WM80. They come in smaller sizes designed to fit women’s feet snugly, but are roomy enough in the mid-to-forefoot area so that you don’t get that constricted discomfort that’s often experienced in cheaper shoes. The easy-to-alter ratchet strap and two Velcro straps allow micro adjustablity, while the silver and pearly white colour with pale blue detail and girly patterns feminise the styling. There’s plenty of space between the cleat and the grippy nylon/polyeurothane tread under the sole to ensure smooth, predictable clipping in and out, crucial on technical terrain where you need to dab a foot occasionally to prevent tumbling. And if you do have to dismount, the tread is grippy and stable. There is fibre-glass reinforcement in the soles which make the shoes stiff enough to tranfer your precious energy into powerful forward motion. Be sure to try them on with the socks you’d normally ride with as sizing may be slightly larger than you’d expect. Price: R1900 Contact: www.coolheat.co.za; 0861 SHIMANO
Cape Storm Undercover Vest Undercover often means under-rated. But we consider the this Undercover vest to be a standout item. It’s the perfect base layer in all seasons, especially in winter as it is both form-fitting and long enough to stay tucked in. It’s also got wide arm holes so underarm chafing isn’t a concern. The Wick-Dry fabric transfers moisture away from your body so you don’t get chilly when you sweat. Would be great if they made a longsleeved version. Colours: Aqua, pink, white Price: R150 Contact: www.capestorm.co.za
TREAD WINTER 2009
TREAD WINTER 2009
De-Signs of the Times PHOTO: AUBREY JONSSON
Full suspension mountain bikes have been outselling hardtails overseas for quite a while. This trend is beginning to sweep through the South African market and to the uninitiated, dual suspension designs can be quite formidable. We asked suspension fundi, ANTON BOSMAN, to break it all down.
n a very short time, mountain bike design has gone from being amazingly simple, to simply amazing. The amount of research and development that has gone into the design of mountain bikes in the past 30 years is significant. The fact that itâ€™s coincided with the development of the computer age has made it possible for designers to explore all sorts of new
tweaks to fine tune existing designs, or come up with all new ideas. Most hardtail designs have remained relatively similar over the last three decades, but rear suspension designs have become incredibly attractive to designers who are searching for the perfect frame. This must combine comfort and control - but ultimately, should allow us to go further, faster. Some designs have failed miserably and didnâ€™t even make it to a second generation, while others have found some traction in a highly competitive, dynamic market and have been finetuned to suit certain brands. The bottom line is that nobody can afford to sell a crappy dual suspension design these days. Every design has an associated marketing statement to tell you all the good points about their design. No design is perfect either, but every design you see on bikes available in South Africa will definitely improve your riding experience. Here are the five main categories of rear suspension design:
rear TREAD WINTER 2009
Masterclass HORST LINK/FSR (FOUR-BAR LINKAGE)
VIRTUAL PIVOT POINT (VPP)
What it is
What it is
The four bar linkage has become more commonly known as Future
The VPP system was first used and patented by Outland Bicycles in
Shock Rear (FSR) and to truly be FSR there needs to be a pivot on the
the late 1990s. The patent found in the VPP system covers a linkage
chainstay which should be positioned slightly below and in front of
configuration within the suspension system. The system is very well
the rear axle. This is known as the Horst Link. Horst Leitner invented
known for its pedaling efficiency.
the link in 1991; Specialized bought the patent in May 1998 to use
What they say
on their bikes.
The purpose of the VPP link is to work with the relationship between
What they say
pedalling forces and wheel movement as the rear axle travels in an
The purpose of the Horst Link is to place the brake, axle and rear
arc around the pivot point. The harder the chain pulls forward during
derailleur on a ‘floating seat stay’. Using the Horst Link allows bike
pedalling, the more suspension movement is restricted. In conjunc-
engineers to minimise chain growth throughout the stroke of the
tion with the VPP link some designers have incorporated intelligent
suspension as the axle starts moving with the travel of the bike. The
shocks, which further fine-tune suspension movement to make the
path the axle takes is commonly referred to as ‘fully independent’,
design more widely appealing. VPP designs are not fully independent
meaning that the rear suspension moves unrestricted, regardless of
and they are not fully active.
the rider pedalling or not.
What we say
What we say
This system works well in that it allows for very efficient climbing
This type of rear suspension design has become hugely popular and
and excellent pedalling efficiency. As a result of this, it does not
can be seen on a number of brands that have bought access to the
offer the same levels of comfort associated with a four bar linkage
patent. FSR equipped bikes are very comfortable to ride and really
and, depending on which rear shock is used, could also be somewhat
offer superb control and efficiency. Pedal feedback is eliminated
unforgiving over smaller bumps.
which in return reduces rider fatigue. The fabled energy robbing
Brands that use it
‘bob’ is non-existent. The braking is also fully independent and the
Yeti uses a VPP system, or with it’s new rail system, a derivative of
design eliminates ‘brake-jack’. The one downside to the four-bar
the VPP design. Other brands that use the VPP design include Santa
linkage design is that it is pretty difficult to do away with certain
Cruz, Giant (Maestro model range) and Intense.
stays, which limits the ability to make the bike lighter.
Brands that use it
Every six months. Because of the simplicity of the bearing configura-
Besides Specialized, the four-bar linkage design is used by brands
tion and the size of bearings, bearing replacement is less frequent.
like Ellsworth and Titus. Giant has also very successfully employed
Did you know?
the system on its NRS model range, while Trek has version of it with a rocker link on their Top Fuel and Fuel EX models. Servicing Every six months, with bearings likely to need replacement. Did you know? Riding a Specialized Epic, Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe, gave the fourbar linkage design its first ever XC World Cup win at Fort William, Scotland in 2003.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Greg Minnaar won the 2008 UCI Nissan Downhill World Cup on a Santa Cruz using the VPP design.
Feature Masterclass DW LINK
What it is
What it is
The DW link is named after the initials of its designer Dave Weagle.
There is a very common misconception as to what a soft-tail is and
It is a derivative of the VPP design, but is said to respond better to
as a result, the term gets rather heavily abused. The soft-tail is the
hard pedalling. Many claim this system to be the pinnacle of suspen-
simplest of all the designs but it’s falling out of favor as a result of
sion design, making Weagle somewhat of a legend and a very highly
respected suspension designer.
What they say
What they say
Most soft-tail designs are, technically speaking, a three-bar linkage
The thinking behind the DW link design is to balance the effects of
design. These are variations of the original Amp Research Mac-Strut
acceleration and braking forces in order to improve traction and
design. The movement of the rear suspension is dependent on the
efficiency. The design still doesn’t quite emulate a fully indepen-
flex it receives from the rear stays. The rear shock runs in line with
dent system. The aim of the link is to create a point at which one
the seat stay and maximum travel would normally be a minimal 1-2
should achieve ‘position-sensitive anti-squat’. This is a kinematic
suspension force. Think of a car when it pulls off; the rear suspension
What we say
squats. What the DW link does, is counteract this force.
This design is extremely pedal efficient, in some cases almost like a
What we say
hardtail. The frames are quite light as there are no pivot points or
As with the VPP design, the pedalling is very efficient but the small
added linkages. The downside with this design is that because of its
bump action of the suspension is also more noticeable. The DW link
limited rear wheel travel, it lacks the same levels of comfort and
also deals with brake jacking more efficiently, which allows for more
control of other dual-suspension designs.
optimal suspension movement under braking.
Brands that use it
Brands that use it
KHS, Airborne, Moots and Trek (STP model range) have used this
The DW link design is used by brands such as Ibis, Turner and Pivot.
