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Are we losing our freedom?


• Misty Valley • Dissie Plek Die • Ezemvelo


• GT Sensor • KTM Score • Scott Spark • Pivot Firebird

For more info on a stockist near you visit or call: 021 787 9380


For an Epic 2010

ISSUE 5 Mar/April 2010 R36.95 (incl VAT)

HOW TO: • Ride through mud • Choose a race drink • Select a bike rack

GEAR • •

Your race preparation guide 3 top tyres tested



REMARK-ABLE “I don’t recall seeing the shears in his hand, or feeling the actual stab to my neck. My next memory is looking up into the distance and seeing him scurry off with my Camelbak in his hands. That’s the last thing I remember until about a month later...” Mathilda Barnard, ‘Is this what we want?’ Page 32 “They come towards me in a crescent-shaped attack formation and I brake just in time to see two rocks come flying past my head. Problem is, I have braked too hard and as I am going over my handlebars I realise that if I land on my feet I will live and if I fall I will die.” Rory Munton, ‘Is this what we want?’ Page 37 “If your attitude to mud riding is positive, you’ll enjoy it more and master it quicker. You can’t change it, accept mud and make the most of it. A muddy post-ride smile never goes out of style…” Sean Badenhorst ‘Skill’ – Page 21 “I bowed into my wife’s brand new cooking apron. A sentimental gift from her frail grandma. I wouldn’t get it dirty. She wouldn’t even know I used it. I tied a girly bow behind my back and sat cross-legged, square of the crank.” Andy Ellis ‘Stoke’ Page 18 “I think the hardest part of the ‘Sabie X’ were the elements – or more accurately ‘the element MUD.’ I managed the climbs okay, and the singletrack and downhills were a blast – but the mud sucked!” Dr Michael Mol, ‘My Fitness’ Page 76

March/April ’10



6 SOUL PROVIDER Editor’s welcome DROOL Dreamy rides in South Africa

12 CLUTTER Dept. of Current Affairs

18 20


SKILL Master mud


24 CLOSE TO HOME Ezemvelo WEEKEND AWAY Misty Valley Lodge

28 CLOSE TO HOME Dissie Plek Die



CONSUMER Rack ‘em up

22 FUEL Would you like some carbs with that?

4 |


46 INDUSTRY Q&A Stephen Meltzer


BIKES & GEAR 50 Marathon, XC and Freeride bikes from GT, KTM, Scott, Pivot


59 REVIEWED Current cool gear TECH Bush Mechanic

PEOPLE 76 MY FITNESS Michael Mol 78 MY BIKE Yolande Speedy


Beats a day in the office. Nothing like a cool mountain stream flushing out your feet. Photo: KELVIN TRAUTMAN

ON THE COVER Heading towards heaven. Freedom looks – and feels – like this. Photo: craig dutton



MY CHALLENGE Sebastian Bona



RACES WITH SOUL Sabie Experience, Omni-Motion 24-hour,

MTN Attakwas, Hewlett Packard Urban Rage


93 CALENDAR Races in March and April 2010 BLEND Catherine Labuschagne


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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.

Momentum is our friend


his year marks 20 years since I

Technology has transformed dramatically

you’d join your buddy who was, when he did

first started mountain biking and

over the past two decades. Back in the early

his training rides.

boy have I seen some changes. I

90s we raced the same bike (no suspension,

Then of course the stage-race bug bit and

competed in the very first national

no disc brakes) in both XC and DH disciplines.

more and more stage races began to surface

XC series back in 1992 when mountain

Now there are at least five main categories of

on the annual calendar.

biking was considered a somewhat renegade

bike and some of those categories have sub-

It’s very rewarding to see mountain

discipline of cycling as a whole and back then

categories with suspension and disc brakes

biking currently in such a healthy state and

even road cycling was nowhere near as popular

pretty much the norm.

I sincerely believe it has achieved great

as it is today.

In terms of numbers, mountain biking really

momentum and is going to continue to grow,

Mountain biking continued to carve a lonely

only began to grow in South Africa the last

despite the threats to our safety (see Is this

pioneering path under the leadership of various

6-8 years. In my opinion the two key reasons

what we want? on page 30).

committees, all well meaning, some not quite

for that growth were the establishment of a

What I’d like to see happening during the

as effective as others. There was a time when

properly organised national marathon racing

next decade – and will throw TREAD’s

the Rhodes Challenge was THE most prestigious

series (now known as the MTN National Series)

support in where ever possible – is this:

race in the country. Everyone had to put in

and the birth of the Cape Epic (now known as

big travel time to reach the venue, which is

the Absa Cape Epic, presented by Adidas).

