Page 1

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Your guide to a season of great riding


• Jonkershoek • Holla Trails • Teak Place • Mashatu • Karbonkelberg BIKES

• Cannondale Scalpel • Specialized S-Works Epic • Gary Fisher Superfly 100

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ISSUE 4 Summer 2009 R36.95 (incl VAT)


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Buying online vs instore: where’s the value?

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REMARK-ABLE “You may think it’s crazy, but I believe in 10 years time you will have a large bicycle commuting market in this country. Obviously it will require government support, but I believe that will come.” Jan Tropberger, ‘A beer with…’ Page 16 “That last bit was like watching a slideshow of your granny’s cruise-ship vacation. All blue hair and gin. Sorry. I shouldn’t be harping. You need to experience this journey for yourself.” Andy Ellis, ‘Stoke’, Page 18 “We are going to see a further move away from structured eventing and competition as these are totally oversubscribed and therefore not able to offer quality riding experiences.” Meurant Botha, ‘Who is behind…’, Page 40 “In an incident I barely remember, I rolled two tons of motor vehicle six times (twice head over heels and four times barrel). More like a huge bloody crash than an ‘incident’. The only thing I remember is the car tilting forward and thinking: I am going to die and I am never going to see my wife and kids again.” Neil Frazer, ‘My Challenge’, Page 76 “I’ll be racing with Austrian and European champion, Alban Lakata. Alban is an extremely quick technical rider, but as he showed at World’s this year, he can also climb. The team dynamics should be interesting; he is just as motivated as I am to try win the Epic.” Kevin Evans, ‘Racer with Soul’ Page 78

SUMMER ’09/’10



4 SOUL PROVIDER Editor’s welcome

28 CLOSE TO HOME Jonkershoek,

42 INDUSTRY Q&A Rob Ambler-Smith

DROOL Dreamy rides in South Africa

Western Cape

12 CLUTTER Dept. of Current Affairs

30 CLOSE TO HOME Teak Place, Gauteng


32 CLOSE TO HOME Holla Trails,



cialized, Cannondale and Gary Fisher



34 CLOSE TO HOME Karbonkelberg,

20 SKILL Rail fast turns

Western Cape

22 FUEL Hydration revelation



ADVENTURE Mashatu, Botswana

2 |





56 REVIEWED Current cool gear TECH Traction – Our guide to tyres

CONSUMER Is online shopping


really worth it?

72 MY FITNESS Ischen Stopforth

40 INDUSTRY Who is behind AMARider?

74 MY BIKE Burry Stander

Contents Freeriding was one of the 15 events at Dirtopia – Page 88 Photo: GREG BEADLE

Leave the beaches for the tourists and get far from the madding crowd on a local trail. Page 34 Photo: GREG BEADLE

ON THE COVER Sun, sea and sweet singletrack. The best of South African summer! Photo: GREG BEADLE






RACES WITH SOUL Cape Pioneer Trek, Isuzu 3 Towers, Natro Berg

& Bush

92 CALENDAR Races in January and


February 2010 BLEND Lauren Goulding


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Soul Provider

Editor: SEAN BADENHORST Deputy Editor: DONOVAN JACKSON Contributing Editors BARRY McCALLUM, ANDY ELLIS Contributing Photographers GREG BEADLE, AUBREY JONSSON, MARK WING, WARREN VAN RENSBURG, KARIN SCHERMBRUCKER, RONELLE RUST, DominIc Barnardt, Dion Lloyd. Creative Director: NOLENE SAUNDERS Contributors: Gary Perkin, Donovan Jackson, Anton Bosman, ANDY ELLIS, BARRY McCALLUM, Neil FRAZER, Christa North, Jason Bronkhorst, NOLENE SAUNDERS. Publisher: DONOVAN JACKSON Associate Publisher: JOANNE BADENHORST Brand Manager: Christopher Dutton Editorial Address: 12 Insinde Avenue, Weltevreden Park, 1709 For advertising enquiries . Subscriptions or call 0832797797 TREAD magazine is published with passion alternate monthly by Retread Publishing CC. All material is copyright and may not be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the publishers.

PHOTO: Kelvin Trautman

Getting into the spirit


t’s a cliché, but in a new context. I was

slog into a block headwind and brutal

have teamed up with Holla Trails down in

riding with a roadie mate the other day,

wilderness. But within a week, that stage

Ballito to give you a free pass to its awesome

who also spends a lot of time on the

was the pinnacle of achievement for which

property. While you’re in KwaZulu-Natal, do

velodrome. Said his neighbour wants to

no-one who completed it has any regrets.

make sure to pay a visit to Giba Gorge, too.

do the Epic with him. Of course I launched

Ride your bike. Find out about your own

You will be impressed.

into the usual assurances of how much fun it

indomitable spirit.

And if you’ve gone off to join the

is, the experience, the awe and the beauty.

You asked for it, we’re delivering it.

hordes down in Cape Town, make a trip

But then I chuckled, remembering that Mark

That’s right, from next year you can expect

up Karbonkelberg, at the back of Hout

Twain quote, so overused in the cycling

not four, but six crisp, fresh and tasty

Bay. The trail is a bit washed out after the

world. ‘Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if

TREADs to land in your postbox. Sound

unseasonable heavy rains in those parts,

you live.’ That pretty much sums up the Epic,

delicious? We hope so, just please don’t eat

but it still renders unbelievable views and a

although, of course, you most certainly will

them. That does mean the subscription fee

gnarly descent. There’s also the joy of Tokai

live and love it too.

goes up a bit, but since a lot of our readers

and Silvermine to explore...

That’s the thing about mountain biking. Out in the field, it sometimes feels crushing,

have asked for an increase in frequency, we figure you’d be amenable to the idea.

impossible and even unfair. Stage 4 of the

Since it is the holidays and a lot of us

inaugural Cape Pioneer Trek had many a

Vaalies and other strange creatures are

mountain biker cursing organisers, the devil

poised and ready to invade the various

and the deep blue sea for the interminable

Kingdoms by the Sea, we’re very happy to

4 |


So, happy holidays and see you next year. Six times. And remember, love the ride.

Donovan Jackson Deputy Editor

SRAM®, RockShox®, Avid® and Truvativ® came together to create something even more powerful: the first ever complete 2x10 MTB group set - XX™. Brakes so powerful - shifting so fast - BB30 cranks so strong to withstand the highest level of World Cup racing - put together as a lightweight but fully featured package for anyone to experience a new level of perfomance under 2300g.

XX information:

© 2009 SRAM, LLC

Distributed, serviced and maintanied by Cape Cycle Systems (Pty) Ltd. est 1987,

The first 2x10 MTB group set


6 |


River deep, mountain high


member of the fifth annual Big Sky Ride negotiates a crossing of the Sani River on his way to the summit of Sani Pass, at just under 3000m,

one of the the highest roads in Africa. The Big Sky Ride is a multi-day riding adventure led by Medscheme pro road cyclist, Nic White. The 2009 edition of the Big Sky Ride encountered heavy snow, unusual for November, but no doubt a memorable experience for the participants. For more, visit

PHOTO: DOMINIC BARNARDT LOCATION: Southern Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal


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Cape Town eye candy Andrew Guess, one of a handful of talented MTB trial-riders in South Africa, shows off his skills on his trial bicycle. He’s on a granite outcrop on the slopes of Lion’s Head above the Atlantic Seaboard, in Cape Town. Mountain bike trial-riding is a discipline in which the rider attempts to pass through an obstacle course without setting foot to ground. Call it what you will, we think it’s inspiring. And drool-worthy. PHOTO: Greg Beadle LOCATION: Lion’s Head, Cape Town

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10 |



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Surf this…


Work? Who needs it? The nature of our preferred sport often leads us to the feeling that the walls

Compiled by Barry McCallum

are closing in on us during the daily drudge. We question why we are sitting indoors in front of a monitor when we could be out bombing some trails. At you can escape from it all…well, sort of. It’s a simple online game where you try post a fast time over a course littered with rocks,

Read this… It’s a bit pricey,

bridges and jumps.

but it would make

Bonuses are awarded for air time and pulling tricks, some of which are more suited to BMX or

a great Xmas gift

street bikes, like fakies and grinds. You get penalties every time you crash; the bike smashes in

and motivator for

spectacular fashion, but you magically get rewarded with a new one straight away.

the sulky, lazy pre-

The backgrounds and animation are far better than most crude Flash-type MTB games, although

teen who won’t

your rider looks like a hamster on a treadmill if you don’t let go of the speed arrow when he

pull himself away

does backflips.

from the PlaySta-

Which mountain biker doesn’t dream of a trip to Whistler. Add a little bit of the Canadian resort

tion. Matt Chris-

to your workstation by downloading a wallpaper to your PC from

topher’s Mountain


Bike Mania opens

Listen to this...

with the line: “Will

I recently picked up a copy of Earthed 4: Death or Glory in a

Matthews stared at the television screen and

bargain bin at Look & Listen, and was reminded of my early punk

stuffed another handful of candy-coated

days when I watched the Vigo World Cup segment. There are two

popcorn into his mouth…”

backing tracks to it: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes by Bauhaus and

Left to his own devices, and with his parents

Identity by X-Ray Spex.

rarely at home, Will’s not what you would

The latter outfit formed in 1976 after adverts were placed in the

call athletic.

influential music papers Melody Maker and new Musical Express by

“However, a chance sighting of some moun-

vocalist Poly Styrene (real name Marian Joan Elliott) looking for

tain bikers on the trails during a hiking out-


ing stirs something in him, and he seeks out, the first respondents - Jak Airport (guitarist), Lora

the local MTB club. Before long, the boy gets

Logic (billed as ‘The School Girl’, but she left in the early days)

hooked on the rush the sport gives him and

and Paul Dean (bass) - fit her requirements perfectly.

Will’s new obsession leads to a straining of a

Rudi Thompson (sax) and BB Hurding (drums) joined a little later, and after just six rehearsals

relationship with an old friend and some in-

played an energetic if “a little shambolic” gig in Covent Garden, which was recorded and re-

teresting dynamics with his newfound ones.”

leased later as Live at the Roxy.

Mountain Bike Mania subtly tackles issues

After two years of gigging the band released their debut album Germ Free Adolescents, which,

facing kids today like respect, acceptance,

according to The Guardian newspaper’s critic, was a collection of “unrivalled anti-consumerism

behaviour and nutrition. It’s 160 pages long

anthems”. ‘Identity’, however, was a departure from the theme as it is said to be inspired partly

and Exclusive Books lists it at R305. Watch this…

by the lead singer witnessing a girl slash her wrists in the ladies room at a concert.

“Some people have the bad habit of biting their

that shooting started almost immediately on

planet is,” says director Derek Westerlund, “a

nails,” notes Cam McCaul on Dust & Bones,

a sequel and led to one of the most popular

fitting triumph for 10 hard years of work.”

“I seem to have developed the bad habit of

series in the genre of extreme MTB vids.

Want to own all the films in the series? Here’s

breaking collarbones, and I’m gonna try to cut

The official teaser to Dust & Bones, the 10th

a checklist:

it. Maybe there’s a gum or a patch for it…”

instalment, is almost horrifyingly unwatchable

For those who have developed a habit of en-

- big slow-motion airs are followed by some

joying McCaul’s big moments on Freeride En-

cringe-worthy, bone-twisting crashes. Watch

tertainment’s mountain bike films, it’ll be sad

it here:

news to note that Dust & Bones is the last in

The film – which features the usual suspects

the NWD series.

like Paul Basagoitia, Darren Berrecloth, Rob-

The production house was set up in 1997 to

bie Bourdon and the Lacondeguy brothers,

produce stock footage for commercial, pro-

and places Greig’s classical Peer Gynt Suite

1. New World Disorder 2. NWD II - Fat Tire Fury 3. NWD III - Freewheel Burning 4. NWD IV - Ride the Lightning 5. NWD V - Disorderly Conduct 6. NWD VI – Unchained 7. NWD VII - Flying High Again 8. NWD VIII - Smack Down 9. NWD IX - Never Enough 10. NWD 10 – Dust & Bones

motional, travel and adventure concerns. Two

alongside offerings from Muse and Wolfmoth-

Got a website, book, CD or DVD you

years later, work started on the first gravity

er – went mainstream when it recently went

think we should check out, drop us a

sports film, which led to the release of the New

on offer on iTunes. “Being alongside the big-

mail at and write

World Disorder in 2000. It was so well received

gest films, television shows and music on the

‘Media’ in the subject field.

12 |



Say hello to Katey-M

Now what would a KTM be doing in a mountain biking mag? Quite a bit, actually. The well known motorcycle manufacturer is also a major – and we mean major – producer of bicycles, having punched out some 3-million of them to date. While they come in all shapes and sizes and for every kind of cycling, it’s the mountain bikes we like best. While TREAD is working with the local importer to get a test rig as soon as possible (check the January 2010 edition...), we can reveal that the flagship KTM Score Prestige has caught our eye (see pic and feast yours). The full-suss design is elegant and the brand cachet associated with the Austrian manufacturer is substantial. Weighing in at a claimed 9.5kg makes it race ready, too, while the retail price point is expected to be in the upper R60k to lower R70k-bracket. Interesting facts via the local importer:

• • • •

KTM has made bicycles since 1964. Back then, frame testing literally consisted of pulling them apart. With trucks. All its bikes, including the carbon ones are made in Europe, bucking the trend of outsourcing the fibreand-glue stuff to Taiwan. While you may think the motorcycle business has an impact on the bicycle design, you’re wrong. The company separated bicycles out from petrol powered ones in 1992, providing for focused R&D. KTM will initially be available from Cycle Lab stores, from December 2009.

3 Things… …you wish someone had warned you about: 1. The gap-jump at the start of the trail 2. The price of a new drivetrain 3. The rear brake being on the opposite side …that make perfect sense: 1. SRAM’s front derailleur (what took so flippen long?) 2. Tubeless tyres (how did we ride without them?) 3. Five inches of rear suspension (MTB’s happy medium) TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 13



Puncture By Nolene Saunders

No-one expects it, no-one wants it and no-one is happy when it strikes. But despite good tyres and sealant, a puncture is going to happen sooner or later, ready or not.


’ve been riding a mountain bike for just over two blissful, air filled,

in a race. For me, it was a potential ordeal just getting the tyre off

puncture-free years. Two years of regular training, loads of races

the rim…

and even the 2009 ABSA Cape Epic, and never has any air escaped

So there I was that morning, riding along to the TREAD Ladies

from my tubeless tyres. Routine maintenance and making sure

Tea and Trail. As I sped along a nice flowing section of trail, I had the

that my tyres are in good condition ensured that the gods of this sort of

sinking feeling something was terribly wrong. The bike suddenly started

inflation smiled down on me. But that all changed in an instant – and of

steering itself in its own direction. This was most unusual. I thought my

course, that instant had to be on an important morning.

handlebars had come lose but a panicked look at them confirmed that

Having started the sport as an absolute newbie, I had no idea how

wasn’t the problem. What could be wrong?

the gears work, clip-in pedals were foreign and a curb was something

PUNCTURE! Turns out I had slashed the sidewall of my back tyre.

that demanded fear and respect. In my eyes, if something even tiny

Sealant was oozing out of the big cut, no chance that it was going to

misbehaves on my bike, like a gear change that’s not as smooth as it

seal. My heart started beating, there where no one in sight, I was going

should be, the whole bike is broken. Needless to say, learning how to

to have to fix this all by myself. With my boyfriend’s voice echoing in

change a tyre was a daunting task.

my head (and while keeping an eye on my pepper spray – this is Joburg

As part of my Epic preparation, I learned what to do if you get a

after all!) I managed to plug and inflate my tyre to get back home.

flat by peeking over my boyfriend’s shoulder. I listened as he explained

The sense of achievement I felt smoothed over the disappointment

everything. Problem was, I never actually did it myself. I’d heard, and

of a two-year puncture free spree. Something I had feared for so long

listened in awe, to how people casually mention quickly fixing a flat

turned out to be no biggie after all.

14 |



Recovery? Milk it, bru

TOP AWARD FOR SA PHOTOGRAPHER Gary Perkin, a regular TREAD contributing photographer, was named the winner of the second annual Velo Arto competition, held in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, with his ‘Sunrise’ photograph, shot during the 2009 ABSA Cape Epic.

Over here at TREAD-HQ, we receive lots of interesting info (well, OK, some of it isn’t all that interesting). Something which did catch our eye, though, is a submission from The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA. This lobby group is advancing the case for a good ol’ glass and a half after a race to aid recovery. Now why would that catch our eye? Because a good few of us who labour away here are avid stage racing fans. We know lots of stage racing fans, too. And many of them drink milk after a race as the preferred recovery muti, either on its own or with some sort of potions added. Indeed, at the recent Mankele Three Towers Stage Race, the free vanilla milk let everyone get in on the action… So, Milk SA sent us a whole lot of scientific mumbojumbo, because that’s what they do down there. They back up their claims with solid science, peerreviewed, nogal, which those of you in the know… know means it isn’t just wild claims. Without going into all the fine details of studies (you can, in your own time, look it over at let’s look at some of the facts: • Why do endurance athletes require protein-rich foods after exercise? The inclusion of protein in post-exercise meals provides critical building blocks for muscle repair and growth – speeding up recovery and decreasing injury risk. • How should an endurance athlete consume carbohydrates post-exercise? An athlete should consume 1 to 1.2 g of carbohydrate for every kilogram current body mass within one hour after exercise and at least 50 g carbohydrate every two hours until the next main meal to ensure efficient muscle energy recovery. (Get the scale out, people, and it’s going to have to be more sensitive than the one in the bathroom…) The consumption of low GI foods (e.g. milk, yoghurt and flavoured milk) on a daily basis increases athletes’ endurance performance during subsequent workouts. • How should an endurance athlete consume protein post-exercise? Co-ingestion of protein (0.2 to 0.4 g/kg current body mass with carbohydrates (0.8 to 1 g/kg body mass) immediately after resistance exercise may improve net protein balance in the early post-exercise period and enhance the rate of glycogen (energy) storage. Low fat high quality protein, such as skimmed milk, is particularly important. • What about milk? Carbohydrates (lactose) and good quality protein (whey and casein) are found in milk within a natural food matrix. Recent research has shown that milk (especially fat-free or 2% milk) and fermented milk (yoghurt) are effective post-exercise dehydration recovery foods. Athletes who consumed these products post-exercise experienced reduced muscle damage, hastened recovery and improved subsequent exercise performance.