Every six months. Expect regular replacement of bearings.
Despite being very low maintenance, a six-monthly rear shock ser-
Did you know?
vice is advised. Expect to replace bushings and reducers within the
The DW link was under licence contract to Iron Horse but the con-
tract was terminated in 2007. The DW link was also used to win six
Did you know?
UCI Elite downhill titles between 2005 and 2007.
A soft-tail is NOT the opposite of a hardtail. It’s type of full-suspension design. The original Cannondale Scalpel has been called a soft-tail by many. However, this bike is an exception to the rule as it offered more rear wheel travel than most typical soft-tails.
TREAD WINTER 2009
SINGLE PIVOT What it is The simplest rear-suspension design, single pivot consists of a pivot
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that is located near the bottom bracket and a single swingarm running between the rear axle and the shock. The trick of single pivot design is to locate the pivot and shock-mounting points to get the rear shock to act more progressively, otherwise there’s a ‘pogo stick’ type activity. Some single-pivot designs attach the rear triangle directly to a rear shock to have a more linear rate. What they say The great thing about this design is its small bump compliancy. The design does however suffer from chain growth and brake jack. Getting shock settings spot on, such as re-bound and spring rate, are crucial in this design. What we say Because it’s the most simple rear-suspension design, it’s easier to get the bike to be lighter than a multi-pivot design. However, in general, single-pivot designs aren’t as laterally stiff as multi-pivot designs. Brands that use it Bike companies that use this popular design include Morewood, Santa Cruz (Superlight model range), Cannondale and, interestingly, GT. Servicing Every six months: Maintenance on this design is relatively low. The main pivot bearings may need to be replaced around once a year. Did you know? GT’s Independent Drive system is a single pivot design. It’s different from other single pivot designs in that the bottom bracket is part of the rear triangle, not separate like other single pivot designs.
Creative? Obsessive? Discerning? We don’t care where your motivation comes from. All we want are your photos showing your devotion to mountain biking. You don’t have to own a Volcan to enter, you just need to think like a mountain biker with soul.
This is my Volcan
To find out more, visit www.treadmag.co.za
for more info, visit
Discover the ideal mountain bike for your needs!
Bike shop of the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 SA Mountain bike Champs!!! Service plan for every Mountain bike sold
Every bike bought from FPC comes with a service plan regardless of the value.
Professional Mountain bike setups
Full Bio-Kinaesthetic assessment for a personalised precise fit by internationally trained staff, for optimum efficiency and optimised performance.
Professional Mountain bike workshops
Best workshops in the industry! PRO shock mechanics, wheel builders etc.
Weekly club activities
Active clubs with daily mountain bike rides and weekly fun activities.
Most knowledgeable staff
Qualified staff will give you the right advice and sell you the correct mountain bike for your needs the 1st time, making your mountain biking experience an unbeatable one.
For the ladies
Ladies specific sections in all stores, ladies specific rides at a time that suits you!
ke ain bi stsâ€? t n u o i â€œThe m special Pretoria: Shop A, Brooklyn Centre, c/o Duncan & Lynnwood St., Brooklyn Tel: +27 12 362 8816 or Email Kevin: email@example.com Centurion: Shop 11, Southdowns Centre, c/o John Vorster & Nellmapius Dr., Irene Tel: +27 12 665 2190 or Email Charl: firstname.lastname@example.org Johannesburg: Cambridge Business Park, c/o Witkoppen & Regent St., Paulshof Tel: +27 11 234 0962 or Email Gavin: email@example.com
Specialized Berm With a relatively non-sporty design, the Berm brings some off-the-bike style to performance eyewear. A bit like baggy riding shorts. But the styling comes with a small compromise in that the full frames, which are a little shorter than most models, take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to wearing half-frame performance eyewear. The photochromic lenses worked like they’re designed to, adjusting tint levels swiftly according to varying light conditions, however we found they were at their best in low light conditions, like forest trails or overcast days. The vents on either side increase airflow, which reduced, but didn’t eliminate misting. Depending on the shape of your head, there is some movement (our fat-headed testers had no problem with movement) down the nose if the arms don’t fit snugly. Price: R1235 Contact: www.specialized-sa.co.za; 011 627 5080
Rudy Project NOYZ Crystal The light extremes mountain bikers can face on just one ride have made Photochromic lenses almost standard offerings and Rudy Project’s Clear ImpactX lenses join the fray at the highest level. The (interchangeable) lenses are paired with the NOYZ frame and are designed to smoothly adjust their shade according to the intensity of the sun. And they do this quickly and consistently. They’ve got the standard UV block, antiglare and impact protection qualities and can accommodate clip-on prescription lenses, giving them wide appeal. They’re lighter than other Rudy’s we’ve worn in the past, which is important when you’re riding for half a day, and the adjustable nosepiece and temples make it possible to slightly customise the fit. Price: R2510 Contact: http://rudyproject.co.za; 0861 RUDYSA
Serfas Grips A grip is a grip, right? Wrong. A grip is crucial in determining what kind of control you have. It also needs to be comfortable enough since it’s a contact point between you and your bike. The Serfas Pro-Flo Lock-on has a dual density design with a hard inner shell and a soft outer casing. It locks onto your bar so that there’s no movement. It’s easy to fit and has just enough ‘give’ to be comfortable, but not so much that they feel ‘squidgy’. In wet conditions they retained their grippiness, which is important. We’re not sure how long they’ll last, because we’ve only ridden with them for a couple of weeks. Price: R175 Contact: www.twowheelstrading.co.za; 041 368 5708
TREAD WINTER 2009
Tested Specialized Command Post You know how you hit a technical descent and regret not taking a moment to stop just before you headed down to drop your saddle a few centimetres for more clearance? Well, there’s a solution. Specialized’s Command Post is an adjustable seat post that allows you to adjust your saddle height on the fly. It’s not cheap, but it works damn well. It has 100mm of ‘travel’ and three possible heights, which you adjust with a remote cable-activated lever that’s mounted on your handlebar (left or right lever options available). The heights are: Power (your regular seat height), Cruiser (35mm down) and Descender (100mm down) and it comes in 30.9mm diameter only. It’s made from durable aluminium and weighs 598g, which
Specialized Pro When you’re serious about performance, a stiff sole and micro-adjustability are not negotiable. The Pro fulfils both of these requirements – very well. In the adjustability department, Specialized has reached a new level. The top-strap ratchet adjuster (which is lower profile and lighter than its predecessor) now also has a unique adjustable X-Link system, which allows you
is just over double the weight of most regular posts. It works with a low-pressure air actuated spring. If technical descents regularly feature in your riding, then you’ll really appreciate the Command Post. It’s practical, does its job efficiently and makes descending more fun. What’s not to like? Price: R3750 Contact: www.specialized-sa.co.za; 011 627 5080
Shimano SH M160 A standout reason to consider socking this shoe is the glass-fibre plate in the outsole, which is reinforced by a hard nylon tread. This means it’s stiff and strong, but not quite as a rigid as a carbon-fibre sole. Neither are made for walking comfort, but the glassfibre has a fraction more give if (heaven forbid) you are forced to dismount. If you’re new to top-end shoes, it feels a bit like
to make the top strap longer or shorter and
you’re wearing a railway line, only without
even move the ratchet clip to find optimum
the weight. The SH M160s are flashy. Broad-
comfort. The two Velcro straps complete
shouldered styling and the disco silver upper
the closure duties across the centre and
do not render understatement. So if you’re
lower section of the shoe. We found the Pro
into being inconspicuous – best you muddy
took a few rides to loosen up, so opted to
these slippers up a little before stepping
wear thicker socks until the tops of the heel
out. The fit is sweet, thanks to the triple
cup felt more supple. The Pro comes with
Velcro straps that stabilise and ensure
Specialized’s much-praised Body Geometry
comfort. There’s no micro-adjustability you
footbeds (red for standard foot support),
get with a ratchet, or a BOA cable-cinch
which offer instant comfort and complete a
system, but with a standard strap you get
high quality package. The carbon-fibre soles
simplicity, which mountain bikers tend to
are predictably super-stiff with not even a
appreciate. The straps are also generous
smidgen of give, well, not any that we could
in length, which ensures secure fastening
feel. There’s also an additional layer that
no matter how much ‘space’ you need to
protects the carbon beneath the cleat and
give your feet, especially if they swell in hot
offers greater cleat grip. The dominant black
conditions. The inner-soles are comfortable
colouring is practical with the silver and gold
enough, but thin, so expect to replace them
detail adding some classy texture.
at some stage.