• More marked mountain–bike specific trails on both public and private land • Greater safety for mountain bikers • More funding for mountain bike racing from CSA/The Lotto • And, most importantly, more children riding their bicycles

probably exactly in the middle of the country,

The latter gave endurance-sport mad

but not close to the major centres. People

South Africans a new annual challenge and in

travelled because back then, races were few.

order to complete ‘The Epic’ lots more riding

Nowadays we have mountain bike parks right in

needed to be done. This meant that mountain

the major cities, purpose-built trails are growing

bikers spent more on gear, maintenance,

Be safe.

daily and there are more than 500 events on the

nutrition supplements, build-up race entries

Sean Badenhorst

mountain bike-racing calendar!

etc. And even if you weren’t riding ‘The Epic’,


6 |


Drool PHOTO: Greg Beadle

8 |


Thin Air


an Loos heads down the start of a new single track section on the Lebanon MTB trails in the Elgin Valley. It’s a perfect summer’s day with

Table Mountain visible in the background. The visual equivalent of a ‘simply awesome’.


| 9


Pride before the falls E

verything that mountain biking is all about: a zigzagging climb, a forestbound singletrack and a river crossing

above a gushing waterfall. PHOTO: Kelvin trautman LOCATION: Near Sabie, Mpumalanga

10 |



| 11


Surf this…

Compiled by Barry McCallum

Read this…

Waste not, want not, pick it up and sculpt it… so, you’ve damaged some components on a ride, or just have lots broken bits and bobs lying around in the garage that you just can’t part with, Nodder has some great ideas about what to do with them. The high/low adjustment screws on a broken SRAM derailleur, says Nodder, “just somehow looked like eyes to me”, so he turned it into the Puppy Dog Bike Part Sculpture. Formula disc brake pads were used for the ears, while quill stems expanders became the metal canine’s legs. His other creations include the Road Runner, the Dinosaur Book Stand, and the Dragon Kinetic Sculpture. “These sculptures,” says Nodder, “are part art, part enigineering because the pieces must all bolt together firmly.” No welding allowed. Check out the sculptures at Listen to this... The album I’m most looking forward to in 2010 is “My husband is always crashing so I bought

scheduled for release in March. Black Light will be

him your book as a joke – he loves it!” So

Groove Armada’s first album in three years, since

reads a customer’s testimonial on the Bike-

the release of their 10-year retrospective GA10. website, which is a valuable

“Black Light,” says Tom Findlay, “…is going to be

resource if you believe that “walking in bike

the darker side of Groove Armada, which is finally

shoes sucks!”. Rather than the normal main-

coming out after all these years”. Cato says the album “is a return to

tenance sites, this one focuses on what to do

that raw, live sound…inspired by the raw warehouse vibe.” The London-

when you experience mechanical failures out

based big beat pair of Findlay and Andy Cato have added a vocalist,

on the trail, and you may not have the right

Saint Saviour, to the line-up. Her voice was first heard on the limited

tools to get the bike rolling again. From us-

sneak release of the single Warsaw in September last year. She’ll next

ing whittled sticks to fix a broken handlebar

be heard on the new single, Paper Romance, which will be released on

and using a branch to free up seized pawls in a freewheel or jamming a tool between spokes and a cassette to create a makeshift fixed wheel, the site is full of useful bodges. Ha, but unless you have a BlackBerry or WAPenabled phone, you probably can’t go online to read them. Chris Nodder, who describes

February 22. Go to for more. Watch this… The majority of DVDs on the

the big name, big air, big noise gravity films.

market are made by North

This collaborative effort by six Italian friends

Shore and American produc-

– who call themselves the Opachee Team,

tion houses. Spectrum comes

and hail from the Abruzzo region – is as much

from a Czech outfit called

about the place they love to ride as it is about

Fullface Productions based in

the riding they love to do. Although there are

the city of Praha. Each of the eight segments

some sick lines, the action is tame compared

in the film focuses on a different aspect of

to most films, but that’s not what this film

the gravity side of the sport – including street,

is about. In the extras interview, the crew

park, North Shore-style ripping, jumping, tri-

say they set out to celebrate “soul, nature

als, freeriding, 4X, DH and backcountry – and

and bikes” and being out there with a bunch

features known riders like Michal Marosi and

of buddies. Slow pans are interspersed with

Richard Gasperotti alongside up-and-comers

scenes of them lugging equipment up moun-

Jan Toth, Jakub Vencl and Thomas Zejda. The

tains and setting up shots before the trails are

best thing is, you can watch the whole thing

tackled – all to the backing of atmospheric

for free:

music. The production values are excellent


considering they are not full-time filmmak-

think we should check out, drop us a

This issue’s bargain-bin find is Clorophilla,

ers. Definitely worth owning. A search on

mail at and write

which we picked up at Look&Listen for a

Look&Listen’s website came up blank, but

‘Media’ in the subject field.