Showcasing the work of 10 photographers, 10 video directors and 20 artists, the Velo Arto competition had the public vote in order to determine the winner. The work formed part of the Velirium exhibition held during the month of July at Mont-Sainte-Anne. “I’m absolutely delighted. This is my first major international award for my images. I can now officially call myself an award winning photographer,” said Perkin.

we flew over, I thought that I’d love to get a

Tanya Odendaal, Marketing Manager of the

shot of the light on the bright red sand of the

Absa Cape Epic, added: “We’re extremely

road. I’m fixated on shadows and colours; it

proud of Gary’s achievement. He has always

makes people look at the photo a bit longer,

taken exceptional images at our event, which

to work out what’s going on.

is why we invite him year after year. The

“Suddenly, there was a break in the cloud.

award could not have been given to a more

The pilot did a really tight turn, so the chop-

deserving recipient. He is the consummate

per was almost vertical and I was sliding out

professional and only a pleasure to have as

of the open door with two cameras hanging

part of our team.”

round my neck. I was pretty sure I’d got what

Perkin described the shot to The Times in

I wanted but you never can tell, what with

London as follows:

the vibrations from the helicopter. So when I

“It was 7.15am on the penultimate day of the

finally saw it developed, I was pretty happy.

race and we were flying over a place called

“The Cape Epic is a two-man team race, so

Oak Valley, about 50km from Cape Town. This

it’s all about teamwork. I think this shot of

was a dark, cloudy overcast day, and sunrise

the two riders captures it perfectly and I still

only lasts for 2 minutes and 37 seconds. As

get goosebumps when I look at it.”

OFF-CAMBER Fancy a ‘cuppa tea’? ‘Erbal, you say? Like us at TREAD, you may have wondered

dodgy bits left be-

how those Colombian climbers do it. Could the

hind. But the caf-

secret lie in the ancient methods of the Incas?

feine free brew

The Aztecs? The leaves of the coca plant?

does feature a

Find out for yourself with ‘Coca Tea’, which

list of minerals as

is made from the same stuff that cocaine is.

long as, well, said

We haven’t had a high profile mountain biker

downhiller’s rap sheet.

test positive for any of that nasty business

Our test pilot is not a regular

(unlike that roadie...but then, Missy Giove,

drinker of herbal tea...but with two sugars, the

former champion downhiller, did get busted

resulting brew was quite palatable (somewhat

for involvement in an awfully large cannabis

surprisingly). And he didn’t get high.

haul) and nor will you for potting a bit of this

So put a pot on, old chap, what ho and tiddly-

fine brew. That’s right, while it is made from

poo, and enjoy the mineral benefits.

the eythroxylon plant, there aren’t any of the TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 15



Jan Tropberger By Sean Badenhorst

Regional Director of International Sales for Cycling Sports Group, which owns the GT, Cannondale, Mongoose and Schwinn brands, Jan spent 10 days in South Africa in November. We caught up with him for a beer and a chat in Johannesburg.

What’s the South African market size like for your company?

categories of mountain bikes into where we currently stand. I don’t

In terms of actual size, it’s relatively small compared to other emerging

think there will be much more separation, just improvement in each

markets, but in terms of value and performance, it’s one of our top five.

of the categories.

It’s a key performer, thanks largely to our partner here, Omnico.

There’s a definite move toward integrated suspension systems with

What sort of percentages of your four brands occupies the mountain

various bike brands either developing better suspension in conjunction

bike space (as opposed to road) in your South African business?

with the suspension manufacturers, or like us with Cannondale,

Roughly, I’d say 30% on Schwinn, 90% on GT, 95% on Mongoose and 70%

developing their own. We launched the SIMON front shock (see

on Cannondale. Mountain biking is dominant in a similar way globally

TREAD issue 3) on Cannondale at Interbike in 2009.


I also believe trail riding will grow bigger abroad and most certainly

What trends are you seeing globally, that we can expect to feel lo-

in South Africa as people in this country embrace the good weather,

cally in the coming years?

varied terrain and the bigger-travel bikes.

Well, I’m happy to say that cycling in general is growing significantly

Is the hardtail dying?

in popularity around the world. Big western cities are investing in

No. We’re seeing a bit of a comeback of hardtails. With Cannondale,

cycling infrastructure due to the eco-friendliness of cycling as well as

we’ve developed a flexible seatpost for our hardtails, which is making

recognising it as an efficient form of alternative transport. There’s now

a positive impact, without compromising weight or stiffness.

a bike lane on Fifth Avenue in New York!

Is the 29-inch bike the next big thing?

Is it growing fast?

In the United States it’s gaining popularity and with Cannondale, we

Yes, for sure! Even in this recession year, our company has experienced

do a 29-inch version of the Flash for the US market. But in Europe, the

double-digit growth in Europe.

29-inch bike is not at all popular.

After having experienced our transport situation in this country, do

What will you take back with you from your first South African

you think we can expect something similar in South Africa?


Of course. You may think it crazy, but I believe in 10 years time you will

Well, I got sunburned, so I’ll take back a serious cycling tan. I am also

have a large bicycle commuting market in this country. Obviously it will

very encouraged by this country’s people – very hospitable. You have a

require government support, but I believe that will come.

great climate here, you should appreciate that because it’s perfect for

What trends can we expect to see in mountain bike design?

riding bicycles. And I believe that our partner here, Omnico, is doing a

In the past few years, there’s been a strong separation between the

great job and can expect a bright future.

16 |



SA Seeding



Sat 6,7th Sat 10,11th Sat 15,16th Sat 12,13th Sat 17,18th



Sat 16th Sat 30th Sat 27th Sat 17th Sat 28th Sat 25th Sat 9,10th


pentries re







(Marathon + ½ Marathon) (XCountry / Downhill)


M T B 2010 calendAr






Retro Cool Confession

Fixed wheel bikes are not just about a fun, retro-alternative and testing, ride to work. They are about the build, a personal expression. Fixies are grown out of your imagination, creativity, Park tools, old frames, spray guns and a bunch of rescued parts. They are objects d’art. This I discovered after logging off and rushing home to my road heifer. A gimp I had permanently tethered to a turbo trainer. It was

By Andy Ellis

an 80’s LeJeune. Yip, past tense my friend. For I have converted that steel beast into a proud and rearing unicorn of cool. Melodrama, I know. Can’t help it. The reconstruction took about two months. After a quick stripping down I readied the frame for a fresh coat. I dived online – for inspiration only – it’s uncool to copy in fixie land. I settled on midnight blue. Then came the journey through bike shops, markets and classified ads. I found a mint track hub, new anodised rims, stainless spokes and chunky blue-walled training tyres. The racing bars got swapped for a matt black flat bar. Then came a bag of blue-anodised nuts and bolts. The saddle and the grips are white… hang on. You’re bored. Aren’t you? That last bit was like watching a slideshow of


your granny’s cruise-ship vacation. All blue hair orgive me fellow biker for I

the pages. The images I discovered freaked

and gin. Sorry. I shouldn’t be harping. You need

have sinned. Slowly backsliding

the butterflies in my gut. Beautiful bicycles

to experience this journey for yourself. Like the

into a carousing pit of lust and

cavorted in unashamed Technicolor. Gripped

moment the manager of a 75-year-old bike shop

wonderment, I have not worshipped

by avarice, I needed to know more of this

showed me past the flash new machines and into

my mountain bike for months. Temptation

first-world indulgence. I needed it now. Free

a room filled with unsold and used bike parts.

has led me astray. I beseech thee. Deliver me

Internet access lay beyond the locked toilet

Nothing to a regular bike rider, but to a newly

from distraction. Splash holy citrus degreaser

door. And I felt a giant Google coming on.

converted fixed-wheel architect it was heaven.

upon my brow. Utter seven hail technologies.

An ocean of illicit material streamed

A box of old-stock hubs, all kinds of cranks,

Recite passages from the scriptures of a 2010

through the browser. I shielded the screen

sprockets, headsets, spokes, bottom brackets

Specialized catalogue. Whatever it takes to

from a girl nearby. This is what I found:

and sealed bearings. I was delirious. I SMS’d

exorcise this demon.

fixed wheelers. Fixies - simple, single-speed

friends. I swiped my credit card until it lay limp

Oh the guilt. No longer do I bask in the

bicycles… are so hot right now. Think Kate

in the machine. And check this out: bike skills.

weightless deliverance of carbon fibre,

Beckinsale. Actually, no. Don’t think about

I have renewed them too. The absent-

women at all. This ultra lean two-wheeled

minded comfort of freewheeling is denied on


openhearted comfort of suspension and (sigh),

No longer do I bask in the weightless deliverance of carbon fibre, openhearted comfort of suspension and (sigh), holiest mud captain, the ethereal redemption of XTR gearing.


a fixie. You have no choice but to crank out complete circles. And brakes, what brakes? You use the power of your legs to slow down, and the single-speed gearing demands that you use the full power of your legs to climb. Fixed wheel

holiest mud captain, the ethereal redemption

revolution is the ultimate distraction. The

bikes have reignited my stoke, built strength,

of XTR gearing. Blame it on Monocle. A highbrow

paired down, street cool, eco drool of fixed

got me picking lines and committing to them.

magazine for design-centric men. I found it in

wheel commutes are mainlining the streets

They have made me a better mountain biker.

the loo of my local coffee shop. A coverline

of New York, San Fran, Sydney, London and

Better biker? Well I’ll be… that last statement

caught my eye. Sent me to page 124. Made me

Tokyo. And unless you beat the crap out of me,

sounds like one thing to me. Absolution. Thanks

sit down to pee… I needed two hands to turn

Cape Town and Jo’burg too.

for being here for me. See you next Sunday.

18 |



Rail fast turns Being able to weave your way through turns fast is a very satisfying skill. It’s also where you can make up time in a race or on your mates during a trail ride without really exerting any additional energy.


By Sean Badenhorst

BRAKE BEFORE: If you have to brake in the turn, at best, you’ll lose speed and traction; at worst, you’ll crash. Brake before you hit the turn. The more experienced you get, the easier it becomes to judge the right speed you’ll need in the turn. PICK YOUR LINE: The line you pick entering the turn is the line you’ll need to stick to throughout the turn, so choose it carefully. When you’re new to a fast corner, opt for a wider line and a slightly slower pace. As you learn the turn, you can take your speed up and choose the middle or inside line. ANTICIPATE: Look ahead towards where you’ll be in the next few seconds. That way you’ll see what’s approaching in terms of obstacles, surface and turn angle and ensure you’re prepared. DON’T STEER, LEAN: At low speed, you steer

KEEP LOOSE: Standing on the pedals and

the outside pedal. It helps the bike maintain

your bike in the direction you want to go, at

keeping your arms and legs loose through the

traction and keep you balanced in a sweet

high speed, you lean it. Steered tyres want

turn allows you to make small adjustments.

spot. The more you practise this, the better

to slide, leaned tyres want to rail. Railing is

If you feel the front sliding out, lean forward

you’ll get at ‘weighting’ your bike through

good. Railing is jargon for acing a turn fast

slightly to increase traction on the front

turns. It’s the skill that makes top downhillers

and fluidly.

wheel. If you feel the rear sliding out a

look so in control through fast turns.


little, lean back a bit. If the rear slides out


yeah, we know it’s the oldest instruction in

a lot and you feel like you’re losing control,

to brake in the turn, never use the front

mountain biking, but it holds significant value

lean forward hard to dig the front wheel in.

brake, as it’ll most likely end up washing

in fast cornering. If you scan towards the exit

Chances are if your front wheel makes it

out the front wheel and taking you down.

of the turn, you should reach the exit of the

through, the rest of the bike will.

Only grab the rear brake if you must brake

turn without incident. If you look at a rock

KEEP LOW: Lower your centre of gravity by

at all (try to avoid ‘comfort braking’, that

or tree close to your riding line, you’ll hit it.

sliding back off your seat and lowering your

habit of grabbing a handful of brake just

Your head angle and direction determines the

torso towards the toptube.

to make sure they’re still working. They

direction your body and bike take. It’s quietly

OUTER FOOT PRESSURE: Obviously you’ll

are.) By making a conscious decision not to

subconscious, but by consciously looking for

have your inside pedal up and your outside

brake in corners, your riding will improve…

the clear line, you’ll be in control.

pedal down. Push additional pressure into


20 |



| 21


Bottoms Up

They say ‘hydrate or die’, the hydration alarmists do. Okay, dying is a bit extreme in terms of penalties, but serious dehydration can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal. So this really is a serious topic. Here are some useful tips to keeping hydrated this summer.


t’s bad enough that it gets so ridiculously hot when you’re riding a bicycle in the South African summer. Add to that the fact that as a mountain biker, you tend to drink even less than say a road cyclist. Unlike riding on a smooth, predictable surface like tar,

we mountain bikers have limited drinking opportunities due to the fact that we’re keeping our hands on the bars to control the bike. And while hydration pack manufacturers claim no-hands drinking as one of their selling points, you more often than not have to remove a hand from the bars momentarily to locate the nozzle and plug it in your mouth.

22 |


Fuel If you ride with only bottles, your chances to gulp down a drink are usually even less. Dehydration is not a fun state to be in and the great thing is that it is almost entirely avoidable. Here are some key pointers to keep in mind: • Don’t put off drinking until later. This


is prevalent among mountain bikers, especially newcomers, who are so busy focusing on maintaining control of the bike. Before you know it, you’re dehydrated. As with most things, prevention is better than cure. • If you are prone to forgetting to drink and have the bad dehydration story to prove it, set an alarm on your watch, GPS or heart rate monitor to beep every 15 minutes. This will give you a reminder to drink regularly until you get into the habit. • On very hot days it’s a good idea to pre-hydrate before your ride. Drink half a litre of quality carb drink in the hour before your ride to ensure you start the ride in a hydrated state. • Because you lose electrolytes when you sweat – and on a hot day you can sweat out more than 2 litres of fluid per hour use a quality training/race drink in your pack or bottle that includes potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.

COLD IS LIKE GOLD Your body absorbs cold fluid faster than warm

N-ice Lolly

fluid so here’s how to keep liquid chilled in a hydration pack: • Half-fill your hydration bladder with

Like riding a bicycle, ice lollies can take you straight back to your childhood. Which is a good enough reason to stock up on them this summer. The sweet, cold, colourful sensory experience that comes with devouring one on a hot summer’s day after a tough ride is difficult to beat. They’re usually full of colourants and flavourants and preservatives and artificial sweeteners, but hey, who cares?

your choice of riding fuel or water, lay it flat and leave it in the freezer overnight. Next morning, fill the bladder completely. The huge block of ice will melt slowly, keeping your liquid cold for hours. Don’t freeze a full pack as it doesn’t melt fast enough to give you a constant supply of fluid. • You can also add ice cubes to your bladder, but they tend to melt fast. • After taking a few mouthfuls from your hydration pack, blow on the nozzle hard to force the liquid in the pipe back down into the bladder where it will stay cool for longer.