011 627 5080
TREAD WINTER 2009
Tested Specialized Terra Is there anything Specialized doesn’t make? You’d think with such a diverse offering of products, there’d be a weakness in a niche item like the company’s only model of baggy shorts. Not so. Exceptionally tough, yet light, the polyester/nylon outer comes with a detachable, high quality six-panel Lycra inner, with a Body Geometry pad. Unlike most detachable inners we’ve tried, it’s has a snug fit so we actually wanted to use it. It’s easy enough to detach when needed, but not that easy that it self-detaches
Lezyne V10 Multi-tool
when riding. There’s no pocket overkill with
We’re impressed with Lezyne’s refreshing take of
four functional pouches (two closable) giving
practical tools and accessories. They’re generally
adequate storage space. The dark gray colour is
either lighter or better looking than established
practical in its neutrality.There are two stretch
brands, but the best thing is they don’t
panels (upper rear and inner thigh), which give
compromise on strength and functionality. The
the garment flexibility and comfort in all riding
V10 multi-tool is made from forged and CNC-cut
positions. It’s a good-looking, comfortable
chrome vanadium bits, which include a Phillips
garment. The only negative we found was the
head screwdriver, T25 and T30 Torx and 2, 3, 4,
noise the fabric makes when pedalling, which
5, 6 and 8mm Allen keys. Most impressive is the
is rhythmic and only really noticeable in quiet
aluminium chainbreaker that incorporates a neat
surroundings. But that’s a small sacrifice for the
flap that doubles as a branded cover plate. At
highly durable fabric that won’t tear on the first
102 grams, it’s super-light. At 15mm high, 44mm
thorn bush you brush past. Also available in a
wide and 63mm long, it’s extremely compact too,
women’s D4W version (black).
which means a small sacrifice in the leverage
dept. It comes with a soft fabric sleeve, which
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
is a nice touch.
011 627 5080
041 368 5708
HOSS Ponderosa The thing about baggy shorts is that they shouldn’t be too baggy and HOSS have got this compromise spot on. No snagging the crotch on the seat, which can be the most annoying thing about baggy shorts. There’s an integrated, non-removable inner with a CoolMax chamois pad, which obviously improves comfort and actually surprised us just how comfortable it is, especially on long rides. The eight-panel polyester outer shell is quite tough considering how light it is. With seven pockets (including two with zip closure) you’ll never run out of storage space, although we tended to only make use of these off the bike. The waistband is partially elasticised with a plastic buckle for additional security while the rear stretch panel did what it’s meant to: improve comfort and flexibility. What most impressed us was the price. Imported, high quality baggy shorts with all the features for under R800! Impressive. Also available in a women’s version. Colours: Grey Camo; Black Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL Price: R795 Contact: www.intltrade.co.za; 087 720 3951
Tested PRO Ultimate winter glove Before you even put it on, there are certain things that a bikey looks for in a winter glove. It must be light. It must be compact. It has to look the part. Thing is, with our winters being what they are (Mediterranean Cape troubles aside), your winter glove is likely to come off by mid-morning on all but the coldest days. It is in these three respects that the PRO Ultimate glove really delivers. They look great, they weigh nothing and together the pair takes up nearly no space in your pocket. They are apparently good for up to 5 degrees below zero, which is more than most South African mountain bikers are likely to need. Certainly in the TREAD test period (late Autumn, early Winter), there was no need for anything more substantial
Rudy Project Zuma
than the thin Ultimates. The only criticism
This helmet sucks as a shower cap, so we’re pretty sure that the lads from Rudy Project, which
is that the insides of the fingers feel a little
is an Italian brand, didn’t name it after our newly elected president. The name, we figure, is
‘unfinished’. With fingers pressed up against
a play on the word zoom, you know, like – go fast. Who’d have guessed? The promise of some
the inside while gripping handlebars, there
extra Zuma is exactly what we liked about this evenly priced lid – the styling carries a high-speed
was some discomfort. Aside from that, the
attitude. You look fast, you feel fast. The helmet is compact, light and cuts fine angles that imply
PRO is a sound, reasonably priced, choice for
the technical heritage that Rudy Project prides itself in. The helmet’s label carries the swagger
happy cold weather fingers.
of In-Mold technology, which promises strength, but the big stand out was the ease of fit. An
ergonomic dial at the back aides in tailoring fit on the fly while side straps offer trouble-free
adjustment for even the most technically challenged rider. With 26 vents, there’s no shortage
of airflow to keep your head cool. And we all know how important it is to keep a cool head. Even in winter. Price: R1100 Contact: http://rudyproject.co.za; 0861 RUDYSA
Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV A mini-pump is only a schlep to carry until you need it. And then it’s an arm workout that leaves your biceps and eventually, your tyre pumped. The guys at Lezyne have clearly grown weary of this and came up with the Micro Floor Drive HV, a mini-pump, that’s a floor pump that can attach to your frame. Sounds bulky, but it isn’t. The oversized piston can inflate up to 90psi (not that you’ll ever need that much). Inflation is floor-pump fast in a floor pump position, with a stainless steel wire footpeg to keep the pump in place. The whole thing is made from CNC machined aluminium, which is good looking as well as strong and the handle ergonomically shaped, to increase comfort during inflation. The Flip-Thread chuck threads directly on to Presta or Schrader valves and it does so securely, making sure no pumped air is wasted. The rubber hose fastens neatly away for transit. The whole thing weighs in at 221 grams, which is damn featherweight for such a powerful pump. Price: R395 Contact: www.twowheelstrading.co.za; 041 368 5708
TREAD WINTER 2009
Shimano hits the sweet spot By Albert Retief
Just when you thought the Japanese giant was looking vulnerable in the face of increasing opposition, it launches SLX.
components. In case you haven’t being paying
Shimano offers two types of front derailleur
attention, here is the summarised version: SLX
to match the two crankset versions. The
himano has done a pretty good job of letting people know where the new SLX groupset fits into its rather extensive range of mountain bike
one for the double chainring has a compact
is basically the new LX. What has happened to LX? Well, Shimano has
That crankset is one of the highlights of the
design. The regular front derailleur has
moved it to its touring line of components.
group. As already mentioned, it really looks
proven itself efficient. It is super easy to
And if you don’t know what touring bikes are,
the part. The arms use HOLLOWTECH II
set up, as the adjustment screws are very
just visit Holland, and look at all the freaky
technology, the same used in the new XT and
accessible, even on a full suspension bike.
commuters on their giraffe-like cycles. Those
XTR. It also means that they are significantly
are touring bikes.
lighter than the old LX, which were so heavy
TREAD asked the South African
you could believe they were lead-injected.