shade under R100. It is a departure from lists it at R166.

himself as a “sometime mountain bike racer”, was inspired after living through “the surprise of his handlebars snapping in mid-air when jumping”, and produced a print edition of the site. It’s small enough to fit into a hydration pack without taking up too much space. Order The Little Book of Bike Boo Boos – How to Fix Your Mountain Bike When You are Miles from Civilization in paperback through for R261.20. Got a website, book, CD or DVD you

12 |


Clutter What’s this then?

PPA helps fund trail revival Thanks to funding from the Pedal Power Association, AmaRider has been able to clear the majority of fire-damaged trails in the Jonkershoek forest outside Stellenbosch, Western Cape. The funding was allocated as part of PPA’s project funding initiative which provides

For 2010 Pedro’s introduces Tülio, a quick

money to deserving cycling projects

release mechanism that’s also a multi-

throughout South Africa each year.

tool. Yep, we also did a double take.

Trails that received attention were the

Tülio replaces a standard quick release

Patula paths along the river as well as

mechanism and adds only a few grams to its

the ‘National Trail’ on the south side of

weight while ensuring that you never forget

the valley. Both trails were completely

to carry a multi-tool on a ride.

destroyed through fire and the resultant

The multi-tool element includes eight of the

logging programme.

most commonly used bicycle tools – 4, 5 and

Unfortunately, riders will have to wait a

6mm Allen keys, an emergency 8mm Allen

while longer to see ‘Neverending Story’

key, a No. 2 flat head screwdriver, a chain

back in use as logging is still in progress.

tool (1-11 speed compatible) and a pair

The very popular and shaded Canary paths

of spoke wrenches (3.23mm & 3.45mm).

have also received a quiet ‘once-over’.

It weighs 99g (about 50g more than most

“We have started a Jonkershoek Trail fund

lightweight QRs) and is compatible with 130

and will be facilitating the construction

and 135mm rear quick release hubs with

of a new trail on the southern slopes in

10mm QR axles.

the coming weeks,” was the word from

It’s named after Tulio Campagnolo, the

AmaRider’s Meurant Botha. For more, visit

Italian roadie we have to thank for inventing

the quick release. Bravo!

3 Things… …that frustrate us constantly: 1. Waiting lists for a stage race entry 2. Outdated import tax structure on bikes and accessories 3. The lack of truly challenging technical races in SA …we want to see more of in 2010: 1. Marked MTB trails in the Eastern Cape 2. Stage races for individual riders (team schmeem!) 3. Lotto money for MTB – it is, after all, our

SPORTS >> reduces friction by forming thin protective layer >> Prevents sores, blisters and skin irritation >> Long-lasting, non-greasy, non-sticky barrier >> Protects naturally with Tea Tree oil

most successful cycling discipline

| 13

NorthernFEBRUARY/MARCH Gauteng sales and product TREAD 2010 information call Grant: 0839647929. Also Available at: Dis-Chem , Selected pharmacies, Cycle stores & Sportsman Warehouse |

0860 103 571



big crash (in ages)


By Sean Badenhorst

ou know what it’s like. We mountain bikers crash often.

in length at the base, which had me a little reticent as I thought

They’re not the crashes that you mention after the ride, or

of the minimal rubber below me, but I made it across without any

which result in injuries that require treatment. They’re just


those little unplanned dismounts that happen when you go

Just 50 metres later was another rock garden. This one longer

into a corner too fast; or climb a technical ascent too slowly; or even

(about 8 metres) with a left turn onto a small wooden bridge at the

an embarrassing car-park wobble when you can’t quite clip out at the

other end. As I entered it, I immediately realised that I didn’t have

end of a ride… Forgettable crashes.

enough momentum to get me over the rocks relatively quickly. And you

But every now and then you take a tumble that’s difficult to forget.

can’t exactly pedal across this kind of terrain or try and turn to find a

I had one of those the other day and I still have the scars and some pain

new line. So I was stuck with my line and my speed (or lack of it) and

three weeks later. So even if it did fade from the top of my mind after

that’s when the front wheel dug in behind a large rock and didn’t go

a couple of days, I get a little reminder every time I lean on my still

any further. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to make any

tender right elbow or look at my right forearm.