Trail Adventure

24 |


Trail Adventure

Magic Mashatu By Sean Badenhorst


t’s difficult to describe the sound, probably because I’d never heard it before. It was constant and smooth and it was coming from above. “What’s that sound?” I asked. “Vulture,” said Joe, our guide. “Vulture? Doing what?” I enquired as I strained my eyes to see a tiny dot high above us against a clear blue midday sky? “Flying. Soaring,” said Joe. Hearing the sound of a vulture cruising probably half a kilometre overhead was the moment I realised just how much of an escape we’d made. My wife, Joanne and I, were sitting next to our mountain bikes on a dirt road in Botswana. We were taking a break after four hours of riding. With us were two Botswana game rangers, .458 elephant-stopping rifles slung across their backs. The mid-winter sun felt warm on my skin. A colourful insect settled for a moment on my front tyre. This was Cycle Mashatu, the only mountain bike safari in the African wild. This was heaven. TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 25

Trail Adventure


our days and three nights we spent

we’d arrived at the Botswana border at

first camp, a gathering of five tents – well,

in heaven. Well, as close to heaven

13h05, I checked the time: 20h47.

four when we got there because one had

as you’ll get if you love mountain

The next morning Joanne and I woke at

been lifted a few metres away and trampled

biking; if you love the African

07h40 – almost 11 hours of deep, solid, good

by elephant prior to our arrival. A massive

bush; if you love a new experience. Cycle

old-fashioned sleep! For a guy that seldom

Mashatu Tree – around 400 years old with a

Mashatu is probably the best treat you can

gets more than five hours sleep a night, it

twisted mass of a trunk, probably 20 metres

give yourself, especially if you’re caught up

was the most unexpected, yet welcome

in girth and about 40 metres tall, dwarfed the

in a modern world of stress, where you’re

experience. Our guides Joe, Sparks, Mosa and

tents and became the bike park for two days.

a captive of time and haven’t had a really

Goms mentioned over breakfast that there

A central fireplace and a makeshift

deep, long sleep in ages.

were some elephants wandering around the

kitchen/bar canopy were also in the campsite

Our Mashatu trip was in winter, so we

back of our tents during the night and that

area beneath the enormous tree and 30

slept in tents. In summer, the stars are your

the fresh prints in the sand outside the front

metres away on the bank of a dry riverbed

canopy. And when I say slept, I mean really

of our tent, no more than 1.5 metres from

was a ‘toilet’, while 30 metres in the other

slept. When our supper had settled, the 2007

our heads, were those of a hyena. Now that’s

direction was a bucket shower under a

Merlot was empty and the campfire stories

what I call a solid sleep!

smaller tree. Combined with the lack of any

had become less frequent, we climbed into

We’d ridden about two-and-a-half hours

cell phone signal (which takes a little getting

our sleeping bags; and for the first time since

from the Botswana side of the border to our

used to) and kids (the minimum age is 16) this was it. Not a lot, but more than enough. With one highly qualified and super-fit game ranger at the front and one at the rear, our daily rides – starting just after 08h00 and ending at around 13h00 – may have been steady in pace, but an adrenaline surge was just an elephant-stampede or lion-chase away. For the record, this kind of situation is extremely rare since the game rangers are very experienced and exercise extreme caution when they feel you’re riding into a high-risk situation. They stop and remind you to ensure that in the case of a surprise meeting with a wild beast, or a group of them, a quick, safe escape is possible. It’s exciting to say the least. And a dramatic contrast – you’re always on the brink of a panicky dash for your life, in the most peaceful African wild. We saw plenty of elephant – some just 50 metres away from us with nothing but their instincts – and ours – separating us. We spotted loads of giraffe, eland, impala, kudu, warthog, zebra, wildebeest, baboon, monkey and a variety of small antelope. Sometimes you end up riding alongside the animals as they startle and canter off. By viewing game from your mountain bike you get to hear their hooves rumble, and their snorts or whelps. You get to feel the warm sun on your skin and taste the salt in your perspiration. It’s a complete sensory revival and it’s as invigorating as it is calming. In general, the terrain at Mashatu is gently sloping or flat. It’s not very technical,

26 |


Trail Adventure but some of dry riverbed crossings will pose a

drinks are included in the cost and boy, what

challenge to newcomers. There’s no pressure

good food it is. Nothing like an open fire to

though because there’s no rush. There’s

give that little extra African flavour.

something very calming about the fact that you don’t have to rush.

Cycle Mashatu

On our second and third evenings, we were driven by vehicle to high ground for

The daily rides are planned so that you

sundowners. It doubled as a mini game drive

cover a couple of hours before your first

and it gave us a chance to get to know our

tea/coffee/muffin break at a scenic spot.

other group members better. Natie and Elsa

The next couple of hours take you on a loop

Potgieter, a well-travelled, knowledgeable

back to the camp where you’re spending

couple from the North West mining town of

that night.

Thabazimbi had booked this trip as a wedding

You need a moderate level of fitness and

anniversary gift to themselves. They were

comfortable riding gear. You can take your

new to mountain biking, but not new to the

own bike (recommended), or hire one of the

bush and they added some interesting stories

Mongoose Teocali dual sussers owned by Cycle

to the sundowner and campfire banter.

Mashatu. I’d recommend a dual susser for the

We’d hoped to see big cats, lion or

comfort and control, but if you’re a hardtail

leopard, on our trip but didn’t. But that’s

die-hard, you’ll be just fine. Devil thorns

okay because we’ve vowed to return. We

can be a challenge. We didn’t experience

know they’re there because we heard lion

on puncture during the three days probably

at night and on the final evening we heard

because we all ran tubeless with sealant.

a leopard close by as we watched the

We spent the first two nights in one camp,

silhouette of the large baobab tree grow

sleeping in tents and the final night at the

more dramatic as the sun settled into the

main Mashatu boma camp, sleeping under

horizon. You can’t put a price on a trip to

another huge Mashatu tree. No tents here,

heaven. But I do know that we left far richer

only a large boma. Amazing. All food and

than when we arrived.

Duration: 4 days, 3 nights (Tuesday-Friday or Friday- Monday) Start/finish: Pont Drift Border Post, South Africa. Rates: R4 356.00 per person (excludes drinks and tips) Itinerary Day 1: Meet at Border, ride to wilderness camp. Ride duration +/- 3 hours Day 2: Explore! Ride duration +/- 4-5 hours Day 3: Ride to Kgotla camp. Ride duration +/- 4-5 hours Day 4: Departure. Ride back to border post is optional


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28 |



Jonkershoek By Andy Ellis

REGION: Western Cape Winelands CLOSEST TOWN: Stellenbosch DESCRIPTION: If your mountain biking is logging up too much time away from your family, this is your spot. Everyone wins at Jonkershoek. Picnic spots, easy walks and safe exploration areas for kids are all a ‘go’. Even your bird-watching gramps will be impressed. Well okay then – that’s a green light and a pink slip. Go bike riding. Jonkershoek is up there with any of the purpose-built trails in SA. Gravel roads and jeep track get you places in the austere surroundings, but the singletrack, man – the singletrack. Look, you’re in Stellenbosch so eye-pleasing aesthetic is a given, there is no point rambling on about it. What will knock you out is the attention given to the technical bits – the singletrack is thought out, built for pleasure and guaranteed to incite your adrenal gland. Jonkershoek played host to the first round of the 2009 MTN National Cup XC and DH events. So go figure. And yes, there are jumps. There are two formal route options (15km and 30km), but once you’re deep into the twists of the jeep tracks and gnarled pine forest sections you can explore for hours. The ratio of jeep- to singletrack is high; repeating certain sections of singletrack is well worth the effort. Any challenging climbs? Hell yeah. Expect some lung-busting on switchbacks that eventually reward with satisfying switchback descents. DISTANCE: 30km NOVICE: 5/10 INTERMEDIATE: 8/10 ADVANCED: 8/10 TYRES: General terrain. Expect slippery conditions in winter. BEST THING: Singletrack in the pine forest. WORST THING: The big thrills are short lived. BEST SEASON: Spring and autumn. Get there early in summer if you want to beat the heat. GET THERE: take the N2 out of Cape Town and follow the signs to Stellenbosch. Follow the main road onto Merriman Drive. Follow the road through the middle of town. Don’t turn, even though you’ll be tempted to, until you see the Jonkershoek gatepost. COST: Day permits are available at the forestry office, located at the entrance, for R20. SECURE PARKING: Yes BE CAREFUL OF…exposed root systems – particularly in the wet. BE SURE TO…hit a wine farm for lunch after your ride. CONTACT: The forestry office at the reserve (021) 866 1512. TREAD SUMMER 2009

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Teak Place By Barry McCallum

REGION: Gauteng CLOSEST TOWN/CITY: Johannesburg Trail name: Teak Place Trail description: It’s a contained network of farm road, rocky inclines, quartz-littered trails, compacted singletrack and bridged river-crossings in the Cradle of Humankind. A gentle climb on a gravel route warms your legs as you leave the compound. Near the top is the first section of singletrack which undulates over a koppie before returning to the road on the other side. From here you can opt to drop at breakneck speeds all the way down into the valley, or take the three sets of singletrack which slice their way down the left-hand side of the hill. It’s at the bottom that the real fun begins. The black and blue routes flow on both sides of the river – less confident riders may have to walk some of the slatted bridges, especially the 50-metre-long one which crosses the dam – rising and dipping to follow the contours of the bank. Following the trail will lead you back in the direction of the farm before you bear right and over a steepish climb. This drops down in the direction of Kromdraai Road. There’s a culvert which leads under it to a loop of the field on the other side. The rocks here can upset your rhythm a bit, but it’s not too technical. Distances: When TREAD visited we came across builder Grant Nathan out on the trails. Although the Teak Sports website lists the green trails at 10 kilometres, the blue at 33 and black as 37, Nathan sheepishly admitted that he hadn’t measured them for a while, but added that he has already mapped out many more paths. Novice: 5/10 Intermediate: 8/10 Advanced: 7/10 Tyre choice: Hard to pin one down because of the variety of different surfaces on the farm. Go for an all rounder, perhaps a GEAX Mezcal or Continental Mountain King. Best thing: While Cradle residents have been getting shirty about roadies in the area, dirt-lovers can have all the fun they want without irking the locals. There is plenty to do for non-riding family members – animal petting, vegetable-picking, jungle gyms, swimming pool, etc while you hit the trails. Worst thing: Viewpoint Climb…it’s only a shade over 500 metres long, but steep, not to mention slippery in the wet…the reward comes in the wooded singletrack on the other side. Best season: It’s always a tad warmer in the Cradle, even during winter, so this is an all-year-round course. Get there: The farm is situated at 522 JQ Kromdraai Road, Rietfontein. From Joburg take Malinbongwe Drive and turn left into Kromdraai. Look out for the farm on the right-hand side of the road. GPS: 25’ 57.6S 27’ 48.27E Cost: A day pass will set you back R25. Secure parking: Yes Be careful of...Mulberry season…yes, really! Piles of the fruit can get slippery when they’re all mushy. Be sure to...take a spin on the BMX track. Oh, and stop and say hello to Dawie’s cousins Gertjie and Japie on the Gnome Path (if you don’t know who Dawie is, go to aspx?name=FTF%20Spot%20Dawie%20Answer). Contact info: (for the farm), 082 600-0819 or 011 461-6486/7; (for trail info), 074 110 0884

30 |




| 31


32 |



The Holla Trails By Mark Wing


REGION: KwaZulu-Natal CLOSEST TOWN: Ballito TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Holla is made up of around 250km of marked trails in and around the sugar cane farms of the North Coast. From farm trails through single track, over wooden bridges to the top of the escarpment and the breathtaking views from the top of Howard’s Bush, there is always something new to see. Abundant wildlife means regular sightings of snakes, buck, mongoose, fish eagles and two jackals which live close to the Holla Head. Rain Farm Game & Lodge sits in the middle of some of the trails so you can see giraffe, zebra, warthog and plenty of buck while out biking. The trails vary widely, ranging from a flattish 15km route for beginners with a few river crossings and easy single track to get you started. There are some intermediate routes for the more experienced riders which are great for hill and single track training. Then you’ve got the routes for the serious riders and these offer challenging terrain and hectic hill climbing - but with the great views from the top it’s definitely worth the climb... DISTANCE: Green 15km relatively flat for novices, Orange 13km, Blue 20km, Purple 24km, Red 28km, Yellow 40km all for intermediate riders. Maroon 25km, Black 45km and 84km for experienced riders. NOVICE: 6/10 INTERMEDIATE: 7/10 ADVANCED: 8/10 TYRES: Not critical, use what the weather’s dictating but a general good grippy tyre would do. BEST THING: Holla Trails is a family venue with an abundance of trails to choose from so there is something for everyone. Family Day is on the first Sunday of the month and along with Spur, Holla is now hosting a Kiddies race on Family Day for children age 6 upwards. The restaurants serve breakfast and lunch from a great menu which boasts some awesome smoothies and great coffee. This is a properly awesome place to bring the whole family. WORST THING: Most of the trails are safe and close by but once you start heading out quite far it’s not advisable to ride alone – most of the area is covered by signal but there are patches without – it is always sensible to carry your phone with you in case of an emergency. BEST SEASON: All year round great riding – rain can affect the height of the rivers sometimes but that just adds to the fun. GET THERE: From the Ballito off-ramp turn left and go past Umhlali Country Club. At the T-junction turn left and at the next intersection turns right following the signs to Collisheen estate and Holla Trails. The front gate of the Holla Trails base is at S 29.49159’ ; E31.18196’ COST: Annual membership is R115 a month and Day passes are R50, Bike hire is available as well as a bike wash service. SECURE PARKING: Yes, plenty! The parking area is surrounded by an electric fence. BE CAREFUL OF…Snakes. Black mambas are in the area. When spotting one, stop a fair distance from it and they will move off causing no harm. Do not ride over them as no matter what speed you are doing it will still manage to get a bite in. BE SURE TO…Obtain your permits as these trails pass through the land of many an obliging farmer. CONTACT: Heather 032 947 1465. There is also plenty of information on the trail website ACCOMMODATION: The B&B on site has room for 6 people with various other accommodations being offered along all the trails. TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 33


Karbonkelberg By Donovan Jackson

REGION: Western Cape CLOSEST TOWN: Hout Bay TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Hout Bay is famous for being beautiful and for being something of a secessionist town; you know, the legendary ‘Welcome to the Republic of Hout Bay’ signs as you approach from either Victoria Bay or over Constantia Nek. While the little town of Hangberg which forms its Western boundary may seem a somewhat intimidating, drive through it to the top of Bayview road. Here you’ll find the trailhead to Karbonkelberg – and it is really up, up, UP and away. The climbing starts immediately and doesn’t let up. Initially, you’ll be on quite rocky jeep track, fairly loose but not too technical. This wends its way over a few switchbacks, where the gradient eases from the 10-12% to more manageable single digits. If the climb takes your breath away, wait until you look over your shoulder. Look past the Sentinel and over the working harbour in the imposing shadow of Chapman’s Peak, with a sparkling ocean and (on a good day) views all the way across to Kommetjie. The rocky stuff soon gives way to the sandy... and then a combination of both types of terrain. It is tough going, but worth it. Expect ‘fynbos’ to claw relentlessly at your legs, adding burning skin to burning muscles. Expect loose and very steep technical stuff. It is quite rutted and washed out, but keep going, even if you have to portage. Because you’re gonna come down again, and fast. Persevering souls will push through to get to the very top, where the ruins of a World War Two radar station await, along with awesome views across to Llandudno and on to Camps Bay. It is tough to get up and no doubt. From here, you can see why Pimple Mountain is so named. It does kind of jut out like a bit of an angry chorb. But now it’s time to turn that bad boy around and hook it down the descent....if you were brave enough to take a long travel bike today, you’re in for some whooping good fun. DISTANCE: About 6km from the trailhead to the top, but there are a few other paths to explore. Expect to spend about an hour if you are fit (up and down). NOVICE: 1/10 INTERMEDIATE: 3/10 ADVANCED: 9/10 TYRES: Something tough. Maxxis Monorail or Crossmark did the trick. BEST THING: The views, the technical test and the hard workout in just an hour. WORST THING: Hangberg can be scary. Once, when up there, a riot broke out in the village, making it, well, interesting getting down. ‘Fynbos’ is also not as ‘fyn’ as the name would have you think. BEST SEASON: Summer, or any time the wind isn’t howling. Winter in Cape Town is stupid. GET THERE: Drive past Mariner’s Wharf on Harbour Road, turn right into Main, right into Karbonkelberg Road, then second right into Bayview. Bayview snakes a couple of times up the hill; just follow it and you’ll get to a boom. COST: None. SECURE PARKING: There is parking outside the well kept houses at the top end of Bayview Road, but it is not secured. BE CAREFUL OF…Muggers. Keep an eye out for and be respectful of other trail users (dog walkers, hikers, etc.) BE SURE TO…Appreciate why Capetonians keep going on about these mountains and the ocean, bro. ACCOMMODATION: Hout Bay is a bit of a holiday destination, as is Cape Town. You’ll find something.

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| 35


A question of value

you have ignored that value-add. It may come as a surprise, but the cycle retail business is not a passport to instant riches. Indeed, it is a very tough market with high overheads. Behind the retailer and

The Internet is a wonderful thing which allows you to buy almost anything from almost anywhere in the world – and often at a far better price than you could get it from a shop. But is price the sole determinant of value? TREAD doesn’t think so, and here’s why.

his rentals, salaries, consumables and more,

By Donovan Jackson

working in a seasonal industry. In winter, the

stands a distributor who has to carry stock, create demand with advertising (hopefully in TREAD), provide technical support, logistics, blah blah blah. Most of these operations are not corporations, but ‘momand-pops’ operations with one or two brands, industry slows down, but the shop doesn’t


close, it keeps running.

ver here at the TREAD-plex,

Our take is that while prices are high in shops,

we get quite a lot of letters from

there does tend to be a lack of understanding

It is a basic economic principle that

readers asking us to tackle the

of the value that a retail channel adds to you,

consumers are prepared to pay for value add. It

the end consumer.

is another that if you are not adding value, the

thorny issue of high prices in bike

stores. We worry, us bikers do, that the shops are taking the piss. They’re charging way too much for the stuff we love and need. Here’s a typical example of such a letter:


It is a basic economic principle that consumers are prepared to pay for value add.


This value is best illustrated when you

‘value chain’ realises this very quickly and cuts

of parts and spares? When buying spares

are at, for example, a multi-day stage race

you out. The Internet is recognised as a major

lately, I’ve found that even a locally based

and a shop has set up, errr, shop on site to

challenge by the entire cycle industry (hey,

online store is almost half the price of my

provide the spares, tyres and servicing that

even those of us in publishing have a bit of a

local retailer.