Shimano agents, Cool Heat, to send the official
Because of the All-Mountain tag, Shimano
marketing word on the new groupset. The
offers the crankset in two configurations; a
first paragraph sent us straight back into the
double chainring version featuring a 39/22
garage! Shimano describes SLX as: ‘Developed
ratio and a regular triple (44/32/22). The
for Extreme All Mountain, this groupset excels
double comes complete with a ‘honeycomb’-
in terms of durability and high performance.’
designed bash guard, for those real aggressive
So why back to the garage? The test groupset
was built on to a hardtail. You’d be forgiven for
With the triple, the cranks provide a
thinking that SLX is a super-hot XC group. That,
stiff feel and the chainrings deliver shifts
after all, is what we thought.
as smooth as any of the higher models.
The crankset has a look and colouring so
Unless you are a VERY experienced rider, it is
SHADOW REAR DERAILLEUR
close to XTR that you really need to look twice
unlikely that you could tell these apart from
If you’re not familiar with Shimano’s Shadow
to be sure. We switched the groupset to a
XT in a blind test.
concept by now, it basically offers a lower
5-inch-travel fun bike and set off on the trails.
Price: R2145 (Double R2000)
profile, meaning that the derailleur sits
TREAD WINTER 2009
Gear more recessed than a regular quick release
skewer. With the derailleur out of the way
THE VERDICT When we ride this groupset, we struggle to
like this, you have less chance of catching it
imagine why you would need anything better.
on trail clutter as you pass by. The derailleur
Obviously a weight obsession will lead you
is available in medium (GS) and short-cage
higher up the ladder to XT and XTR but for all
out performance and value, this group cannot
There was some trouble getting the unit
be beaten. Look out for 2009 bikes that are
set up and for the test, it never shifted very
specced with SLX. Many product managers
well. Despite cable replacement, shifts were
seem to have been as enamoured with the
not as crisp as those from an XT derailleur.
cranks as TREAD is. And if you are looking
Then, on the third ride, descending a very
for an inexpensive brake upgrade, look no
rocky piece of trail, the derailleur ended up
further than SLX. Highly recommended.
in the spokes! This happened despite being
in the third gear from the bottom of the
cassette. On return of the unit to Shimano, it seems a faulty spring was the culprit. With that, opinion is reserved until a new test unit
These are the second highlight of the group.
can be evaluated.
Again, you get XT technology just slightly
Note: Watch this space for a follow -up
filtered down. How? Well, the Servo Wave
on the rear derailleur.
feature is not adjustable like with XT. If you are sitting there wondering what Servo Wave is, then you probably don’t need the screws that adjust it. But you will feel the benefit on the trail. The pads extract further back when not in use, so you never get that irritating rubbing sound, even if your rotors are not perfectly true. Servo Wave means that the brake pads pull faster in the beginning of the lever pull to get the pads to the rotor, then they move less after that to offer extreme SHIFTERS
Apart from the fact that you cannot multi-
The SLX lever also feels better than XT
shift in both directions like XTR, these are
with its wider blade. You will notice the
some of the best shifters we’ve ridden.
quality difference, though, when you look
They have all the same features as XT. Two-
at the back of the lever and see that it is
Way release, means you can downshift with
simply crimped aluminium and not a forged
your thumb or forefinger. And just like XT,
lever like XT. SLX also has the tool-free lever
you have a removable optical gear display.
adjustment. This is a great feature for that
This seems to be one of Shimano’s best kept
first five minutes when you get the new
secrets. If, like some, you don’t need a
brakes, but it is pretty redundant after that.
visual confirmation of the gear that you’re
Once you have them set it’s unlikely you ever
in, remove the shifter windows (simply undo
have a need to adjust them again!
the screws). Behind the optical displays you
will find a disc; using the same screws, cover
adjust them again.
the hole left by the extricated window. Very
neat! This is also handy, because the shifters
Obviously there are hubs to complete the
can be mounted on the inside or the outside
group. We do not have these in test. But they
of the brakes. With the windows gone, this
seem to have all the features of their bigger
is much easier. There are three bolt holes to
brothers. With quick-engagement on the hub
move the shifter into the perfect position in
and a 20mm front hub option, all the boxes
relation to the clamp.
Price: R560-R660 TREAD WINTER 2009
My Fitness PHOTO: CARL SCHOLTZ
TREAD WINTER 2009
Sure to Endure
My Fitness after a flight. I think the timing of your sleep is important and on the Freedom Challenge, I will want my sleep time to include the four hours between 02h00–06h00.
By Sean Badenhorst
Tell us about your bike – what’s the most
Fifty-one-year-old airline pilot, Tim James, won the 2300km Freedom Challenge from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl last year. In the second half of June he was off to try and become the first person to defend the title in South Africa’s toughest mountain bike race.
important aspect of a bike for this kind event?
ost people see their fifties as a
becomes more of a formality. One cannot get
time to begin slowing down on
back onto a perfect plan once behind if each
the physical stuff. You go and
day is planned to the max. Understanding this
tackle the toughest race in
is vital to maintaining my focus.
the country – and win it! Are you a unique
When do you start training for the event?
51-year-old or could most 50-somethings
After last year’s race, I didn’t touch my bike
conquer this challenge?
for three months. So that leaves about eight
I keep thinking that there must be some
months to prepare.
mistake here. I don’t feel 51. I am grateful
What kind of on-the-bike training do you
that this wonderful event popped up in my
do to prepare?
life at this stage. It has given me renewed
Five months of base miles. I try to find time
focus and vigor. You set your own limits and
for four rides of 3-5 hours each per week.
you sure won’t exceed them so be careful
Then for the last three months I add some
not to aim too low.
interval lactate threshold sessions into the
In a race where you have so little sleep and
mix – higher intensity efforts of 5-20 minutes.
have to be self-sufficient, how important is
Sabie Experience, Sani2C, Panorama Tour and
the mental side?
the early season MTB Classics all help.
It’s hugely important. A few hours after
And off-the-bike training?
sunset, after riding all day, it’s cold and pitch
Lehanas Pass over the Drakensberg is a portage
dark…. This is when your body and mind gang
of 5km with a 1000m vertical climb. My leg
up against you and try to bend your focus
muscles are not used to this and end up being
towards a bed in the next farmhouse. It is only
very stiff. I spend some time climbing hotel
the hours of mental preparation and planning
stairs when I’m in Europe or the United States
that will keep you from going soft and keep
on stopovers. Ninety minutes is about 500m
you on track towards your ultimate goal.
ascent. Then to prepare for my nights under
How do you prepare mentally for the event?
the stars you might find me sleeping outside
The fun part is to dream and plan the
with the dog on the grass in my bivvy sac.
perfect race, each day to the absolute limit.