landing plans. I landed on my helmet and right elbow/forearm on the

I’d not yet ridden the new trail at the Toyota MTN Cycle Park, Zombie Birdhouse, and entered it with enthusiasm. I’d seen it being built over the previous months and the fact that it included a huge man-made hill intrigued me and had me bristling with anticipation.

rocks. I was hurting – my elbow was really sore and I’d scuffed a few areas on my arm and wrist and shoulder. I felt like I’d been robbed. I felt foolish. I felt like I couldn’t really grip the handlebar. I felt like crying. I inspected the bike (a couple

I was test riding the Cannondale Scalpel 3 at the time, which was

of scratches on the bars), inspected my injuries, took a few deep

fitted with 2.0-inch wide tyres – fine for speed, but not very voluminous.

breaths, looked at the terrain to find what had caused me to go down

This, coupled with the fact that I ride my tyres at low pressures, was

and gingerly rode over the wooden bridge to complete the trail, with

the reason I went over the handlebars without any warning.

far less enthusiasm than what I’d started it with.

I’d wound my way through most of the trail smoothly, loving every

It goes like that. And that’s what makes mountain biking so

new challenge that lay around the next bend. I ascended the ‘hill’

attractive. No matter how long you’ve been riding, or how experienced

steadily, swooped through the twisty stuff on the top and hit the

you are (over 20 years in my case), the occasional hard, painful crash

downhill on the other side. I spotted a rock garden of about 5 metres

reminds you that you’re not quite as good as you think you are…

14 |


Clutter Britain goes bike crazy Got to admire British Cycling. The governing body of the sport in the UK has launched a campaign aimed at growing the number of cyclists in Britain. British Cycling’s strategy, part of the UK’s Whole Sport Plan 20092013, encourages one million people to cycle at least once a month and 125 000 people to cycle once a week. The project is aimed at promoting cycling to the masses with three main objectives: 1. Get more people using bicycles as alternative transport 2. Grow the competitive disciplines of cycling 3. Ensure more cycling medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games British Cycling is running a series of mass participation Skyrides, in partnership with Sky TV. The London Skyride last September attracted 65 000 participants, including London’s mayor, Boris Johnson and model Kelly Brooke (pictured). Mountain biking is being promoted through British Cycling’s Go Ride programme, which encourages club membership in order to give mountain biking strength in (official) numbers. We know Cycling SA has many challenges different to those of British Cycling, but we sure hope this kind of model gets duplicated here in the not too distant future. It just makes such good sense. For more, visit


Falke Energising Plus Compression Socks Look like a roadie! No, worse. These puppies pull all the way to under your knee. If you buy into the ‘compression aids recovery’ hypothesis, then this could be the hosiery for you. We banged on a pair of the size 8-12 jobbies and instantly looked utterly ridiculous. Without looking too much into the science of compression (that’s a story for another time) we can report that the Falke Energising Plus socks definitely apply a good deal of pressure to the lower leg. So, it should follow that if compression aids recovery, then these Falke sock should get you ready for the next stage faster. Price: R99 Contact: 021 951 2137;

Cycling J&J (Pty) | 15Ltd


Doing it for the love of the sport



Paul Valstar By Barry McCallum

You’ve heard his voice commentating at the races and handing out prizes on the podium, as well as on voice-overs on TV. We caught up with Paul Valstar in Cape Town for a beer and a chat. Okay, so we know what you do on most weekends, but what’s your

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen from behind the mic?

day job?

Lots of moments, but probably on a regular basis, watching the GC

I work as a financial consultant for Standard Bank believe it or not…a

leaders in stage races putting on their leader’s jerseys at prizegiving.

corporate job for a very un-corporate person!

They forget all the rules of dressing when in public and fumble around

How do you juggle all your commitments?

like pre-schoolers...especially the men...and even more specifically,

It is a headache sometimes, but when you love doing something ’n boer

the Labuschagne brothers!

maak’n plan.

Have you made any major faux pas while working?

How long have you been involved with cycling?

Not really, apart from stepping off the raised stage at one major event

Actively and competitively since 1980- in triathlons and then league

during prizegiving…it was long, and I was hot!

rides, and then on the first Mongoose mountain bikes.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve seen on the podium?