‘How about an article on online purchasing

is inevitably required by a large number

worry) but, like any industry, it is responding

Furthermore, a friend of mine was

of participants at such events. If the retail

to the issue.

recently regaling me with his pride at

channel was killed, owing to the ostensibly

It is doing so in many ways, one of which

purchasing new cranks. He told me it cost

high prices it charges, that is a service you

is to look at pricing. Importers are petitioning

him R4500. Whilst with me, we checked out a

would have to do without. Put succinctly,

the taxman for relief on the duties payable

website only to find the same item for R2500.

the Interpipes will not be in a position to

on goods coming in (presently at around 30%

Now that’s a saving.

deliver a new derailleur to replace the one

for most items). Leaner supply lines are being

Yes, I understand the arguments such as,

you smashed on Stage 4 of the Epic in time for

explored. And yes, margins are being examined

you pay duty and VAT, but that is minimal

you to start Stage 5. Anyone can appreciate

and cut where possible. Prices are coming down

compared to the savings to be had.

that value.

in line with a stronger Rand, but also because our industry is far from oblivious to the changes

An article such as this may be hard

What about when you want a new front

to produce as it will upset many local

fork? You do some Net research, then pop

wholesalers and possibly advertisers.....’

down to the local store, where you bend

The bottom line, for there is one, is that

the ear of probably the owner, as he is the

the retail channel does add value. It is there

Hokay. Firstly, we understand and appreciate

most knowledgeable (more so than the

to deliver bikes, parts and expertise when

the concerns. And you’re right, such an

assistant). You look at the Fox F32 and the

and where you need it. At the same time, the

article may require some sensitivity. But

Rock Shox SID. You weigh them on the store

Internet shops also add value. It is up to you

we’re brave souls here at TREAD, so

scale, examine each for finish and looks, ask

as the consumer to choose where and how you

we’ll have a go anyway.

a million questions.

spend your money (choice is a wonderful thing)

and threats which it faces.

Secondly, we know this a contentious

That is value which has been created by

depending on where you see value being added.

subject indeed and one which does warrant

the store and his supplier, the distributor. If

And hopefully, you can occasionally appreciate


you order your choice from an online shop,

the value that your local store delivers.

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| 37

WIN a cool mountain bike trip worth R42000 for you and five mates on the Gold Rush Experience! A

ll you have to do is make sure you’re a TREAD subscriber when the draw is done and you’ll stand a chance of winning this amazing three-day, two-night mountain biking getaway to the Mount Anderson Reserve in Mpumalanga.

How to subscribe: Visit, fill in your details, pay your cash (securely), enjoy your riding through the next few weeks until 30 April 2010 when some highly respected firm of suitwearing auditors will draw the winner.

38 |


ITINERARY FRIDAY: Arrive in the afternoon. Settle in and sip sundowners on the terrace. SATURDAY: Light breakfast, ride the Spekboom Trail ending with a picnic lunch at Spekboom Dam. Return by vehicle to the Golden Cottage mid afternoon. Possibly a short night ride after dinner. SUNDAY: Light breakfast, ride the Kranskloof Trail ending with picnic lunch at the Kranskloof Dam. Return by vehicle to the Cottage mid afternoon. Pack up and depart. Note: Both rides are about 30km long and take about five hours, depending on skills level. On a technical scale the rides are 3.5–4 out 5, but each ride is very relaxed with frequent stops. The night ride will be about two hours in duration. The prize will be drawn on 30 April 2010. For more on the Gold Rush Experience, visit; click on Gold Rush.

Another real prize for real mountain bikers The Gold Rush Experience in the Mount Anderson Reserve, near Lydenburg, boasts some of the best singletrack riding in South Africa. It is a land of rugged valleys with crystal streams that reflect vulture-spotted skies. Sunbirds sip from red poker aloes and eland, zebra and black wildebeest gather on mountain slopes while the bark of baboons echo off cliff faces. Singletrack weaves up to alpine heights, down winding forested valleys, along dramatic quartzite escarpments and over rocky crests. The Gold Rush is exhilarating all-mountain riding. You’ll be accommodated in the Golden Cottage, a comfortably home from home that caters for six guests in three double en-suite rooms. All rides are guided and all meals are provided. MAGAZINE



| 39

Industry Focus

Who is behind: Amarider? By Sean Badenhorst

Meurant Botha is a mild-mannered, down-to-earth guy who loves riding his mountain bike. But he knows that everyone else loves riding their mountain bikes too, so he’s been proactive in getting Amarider off the ground which opens up more riding opportunities. Amarider is a non-profit organisation which TREAD is proud to support. We asked Meurant:

In a nutshell, what is Amarider?

Amarider is a Section 21 (not for profit) com-

level and progressing from there. Having eyes

Amarider is a trail advocacy organisation

pany and is audited, so the books are open

and ears on the trails everywhere is key. Many

aimed at improving mountain bike opportu-

for all to see.

areas already have key role-players and we

nities in South Africa and, ultimately, beyond

What made you start Amarider?

urge involved individuals to contact us.

our borders as well.

After the first IMBA Summit I attended in

Amarider is also the official South African af-

2006, I came back convinced that we needed

What is the toughest part about seeking support?

filiate of IMBA – the International Mountain

a structure that would allow for the collec-

Time. The past three years have been frus-

Bicycling Association, which is the undisputed

tion of donations and mobilisation of volun-

trating in terms of dealing with red tape in

leader in trail advocacy.

teers to make trail building affordable; and

setting up the business structure, but there

Why should mountain bikers join Amarider?

that we needed to promote the use of trails

is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve simply

without a profit motive.

not spent enough time in finding and maintain-

Amarider is the only national organisation

How much support have you got so far?

ing sponsorship relations, but for 2010, we will

that addresses trail issues full-time. With funding behind us, we can address issues

Officially we are in our second financial year

And what is the most satisfying?

professionally and offer solutions, not only

and to date we have raised over R750 000 via

Amarider is an easy sell and there is nothing

advice. Even more important than funding is

donations from individuals, corporate spon-

more satisfying than seeing riders enjoying

the idea that riders subscribe to the values

sors, business, and NGO donors like PPA (Ped-

trails. Because we’ve been developing lots of

of the organisation, effectively creating a

al Power Association) which sponsors specific

trails in the Western Cape since before Ama-

community which is environmentally and so-

projects. Amarider also tenders for contracts

rider, it was simple to build on the construc-

cially aware. Ultimately, that translates into

and raises income via consulting.

tion aspect that really matters most. We’ve

responsible users of our trail systems.

How much more do you need?

therefore been able to produce results and we

What does it cost and where does the money go?

I’d like to see us able to fund full-time con-

can point you to many brand new trails and

struction/maintenance programmes in every

tracks that carry the Amarider stamp.

Membership starts at R150. At this stage,

region, so that’ll take quite a bit of money.

It is taking a bit more time upcountry but al-

revenue is split almost equally between op-

The vision is that these teams remain inde-

ready in KZN there are trails funded by Ama-

erational costs and projects like trail con-

pendent contractors and Amarider will not

rider; in Gauteng we have our work cut out by

struction. The aim is to swing the balance

build this capacity in-house.

trying to follow due process with Joburg City

towards projects, as there has been a lot of

We’d like to support a national reporting

Parks. There are, however, no shortcuts and I

initial expense to set up the organisation.

structure that we see starting at a volunteer

believe a solid structure is in place.

40 |


really have to focus on this component.


How can mountain bikers help?

If we’re not involved with trails we organise

Our biggest challenge in dealing with the rider

Where do you see mountain biking in this country in five years time?

explosion is that of trail etiquette.

We are going to see a further move away from

outside Stellenbosch. When I say we, I mean

Riders must understand that their on-trail

structured eventing and competition as these

my wife Aryna and myself.

antics reflect on the activity and by main-

are totally oversubscribed and therefore not

How much riding do you do?

taining a positive public image, the work of

able to offer quality riding experiences to ev-

For some reason people think I ride a bike all

trail advocates is made so much easier. Too

eryone. A quick look at rider numbers at trail

day. In truth my riding has suffered badly over

many riders are trespassing on private and

centres around the country already shows the

the last 5 years but I’m planning to change

state lands and we are going to see trail clo-

massive increase in pure recreational riding.

that. After a singlespeed phase, I’ve gone over

sures because of this. Do the right thing and

That said, the fact that the numbers at events

to the dark side with my Reign X freeride bike

become good trail citizens.

still increase year-on-year is simply mind-bog-

and am simply loving it.

Amarider is all about local activism so get

gling. Because of growth, there is going to be

yourself organised on a local level. No trail

massive pressure on green space in urban cen-

Which is your favourite South African trail and why?

should be developed without a local ‘energy’

tres and unless we are organised, user conflict

Even after the devastating fires Jonkershoek

partner who can deal with and maintain lo-

is going to become an issue.

outside Stellenbosch must rank as my favou-

cal relations.

What is your normal line of work?

rite simply because of the diversity on offer.

mountain bike events and run a trail centre


| 41

Industry Focus

I am Specialized By Dononvan Jackson

At any given mountain biking event, you’re likely to see spans of Specialized bikes and equipment. That’s the consequence of a company which is very, very good at marketing what are undeniably great products. The South African distributor is Le Peloton – and it is as savvy with getting Specialized bikes and gear out there as is its American principle is. Rob AmblerSmith is one of three shareholders in the company and a passionate cyclist. We asked him:


How did you get into importing Specialized bikes?

It was by chance, really. I had a warranty claim on a Specialized

which the then-distributor couldn’t resolve. I had to wait 6 months; when Le Peloton took over, its top brass came and handed the frame over in person. We got on well, kept in touch and I was asked to help with bits and pieces. From there I got much more involved.


So you know all about warranty issues first hand. Is this a point

of contention?

It can be. One of the biggest issues is customer education, in terms of what the brand offers and what the customer can expect upfront. For that we look to our dealers (bike stores) and obviously, our role is to educate the bike stores which we do through regular events and even trips to Specialized in the USA (ed’s note: Specialized has something called the SBCU – Specialized Bicycle Components University – which even offers online classes for bicycle dealers).


But it does sometimes go wrong? It does, but we try to bend over backwards to accommodate cus-

tomers. Being cyclists ourselves, we know how important it is to ride your own gear. There are tricky considerations, though. Stock holding is often difficult with warranty items; lead times from order to delivery are as much as 6 months, so while we plan in advance as best as possible, things don’t always work out. For example, warranty frames are often provided in one colour only, but the customer may specifically want another. In these cases, we accommodate as best as possible and also keep the customer informed. There is also option to airfreight stuff in; we’ll facilitate it, but don’t carry the cost.


Specialized shocks. Both famous for the brain and notorious... Definitely! What is very important, and what we look to dealers to

communicate, is that these shocks are not maintenance-free. Often, a lack of maintenance is behind what appears to be failure.


Specialized is very popular. How has that been achieved?

It comes to down to the philosophy of ‘innovate or die’. That

means a substantial and continuous investment in R&D, which is also clear in the athletes whom Specialized sponsors. We look to them for feedback and input and put their insights into practice. The company is also driven by passion for cycling; you see that in everyone at Morgan Hill (the USA headquarters). Even with great products, we’re always blown away by the innovations that are coming out of the company.


The dirty word...recession. How is Specialized responding?

We’ve worked with Specialized to keep pricing as competitive as

possible in response to market conditions. Most exciting is not necessarily at the top-end, but at the middle and lower end where we have worked really hard to make a quality bike and brand available to cyclists. While most people talk price, though, we do believe it is value that you should be looking for. That’s what we have worked on putting into every level of Specialized product.


Where do you see the sport going? We’ll continue to see growth in cycling in this country. It won’t be

the same as we’ve seen previously, as we’re coming off a much bigger base now. But there is ample room especially in the social riding scene, where enduro, trail and city bikes fit. In the US and Europe, the split is 80 social to 20 racing; here it is the other way around.

42 |



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Choice bikes and gear reviewed by our test team




| 45


PODIUM PEDIGREE Three American brands are making a big impact on XC and Marathon racing podiums, both abroad and locally. We put three key models from these brands to the test to find out just what’s making them so successful. By: Sean Badenhorst and Donovan Jackson

PHOTO: Gary Perkin

46 |




| 47



Speed Carbon SL weighs just 1.38kg,

just an impressive compromise. The rear

Before he joined Specialized, Christoph

which is about 500g lighter than

shock, a Fox Float RP23, is suitably stiff

Sauser raced for Cannondale for seven

most 100mm shocks.

on small bumps, but yields appropriately

years (1999–2005). And he helped make


on the bigger hits to offer an efficient,

the Scalpel one of the most successful

No need for Cannondale to change

but not a plush ride. Plush of course isn’t

racing models ever. Launched in 2000,

a frame that’s been one of the most

a necessity on a top-end racing machine

Cannondale’s Scalpel quickly sliced its

successful racing frames for almost a

so we were content to make this sacrifice

way through the XC World Cup rankings

decade. It’s still full carbon; it’s still got

in favour of speed.

and carried the likes of Sauser, Jakob

the zero-pivot rear triangle design with

One annoyance was the clacking noise

Fuglsang and Roel Paulissen to numerous

vertical-flex seatstays; and it’s still using

the rear derailleur and rear brake cables

international victories.

the Lefty Speed Carbon fork. They made

made against the underside of the top

More recently, Paulissen won the 2008

a few tweaks though: The rear shock link

tube when the rear shock was doing its

and 2009 Marathon World Championship

is now made from magnesium, which is 30

bump-munching thing. We fitted a cable-

and, with Fuglsang, the 2008 Absa Cape

grams lighter than the previous aluminium

tie, which did the trick but didn’t look

Epic titles on a Scalpel.

link; and the seatstay bridge has been

very appealing. An extra set of cable

redesigned to increase lateral stiffness. On the top-end Scalpel Team model, the carbon layup has been adjusted to add stiffness and decrease 10 grams in weight. Our test bike was white with black and blue trim, but the production colour is Jet Black with red accents. With the shock placement in the top corner between the top-and seat-tubes, there’s plenty of space for a frame-mounted bottle cage. It’s also got a relatively uncluttered, attractive look. The Lefty shock adds to the unique appeal of the Scalpel. You never quite feel like you’ve examined it enough. Apart from the front derailleur (which is XT), our test bike sported a full Shimano XTR groupset – hydraulic brakes, trigger TECH ADVANTAGES

shifters, rear derailleur, crankset, and

guides near the shock mount would

• No rear triangle pivot. Cannondale


probably eliminate the problem. The

claims the Scalpel gets 100m of


XTR brakes aren’t a favourite of ours,

vertical rear wheel movement from

From the first pedal stroke, we could

but they worked well enough and the

leaf spring-like carbon chain stays,

feel the racing genes in the Scalpel. It

shifting was, not surprisingly, flawless in

eliminating the need for energy-

responded like an angry snake, surging

all conditions.

sapping, maintenance-seeking

forwards and wanting more. The geometry


bushings and hardware.

combines a slightly ‘easy’ 69.5-degrees

If you’re a competitive rider with no

head tube with a slightly ‘tighter’

budget constraints and a burning desire

is the integration of certain

74-degree seat tube angle which left us

for minimal weight, we’d recommend

components into the frame/fork

feeling perfectly centred and in control

going for the top-end 9kg Scalpel Carbon

design, increasing strength and

of the steering, which was very direct, as

Team. If money is some object and

reducing weight in areas like the

we expect on a XC race bike.

personal bests are more realistic than

• System Integration. Or SI, which

bottom bracket/crankset; fork/hub; steerer tube/stem. • Lefty shock. The 110mm-travel Lefty

48 |


Climbing was a pleasure both seated

podiums, then the Scalpel is about the

and stomping out of the saddle. No

best place to start looking. It’s unlikely

noodle-like floppiness, no hardtail-rigidity,

you’ll need to look any further.



| 49



better over small bumps. And face it,

used to. But once we’d become more in tune

Unlike the S-Works Epic and the Scalpel, the

most XC and marathon races aren’t

with the Superfly 100 we became more and

Superfly 100 is still carving out its racing ped-

exactly full of huge bumps and rocks,

more confident in the bike’s ability to nego-

igree. Gary Fisher came up with the 29-inch

especially in South Africa. The larger

tiate the winding, sharp trails at speed. The

wheel design a decade ago and it’s taken that

wheels offer better traction area and

rear suspension, which has been simply, yet

cornering stability.

elegantly linked to the underside of the lower

long for the larger format mountain bike to be taken seriously in terms of racing performance. As with anything new in mountain bike

• Lighter weight. It’s the lightest dual-

end of the top tube, has that appropriately

suspension 29-inch bike, it’s Gary

taut XC feel with smooth progression through-

Fisher’s lighest dual suspension bike

out the stroke.

design (shocks, tubeless tyres, hydraulic disc

period and it’s comparable with most

brakes) it takes while to be perfected. Ditto

26-inch lightweight race bikes.

Bontrager Team Issue XR1 1.9-inch tyres to be

On rough terrain, we found the narrow

29-inch wheel race machines – dual suspen-

• G2 Geometry. Increased fork offset

confidence-robbing. The importers reckon they

sion nogal. In 2009, two members of the US-

and reduced trail, which means the

recommend an immediate switch to the more

based Subaru Gary Fisher race team, Jeremy

steering is more responsive allowing

voluminous Bontrager XDX 2.2-inch models.