How do you fit your training in around your
Considering the implications down the line of
international airline pilot work?
a few extra kilometres today as opposed to a
I would love to be able to have a regular
few more hours sleep. The important part is
seven-day training cycle but that is not
to visualise the focus required at 10pm when
possible. Typically my ‘week’ would be as
I arrive at a Support Station. There will be
follows: Easy, Hard, Hard, Hard, Off, Off,
warm food, a crackling fire, hot shower and
Gym bike/Stairs, Off. It’s an eight-day week!
a bed waiting. The channel I have to visualise
Do you do any sleep depravation preparation?
is a quick meal, mix energy drink for bottles,
Sleep is important for recovery and
pick up some padkos and head out. Wade
rebuilding. You can’t train for sleep
through a stream, climb over a mountain and
deprivation. Typically, I lose two nights a
ride another 20km before catching some sleep
week with only 2-3 hrs in the bunk when I
under the stars. If the decision to stay in this
fly and I hate it. Monitoring my heart rate
channel is already made then the execution
I know that I need 48 hrs to fully recover
An 8kg bike for the portages would be nice! Super strong so it doesn’t need welding in a farm shed along the way. Six inches of travel front and rear for all the rough technical descents. No compromise on the tubeless tyres for the huge thorns in the Karoo. Don’t leave Maritzburg with a bike about to need a service because the only TLC it will see for the next 2300km will be a bit of chain lube. I ride a Scott Genius and swear by my Maxxis Larsen TT tyres and Squirt lube. And nutrition, how do you nourish yourself in a race like this? About every 100km there is a meal for you at a Support Station but this doesn’t even provide half of your energy requirement. I eat and drink as much as I can. PVM energy drinks, bars and gels as well as nuts, dried fruit, chocolate and biltong. This year I have been experimenting with some dried sweet potatoes as well. You race through the middle of winter in the Freedom Challenge. How do you deal with rain, cold and sometimes, snow? You have to carry all your clothes so it is a balance between weight and warmth. Get it wrong and you will be cold or heavy. Couldn’t do without my Goretex outer shell (jacket and pants), fleece, balaclava, beanie, Buff, winter gloves, neoprene booties and Sealskinz waterproof socks. What is the hardest part of a non-stop twoweek race like this? Probably the adjustment to normal life again afterwards. It’s such a privilege to be able to almost completely cut myself off from the outside world and my support systems and immerse myself in the most remote and beautiful parts of our country. And what is the best part? It has to be the sense of awe that you feel when looking back over KwaZulu-Natal from the top of the Drakensberg. The 2009 Freedom Challenge was scheduled to start from 13 June. Visit www.freedomchallenge to see how Tim and his rivals fared. TREAD WINTER 2009
TREAD WINTER 2009
PHOTO: CARL SCHOLTZ
Unlike most of the top female mountain bike racers in the country, 2008 Mazda MTN National Marathon Series champion, Tania Raats, is racing a bike specifically designed for women, a Specialized Era Expert Carbon.
o in the past you raced on regular bikes or
Check out www.specialized-sa.co.za to find out more about the Specialized Era and other women-specific models.
guy’s bikes. How has the change been to a women-specific design? It’s been great actually. It’s noticeable,
especially for someone small like me (Tania is 1.58m and 49kg small). I like the shorter top tube as it gives me better control and confidence. I also like the increased standover height, especially on technical terrain. What are you comparing the Era to when you say this? Last year I race a Kona Hei Hei and the year before that I raced a Specialized Epic, which is the bike I can comfortably draw comparisons with because it is the same brand and the same size bike. Any other differences besides shorter top tube and increased standover height? Yes, the seat angle is a big steeper because of the shorter top tube and the cranks are 170mm instead of the 175mm I’ve been riding in the past. I find that this combination puts less strain on my hip flexors, which used to take strain on long races, but now don’t. The bottom bracket is also a bit lower and the wheelbase is a bit shorter which improves my handling. Dual suspension isn’t new to you is it? No, I started riding dual suspension bikes back in 2004. People called me a granny back then, but these days, the trend is moving more and more towards dual suspension and I’m very settled, both for XC and marathons. Doesn’t the increased weight become an issue, especially for someone so light? Sure, the hardtails are lighter, but I believe I gain more benefit from the fatigue reduction of dual suspension than I would with a lighter bike, especially in marathons. The Future Shock, which Specialized has introduced to their bikes, is very settable and I can make it very firm or very plush depending on the course. Any personalized parts on the bike? The Era comes very well specced, but I like my own steering set-up, which is a KCNC bar and stem and Cane Creek bar-ends. I also use Crank Bros Eggbeater titanium pedals. Otherwise it’s off-thefloor standard.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Pelvic Trust By Geoff Vorpagel
Two new artificial hips have given enigmatic Aussie, Geoff Vorpagel, a new perspective on riding bicycles and the promise of another big podium finish.
t would seem that the two things that
road bike, four years old and four sizes too
with attack off the front like that. Maybe we
change most noticeably with age for
big and did secret training. Some weeks later
gonna have a job for you yet.”
me are perspective and performance.
I got back to the shop with the bunch.
Those few words were enough to last
Regarding perspective; the future really
More secret training, then on a short
me my whole life. They mean more to
does hold more of a ‘NOW’ flavour. Sweets
Tuesday evening ride I attacked off the front
me than any medals or jerseys I may have
should be eaten before main course in case I
when it was my turn to pull. They let me go. I
don’t live long enough to get my just desserts.
buried myself to ride solo for the full 40 miles
My lowest moment came when I was told
Youth has become something that, whilst I
and try to get back to the shop first (like who
that my running days had damaged my hips
would love the fast recovery time and explosive
cares, but if you bought this mag then you
to the point that they both needed to be
sprint, the pimples and emotional roller coaster
know there’s nothing better than destroying
replaced. I was told that they would need
just don’t seem worth it from the lofty position
a Roadie on tar).
to be done one at a time and that I would be
of fifth man back in the peloton.
With less than 500 metres to go all I
off the bike for a minimum of four years and
I am a Cyclist (note capital). I am a Cyclist
could hear behind me was the sound of 16
probably never be a competitive rider again.
before and above all else. I have in the past
pairs of HED deep section carbon wheels in
I have had both operations and now am back
competed successfully as a runner and a
a fast paceline coming to shut me down. I
on the bike.
martial artist, and unsuccessfully as a MX
did what any normal mountain biker would
It started out first on my indoor trainer
racer and Enduro racer. But Cyclist is what I
do and started ‘reading the trail’. I saw a gap
with 20 minutes at an average of 50 watts.
am deep in my soul.
in the oncoming traffic, shot across two lanes
You want some perspective? Your ouma can
Some of the greatest moments in my
and bunny hopped onto the footpath at full
probably manage 30 minutes at 75 watts if
life have involved bikes. I think the greatest
sprint, and into the car park letting the traffic
she is only smoking 40 cigarettes per day.
accolade I have ever received came from
stop them; technically, first man home.
a roadie. I was having some success racing NORBA events on my steel hardtail and went to the local bike shop to seek sponsorship. Big Wheel Cycles is the USA equivalent of Cycle Lab. They have five stores and have been trading for 35 years. They have a virtually undefeated road squad that seems
I have slowly improved. I can now manage
Looking at a jump and being scared of not being able to work – or walk – ever again, and then gassing it into the approach anyhow.
universally hated by all other racers. I was
Whilst I was conducting dietary analysis with
to set the pacer on the Computrainer at 195
their first experiment into mountain biking.
a stick by poking through the contents of my
watts for 50km.