How long have you been commentating on races? What was the first

Nothing really except maybe watching Chris Froome of Barloworld

race you did?

during the Giro del Capo taking three minutes and 22 seconds to get

At some stage in the late ’80s, I was injured at the Western Province

the cork out of the champagne bottle. He is definitely not a drinker...

triathlon champs. In those days we just had music playing; some of

What do you think of riders who can’t be bothered to pitch up for

the guys convinced me to get on the mic and commentate... I have


carried on babbling since then. I have always made a point of only

Probably the thing I hate the most. It is an insult to the sponsors,

commentating on sports which I have done competitively.

organisers and the spectators who wait to see their heroes. Unless

How much travelling do you do in a year?

they have excused themselves with a very good reason, they should

I travel all over the country throughout the year, so a fair amount. I

forfeit the prize money.

attend most of the major stage races - Absa Cape Epic, Cape Pioneer

Do you ever wish you were riding the races rather than watching

Trek, Sabie Experience, all the MTN nationals, and too many one-day

from the sidelines?

races to remember.

All the time! But then I often ride the courses before or after the

What’s your favourite race to attend?


I love stage races and each of them has something magical. The brutal

What mountain bike do you own?

Cape mountains always inspire me, and then the lush verdant forests in

I have a Cannondale Taurine hardtail and love it! (Thanks to Cape

Mpumalanga make me realise what a beautiful country we live in. Every


race refuels me for another corporate week. I really have been fortunate

It must be great to rub shoulders with most of the big names of

not to be involved in any really badly organised races - lucky me!


Has anyone ever been offended by anything you’ve said over the mic?

One of the great attractions of mountain biking for me is that 99% of

I tend to know most of the riders pretty well - I make a point of getting

the people involved are really nice people, and it is a great family

as much info as I can from them and their mates. Even though the top

sport in the healthy outdoors. For me the ultimate professional

riders are superhumans, I like the public to get to know them and to

and PRO for the sport is Christoph Sauser. I have really enjoyed and

realise that they are just normal people, so a bit of teasing and gossip

become friends with most of the major players in MTB because they

goes a long way. I have got a laid-back character and try to bring in

are so varied and interesting and above all they are nice people. The

humour whenever I can. Amazingly, I have never been assaulted.

day I lose that enjoyment I will pack it in.

16 |



The Art of Bicycle Maintenance

p177… “Don’t drive the rivet all the way out of the chain. You’ll never get it back in.” Bugger. That’s embarrassing. I was calling it a pin when I should have been calling it a rivet. Ah well. Screw the rivet. I had this lovely new chain to install. I pulled on the retired captain. It slithered through the rear derailleur, over the crank and coiled with a lifeless plop onto my lap. Bollocks! The apron! Get off of

By Andy Ellis

me you greasy bastard, I bleated and hurled the chain as if ejecting a rinkals about to bite my balls. I looked down at the damaged whitelinen smock. Rubbed it. Smudged it. Man, I was in deep shit. Ah well. Screw the apron. Besides, I had a bottle of engine degreaser stashed in the garage. That’d sort it out. She’d never know. Now it was time to thread, measure and connect. Or was I meant to measure first? Was there a special method to threading the thing? Surely not? Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair Manual, p180… “Put the chain on the bike. Make sure it traces that backwards ‘S’ through the change rollers so they pull tight…” Okay. Easy. I stared at the cramped derailleur hunched double on its mounting. A backwards ‘S’? I pondered. Then cocked my head to the


left. A backwards ‘S’ didn’t look any more gazed upon my bike and gave thanks.

even know I used it. I tied a girly bow behind

logical from that angle. And why was my once-

Such a miracle delivered unto common

my back and sat cross-legged, square of the

graceful derailleur so resistant?

man. The humble bicycle is a gift greater

crank. Today, step one of my personalised

Ah well. Screw logic. I jumped in, curling

than the parting of the sea, an ark to

maintenance programme, would begin by

the chain over the bottom roller, round, then

float the two-by-twos or the end to the Felicia

replacing a perfectly functional chain. The

over the next. Hmm, okay. I had the skills. Next

Mabuza-Suttle show. Triangular geometry, a

moment was…emotional.