Horgan-Kobleski and Heather Irmiger, won

the bike to tackle tight, twisty courses

We concur. Despite the initial reconditioning

with nimbleness. THE BIKE It takes a while to feel comfortable around the Superfly 100. We couldn’t help but think of that great Coen Brothers movie, Fargo. The scene where Steve Buscemi’s character is described by a hooker as being ‘funny looking’. Those big wheels do look rather odd to someone used to 26ers. Its full-carbon frame is beautifully finished and wears its black, white and red colouring boldly. And the anodized red detail of the SRAM X.0 shifters and rear derailleur show that plenty of thought has gone into this bike. But the wheel size and proportionately narrow tyres (1.9-inch Bontrager XR1 Team Issue) tug constantly for your attention and leave you with more questions than answers. the US men and women’s national XC titles

Rear suspension is managed by the

period and after riding the Superfly 100 for a

respectively on Gary Fisher Superfly 100s.

popular Fox RP23, which is mated to the

few days, we began to feel faster and actually

And then their compatriot, Willow Koerber,

Fox F100 FIT RLC 100mm-travel fork. Not

caught ourselves thinking that 26-inch wheels

snapped up the bronze medal in the Elite

surprisingly, the Superfly 100 is draped in

seemed undersized…

women’s race at XC World’s – the first ever

Bontrager parts with white Avid Elixir hy-


medal for a 29-inch bike at world champion-

draulic disc brake levers and a Truvativ Noir

It seems as if the 29-inch dual suspension race

ship level.


bike has finally arrived. The Superfly 100 has


world-class XC podiums to drive home its cred-

Shan Wilson have become champions of the

On long, open sections of trail at speed,

ibility as a serious race bike. For the majority

bigger-wheel cause, achieving success indi-

one of our testers mentioned he could feel

of South African races, which are marathons

vidually and as teammates in stage races dur-

what seemed like a gyroscopic effect from

relatively low on the technical scale, the Su-

ing the latter half of 2009. Expect the 29-inch

the larger wheels. That being said, it’s su-

perfly is very well suited. It’s a bike you can

wave to gain momentum on the racing scene

per quick over dirt roads and non-technical

only judge once you’ve tried it. And after test-

in 2010.

terrain, particularly with the ProPedal ac-

ing it, we reckon the Superfly 100 is the bar-



rier-breaking model that will alter mountain

Locally, top veterans Andrew McLean and

• Bigger wheel size. Bigger wheels roll

50 |


Tight, twisty terrain took some getting

bike racing for good.



| 51




many other frames), with 1 1/8”-to-1 1/2” ta-

After Swiss star, Christoph Sauser took the S-

Elegant, sleek lines combined with the bold all-

per, renders the front end stiff and confidence

Works Epic to the XC world title in 2008 – the

carbon gloss red and matte carbon colouring

inspiring. On the subject of stiff, grab the back

first ever dual suspension bike to claim the

make you feel like you’re in the presence of

wheel and see how much play you can get out

coveted honour – South Africa’s Burry Stander

classy bike before you even swing a leg over

of that linkage. None. This bike came with Spe-

spent 2009 confirming that a dual susser can

the top tube. The fact that it’s been one of the

cialized’s own S-Works carbon crank arms, but

be ridden to XC success. Stander had an in-

most successful bikes in both XC and marathon

featured Truvativ XX Dual chainrings. You’ll love

credibly successful year, rising to No.2 in the

races over the past two years is testament to

XX for staying on the big ring (in this case a 39,

XCO world rankings, finishing third overall in

the advances Specialized has made with its sig-

with a 24 great auntie ring – hey, there isn’t

the UCI World Cup, winning a World Cup round

nificant investment in R&D.

a granny, so...) – mated to an 11-36 cassette)

overall, winning the Under-23 World Cup title

Suspension now contains Fox elements as

and becoming the Under-23 World Champion.

opposed to Specialized’s in-house-only con-

But you’ll hate it when you realise your

In terms of marathon success the S-Works

struction and design in ‘08 and ’09. It’s still

only choice of replacement is that admittedly

Epic didn’t really have to do more than win

called Futureshock technology, only now it

awesome – and expensive-looking 10-speed

six stages of the 2009 ABSA Cape Epic under

works better. Naturally both front and rear


much longer.

suspension use Specialized’s own inertia valve technology which means suspension kicks in only when required. 100mm of travel at both ends is plenty for XC and marathon racing. The wheelset is Specialized’s Roval Control SL and the groupset is the much-anticipated SRAM XX. Let’s face it, not much could beat the crispness of the X-0 rear derailleur and shifters. But plenty could beat SRAM’s front mech, which didn’t exist until, like, just the other day. It has arrived and on the dual crankset, the real difference is to be seen. Never mind weight; fewer shifts up front means less chance of losing a chain. And that beautifully engineered front derailleur doesn’t just look the part. It is the business. THE RIDE Taut, fast, lithe. Going uphill is where this bike really shines – zero pedal bob and no fork bounce even when you’re honking hard. the guidance of Stander and Sauser to show its

Those coming right off an ‘08 model, where

Our test rig came in at 9.90kg which is under

versatility as a racing thoroughbred. Stander

the rear shock sat parallel with the left seat

the magic 10kg mark; Burry’s race machine is a

also won the SA Marathon Champs and the Af-

stay, may find the new S-Works feels a bit top

bit lighter. Is it fast? That should be rhetorical.

rican and South African XC Champs titles on a

heavy at first. But that sensation is dispelled

Since being bust out in the current guise, this

S-Works Epic.

pretty quickly. Futureshock means Brain tech-

S-Works has been racking up titles faster than


nology in one of those fork stanchions – auto

Charles Dickens did at the height of his creative

• Total suspension integration. The

lockout front and rear working in perfect tan-

powers. Under the legs of Stander, it’s put a

entire bike, including front and rear

dem. Almost felt illegal! It takes a bit of get-

South African on the top of the world. It made

suspension, was designed from inception

ting used to, but man, does it work well. No

us feel on top of the world too.

to complement one another for peak

dicking around with levers and gadgets on your


performance and minimum weight.

handlebars, no twisty on top of the right stan-

All this impressive technology comes, not sur-

• Flow Control Brain Technology. Both front

chion. Just shock absorption when you need

prisingly, at a high price. But if you’re after

and rear suspension has the increased

it. And a hardtail/rigid front when you don’t.

premium performance you’re not going to be

efficiency and control that the inertia

The tapered headset, following a cue set by

disappointed. The S-Works Epic is everything

valve design offers.

the S-Works SL-2 road frameset (and no doubt,

we expected and probably a bit more…

52 |





| 53

54 |



GEOMETRY SIZES: S 15.5-inch, M 17.5-inch (tested), L 19-inch, XL 21-inch, XXL 23-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 597mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 385mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73.6 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 452mm WHEELBASE: 1118mm SPECS PRICE: R72000 COLOURS: Gloss black and white with red detail WEIGHT: 11.1 kg FRAME: OCLV Co-molded carbon fibre with Fox Float RP23 trail tuned shock FORK: Fox F100 FIT RLC with 100m-travel and lockout GEARS: SRAM X.0 Redwin trigger shifters and rear derailleur, Shimano XT front derailleur BRAKES: Avid Elixir CR hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors front and rear CRANKSET: Truvativ Noir Redwin Carbon 44/32/22 WHEELS: Bontrager Race X Lite Scandium tubeless ready TYRES: Bontrager XR1 Team 1.9-inch front and rear COCKPIT: Bontrager Race X Lite stem, Bontrager Race Lite handlebar, Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon seatpost, Bontrager Race Lite saddle CONTACT: Just Fun Sports - Tel: +27 11 405 3300 X C - M A R A T H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E


GEOMETRY SIZES: S 15.9-inch, M 16.9-inch (tested), L 18.9-inch, XL 19.7-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 600mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 430mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69.5 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 424mm WHEELBASE: 1106mm SPECS PRICE: R63000 COLOURS: White and black gloss with blue detail WEIGHT: 10.6kg FRAME: Scalpel carbon fibre with Fox Float RP23 100mm-travel shock FORK: Lefty Speed Carbon SL with 110mm-travel GEARS: Shimano XTR trigger shifters and rear derailleur, Shimano XT front derailleur BRAKES: Shimano XTR hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors

CRANKSET: Shimano XTR 44/32/22 WHEELS: Shimano XTR rear hub and rims, Shimano Lefty front hub TYRES: Continental King Race 2.0 front and rear

COCKPIT: Cannondale SI stem; Truvativ Stylo Team flat bar; Truvativ Team carbon seatpost; Fizik Aliante saddle CONTACT:; 021 6910110 X C - M A R A T H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E

GEOMETRY SIZES: S, M (tested), L, XL TOP TUBE LENGTH: 580mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 444mm (centre to top) HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 425mm WHEELBASE: 1098mm SPECS PRICE: R75000 COLOURS: Natural carbon/red WEIGHT: 9.90kg FRAME: FACT carbon with 100mm-travel FOX SBC shock FORK: Specialized Future Shock with 100mm-travel GEARS: SRAM XX carbon trigger shifters, SRAM XX 10-speed rear derailleur, SRAM XX front derailleur BRAKES: Custom Avid XX hydraulic brakes with 140mm rotors front and rear (160mm rotors on L and XL) CRANKSET: S-Works OS carbon cranks with 39/26 chainrings WHEELS: Roval Control SL hubs and rims TYRES: S-Works The Captain 2.0-inch front; S-Works Fast Trak LK 2.0inch rear COCKPIT: Syntace stem; S-Works XC carbon handlebar; S-Works carbon seatpost; Specialized Phenom SL saddle CONTACT:; 011 627 5080 X C - M A R A T H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E




Distributed by Just Fun Sports

Tel: +27 11 405 3300

Gear MOMSEN DESIGN Ti QRs There’s something about the way a colour-coded quick release skewer completes the look of a bike. It says the rider pays close attention to detail and has pride in his/ her machine. It says connoisseur. And this titanium pair we’ve been trying out say Momsen Design on the lever. An early arrival from the new high-end range of parts and accessories sourced by astute South African gear guru, Victor Momsen. We dig the smooth action of the lever, which never stiffened up – even after muddy rides – apparently because of the bronze washer impregnated with oil against which the lever sits. They weigh very little – 90g for the pair – are super-strong and are available in anodised red, gold, blue, black and green. Price: R440 Contact: 041 3685708;

SPECIALIZED REAR CAGE MOUNT Triathletes have been doing it for years and years and it’s become a sensible option for mountain bikers too now. No, we’re not talking about shaving your arms, we’re talking about mounting a bottle cage on your seatpost. For racers that only use bottles and ride a dual suspension that only permits one bottle to be mounted inside the front triangle, it’s a practical option. Specialized has designed two clamps that attach most cages to a 30.9-mm diameter seatpost. Clever. Price: R145 Contact: www.specialized-sa.; 011 627 5080

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Gear CAPESTORM NITROS BIB SHORT The best test for any bike shorts is a really long, hard stage in a, well, stage race. That’s what CapeStorm’s Nitros got, a couple of times, with a pretty busy end-of-year race schedule for TREAD’s team of testers (OK, in this case it was just Donovan Jackson, after all, one test pair of rods can only go so far). As CapeStorm’s flagship bib pant, which is, it says, the culmination of an effort to make the best cycling shorts ever, does the Nitros hit all the marks? Construction: Multipanelled, this garment is made from larney material, Italian Fidicia lycra to be exact. While the multipanels give a great body-hugging fit, it has an idiosyncratic elasticised section to grab your leg. Comfortable, but some may prefer the more prosaic elastic; gels tucked in there won’t stay. The bib bit is mesh, cool and comfy and stood up to a good few exposures to the washing machine. Pad: This is the heart of any short. The Nitros delivers very nicely here. Like any new short, even for...short...rides, you’ll want to soften that puppy up with some bum-lube. But the Nitros will keep your undercarriage well cosseted over even the longest distances. Finish: The reflective printing on the sides did seem to wear a little quickly, but the rest of the short held up well to the repeated beatings it received out in the bundus. And in the wash. Overall, a very good value-for-money piece of technical gear that proved worthy of the toughest South African stage racing conditions. Get more than one pair though. At the price, you can. Price: R995 Contact:; 021 7612021

PRO Atherton grips That’s the thing about being an Atherton. You’re automatically cool as one of not one, not two, but three World Cup winners (and two world champs) in a single family. All that fame comes along with cool endorsements, awesome gear and loadsa respect from us mere mortals. And among that awfully cool stuff is a whole range of Shimano’s PRO branded gear with little boy-boy-girl logos on it, one for each Atherton, see, Dan, Gee and Rachel. Clever? You bet . Cool? As an Atherton. Price: Approx. R180 Contact: CoolHeat, 011 608 2003 TREAD SUMMER 2009

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MOMSEN DESIGN LB SEATPOST It’s not that easy to come by a feather-light offset seatpost, but Momsen Design has found this sweet spot with this 184g, 25mm offset looker. The 31.6 x 350mm post is fully CNCmachined 2014 T6 aluminium with a bonded head, delivering a combination of light and strong. It sports titanium bolts and the top clamps and the lower cradle will be also be available from January in anodised blue, red, green and gold. It took some time to get the seat angle just right – front bolt needs a small spanner, rear bolt uses an Allen key – but it was worth the time for the weight saving, according to our gram-sensitive tester. Also available in a 410mm length in three diameters: 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm, and soon, a straight-up option. Price: R895 Contact: 041 3685708;

PROLOGO VERTIGO PRO SADDLE If you’re a XC or marathon racer and you’d rather lose weight on your bike than your body, then a useful place to start is with your saddle. Prologo’s Vertigo Pro has a carbon fibre-injected base with titanium rail construction for dependable strength and support but low weight. Pictured on the end of this seatpost is its cousin, the Prologo Nack; similar in most respects except the Nack (My Sharona, anyone?) has carbon rails and isn’t available locally (although we got to perve one. Showoffs. We know). The Vertigo Pro features Prologo’s easy stroke design (ESD), which means it’s been shaped to give more space for your leg movement. We ride a lot of different saddles and recommend comfort over light weight, but found the length and comfort of the Vertigo Pro to be as good as our favourite saddles, which aren’t quite this light – 221 grammes (the Nack is just 163)! Guess who’s found a new favourite… Price: R1650 Contact 041 3685708;

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Gear LEZYNE PORT-A-SHOP If you’re leaving behind the urban chaos to find a peaceful riding spot far from cell phone signal, office stress, traffic jams and, well, bike shops, then you’re going to need some tools man. Lezyne’s Port-A-Shop is exactly that – a portable shop, high in tool value. It contains the following tools, which solve most on-the-go maintenance and repair problems: • Allen key set • Torx key set • Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers • Chain breaker • Spoke spanners • Tyre levers • 15mm spanners x 2 • Patch kits •

Bottle opener (ahh!)

This all fits neatly into a handy, strong carry bag, which keeps the tools organised and secure. As we’ve come to expect from Lezyne, the quality of the tools is top-end, which is important when you’re relying so heavily on them to keep your wheels turning no matter where your MTB nirvana is located. It’s not cheap, but then you pay for quality, because it’s reliable and it lasts. Makes for a great gift we reckon. Hint, hint. Price: R1000 Contact 041 3685708;

FIRST ASCENT NO SWEAT BANDANA Summer heat means more sweat. And one way to keep head sweat from making your riding uncomfortable is by wearing a bandana beneath your helmet. First Ascent’s No Sweat Bandana is made from Quik-Wic, a very light, breathable fabric that removes the moisture from your head, helping prevent sweat from getting in your eyes and onto your eyewear. It’s designed so that you can slip it over your head and tie it at the back of your head to ensure it stays firmly in place no matter how rough the trail surface is you’re tackling. It also keeps your helmet padding from getting sweat soaked. Colours: Navy, Gray, Pink, Ice Blue Price: R50 Contact:; 021 7879380 60 |



A tough sport requires a tough sock. Falke’s Mountain Bike sock is made specifically to handle the rigours of mountain biking. The rib top with terry cushioning help protect your ankle bones from flying stones or a mistimed pedal-induced scrap on rocks, with the increased elasticity helping keep grit from getting in your sock. All the usual comfort factors are included – Falke’s Drynamix Moisture Management System, strategically placed cushioning, extra fine toe seam, specially constructed ventilation panels, soft elastic arch support and reinforced heel. They’re a big favourite among our test team, not because they come in four cool colours, but because we don’t really notice them when we’re riding. And that’s because they function like they’re meant to. Colours: Royal blue, Olive green, Tulip red, Pink, Charcoal Sizes: 4-7, 8-12 Price: R34.95 Contact:; 021 951 2137


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TRACTION You either have it or you don’t. And it’s only when you don’t have it that your realise it’s not there. And sometimes, no, often, it’s a painful realisation. We gathered more than half a century of combined expertise in the field of mountain bike traction from TREAD staff and contributors to present this comprehensive guide. Compiled by Anton Bosman



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Masterclass PHOTO: Graig Dutton


o let’s start with a disclaimer. No, we’re not unsure of our knowledge, we just know that no two mountain bikers have

Hardpack complemented by some rooty stuff. A good lesson: even tyres designed for specific conditions have to be versatile to deal with terrain that can rapidly change within the space of a sinlge trail or stage. And remember, where wet roots are concerned, almost every tyre is going to slide - fast.

exactly the same take on traction. So while there are certain rules of physics that are undeniably related to keeping

the rubber side down, terrain, skill level, rider size, bike design and usually an element of luck, all play a role in traction satisfaction. We demand a great deal from our tyres, which is why we should pay them plenty of attention. After all, your traction is only as good as your tyre choice. Poor traction will leave you sliding out on corners, spinning out on steep climbs, or washing away on sloping gradients. We expect our tyres to carry us for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres and then we curse them when they puncture or cut or, lose traction… It’s this cursing from occasional failure that motivates the tyre manufacturers around the world to put more money, energy and expertise into tyre technology. They’ve turned tyre development into a science so that we can turn it into an art.