The first five training rides with the road
stomach on the ground, the moody, aloof,
I’m privileged to have my list of friends
squad I was dropped so badly (me on my eight-
mountain bike-hating team captain (a tall
read like a who’s who of South African
speed MTB, hairy legs and Camelbak ) that I
Jamaican) rode past slowly and said, “What
cycling. They have been supportive and
couldn’t find my way home. Retrospectively
dat Armstrong is missing you is having, for
inspiring, but I’m too slow to ride with them
I think that was the idea. I got a Trek 1400
you is surely riding like a man with three
just now. The guys I actually ride with are
TREAD WINTER 2009
teaching me things I have never known a thing about: • The grit that it takes for a guy who is 30kg overweight to get up to the top of every climb, puts the conversations I was prone to about the weight differences of foam grips over lock-on grips into perspective; • The bargaining that goes on internally to order the Slimmer’s Breakfast rather than the El Greaso Fried Special after a freezing 60km ride can only be understood by another guy who isn’t strong enough to ride far enough or fast enough to eat El Greaso and not turn into the Goodyear Blimp; • Looking at a jump and being scared of not being able to work – or walk – ever again, and then gassing it into the approach anyhow. I’m still fat. I have spent the last four years eating like a cyclist and getting around on crutches. My riding buddies are all fat (sorry guys), and the determination that it takes to get lighter and faster and stronger when all improvements are measured in some sort of abstract mathematics that doesn’t translate to the immediate gratification of winning, is awe inspiring to me. I have learnt all I need to know about the things that are admirable in the human condition from things with two wheels and the people who ride them. If I wait long enough all the opposition will eventually die of old age, so I will get back on a podium one day, or my Alzheimer’s will be so bad I won’t remember I wanted to. Geoff Vorpagel is an Aussie that moved to South Africa. He has blue hair, plenty of tattoos, is a doctor of exercise physiology, and he built all the trails that make up the Toyota MTN Cycle Park. He won a XC world championship in the 40-44 age group and wants to win another in the 50-54 category in a couple of years time. He owns a company called Cult Cycling (www.cultcycling.co.za) and his regular newsletter is one of the most entertaining pieces of writing ever to land in an in-box.
TREAD WINTER 2009
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Fitment is not a luxury but a necessity and Cycle Lab are the experts in bike set-up. As part of our service commitment to you, we will do a complete cycle fitment setup on any bike you purchase from us, no matter what bike you buy, at no extra charge.
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Join our beginners clinic every Saturday morning from Cycle Lab Johannesburg. Visit www.cyclelab.com for more information.
Largest ladies specific section cycling shop in South Africa.
CAPE TOWN: Westlake Lifestyle Centre. Tel 021 700 1060, Email Gary Marescia: firstname.lastname@example.org JOHANNESBURG: Nicol Grove, Fourways. Tel 011 707 2700, Email Andrew McLean: email@example.com DURBAN: 68 Kensington Drive, Durban North. Tel 031 563 4333 Email Neil Abbot: firstname.lastname@example.org CENTURION: Tel 012 663 2645 E-mail David Labuschagne: email@example.com NORTHGATE ISLAND: Tel 021 510 5329 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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• We only carry the very best Brands • We believe in service above all else • We pride ourselves on having the very best Mechanics • We will matchTREAD any written quote 2009 WINTER
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The World At Our Feet
By Sean Badenhorst PHOTOS: GARY PERKIN Greg Minnaar tames a steep, rocky section on his way to 2nd-fastest qualifying time.
Mountain biking in South Africa will never be the same again. Twenty years after some of the earliest races took place in the forests around Pietermaritzburg, the worldâ€™s best racers graced the lush slopes adjacent to the city with their raw talent and refined skill. TREAD WINTER 2009
Above: Jose Hermida acknowledges the crowd’s appreciation on his way to victory in the men’s XC race. Left: Burry Stander rose to the occasion with a suberb third place in the men’s XC race.
TREAD WINTER 2009
he first round of the 2009 Nissan
The whole spectating culture is new to South
Town and of course, Greg Minnaar from
UCI MTB World Cup, presented by
Africans. Normally, if there’s a mountain bike
Pietermaritzburg, brought a strong element
Shimano and sponsored by DCM
event, South Africans want to enter it, not
of patriotic energy to the event. Without
Chrome, gave South Africa in
watch it. But this was different. This was
those guys racing, the event wouldn’t have
general and Pietermaritzburg in particular a
the World Cup. Having no previous events
been quite as attractive. Fans travelled from
huge profile lift as far as international cycling
of this nature to base their numbers on, the
as far as Cape Town and Pretoria to come and
is concerned. It was the highest profile cycling
organisers thought they were being a bit
support the host country favourites and catch
event of any kind to be held in Africa and it
optimistic when they printed 11000 tickets
a glimpse of the sport’s elite – including a few
was a confirmed success, which means the
– 3000 for Friday and 4000 each for Saturday
legends – in action.
chances of it returning are good.
and Sunday. Well, they eventually sold 16000
In the men’s cross-country event, Stander
tickets at the gate, in addition to the 1800
was simply remarkable. The South African
champion, buoyed by the enthusiastic, vocal
As expected the racing was superb. Virtually everyone who is anyone in the XC, DH and 4X disciplines made the trip for the
Fine weather was a bonus and the fact
support of the crowd, raced from the heart
event, which transformed Pietermaritzburg’s
that there were three big South African
and finished an impressive third overall
Easter Weekend from one of extreme leisure
stars in the mix – Burry Stander from Port
behind Spanish star Jose Hermida and French
to one of extreme pleasure.
Shepstone, Andrew Neethling from Cape
legend Julien Absalon.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Significantly, South Africans got to witness up
early on. The only result they wanted was
close just how good Stander is. The speed
for hometown hero Minnaar to win. Fate was
and intensity at which the top men race is
kind and Minnaar was hungry. He was also
difficult to relate to, unless you actually stand
brimming with class as he smoothly dropped
on the sidelines and see it. Feel it. Stander
down the course to take the most memorable
was the comfortable winner of the Under-23
victory of his life.
category and the huge cheer for him on the
Neethling was disappointed with a
podium was the perfect soundtrack to close
few mistakes on his run that left him in
off the first day of racing. Mention should be
14th place. But that’s okay because just
made of Yolande Speedy (IMC Momentum),
like mountain biking in South Africa, he’s
who finished 21st in the women’s XC race,
improving all the time. There’s always next
just over 10 minutes behind eventual winner,
year. And the next… Let’s hope.
Elisabeth Osl of Austria. It wasn’t a podium, but it was one of the best performances ever by a South African woman at this level. There was an air of expectation on the Sunday as fans streamed into the venue from
TREAD WINTER 2009
For detailed race reports and leading results, visit www.treadmag.co.za and for full race results, visit www.uci.ch
Thousands of fans watch expectantly as Greg Minnaar lands the final jump on his way to victory in the men’s DH final.
TOP: Jared Graves of Australia lived up to his No. 1 seeding when he won the men’s 4X. CENTRE: Great Britain’s Tracy Mosely was the dominant winner of the women’s DH. Bottom: Dutchwoman Anneke Beeton (No. 2) grabbed victory in the women’s 4X.