I trickled the chain over the cassette. Great. Now, all I needed was the other end.

simple series of toothy circles, spokes, cables

And then cramped, my back ached. Pro

and derailleurs. Oh the beating heart of my

workshops use stands that elevate the bike

I reached for it, let go of the live bit and…


to stand-up height. I hunched over my bike

watched the spiteful slick unfurl with contempt

This bike, my feather-light go-go girl

at ground zero. It didn’t matter. This was

onto the kitchen floor. Begin again. Slip. Plop.

deserved hands-on attention. No more would she

rudimentary stuff. I’d be done in a jiff. Out

Begin again, and again… maybe a simple

be left in the greasy paws of another. I pledged

came the chain breaker. An odd-looking little

operation such as this was better left to a shop

to tender her fickle needs in person, reached

tool that looks suited to medieval torture on

mechanic? Yes. Always. I decided that I should

into the bedside drawer and withdrew the divine

tiny creatures. I informed the chain that it

be engaging in the finer arts of maintenance:


I pledged to tender her fickle needs in person, reached into the bedside drawer and withdrew the divine scripture: Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair Manual. With such ethereal guidance, how hard could it be?


Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair Manual, p189… “Gear changer adjustments.” Nope, I’d save that. Ah, there was the perfect project, Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair Manual, p129… “Truing a wheel.” I turned to the page.

scripture: Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair

may hurt a little, inserted a link and cranked

It had illustrations and everything. With such

Manual. With such ethereal guidance, how hard

up pressure.

ethereal guidance, how hard could it be?

could it be? Next stop, the kitchen.

The pin shifted. This was easy. Whistling

Coming up next in TREAD magazine by

I bowed into my wife’s brand new cooking

Dixie I continued until… plink. The pin dropped

Andy Ellis: ‘How I untrue’d a perfectly spinning

apron. A sentimental gift from her frail

to the floor. Oops. Was that meant to happen?

wheel. And got pinned, knee’d in the crotch,

grandma. I wouldn’t get it dirty. She wouldn’t

Cuthbertson’s All-in-One Bike Repair Manual,

and punched by a woman.’

18 |



Master mud


20 |



t’s got a short name but a helluva reputation, has mud. Mountain biking and mud go together like, well, mountain biking and mud. It’s pretty much unavoidable, so here’s how to make your way through it as smoothly as possible.

In turns The same principles apply as for dry turns – choosing a good entry line and speed, weighting the outside pedal slightly and looking ahead to choose the best exit point. But in mud, you have a much greater risk of losing traction. It’s actually best to keep your speed higher rather than lower because this allows you to lean the whole bike through the turn and not just angle the front wheel.

By Sean Badenhorst

When you turn the front wheel only, you risk either digging the wheel in or having it slide out – both of which can lead to a sudden halt. Turns are where you’re most at risk of making a dishonourable dismount when it’s muddy, so judge each turn separately. Be a little cautious, but not hesitant. Again,

On a descent

experience will help you become smoother

There’s very limited traction on a muddy

through muddy turns.

descent, so you have to be able to scan ahead


and decide whether it’s best to let the bike

In mud, you need to be able to change pace

roll quickly, or whether to squeeze some

quickly so a slower cadence of around 80rpm

brake and slide through. It normally depends

is a good base to start from. This allows

on the steepness of the slope and the camber.

you to power through more icky sections

If it’s steep with tight turns, you’ll squeeze

without having to shift gears, and also

more rear brake than if it’s gently sloping

not risk spinning out, which is what would

with wide turns. Body position is important

happen if you were riding a faster cadence

– standing on the pedals with knees and arms

of say 100rpm. Smooth pedalling is essential

slightly bent is most ideal when tackling a

in maintaining traction and consistent pace.

muddy descent. Don’t be afraid to lean well

Obviously changes in pace will occur, but in

back off the saddle when it steepens and try

general, try and keep your pedalling action

and maintain forward momentum with as

smooth and powerful.

little interruption as possible.

Plonking through Puddles

On a climb

Where there’s mud, it is very likely that there

Unlike a muddy descent, you have more time

will be puddles. In properly muddy stuff,

to choose your line on a muddy climb. Scan

going right through the middle is often the

ahead a few metres and aim for a line that’s

best choice; the splash of water will remove

going to offer the most traction. This can

a good deal of the goop. You’ll also avoid

vary from choosing a line that’s been well

‘lipping’ the puddle and having a wheel slide

worn by other bikes that ascended before

out. But it’s not a perfect science: you don’t

you, to aiming for harder sections in the trail

have any idea how deep those puddles really

surface. Of course, it really comes down to

are until you hit them.

experience in muddy conditions, which will

Ride it, don’t fear it

influence how well you choose the right line

If you don’t ride mud regularly, you’ll never

up which to ascend. You start noticing what

master it. If racing is important to you, train

looks mushy and what looks more solid. By

when it’s raining or muddy after the rain.