SOUTH AFRICAN CONDITIONS If ever there was a country with varied mountain biking terrain, it’s South Africa. From pine-needled forest floors, to brittle shale, to damp coastal soil, to sketchy hardpack, to rooty singletrack, to sandy jeep track, to muddy cane fields, to rocky hillsides, to thorny bushveld… We’ve got the lot! Which is why we need a variety of mountian bike tyre types, so that we can tackle the different types of terrain with control and confidence. There are three main types of tyre category we use in this country. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed choice:

Conditions: Dry, hardpack Mostly found in: Gauteng, Northern Cape, inland Western Cape, Free State, Northern Limpopo, inland Eastern Cape Tread style: Relatively fast rolling centre with large sidewall knobs for maximum cornering traction. Width: Ranging from 1.95-inch to 2.25-inch. Popular choices: Maxxis Crossmark, Specialized Fast Trak, Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Kenda Karma, GEAX Mezcal. Recommended: Maxxis Crossmark. This model has a fast rolling centre with relatively shallow knobs, which are also spaced wide enough to get rid of the occasional mud. This tyre hooks up nicely to rocks and even wet roots, the slightly raised side knobs providing excellent cornering traction. For those more into cross-country racing, the Kenda Karma is the bomb. Tip: Heavier riders and those still developing cornering skills should go for a wider tyre.

Conditions: Varying from soft to stony to rocky Mostly found in: Karoo areas of Eastern Cape and Western Cape, some parts of the Free State and Northern Cape, North West. Tread style: Relatively aggressive knob pattern all round – centre and side. The knobs are quite widely spaced which encourages maximum

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grip but also helps shed light mud. These tyres normally perform at their best on stony or rocky terrain and are great confidence Suomi/Nokian off-road tyres are designed in Finland for MTB racers and enthusiasts. Each model has a specific tread design to deliver the right features for the intended use. New rubber compounds are designed to work on all surfaces and conditions. DRC (Dual Rubber Compound) is fast rolling, specifically for XC/Enduro, while SRC (Slow Rebound Compound) is soft and sticky, ideal for downhill or freeride. Meanwhile, our ethylene propylene diene (EPDM) compound improves weather resistance and eliminates cracking.

builders for those more concerned about traction than speed. Width: Ranging from 2.1-inch to 2.3-inch (can be dependent on fork and/or frame clearance). Popular choices: Geax Saguaro, Continental Mountain King, Specialized The Captain, Vredestein Black Panther (only available as tubeless) and Panaracer Rampage (available as a 2.35-inch width for those who like their tyres wide). Recommended: Specialized Captain. This tyre does not have the fastest centre knobs but does have an aggressive knob pattern all round, giving a high level of traction in most conditions.

Conditions: Soft to muddy Mostly found in: Most coastal parts of Eastern and Western Cape, Mpumalanga, most of KwaZulu-Natal. Tread style: Let’s talk serious mud such as that encountered on Day 1 of the 2006 Cape Epic, Day 2 of the first Sani2c or that at the whole 2008 Sabie Experience. Mud that sticks like gum on your tyres and has you sliding down singletrack sideways. Two schools of thought on this. The first being that no matter what tread pattern you have, it won’t make a difference. We agreed among ourselves on the second school of thought which says go with mud-specific tyres. These are quite narrow, which allows the tyre to sink into the mud and make contact with the harder surface below. It also allows more frame clearance in the case of the mud caking up on the tyre. The wide knob spacing encourages more rapid mudshedding, or so conventional logic holds. Width: Ranging from 1.8-inch to 2.0-inch. Popular choices: Schwalbe has a new tyre soon to arrive called the Dirty Dan, which we believe is getting rave reviews abroad (with a name like that...), while Geax’s Barro is also a great mud tyre. Recommended: Bontrager Mud X TR. This tyre is made from a rather sticky compound and is tubeless-ready. Paradoxically, (see above) Kenda Karmas are always a popular choice when its mucky out there. Those wide-spaced knobs not only claw nicely onto loose rocky stuff, but shed sticky mud quite well too.



Trail or freeriding requires a more robust approach to tyre choice. More aggressive knobs and greater tyre width are needed to deal

Suomi NBT 2.1 & 2.3

Designed for XC, Enduro & Trail bikes, the NBT 2.1 and 2.3 are fast rolling owing to a specific centre tread design. • Multiple edges on knob improve grip on hardpack. • Excellent grip on all conditions due to DRC tread compound (50/60A). • Optimized casings for different riding styles: SW/ SWA for XC/Enduro and GW for Trail.

Suomi NBT 2.2 LITE

NBT 2.2 LITE is an XC/Marathon racing tyre, super fast rolling with a low tread design. • Multiple edges on knobs improve grip on hardpack. • Excellent grip in all conditions due to DRC tread compound (50/60A). • Light and flexible skinwall casing optimised for racing.

NBT 2.5 DH

The NBT 2.5 DH is a freeride tyre for hardcore offroad riding and DH racing. • Fast rolling due to specific center tread design. • Multiple edges on knob improve grip on hardpack. • Stable handling in high speed sections with grooved centre knobs. • Excellent handling on corners due to slow rebound SRC tread compound (45A). • Puncture protected industrial casing. • Excellent snake bite protection with stiff sidewalls and apex profiles.


All Suomi tyres have a 2 year factory warranty in case of manufacturing and material defects. The limited warranty is valid for 2 years from the purchase date by the original purchaser.

with the bigger impacts and faster cornering speeds. These tyres are normally heavier with thicker sidewalls. They range in width from 2.3-inch to 2.5-inch.

Imported and distributed nationally by International Trade: 011-486-0060

Masterclass Tyres you can’t go wrong with Left: Maxxis Crossmark Below centre: Bontrager Mud X Below right: Specialized The Captain

All the boring, scientific stuff that goes on in rubber laboratories comes down to one thing: turning it into a thrill in the field. Ripping up some mud takes a good set of tyres into which a lot of research and development is invested.


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TUBELESS – HOW DID WE GET BY BEFORE? Not too long ago, people were weighing up the pros and cons of tubeless vs tubes when determining wheel and tyre choices. But with technology making the advances it has over the past few years, it’s become pretty obvious that tubeless is the way to go. And virtually all serious mountain bikers make the switch at some stage. Of course tubeless isn’t just about tyres. Rims are obviously just as significant in this marriage of functional convenience. There are two options – tubeless ready rims and then kits that convert regular rims into tubeless compatible rims.

Look for thE rhino anD not thE othEr oU!

Benefits of tubeless (just in case you didn’t already know): Lighter weight: Tyres have gone from weighing around 800–900 grams to as little as 450 grams. Lower pressure: Because you don’t have a ‘snakebite’ or impact puncture concern with tubeless, you can run your tyres at lower pressures, which increases traction, sometimes substantially. Thicker sidewalls: Because they need to hook firmly into the rim – and stay there – tubeless tyres have thicker sidewalls which also limit tears or cuts. Sealant ready: By adding a sealant to tubeless tyres, you can also reduce the risk of punctures caused by sharp objects like thorns or glass. The sealant also helps make the tubeless tyre/rim combination more airtight.

TUBES – HOW CAN WE SURVIVE WITHOUT THEM? We’re the first to gush about how tubeless technology has improved the way we ride and elevated mountain biking to a new level. But the humble tube is still with us and probably will be for some time still. Much like the way we look to Bryan Habanna for a match-saving try, we look to the spare tube to rescue a ride or a race when the tubless tyre suffers damage that prevents it from sealing.

TUBED TYRES We’re very much aware that standard tubed systems are prevalent on the majority of entry and mid-level bikes. The tubeless technology simply isn’t cost effective enough – yet – to spec tubeless systems on lower model bikes.

The two puncture-reducing options with standard tubed systems are: Tyre liners: These add another layer between tube and inner tyre. Tube sealant: Fills the tube with a sealant that fills small puncture holes

SLUDGE UNI SEAL: Contains fibres and can only be installed in wheels with a removable valve core. SLUDGE UNI SEAL is ideal for all tube-type or tubeless mountain bikes. Remove the valve core to add it to tube-type wheels. • Sludge UNI SEAL is supplied in a 200ml bottle sufficient for two wheels. RoAD SLUDGE: This product is specially developed for road bikes with Presta Valves. It contains microfibres which allow the sealant to pass through the valve. Owing to the microfibres, it is more effective for smaller punctures to the tube. Road SLUDGE also sorts out mountain bikes with Presta valve tubes - but bear in mind, it will only work for small punctures like thorns. • Road SLUDGE is supplied in a 100ml bottle sufficient for two road wheels or one mountain bike wheel. SLUDGE ALL TERRAIN: An all new sealant concept, SLUDGE ALL TERRAIN is a specially formulated non-sticky product, ideal for tubular tyres. Since it contains fibres, it can only be used with tubeless tyres and removable valve tubes. • SLUDGE ALL TERRAIN is supplied in a 100ml bottle sufficient for two road wheels or one mountain bike wheel.

quickly and effectively. Some brands sell tubes with sealant already

added. They cost more, but that cost includes greater peace of mind.

SLUDGE iS manUfactUrED LocaLLy, iS SoLD worLD wiDE anD iS backED by SchwaLbE anD continEntaL TREAD SPRING 2009 | 67


FRONT AND REAR A trend that’s becoming increaslingly popular is the fitting of two different models of tyre on the front and rear wheels. Some manufacturers have begun to design front and rear tyres in the same model range with differing, but appropriate tread patterns. The thinking is that front and rear wheels face different kinds of forces and therefore need to be best suited to manage those forces. You’ll find the front tyre super-grippy and the rear tyre super-fast, with just enough ‘bite’ to hook up appropriate traction on climbs. There are plenty of combination options. A respected mountain-bike-savvy bike shop will be able to advise you on the most popular combinations, or you can work out which is best for you; like deodorant choice, it’s mostly a personal preferance thing. Popular combinations: Maxxis Crossmark (rear) and Monorail (front); Specialized Fast Track (rear) and The Captain (front); Schwalbe Racing Ralph (rear) and Rocket Ron (front); Hutchinson Python (rear) and Cobra (front) and Continental Race King (rear) and Mountain King (front).

PRESSURES Tyre pressures are bit like music tastes – very personal. There’s still a large number of mountain bikers that inflate their tyres too hard. This comes from a road cycling mentality or the ‘rather too hard than too soft’ school of thought, largely found in newcomers to the sport. For starters, no mountain biker should really need to inflate his/her tyres to more than 3.2 bars (45 psi) – ever!

Quick tyre pressure guide: Tubed tyres: from 2.1 bars up to 3.2 bars Tubelss tyres: from 1.6 bars up to 2.7 bars Note: this is just a guide to give you a starting point. Heavier riders should be on the higher end of those presures, while lighter riders can inflate their tyres to the lower end. The lower the pressure of your tyres the better the grip and the more comfortable the bike becomes. A softer tyre does have a higher rolling resistance, but only really the super-fast racers should be concerned about this.

WHAT ABOUT 29-INCH TYRES? In the United States and to a certain extent, South Africa, biggerwheeled mountain bikes are gaining popularity. This wheel diameter is basically a 700c wheel (the same size as that of a road bike); and with

RockShox® BoXXer® - Be Faster It’s lighter, more precise and ultimately faster. Increased confidence and control with decreased weight. The most successful downhill fork of all time is now all new for the first time in its storied history. Lighter - Lighter is always better. BoXXer® achieves its light weight through a detailed study of where the actual forces are applied on a DH fork. By using the larger 35mm upper tubes to carry the strength, the steerer tube can be lightened. Maximizing the material properties of the upper tubes allows the tubes to be thin and strong. BoXXer’s new forged crowns use less material on the arms, while maintaining strength and stiffness by incorporating trussing. The new Maxle™ Lite DH pulls out 28g while being more robust than its predecessor. Add all this to a new spring and damper featuring aluminum shafting to create the ultimate light weight DH fork. More Precise - A new 35mm chassis creates the perfect stiffness balance for Downhill riding. Turn the bars and the BoXXer® will go where you want. Hit a bump and the fork will move into its suspension movement instead deflecting and providing too much feedback to your hands. Maxle™ Lite DH allows for greater expansion forces, creating a more robust junction from wheel to fork. The perfect balance equals more precision. Faster - Increased Control – The new Mission Control DH with Dual Flow adjust compression and rebound provides the ability to get Velcro® like front wheel traction. Dial in detailed settings for all riding condtions and styles through external adjustments for high and low speed compression and beginning and ending stroke rebound. Mission Control DH’s high displacement, shimmed valving allows for a butter smooth transition between circuits, giving the BoXXer® that “stuck to the ground” feeling. BlackBox® riders consistently ask for spring curves that have an increased ending ramp, helping them to keep from hitting bottom. To help the fastest riders in the world become faster the new BoXXer® has two new systems to create an increased ending ramp, air volume adjust on Solo Air™ and Drop Stop for the Team coil. Solo Air w/air volume adjust – by changing the volume of the solo air spring chamber the amount of ending ramp can be changed. Depressurize the solo air, turn the air volume adjust clockwise, re-pressurize and you’ve increased your ending ramp. DropStop – featured in the BoXXer® Team uses a MCU in the center of the spring to smooth the transition between the spring rate and the bottom out pad. Turn the adjuster on the top of the left leg and change how soon the DropStop kicks in.

the inclusion of the tyre the size gets bumped up to 29 inches compared to the the 26 inches on most mountain bikes. We’re not going into it in depth here because we’ve got it covered in an upcoming feature. Quick summary: Gary Fisher, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, threw a 29-inch wheel into the mix about a decade ago, but it has only really recently been embraced and most major and many minor brands now have at least one 29-inch model.

Distributed by Cape Cycle Systems (Pty) Ltd in South Africa.

Initially tyres for 29-inch bikes were very limited and not too easy to obtain, but in the past few years, tyre manufacturers have responded


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well and there are now a wide range of options with much-improved availability. Besides the diameter, the main difference between a 29-inch tyre and a 26-inch tyre that 29-inch tyres are normally wider to match the

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wider rim profile and the overall volume, which allows you to run even lower pressures than on a 26-inch tyre. Useful to know in an emergency: A 26-inch tube can work in a 29-inch tyre to get you home. Useful to know at a braai: Hutchinson was one of the first tyre manufacturers to embrace tubeless tyres for 29-inch bikes. Recommended: Panaracer does the Rampage model, which is a suparb all-condition tyre that comes in 2.35-inch width. We also like Specialized’s The Captain, which is also available as a tubeless version the 29-inch size.

WHEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE TYRES? Tyres generally need to be replaced under the following circumstances. • Whey they lose their grip • When the sidewalls look like they are starting to perish • When the knobs look very worn compared to what they looked like new • When you start puncturing regularly • When you start riding different terrain/conditions on a regular basis • When you want to try different front/rear combinations • When you feel the need to try a new tread or follow a trend

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

WHY DO TYRES COST SO MUCH? Compared to an average car tyre, a mountain bike tyre seems very dear. You need to remember that car tyres are generally made for driving on tar and some light gravel. They’re also made in massive volumes from relatively cheap materials. The research and development that goes into mountain bike tyres is still substantial, which translates to the increased cost. Bear in mind that there are three parts that make up the mountain bike tyre: the rubber outer tread, the inner carcass and of course the beaded core. Add to this the varied demands within mountain biking (bike type, rider type, terrain, climate), and you need a wider range of models made from varying compounds that achieve a combination between between light-weight, fast-rolling, high-traction, long-lasting and easy enough to fit, or repair. For example, Continental uses a technology called Dura Skin which is a patented polyamide layer to protect the tyre from sidewall cuts; unsurprisingly, the Dura Skin ‘fabric’ is not cheap. Schwalbe has a similar puncture protection belt called Smart Guard 70 |


in its marathon and top-end tyre models. Furthermore, Continental has developed a technology called Gravity Arc, which allows the tyre

Masterclass Face it, if your tyre looks like this, your race is over. But what this cutaway shows is the various layers of different materials which have to come together perfectly to deliver a tyre which is tough, puncture resistant, grippy and light.

material to be naturally shaped during the manufacturing process. Some companies use more than one compound to increase the grip of the tyre which again pushes costs up. Specialized has a wellpublicised annual tyre-testing week with its star mountain bike racers in Stellenbosch each year. This adds real-condition feedback from racers that’s extremely valuable, but also carries some cost.

CONCLUSION Think about it for a bit. Every time you ride your mountain bike, you’re developing a relationship with traction. Whether you’re tackling a rocky climb, or speeding into a tight corner or pinning it down a wet descent, you’re placing a great deal of confidence in your tyres. Don’t take them for granted. Get to know them well, look after them, replace them when necessary. Your tyres are the thin (rubber) line between hurt and happiness; between pain and pleasure; between grimace and grin. They’re your ticket to traction satisfaction.

Keep the rubber side down! That’s something we all hope and pray for. And the rubber always plays a major part in ensuring that you are upright and not contemplating the world from unusual perspectives....



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Ischen on a Mission

My Fitness

By Donovan Jackson

Against some proper competition, Ischen Stopforth emerged as the ladies victor in the MTN Marathon Series 2009, capping off a season in which she dominated the scene and was selected to represent the country at the Marathon World Championships. Highlights include winning the ladies section in races as diverse as the Attakwaskloof MTB Challenge, the ‘To Hell and Back’, the Hazyview Induna MTN Marathon, the Knysna Pick’n Pay Oyster festival MTB race, the Karoo to Coast and the Clarens MTN Marathon. That’s all the more impressive when bearing in mind that Doctor Stopforth works, full time. We asked Ischen:


o you follow a set training

then changed over to triathlon. However, for

Perceived Exertion) as a guide especially dur-

programme? If so, what are

the past five years I have not been competing

ing LT/VO2 sessions. I also use a Polar power

the key elements? It depends

in road running or triathlon events as the cy-

meter on my road bike, but haven’t got one

on the season; from December

cling and racing schedule just doesn’t allow

on MTB.

last year up to the Epic, the programme

enough time.