TREAD WINTER 2009
TREAD WINTER 2009
Festival with Soul Photo: GREG BEADLE
he ninth annual Dirtopia Festival took place from 1-3 May at Middelplaas Farm, Greyton in the Western Cape in a three-day celebration of all that is mountain biking â€“ fun, freedom, family, friends and, well, frosty beer. There were the usual array of events on the programme, passionately put together by
Meurant and Arina Botha, who help keep the heart of mountain biking beating in the Western Cape. The great thing about Dirtopia is that it brings together offroad bicycle lovers from all disciplines and walks of life into a festival atmosphere from which the roots of the sport in this country first sprouted two decades ago. Even though there was a competitive element, the underlying theme was once again enjoyment throughout all 15 events, which included dirt jumping, downhill, night dual, observed trials, marathon and bicycle polo. The weather was cool, but kind and the fresh country air and beautiful Overberg scenery played their part in stoking the spirit of mountain biking. For more of Greg Beadleâ€™s images of Dirtopia 2009, visit the Dirtopia gallery at www.treadmag.co.za TREAD WINTER 2009
his image depicts the two things that defined the 2009 Absa Cape Epic – misfortune and mountains. Who would have thought that
Under-23 World Cup champion, Burry Stander (pictured here in full flight), and World Champion, Christoph Sauser, of Team
Songo.info, would go from winning four stages in succession to losing the race by almost an hour? Stander’s relatively innocuous crash on Stage 4 led to the most dramatic sequence of events (read about it in detail on www. sauserwind.com), which ultimately dashed any hopes of him becoming the first South African to win the world’s greatest mountain bike stage race. Stander and Sauser could have packed their bags and headed home when all hope of victory had been lost, but they showed great respect for the race and their rivals – some of whom certainly didn’t deserve it – to race on and show that winning isn’t only about crossing the line first (even though they won Stage 5 too). ‘May the best team win,’ is a lovely sentiment, but it didn’t apply at the 2009 Cape Epic. But that’s mountain biking, sometimes unfair, often uncompromising, never predictable! More than 1200 riders set out to tackle the more compact edition of the race from 21-28 March, which included more mountains, more technical riding and more drama than the previous format had offered. There were fierce podium battles in the various categories and of course there were those who battled just to finish, while the heart of the event beat steadily in between. We’ve gathered a fantastic array of high quality images and posted them in a 2009 Absa Cape Epic gallery on our website. Check it out at www.treadmag.co.za
TREAD WINTER 2009
Photo: GREG BEADLE
TREAD WINTER 2009
RACE DIARY Schedule of South African mountain bike events JUNE Place
Saturday 20 June
Toyota MTN Cycle Park, Braynston
Sunday 21 June
Randburg Delta Park
Wednesday 24 June
Nissan Series – Tyger Valley Toyota Supercycling Club Race Winter Challenge MTB Race Nite Racing
Toyota MTN Cycle Park, Braynston
Sunday 28 June
XC Provincial # 5
Saturday 20 June
Greyton MTB Classic
Kirkwood Addo Elephant Park East London, Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
Sunday 28 June
Sunday 28 June
Saturday 20 June Sunday 21 June Saturday 27 June
Sunday 21 June
Contact Person Terence Casey
083 686 6293 www.mtbseries.co.za 083 308 5891
Liesel van Zyl
079 869 5030
Jean du Preez Terence Casey
082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 083 308 5891 www.cyclelab.com
WESTERN CAPE 45km/20km/10km
083 566 5783 email@example.com
Wet & Wild Marathon & Half-marathon
082 901 8864 www.fattracks.co.za 043 735 1137
Scottburgh MTB Challenge Life in Motion MTB Challenge Giba Gorge 25km Challenge Glengarry Classic
XCM XCM XCM
Billy Harker Johann Wykerd Jason Nichol
Buks van Blerk
083 235 0665 www.bosveldkarnaval. co.za
56km/40km + 38km/ 10km
083 654 1367 www.dullstroommtb.co.za
082 899 8970
KWAZULU-NATAL Marianhill, Giba Gorge MTB Park Drakensburg, Glengarry Kamberg Heatonville Farmer’s Hall
Sunday 28 June Sunday 28 June
Saturday 27 June
Saturday 27 - Sunday 28 June
Dullstroom Winter Challenge
Saturday 20 June
Big Five 3 MTB Race
082 654 6542 082 573 3735 083 307 9046 www.gibargorge.co.za 033 267 7225 www.glengarry.co.za 083 227 4445
MPUMALANGA NORTHERN CAPE
TO EVENT ORGANISERS Listing of events in this calendar is free but dependent on timing and complete event information. Send your complete event info to firstname.lastname@example.org. Event advertising can also be placed. Call 083 2797797 for rates.
TO MOUNTAIN BIKERS This calendar was compiled with information available to us and we assume it is correct. However, we cannot be held responsible for any errors and recommend you confirm event details with the organiser if you’re uncertain.
TREAD WINTER 2009
Randburg Delta Park
Wednesday 1 July
Jean du Preez
Fountains, Pretoria Randburg Delta Park
Sunday 5 July Wednesday 8 July
Fountains Classic Nite Racing
Derek Palmer Jean du Preez
Pelindaba, Hartebeespoort Dam Lapeng Hotel and Conference Centre Randburg Delta Park
Sunday 11 July
UGE Blitz MTB Series
Albie de Lange
Sunday 12 July
Wynand de Villiers
Wednesday 15 July
Medscheme Walkerville MTB Classic Nite Racing
Saturday 18 July
Randburg Delta Park
Wednesday 22 July
Saturday 25 July
Rooiwal, Pretoria Randburg Delta Park
Sunday 26 July Wednesday 29 July
Saturday 4 July
Dewdale Mossel Bay Cape Town
Sunday 12 July Sunday 12 July Wednesday 15 - Sunday 19 July Saturday 18 July Saturday 25 July
082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 082 621 0413 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 082 453 0096
Jean du Preez 60km/30km/8km
Nissan Series Diamond Rush Nite Racing
Rietvlei (High Schools Series 1st event) Babbas Lodge # 8 Nite Racing
Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour Dewdale MTB Challenge Eight Bells SCMBA EN #4 Trans Swartberge Cycle Tour and Train Meiringspoort Prettrap P&P Vodashop Cheese Festival
XCM XCM Stage Race
50km/25km/10km 70km/30km/15km 50km/90km/100km
Geddan Ruddock Marius vd Mescht Arno Botha
www.nolacyclingclub.co.za 082 490 5061 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za
Andre de Beer Jean du Preez
011 662 2494 www.cyclingnews.co.za 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 083 686 6293 www.mtbseries.co.za 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 082 320 8878
Jean du Preez various
De Rust George
CornĂ¨ Bence George Hillbillies
082 851 3622 www.gardenroute.co.za 082 57803017 044 691 2828 083 395 9038 www.kkkcycle.co.za 082 469 2652 082 373 5352 www.hillbillies.co.za
EASTERN CAPE Bathurst Shaw Park Country Club
Sunday 26 July
Talisman Pineapple Endurance Race
Sunday 5 July
Jowetts MTB Super Classic # 10 Golovane MTB Race Kwa-Ximba Super Classic #11 Imana Wild Ride
Shaw Park School
084 618 8556 www.shawparkprimary. ecape.co.za
KWAZULU-NATAL Ballito Collisheen Estate
Sunday 12 July Sunday 19 July
Tuesday 21 - Saturday 25 July Sunday 26 July Sunday 26 July Sunday 26 July
Bonitas/Castle Lite Imfolozi Challenge Hluhluwe Rhino Charge Maverick Gravity Dice
Stage Race XCM
082 459 6924
Hill 2 Hill Events Trudy Forster
072 125 2382 071 305 0976
Rebecca van der Linde Stu Berry
033 386 0815 www.wildride.co.za 0834568435
Gavin Diskson Johann Wykerd
083 777 3439 031 765 6222 082 443 4597 www.cyclelab.com 014 736 8937 www.sondela.com 082 923 3302