climbing seated, you’ll give more weight to

That way you’ll be more confident when

your rear wheel, which translates to improved

you’re in a muddy race. If your attitude to

traction. But in muddy conditions, this needs

mud riding is positive, you’ll enjoy it more

to be constantly reviewed, as it’s often better

and master it quicker. You can’t change it,

to stand and power through a section of muck

so accept mud and make the most of it. And

fast than risk trying to spin through it in the

remember: a muddy post-ride smile never


goes out of style… TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 21


Would you like some carbs with that? Don’t wait ’til it’s too late Unlike the carb-protein mix movement, which is still relatively niche, it’s a widely accepted fact that the sooner you take that post-race recovery drink, the faster you’ll recover. There’s a 45-minute period from crossing the finish line that you need to see as your window of opportunity. In that time, your body’s various channels are still active and therefore most receptive to any nutrients you feed them. Wait too long and you’ll regret it the following day. According to the findings of a Vanderbilt University study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, subjects were given a carb-protein recovery drink immediately after exercise or three hours later. Protein PHOTO: Greg Beadle

synthesis (read: recovery rate) was almost three times greater in those who consumed the supplement drink immediately after the

We usually associate protein-rich drinks with p o s t - ra c e recovery nutrition. But don’t ignore carbs and don’t wait too long to gulp down your recovery fuel.


ountain bike racing is at fever pitch this time of the year and stage racing is top of the pops. There’s an overriding fear fac-

tor that drives mountain bikers to seek a race drink that’s going to get them through each stage without the dreaded bonk. And of course there’s a wide range of products loaded with fast-acting carbs to choose from. But while an appropriate race drink is important, a high quality recovery drink is just as essential, especially if you want to be ready for the following day’s stage. Most

22 |


mountain bikers rely on a protein-rich drink


to get them on the road to recovery, but

Only once do you have to experience

research suggests that a carb-protein mix

the overwhelming physical, mental and

will get you straight into the fast lane.

emotional challenge of having to drag

In a study published in the Journal of

yourself to the start line for another stage

Exercise Physiology, athletes performed a

in an under-recovered state to appreciate

hard workout and were then fed a regular

the importance of managing your recovery.

protein drink or a carb-protein recovery

Eating a good balance of wholesome solid

drink during a one-hour recovery period,

foods is obviously also important, but not

before completing a second hard workout.

always practical, especially soon after you

Those that had taken the carb-protein drink

stop pedalling.

outperformed the others by an average of

You can either mix your own carb-protein

20%. Think of a 20% improvement on a stage

post-race drink, or buy one. Check the carb

of the Cape Epic. Better still, every stage…

content on the label and make sure there’s

But you don’t have to be a lab-rat to

at least a 3:1 ratio of carbs:protein to be

discover the benefits of a carb-protein mix in

certain you’re getting the optimal supply.

your post-race drink. It’s logical: You need to

Milk also provides a good mix of carbs and

replenish the used-up carbs from those hours

proteins, but not in adequate volume for a

of effort just as much as you need to supply

gruelling stage race, so it’s worth adding a

your body with the anti-catabolic benefits

high quality carb-protein mix to the milk.

of protein to ensure you recover as much as

Bottom line: The right drink at the right time

possible for the next day’s stage.

can make the difference between you looking forward to the next stage or dreading it…


24 |



Ezemvelo Nature Reserve By Christopher Dutton with Donovan Jackson

Region: Mpumalanga Closest Town/City: Bronkhorstspruit Description: Ezemvelo is a place where you can go to get away from it all in classic Bushveld style. The Reserve offers camping facilities, self catering chalets, a family hut and hiker’s huts. The open plan chalets (or Legae) sleep 3 , the family hut sleeps 6 with 2 rooms and there is also a house (Rhino house) that sleeps 6; or you can just show up with your tent and camp for the weekend. Strict rules governing boom boxes means peace and quiet is assured, while the careful positioning of chalets means even though close together, they are fairly private. Being near Bronkhorstspruit means the area is fairly flat and can be sandy. While that makes for pretty straightforward biking if you stick to the regular roads, there remains ample opportunity for the adventurous to explore tracks and roads less travelled to get a good workout. Given the lack of serious gradient, mountain biking at Ezemvelo is ideal for the whole family; the well-maintained dirt roads render it ideal to get newbies started. While the trails aren’t marked, a map available at reception gives good detail of what you can find; the pretty rough hiking trails means the advanced rider will find some stuff to test the skills. After an enjoyable ride on your bike you can relax around a well maintained pool, and for those with energy to spare there is a beach volleyball court. The state of the majority of the roads also means a family sedan will suffice for game drives – although some of the rougher stuff is better suited to a good SUV or highrider bakkie. Novice: 9/10 Intermediate: 6/10 Advanced: 2/10 Tyres: Need to use something that will deal with loose sand and the odd water crossing in rainy season. If you’re going to be adventurous, puncture protection is a good idea, although not essential. We tried Vredenstein’s Spotted Cat UST tyres, which proved well up to the task, but didn’t like the wet much. Best thing: The rides are easy enough for inexperienced riders to enjoy, but there is also the opportunity to explore less used tracks where some bike handling skills are required. Worst thing: There’s not much not to like, unless you are specifically looking for properly technical MTB riding. Best season: All year round, although it will be chilly in winter. Get there: Take the N4 highway to Bronkhorstspruit, from the second offramp turn left onto the R25. After 4.5km, take a right to Ezemvelo. The reserve is 20km of dirt road from the turn. Cost: You will pay an entrance fee for your vehicle and per person. Accommodation prices vary; while Ezemvelo is close enough for a day visit, the rates are affordable so it’s worth making a weekend of it. Secure parking: Yes Be careful of ... dung beetles going about their lives. Be sure to... Pack the sunscreen and refreshments (both for during and after the ride). Take in a sundowner on the deck (just remember to take your own). Contact: Tel 013 680 1399; e-mail; TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 25