‘Technical’ is often a bit scary for the ladies,

consisted of building up base miles for a

You’re a doctor; does this knowledge give

especially those new to the sport. Are you

month, then adding power in January and

you an advantage in honing your physique?

good technically? Anything special you do to

then speed sessions by February to be race

Definitely. Having a good understanding of

improve skills?

ready in March. During the rest of the year

how the body functions physiologically and

No, I am not particularly good at technical

it was a challenge to follow a programme,

anatomically helps a lot to understand the

skills; that’s one of my weaknesses as a moun-

with a busy racing schedule of almost every

reason behind certain training methods,

tain biker, but I have improved a lot in the

weekend. With a full-time job, I have to plan

programmes and exercises; bike set-up and

past two years. When starting the sport, our

my week and train as time allows; I ended

posture; and of course avoiding injuries and

idea of it was a nice big dirt road! Lately, the

up being my own coach, basically listening

how to optimise recovery time in case of

emphasis is on singletrack and jeep track. The

to my body.

injuries. I spend a lot of time reading about

races have all become more and more tech-

Mountain bikers can benefit substantially

the latest in sports medicine and nutrition/

nical, especially over the past year. This has

from cross training. Do you include any in

supplementation; what really works and

helped me a lot in developing better skills as

your routine?

what is just a fad and what is banned! So

there is no time for hesitation or freezing in a

I run at least two to three times a week.

many athletes have no idea how important

race situation. I do include some skills sessions

That’s combined with some core and stabilis-

nutrition is and how the body works.

in my week and find that I am enjoying and

ing exercises and a bit of upper body strength

Understanding this definitely has been an

even prefer the more technical races. A word

training in the gym twice a week.


of advice to the ladies: the more you do it the

Given that diversity of training do you put it

What kind of tech aids do you use to

easier/less scary it becomes and you’ll end up

to work outside of the bike, by competing

monitor progress and check what’s

enjoying it! And it is worthwhile getting some

in other sports?


help from a skills coach or someone with good

I used to do long distance running at varsity,

I mainly use HR monitor and RPE (Rating of

handling skills. TREAD SUMMER 2009

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My Bike

Burry Stander’s Specialized S-Works Epic


t just 22 years old, he is already the most successful cross-country racer South Africa has ever produced. And while a well-known roadie once wrote something about it ‘not being about the bike’, Burry Stander has already earned a reputation for being very, very particular about the gear he uses. Meet Burry’s Specialized S-Works Epic.

Describe your bike? It’s a production S-Works

had used a fork similar to the Brain when I was

Epic. The only real difference between what we

a junior; Fox had a programme back then and I

[on the Specialized Factory Racing Team] have

loved it. So, I was very excited when I learned

and what you will get is that we have a braze-on

that Specialized was bringing out a similar con-

front derailleur. That’s because we use a SRAM

cept with the Futureshock.

Red derailleur with a double-chainring S-Works

Where do you reckon Specialized bike de-

crankset, fitted with RotorRings. I also use an

velopment will go in future? It’s an exciting

AX-Lite seatpost, which is not that common.

company to work with. For us, everything

Anything else different from a factory stan-

comes down to performance and Specialized

dard bike? [Laughs]. There is this perception,

very, very closely involves its athletes. While

rumours in the market that we race on some

the 2010 product range has just been launched,

kind of tricked out, special edition bikes with all

the engineers are already working on how they

kinds of serious modifications. Apart from riding

can improve on what is already the best. They

a front fork set up for 90mm of travel, and the

never stop and everything they make has ath-

bits mentioned above, I can assure you that my

lete input. We try everything and they review

bike is exactly the same as any S-Works you can

the comments we make and you see that in the

buy from a dealer.

product. The real goal, of course, is to make a

OK, so we kinda agree that it’s not about the

suspension bike which is as light and stiff as a

bike. That said, we’d like to know: What role

hardtail. I’m not going to say they’re there yet,

does the bike play in winning the World Cup

but Specialized is the closest and has a very

and U23 World Championships?

good compromise.

On the road, there’s a lot less difference that

Dual suss is making a big play, but Special-

can be achieved by the bike. You are, after all,

ized still makes some pretty handy hard tails.

riding on a smooth surface. On the MTB, the

What’s your take: is there any need for a hard

smallest thing - like tyre pressure - can change

tail these days? Or are they obsolete? My the-

the outcome dramatically. And if a tyre can

ory is if you’re riding a true MTB course, then a

make that much difference, think about the

hardtail will never be an advantage. But there

impact that more substantial settings, like the

are still courses, Madrid for example, where a

suspension, can have. That’s one of the things

hardtail might have given a little advantage. If

I have come to love about my S-Works. Set up

I had to choose, though, it will always be a full

properly, there’s no rider induced bob and that’s

suss. That may come as a surprise to some: I

really important for full suspension.

had always been a hardtail fan, but this year on

You’re talking about the Brain here. Describe

the Specialized, I’ve been blown away.

it for us in a few words. On a full-suss bike,

Are you a weight weeny? No. I’m interested

the Brain is everything. It makes the difference.

in performance, first. I’ll look at bearings,

There is one in the Futureshock front fork now

strength, and then take the lighter option only

too. From an XC racing perspective, you don’t

if it passes those evaluations.

have time to fiddle with lockouts, ever. The

So what does your rig weigh in at? Set up for

Brain does it for you and does it well, so you’re

XC racing, its 8.95 kilogrammes. For mara-

on the power right out of every corner and it’s

thons, 9.250; that extra weight comes from

all hitting the trail, not bouncing you around. I

tougher tyres.

74 |



| 75

My Challenge

A life turning experience

In my very hazy and painful state, all I could say was, “Please don’t let Gill (my wife) know about this on the phone.”

Alive! But only just From this point my family stepped into overdrive to get me back in one piece. Barry, my brother in law, drove Gill down to Vereeniging, where I was treated initially, managing to arrive before the ambulance. At

By: Neil Frazer

the same time and with the same drive Alison

He’s known as ‘Steely Razor’ because of his toughness. But nothing could prepare the CycleLab mountain bike captain for the shocking challenge which would nearly end his life and call on every ounce of his legendary resolve.

and Andrew Mclean from Toyota Cyclelab set


and tied to the bed. But I was alive and

things in motion to help me. I was getting into serious personal favour debt. For the next week I was barely conscious, hooked up to morphine, filled with enough tubes and monitors to run an oil refinery determined to carry on being alive.

ife was going very smoothly for me. I

and shoulder, contusions to the heart and

had just finished my first Sani2C with

lungs, cuts requiring stitches in my hand,

A Toyota Cyclelab member, Dr Mark

the mad advocate Paulo Beltramo.

head and elbow, whiplash, nerve damage,

Eltringham, assembled the best possible

The race had gone very well but I

extensive damage to my auditory system (I

team to ensure that I could be successfully

was about to turn my life completely upside

am now deaf in one ear), bleeding on the

stuck back together.

down – literally and figuratively.

brain and the contrecoup (brain) injury.

It was a very painful period and progress

On my way home, with only a couple of

This was the biggie and cause for greatest

was agonisingly slow but eventually I was

hours of driving left, I did something that

concern. In all, a little more serious than my

discharged from ICU after I could lurch

would alter my life forever. In an incident I

usual Saturday morning tumble. I was such

around the nurses’ station. From there I went

barely remember, I rolled two tons of motor

a pathetic sight that the first person on the

for observation and yet more medications

vehicle six times (twice head over heels and

scene, an Australian woman doctor, promptly

and on to rehab in Rosebank.

four times barrel). More like a huge bloody

passed out.

Turning the corner

crash than an ‘incident’. The only thing I

Fortunately, I could not have chosen

One morning during rehab, I dragged myself

remember is the car tilting forward and

a better place to crash. I was ahead of

out of bed, took my meds, bathed for the

thinking: I am going to die and I am never

the crowd heading home from Sani2c and

first time, dressed myself with one arm (the

going to see my wife and kids again.

my highly branded and very visible car

other in a sling), plus the neck brace. I made



my way past the nurses’ protests and security

Truly miraculously, I did not die. The car was a complete and utter write-off. Every single piece of electronic equipment in the car stopped working. Four bikes disintegrated and lay splintered on the tar along with roof racks, bike racks, roof boxes and some very squashed luggage. Painfully, I somehow dragged myself from the car onto the tar where a large crowd was gathering. Truly miraculously, I did not die. The car

was recognised by everyone behind me.

guards outside of Rosebank Clinic to wait in

was a complete and utter write-off. Every

All stopped to help. Denise Drew to help

the dark for the morning club road ride to

single piece of electronic equipment in the

me initially, Cindi Kirby eventually driving

come by. I was determined to reconnect with

car stopped working. Four bikes disintegrated

the ambulance to escape my screamed

‘My World’. Eventually, the ride appeared

and lay splintered on the tar along with roof

obscenities while I begged for painkillers.

and I shouted as I saw Andrew McLean up

racks, bike racks, roof boxes and some very

The Jackson brothers (not related to Michael)

front. First he waved, then wheeled with

squashed luggage. Painfully, I somehow

organised help and the Meyer brothers carted

the rest of the group to greet me. I was

dragged myself from the car onto the tar

away the carnage of the car wreck. My two

overwhelmed. I still remember the faces –

where a large crowd was gathering.

fellow Toyota Cyclelab race team members,

Andrew, Rory, Pieter, Jade, Derrick, Mike,

Amongst my injuries – besides the few

Andrew Currie and Glenn Williams, came

and Kevin. One of my happiest days and a

minutes of unconsciousness – were three

into ICU with me; though used to the sight

positive turning point.

fractured vertebrae, multiple broken ribs

of me bleeding, this was still an impressive

and sternum, a dislocated and broken arm

act of friendship.

76 |


From here I was on my way back – slowly. Medication has affected me badly and the

process has frequently frustrated me. My ace in the pack has been Amy Lichtenstein of ALB Biokineticists. She is at the Cyclelab Technogym Wellness Centre and has been responsible for my speedy rehabilitation and fast cycling progress. My orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Charles Breckon, was also fantastic and feels that I am three months ahead of schedule. Best of all, I am up and riding again with all the grand mates at Toyota Cyclelab – the fact that I recently slammed into a wire fence at high speed is another story. I am riding again and have entered for the 2010 Sani2C and the Cape Epic (with cancer fighter, Mark Thijs) and I will race next year like a man possessed. I have a huge amount to be thankful for. I received brilliant medical treatment and my injuries are almost a thing of the past. The only lasting effect is deafness in my left ear (not bad for driving with Gill). The specialists who treated me were exceptional but I hated the ICU nurses, the radiologists, the ‘crap for brains’ psychologist who told me missing the Epic was not serious and anyone who resembled an occupational therapist. On my return to work, one colleague told me, “I prayed a lot for you, now don’t go and bugger it up.” Heidi from PeptroPro ensured I had enough protein to gain weight and strength ASAP. Stewart Miller ensured I had a new bike to ride on (Volcan FS1 – a beautiful Swiss Miss). My friends were out of this world in their support to both my family and me. My family was fantastic (Kirsten and Barry especially) while my parents spent hours every day at the hospital. My wife was as strong as a lion and coped very well with me while keeping the children, Jack and Jemma, steady. They were little stars and handled the hospital episode with bravery and strength and some horrified fascination. They still do not like me going away but they know cycling is in my blood and theirs. I missed birthdays, concerts, races and many other events. But I have been given a second chance and I cannot squander the opportunity. Life is good and some things, like this crash, really only need to be done once.



| 77

Racer with Soul

Marathon Monarch Even by his standards, ‘King’ Kevin Evans has had a pretty good season. With double digit race wins, a top ten at the Marathon World Championships – the highest placing ever by a South African – and the retention of his National Marathon Series title for the fifth consecutive year, it’s been satisfying. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. By Donovan Jackson

78 |


There were plenty of ups and downs,” says Evans, nodding to a bit of a slow start to 2009. “However, in the end, I managed to finish it off really well.” Clearly not a man who dwells on the past, Evans looks to MTN Energade team owner Doug Ryder for the lowdown. “According to the boss and ‘statistician’, across road and mountain, there were 16 wins, 9 second places and 3 thirds,” he chuckles. This despite the added pressure of becoming a family man for the first time with the birth of daughter Ruby. Erm...road? Yes, Evans is a pretty handy racer on a road bike, and gives and indication that this will receive more attention next year. But the real highlight of 09 was his eighth place at a strife-torn Marathon Worlds in Austria, the highest placing ever achieved by a South African at this event “It was my sixth time competing; I was really focused on a top ten. Last year I came close, but bombed out in the last hour and finished 14th...” Disappointing, but 2009 made up for it on what Evans describes as arguably the toughest marathon course to date. “It was an incredible feeling to cross that line and achieve my goal. That was all made possible by a lot of support from family through to

sponsors and friends,” he says. Evans partially puts his success to the seasonlong MTN National Marathon series which saw him retaining his familiar orange jersey for what is now half a decade. “This year the MTN series saw the introduction of the first ‘Ultra’ events [100km and more, instead of the usual 75km] which played a huge helping hand in preparing for the endurance at Worlds,” he explains.

Onwards and upwards The year 2010 is to be a special year for sport in South Africa. Evans intends to make it special for him, too. The ABSA Cape Epic looms as the ultimate goal for any MTB professional and it is one which he believes he is ready for. That means finding the right partner, following David George’s recent illness. But Team MTN Energade has that sewn up. “We’ve just confirmed that I’ll be racing with Austrian and European champion, Alban Lakata, to race for the overall victory. Alban is an extremely quick technical rider, but as he showed at World’s this year (Lakata was the silver-medallist), he can also climb. The team dynamics should be interesting; he is just as motivated as I am to try win the Epic.”


| 79

Winner with Soul

It’s ALL about the Mojo


he long-awaited draw for a prize which we confidently punted as a prize for ‘real’ mountain bikers took place in Bryanston

on the evening of 1 December. Down here

For those of you who feel you’ve lost your Mojo, we understand. And you have. But spare a thought for our winner, Leanie Hartman, who walks away with not only the fully-specced, top-of-the-range Ibis Mojo, but a whole collection of totally cool gadgets, too.

at TREAD, we were joking about how one makes 699 mountain bikers say a rude word: the answer? Give the 700th one a fully-kitted out, highly desirable, full carbon race bike. The first number drawn by Victor Momsen was 210, corresponding to the name of a now-very-delighted Leanie Hartman. Just for everyone who didn’t go home with a whole lotta Mojo, here’s a quick recap of what Leanie gets: • The Ibis Mojo SL, equipped with SRAM X-0, ZTR wheels and a DTSwiss XMC carbon fork. Total value: R88000. This bike has some unique characteristics: Victor tells us it is the lightest per millimetre of travel you’ll get anywhere. With 5.5 inches front and rear, this is a rig ready to soak up serious trails. • A Thule Euroway 947 triple bike rack worth R6000 • Lezyne parts and accessories worth R4000 Pictured is the ever-cheerful Victor Momson of Ibis Bicycles and Sean Badenhorst, your esteemed TREAD magazine editor. Big thanks to the following sponsors for their commitment and for sharing our vision: • Victor Momson – Ibis Bicycles, Stan’s wheels, Titec parts, Lezyne tools and accessories • Graham Hall – SRAM components • Douglas Paterson – DT Swiss fork • William Tyson – Thule bike rack And of course, thank you to all who showed confidence in TREAD and subscribed. As you will have seen on page 40, we’ve put together a brand-new, really cool subscriber competition, geared specifically for mountain bikers with soul... If you’re not Leanie, better luck with this one!

80 |



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Race with Soul

82 |


Race with Soul

Cape Pioneer Trek By Donovan Jackson

If you have been hiding under a rock in the Karoo, you’ll know all too well what the Cape Pioneer Trek is all about. But, for the rest of us, it’s an event new on the calendar which takes you through some truly spectacular terrain in the Southern Cape. TREAD went along to join in the fun.

PHOTO: Karin Schermbrucker TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 83

Race with Soul


irst of all, the organisers are

lube, a Helly Hansen top, a spare tube and

not new to the game. Dryland is

tyre levers from Continental and a very

behind the Attekwas Challenge, the

generous helping of Gu for the 608km that

Chandelier Marathon and Red Stone

awaited. (They also got a lekker copy of

Mountain Bike and Trail Running weekend.

TREAD to keep them interested at night!)

Boss Henco Rademeyer has an obvious (and

All very useful stuff.

widely recognised, almost feared) reputation

A champion in our midst

for insisting on excellence. That means the

In a coup for the race organisers, one of the

organisation, even on this first Pioneer, was

best-known – and loved – mountain bikers of all

executed with almost military precision. This

time joined the relatively small field to race

is something that all competitors appreciate

with his manager. Multiple World Champion,

greatly; when you finish a gruelling stage,

Christoph Sauser, took to the start line with

the last thing you want to deal with is food

Specialized marketing manager Bobby Behan,

shortages, queues for toilets and showers or

providing a level of glamour to the race in

difficulty in finding your luggage.

his typical understated way which completely

Riders got off to a good start with an

lacks any pretension, airs or graces.

impressive goodie bag which contained,

But it is all about the bike ride – and this is

among other things, Sludge sealant, Squirt

where the Pioneer really impressed.