LIMPOPO Hoedspruit Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate Bela Bela Entabeni Safari Conservancy
Saturday 18 July Sondela Nature Reserve Saturday 18 July Saturday 25 July
Lion Man Series Hoedspruit Sondela MTB Classic
Legends Gorge MTB Challenge
UCI - CC
UCI - CC
082 573 9508
Saturday 11 July
Mankele Bike Park, Nelspruit Mankele Bike Park, Nelspruit
Saturday 11 July
Dawsons Game Lodge MTB Challenge African Continental Champs
Sunday 12 July
African Continental Champs
Saturday 18 July
Big Five 4 MTB Race
083 959 6387 www.endorphin.co.za 082 338 9532 www.mankele.co.za 082 338 9532 www.mankele.co.za
NORTHERN CAPE FREE STATE De Rust, Welkom
Saturday 04 July
Everest MTB Race
TREAD WINTER 2009
Randburg Delta Park Magaliesburg Konka Camps
Wednesday 5 August
August Konka Crunch MTB Challenge Babbas Lodge #9 Nite Racing
Randburg Delta Park
Sunday 9 August Wednesday 12 August
Saturday 15 August
Roodepoort Randburg Delta Park
Contact Person Jean du Preez
Wynand de Villiers Andre de Beer Jean du Preez
Sunday 16 August Wednesday 19 August
Hartebeespoort Dam (High Schools Series #2 ) Urban Assault Nite Racing
Entryonline Jean du Preez
Randburg Delta Park
Wednesday 26 August
Jean du Preez
Walkerville Boswell Circus
Saturday 29 August
MTN National Marathon & MiWAy Half-marathon Series #5 - Blockhouse
Oudtshoorn, Proefplaas Stellenbosch
Saturday 1 August Saturday 1 August
Gouritz Mond Kleinmond, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve De Hoop Nature Reserve
Saturday 8 August Sunday 16 August Saturday 22 August
Saturday 29 August
Kammanassie Bergspook Stellenbosch MTB Challenge C+H Fun Ride Gravity Adventure Festival Potberg Challenge Eland Route Agri Herold
Oudtshoorn Fietse Dirtopia
Corrie Stolz Gravity Adventures
Contact 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 011 662 2494 www.cyclingnews.co.za 082 490 5061 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 082 320 8878 www.nolacyclingclub.co.za www.entrytime.com 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 082 610 1140 www.rmbc.co.za 083 686 6293 www.cyclesport.co.za
WESTERN CAPE 044 279 1062 021 884 4752 www.dirtopia.co.za 072 620 5264 021 683 3698 www.gravity.co.za 028-542 1021 dmaritha@ webmail.co.za 044 279 1062
EASTERN CAPE Nieu Besthesda Sports Club Port Elizabeth Longmore Willowmore Fort Beaufort, Fort Beaufort Country Club
Saturday 1 August
Compassberg Owl Ride
082 413 0579/ 082 401 0001 072 081 2802 www.fattracks.co.za 083 508 9642 www.ecobound.co.za 083 701 0014
Sunday 2 August
Saturday 15 - Sunday 16 August Sunday 23 August
24 HR/XCM team race
Elmarie vd Walt
Woodock Kat MTB Challenge
Illovo Eston MTB Challenge Tour de Kranz Classic #11 Ingeli Forest MTB Classic Cowan House Super Classic #2 (TBC) Mountain Splendour Mania
Brett Austen Smith
XCM XCM XCM
Melanie Meier Westbury Prep School Linda Hill
Debbie van Wyk
082 896 0558
072 126 9495
Johan Van Dijkhorst
082 740 8740 www.akkedismountainbike.co.za
082 338 9532 www.mankele.co.za
Wimpie Geyer Arno Botha
082 899 8970 083 395 9038 www.kkkcycle.co.za
083 686 6292 www.cyclesport.co.za
082 550 1628/ 011 463 7730 www.magaliesadventure.co.za 082 809 5498 082 823 3815
KWA ZULU NATAL Durban/Pietermaritzburg Eston Farmers Club Harding Ingeli Forest Lodge Hilton Cowan House School Champagne Valley Mountain Splendour, Eco-Resort Mposa (Richards Bay) Grantleigh School Howic Karkloof Farmers’ Market
Sunday 2 August Saturday 8 August Sunday 9 August Sunday 16 August Saturday 22 - Sunday 23 August Sunday 23 August Sunday 30 August
Mondi Grantleigh MTB Challenge Howick Highlander MTB Challenge
082 572 4522 www.illovosugar.co.za 083 636 1009 039 433 2422 082 321 1283 www.cowanhouse.co.za 082 577 6841 www.mountainsplendour.co.za
LIMPOPO Louis Trichardt, Schoemansdal Environmental Education Centre
Saturday 1 August
Akkedis MTB Challenge
Saturday 15 August
Mankele - Sudwala Challenge
Saturday 8 August Saturday 8 - Sunday 16 August
Night Ride MTB Race Namakwaland Flower MTB
Saturday 8 August
MTN National Marathon & MiWay Half-marathon Series # 4
Scheerpoort, Van Gaalens Cheese Farm
Friday 14 - Sunday 16 August
The Nando’s Magalies Adventure
Pilanesberg Groot Marico
Sunday 23 August Saturday 29 August
Subaru Lost City MTB Marico MTB Classic
Johan du Toit Chris de Bruyn
Northern Tuli Game Reserve
Monday 3 - Sunday 9 August
Tour de Tuli tour
MPUMALANGA NORTHERN CAPE
TREAD WINTER 2009
011 807 1800 www.tourdetuli.com
TO ADVERTISE IN TREAD MAGAZINE, CONTACT: Joanne Badenhorst | Associate Publisher | Email email@example.com | Cell +27 83 2797797 | Tel +27 11 7898293 | +27 86 6498161 | www.treadmag.co.za DIETETICS
UNICYCLES AND SPARES
Dr Christa North PhD (Nutrition)
Registered Dietician (SA & UK)
Cell 073 182 4411 Tel 011 886 3690 Fax 086 502 4717 firstname.lastname@example.org 19 Riesling Crescent, Hurlingham Manor TOYOTA MTN CYCLE PARK
• Normal opening times: Dawn til dark – will vary according to season • Night racing will be held regularly at the floodlit BMX track • Night riding will be scheduled occasionally on the trails • Secure parking For more information, visit www.cyclelab.com Riaan La Cock 083 725 BIKE (2453) email@example.com
• Toilets and change rooms with showers to be added by Phase 2 • Seattle Coffee Company for refreshments and nourishment • Shimano Tech Centre for bike repairs and adjustments • Cycle Lab satellite store for bike consumables • Motorex bike wash
TREAD WINTER 2009
Some facetime with real mountain bikers you’d never normally read about.
Age; location; day job? 32; Boksburg; senior consultant at Meropa Communications Mountain bikes you’ve owned: Way too many to remember. Tell us a bit about your bike setup? I ride a stock GT Avalanche Expert. It’s a nice allrounder. Word on the street is that you’re riding daily? The word on the street is wrong. I ride when I have a gap. If others are riding I join them, but I also ride by myself. What was your last cycling related purchase? A 24-inch Mongoose cruiser (BMX). Your thoughts on tight, neon Lycra? Looks good on the ladies. Favourite trail? I have tried most trails in and around Gauteng and I like them all, but riding around my neighbourhood is always good fun. We have some dirt jumps, a bit of downhill, nice singletrack and some relaxing dam tours. What song plays in your head when you’re cranking up a hill? Usually some super annoying song that gets played on the radio 50 times a day. But it makes me get to the top of the hill in double time. Beverage of choice? I should say water but I would be lying. Beer is my beverage of choice (confirmed post ride by the author...). Any special supplements you take for riding? Bacon, eggs, toast and my beverage of choice. If Bill Gates were your dad-in-law what bike would you get? Wow, if Bill was my father-in-law I would not go for a bicycle. Try a bicycle factory. What is the best part of riding? Being out and about in the dirt and having a great time. Last crash: I am trying to quit. Worst crash: Got connected in the air by another rider. My full-face helmet broke and slashed my top lip – 18 stitches later... Lucky my nose was in the way or it would have gone further. Shave or no shave: Once again, nice for the ladies. Lastly, is it all about the bike? Well, my first ride was a modified Bomber and I had a good
PHOTO: WARREN VAN RENSBURG WORDS: JASON BRONKHORST Location: Rietvlei Farm Trail (www.thecyclehub.co.za)
TREAD WINTER 2009
time on it, but of course a better bike will make the ride more enjoyable.