84 |


Race with Soul The Character

Like any great race, there have to be characters. In the case of the Pioneer, that character is the curiously named Katot. Katot is the epitome of the ‘camel man’; he drives a beat up Land Rover, cruises around barefoot most of the time, and is a salt of the earth Afrikaner who exudes old fashioned hospitality and values. He is also the man behind the spectacular route which took riders through what this writer certainly considers some of the best terrain for mountain biking: the Klein and Groot Karoo. In a quick chat, Katot revealed that his name means ‘billycan’, and is a ‘noemnaam’ he picked up as a child from his father.

PHOTO: Karin Schermbrucker TREAD SUMMER 2009

| 85

Race with Soul PHOTO: Karin Schermbrucker

Pioneer or Epic? It’s almost inevitable that the Cape Pioneer Trek will be compared with the ABSA Cape Epic. That’s despite the organisers, Dryland, shying away from the notion. But, since TREAD is a crowd which has done a couple of Epics, let’s take a look at what the inaugural Pioneer offered, in contrast to its more famous cousin. Pioneer 2009

Epic 2009


6 day race

8 day race





12 000m


Entry fee:

R11 800

R16 800


200 riders

1200 riders

Full board:

Yes (tented ccommodation, breakfast, lunch,

No (tented acommodation, breakfast, supper).

supper, snacks in between) Point to point:

86 |

Yes, every stage ended in a different town.


No, two nights spent in three locations.

Race The route

nearly struck Sauser on the hand) and

A memorable event

Tracing a broad circle, first towards

compounded by a block headwind, was

Engaging closely with riders in the field

the North East and then bending South

rewarded by traversing some of the most

confirmed what TREAD already

West, the Cape Pioneer Trek kicks off in

stunning fynbos and remote, rugged terrain

suspected. This is a race with soul, where

Oudtshoorn. Stage 1 over 107km took

available anywhere in the world. The

world champion Sauser and teammate

riders up nearly 2000m of climbing to

hardship of a stage which covered 103km in

Behan mixed freely with the average

Calitzdorp; from there on to the dusty

a winning time of 5h36 (backmarkers were

riders. A race where friendships are forged,

enclave of Prince Albert via the spectacular

out there for over 12 hours) was rewarded

not just between riders, but also between

(and back breaking) Swartberg pass. The

by this unique experience.

organisers who clearly share a passion for

third stage ended in De Rust, a tiny town

The brutality of the fourth stage was

mountain biking which translates into an

through which you’d usually blow on the

alleviated by a relatively easy fifth stage

event they are proud of and one in which

push to Oudtshoorn by road; here, after

into George, providing a stark contrast

riders can experience the best of a sport

enjoying perhaps some of the sweetest

of the arid interior with the lush coastal

that throws up an awful lot of good.

20km of singletrack ever served up in the

forests. Courtesy of keen mountain biker

The TREAD verdict? We’ll be back

Karoo, riders camped in and around the

and Taste Holdings CEO Carlo Gonzaga,

next year. And we strongly recommend you

churchyard. Truly a beautiful experience.

riders were also treated to one of the most

get a dose of that Platteland hospitality

Probably the queen of all stages, and

spectacular (and unusual) sights of the

and Karoo mountain biking bliss, too.

tougher than anything ever served up in

race: a bevy of beauties serving up fresh,

the ABSA Cape Epic, Stage 4, took the

hot Scooters pizza. Sauser demonstrated

field through the Kamanassie and on to

his champion pedigree by immediately

Uniondale. This was an eventful one: the

posing for pictures with the lovelies!

front runners spent 2hrs 30min on the

From George, the final short, but

first 30km. The extreme toil, punctuated

sharp stage, took the field back over the

by at least two puff adders (one of which

escarpment to Oudtshoorn.

The inaugural Cape Pioneer Trek was won by the Memory Foundation duo of Johnny Kritzinger and Erik Kleynhans.

WE RODE SO GOOD BECAUSE WE ATE SO GOOD! Scooters Pizza is proud to be associated with the inaugural Cape Pioneer. Congratulations to everyone who participated. You are HOT, TASTY, FAST!



Isuzu 3 Towers Stage Race: Marvellous Mankele By Donovan Jackson

Stage racing is all the rage and there’s damn good reason for that. It’s just so much fun – and what Mankele served up in its first such event, the Isuzu Three Towers Stage Race, confirmed much of what we at TREAD already know (and love). That ‘Moompoomerlanger’ is one of the top destinations for mountain biking in this country, that Mankele is a great facility which you (yes, YOU) really should go and spend more time at, and that a three-stage race is nqa!


lmost anywhere you are near the Lowveld means there are going to be tough climbs; similar to the Cape, in Mpumalanga though, you can expect very long, very steep climbs (KZN, by contrast, tends to have short, sharp climbs). What’s really interesting is how the character of the riding differs quite substantially between provinces: the loooong climbs you’ll experience in the Cape Pioneer or Cape Epic are rocky and dry, out East, there is always the chance of mud and clay while the foliage tends towards lush forests. Luckily, the rain stayed away this time. Each day of the event kicked off with a long, hard climb which sorted out the field nicely; the first day covered 75km and was criticised by some as lacking singletrack (owing to a last minute change of heart from a local landowner), but subsequent days quickly made up for it. Highlights of the second stage of 80km included not only a dash through a river above a waterfall, but a very good dose of the trails for which Mankele is legendary. It also had a very good dose of the hills that make Mpumalanga legendary. But, as we all know, what goes up must come

88 |


down, so there was also a good deal of frenetic descending to keep the adrenalin rushing. Described as flat out fun, a promise on which the organisers delivered, the highlight of the final day is probably the extreme downhill through the Sudwala caves just ten clicks from the finish. Very technical and rocky, it claimed at least two victims: Jeffrey Kriel, a reformed roadie racing in TREAD colours, smashed a collarbone, while Jose de Sousa smashed his scapula. All this on a section signposted (ironically) ‘Speed Kills’. At an entry fee of R3600 (full board), the Isuzu Three Towers race is accessible to most and is just as good for those looking to get a first taste of stage racing as it is for the more seasoned campaigners. Just be careful, though. The folks at Mankele did warn that the last 20km of that last day will make you want to quit your job and take up mountain biking full time. They are right. (And we don’t have any vacancies over here at TREAD!) The DCM Chrome duo of Brandon Stewart and Max Knox won the Isuzu Three Towers stage race.

The dense bush and MTB-specific trails made for a memorable experience for all participants.



| 89


Berg & Bush: Blow your MTB mind

endless vistas so beautiful they look painted. If the beauty of a Berg descent doesn’t quite float your boat (weirdo), then the 60km of Day 2 serves up what must perhaps be some of the most exciting, flowing singletrack ever seen in any race. We mean that, and we race a lot. Through the aptly named Paradise Road and some fairly challenging, but fast and

By Donovan Jackson


engaging rocky stuff, to bombing it cheetah-

ack in 2007 the Natro Berg & Bush

The name is all but the same with the addition

style through savannah and acacia trees, this

was my second ever mountain

of a single word: Descent.

is a stage that will blow you away. You’ll grin like an idiot, whoop like a ten-year-old kid. It

bike race. That could very well be

The extra stage is a thrill-filled plummet

among the key reasons why the

down the Drakensberg escarpment, running

sport quickly became a passion. So it was with

some 80km from the foothills of the Berg near

And when you hit the 200-metre long

a great deal of excitement that TREAD noted

Little Switzerland and through some truly awe-

zip line over the venerable Tugela, you’ll be

the introduction of a slightly longer, three day

inspiring terrain. You know the sort, which gets

amazed at the innovation that Gary Green has

Berg & Bush in addition to its two-day sibling.

you singing ‘In a Big Country’ in your head....

put into a race which he clearly regards as his

is that good.

pride and joy. Before tackling the final day, take the trip up to the historic Spionkop, the site of a Boer War clash in 1900. History buff Green brings the battle to life with his colourful description of the action, while around you soldiers lie in their graves. And what a last day it is. It’s ‘just’ 50km, but the charge through Spionkop Nature Reserve is punctuated with an astounding array of wildlife; they had to chase a rhino out of the way before the field made its way through. Zebra, giraffe, many species of buck, galloping alongside you. Truly spectacular. On making your way down to the dam’s edge, pick a fast speedboat for the crossing; local farmers and watersports enthusiasts are on hand to buzz you to the other side where the racing resumes. That takes you on the brutal 22% gradient to the summit of Spionkop...and then along its escarpment, an exhilarating section of flowing singletrack right on top of the world. It’s the first year for the Descent, but expect this race to become as wildly popular as its sister event, the ‘regular’ two day Berg & Bush which takes place on the preceding weekend. The entry fee is not cheap at R6270.00 (full board from the end of day 1 camping on the banks of the Tugela). But is it worth it? Sell your mother in law if you have to*. It is. *No, we’re not buying. The Natro Berg & Bush Descent was won by Merlyn Jackson (Dunkeld Cycles) and Greg Anderson (Cycle Lab). Photo: KELVIN TRAUTMAN

90 |




| 91




Schedule of South African mountain bike events Place



Dicipline GAUTENG


Contact Person


Pretoria North, SVJ Farm

Sat 9th Jan

AmRic-SVJ Series



Richard Sutton

082-9018703 082-4905061 079-8785379 079-8785379

Pretoria, Babas Lodge Krugersdorp

Sun 10th Jan Wed 13th Jan

Babas Lodge #1 Moonlight Series


65km/35km Night Race One hour (1.6km lap)

Andre de Beer Lynne Venter


Wed 27th Jan

Moonlight Series


Night Race One hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

Port Shepstone

Sun 10th Jan


Thomas Blom



Sun 24th Jan

Bobby’s Cycles 4-Hour Team Relay Momentum Health XC Series #1 Ladies Only Challenge Greg Minnaar Mongoose DH Series


Allegra Wykerd



Hill2Hill Events Brian Dinkelman

083-4470697 084-6931502

Piet Du Toit


Hennie Verster



Pietermaritzburg, World’s View

Sun 31st Jan Sun 31st Jan

FREE STATE Bloemfontein, Engen Pellissier

Wed 13th Jan - Sat 16th Jan Sat 23rd Jan


XCM Stage Race


Engen Pellissier


Bruintjies Hoogte

XCM Stage Race

Christie Botha


Border Provincial Cross Country Fattracks EP Cross Country


Antoinette Harding


EPMBA/Cyclo Pro

083-4411108 083-2624392

EASTERN CAPE Thur 21st Jan - Sat 23rd Jan Sat 23rd Jan Port Elizabeth, Elliot Centre

Sun 24th Jan

Oudtshoorn, Chandelier

Sat 16th Jan

MTN Attakwas XCM #1





Sat 16th Jan

Franschoek Lions/Porcupine MTB Challenge Hillbillies Summer Series #1 Langenhoven Gymnasium 24 Hours of Wiesenhof



Lodine Maaske


Sun 17th Jan Oudtshoorn

Sat 23rd Jan


Sat 23rd Jan - Sun 24th Jan Sat 30th Jan



Rob Lotter



XCM 24-Hour Race

To Hell and Back - Oneday all the way

XCM Stage Race

Sun 31st Jan

Hillbillies Summer Series #2


Barberton, Barberton High School

Sat 30th Jan

MTN Barberton XCM #2



Sat 23rd Jan

Salojee’s Makhulu 5


Essie Esterhuyse Dirtopia



Rob Lotter

083-3272499 082-3722333 073-1975161 084-2791065 021-8844752 083-5089642 www.tohellandback. 073-1975161

MPUMALANGA Advendurance


Eugene Laubscher



92 |






Dicipline GAUTENG


Contact Person


Sat 6th Feb




Kempton Park, Emperors Palace Johannesburg

Sat 6th Feb


Sun 7th Feb

Emperors Palace MTB Classic MTN SA Cup DHI #1


Pretoria North, SVJ Farm

Sun 7th Feb

AmRic-SVJ Series



Richard Sutton


Wed 10th Feb

Moonlight Series


Night Race One hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

Babas Lodge Krugersdorp

Sun 14th Feb Wed 24th Feb

Babas Lodge # 2 Moonlight Series

XCM XCO Night Race

65km/35km One hour (1.6km lap)

Andre de Beer Lynne Venter

Port Elizabeth Molteno

Sat 6th Feb Sat 13th Feb

Herald VW MTB Classic Stormberg MTB Race


85km 85km/40km/10km

Shane Bradfield Annie de Wet


Sun 14th Feb

Border Provincial


Annie de Wet

East London, Pine Forest

Sun 14th Feb

Club Race # 2


Amatola MTB Club

East London

Sat 20th Feb

Garmin MTB Challenge



Cycling News Advendurance

Contact 083-3272499 011-6622494 083-3272499 082-9018703 079-8785379 082-4905061 079-8785379



Justin Price

074-1144811 082-5589000 082-5589000 071-1405549 043-7263116

Wimple Geyer


Louis Lategan


Rob Lotter

073-1975161 021-8723147 072-6252663 083-7524554


Sat 27th Feb

Argus MTB/Itec


WESTERN CAPE Oudtshoorn, Laerskool Wesbank

Sat 13th Feb

Sun 21st Feb

Ton’s Sport/Coetzee & Van der Berg Hillbillies Summer Series Final Bouckaert Soenen MTB



Dick During

Sat 27th Feb

Oubos MTB Challenge



Kevin Cushion

Sat 27th Feb

Wilde Fruit Cycle Day MTB



Johan Murray

Sat 6th Feb

Parys Island Dirtmax Series # 1 Sports Tech Race



Belinda Basson




W Maree

083-2877189 072-1252382 076-6557080 083-7447103 083-6598605 w w w. j o w e t t s c y c l e s . 084-8931502

Sun 21st Feb




FREE STATE Parys, Shiloh Shalom

Sat 20th Feb

KWAZULU-NATAL Ballito, Collisheen Estate

Sun 7th Feb

Golovane Xplore


85km (2-rider team)

Hill2Hill Events

Wartburg, Wartburg School Blythedale, Blythedale Estate Pietermaritzburg, World’s View

Sat 13th Feb

Wartburg Spar MTB Classic Blythedale MTB Classic



Marie du Toit



Max Cluer

Sun 14th Feb Sun 21st Feb

Momentum Health XC Series # 2


Jowetts Cycles Events

Pietermaritzburg, Cascades

Sun 28th Feb

Greg Minnaar Mongoose DH Series


Brian Dinkelman

Sabie, York Timbers

Sat 27th Feb

MTN Sabie Classic - SA National Marathon


MPUMALANGA 100km/70km/40km/15km



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 Event advertising can also be placed. Call 082 8761672 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 SUMMER 2009

| 93


TO ADVERTISE IN TREAD MAGAZINE, CONTACT: Donovan Jackson | Publisher | Email | Cell +27 82 495 7828 | Tel +27 11 675 3460 | Fax +27 86 697 1106 | DIETETICS


Dr Christa North


PhD (Nutrition)

Registered Dietician (SA & UK)

Cell 073 182 4411 Tel 011 886 3690 Fax 086 502 4717

Tel:+ 27 11 341 0627

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 Riaan La Cock 083 725 BIKE (2453)

• 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


| 95




Some facetime with real mountain bikers you’d never normally read about.



ge, location, day job: 31, Joburg, quantity surveying industry You’re pretty involved in sport, but how did you get into MTB? I

was introduced to adventure racing (AR) first and then I rode MTB trails and races as part of training, so it started there. OK, let’s talk adventure racing. Is that like the Cape Epic with more pain? I’m yet to muster up the courage to spend that amount of money on the Epic, but AR varies from sprint to multiday, non-stop races – the longer the better for me. AR includes mountain biking, trail running, hiking, rope work and paddling – throw in sleep deprivation and navigation and it makes for a wicked mix. A quick list of bikes you’ve owned so far:

Giant Boulder and my current bike, an Orbea Quadro. Tell us a bit about your bike setup: My bike is in need of serious upgrading. My LBS (Dunkeld Cycles) has said there’s no more they can do for her. Five years of AR have taken their toll. In AR bikes get thrown over fences (and occasionally off cliffs), they get swum through dams and rivers and dragged under bushes and through mud, so there’s really not much hope for them. I have a hardtail with a Rock Shox Judy fork, SRAM X7 components throughout and Avid V-brakes. Which is your favourite trail? I recently did a six-day multisport race along the Garden Route ( and got to ride parts of the well known Harkerville and Homtini Trails and parts of the Knysna Forest trails – all spectacular! Local trails include Groenkloof, Breedts Nek and surrounds and old Joburg faithfuls, Northern Farm and Braamfontein Spruit. What song plays in your head when you’re cranking up a hill? I always find the one I dislike the most popping into my head at the most inappropriate times – so it depends. When you’re 40 hours-plus into a race, it’s enough to drive you mad. Beverage of choice after a ride? A Castle Lite or two. Any special supplements you take for riding? I use USN’s Enduro Sport and Cyto Power with PeptoPro Protein for recovery. Otherwise my normal trail mix and Vooma/Enervit


depending on the length of the ride/race. Is it all about the bike? It’s never all about the PHOTO: Warren van Rensburg

96 |


bike; it’s about your attitude!

TREAD Issue 4  

Mountain Biking with Soul. TREAD is a South African mountain biking brand established to fill gaps in the current market to ensure the stea...

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