Misty Valley Lodge By Sean Badenhorst

REGION: Mpumalanga CLOSEST TOWN: Waterval Boven/Machadodorp DESCRIPTION: If you live in Joburg and Pretoria and want to get in some good training rides ahead of a stage race or marathon, then take the twoand-half-hour drive to Misty Valley Lodge and expect plenty. A four-star establishment awaits, with all the comforts of home, in either log cabins or chalets overlooking a small trout dam with magnificent vistas of Mpumalanga in the distance. The place is geared for families, so take yours along for a fun getaway. At 2000m above sea level, you’re pretty much on the highest piece of land for miles. And that is why any ride you do ends with a climb. A long climb! They’re in the process of building mountain bike trails within the vast property of Misty Valley Lodge, but in the meantime, you’ve got some solid ride options. If fitness, or more specifically, climbing fitness, is high on your priority list, then the gravel road just half a kilometre away will be just the challenge you need. It’s a 35km downhill that takes you from the mountain grasslands, past timber plantations and down to the lush bushveld vegetation of the Lowveld. That’s right, a constant plunge down to 1000m above sea level, so make sure your brakes are working well. It’s fast and winding and flippin’ good fun. It just keeps pulling you down, down, down, even though you know you’re going to have to climb back up. And the climb is a killer. Even top racers will find it challenging, mostly because of its relentless gradient, occasional stony surface and sheer length. Expect at least a two-hour ascent! Another ride option, on some tar, gravel and challenging singletrack, would be to head north to nearby Waterval Boven. The ride distance to Waterval Boven is 20km, but you can add in a forest loop on the Boven trails as well as the legendary 7km singletrack descent (reviewed in TREAD Issue 4), before (mostly) climbing all the way back up to Misty Valley Lodge. DISTANCE: 70km NOVICE: 1/10 INTERMEDIATE: 6/10 ADVANCED: 8/10 TYRES: Anything appropriate for hardpack and stony gravel roads. We found the WTB Wolverines to be the ideal rubber choice. BEST THING: Depends on your definition of what best is – we preferred the 35km downhill! WORST THING: For us, the sheer length of the climb back up! BEST SEASON: Year-round, but expect very cold weather in winter. GET THERE: Take the N4 east from Pretoria or Joburg. After about two hours, turn right to Machadopdorp. Head through the town and take the R541. After 14km turn left towards Slaaihoek. After 12km Misty Valley Lodge is on your right. COST: No cost for the riding, but you’d need to stay overnight, or a few nights at Misty Valley Lodge. Accommodation rates vary but are good value for money. It’s classy, comfortable accommodation. GPS: 25˚45’17.82”S & 30˚26’14.73”E SECURE PARKING: Yes BE CAREFUL OF: Some sketchy sections on the descent. BE SURE TO: Chat to Garth, the manager, when you book or arrive. He’s a mountain biker and will be able to impart his local knowledge to ensure you get in some memorable rides. CONTACT:; 0861 364789

26 |




| 27


28 |


Dissie Plek Die


By Christopher Dutton and Donovan Jackson

REGION: Limpopo CLOSEST TOWN: Nylstroom (Modimolle) TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Get out of town to experience the bushveld and some self-catering cottages where your mountain bike is not only most welcome, but also expected. Dissie Plek Die is a farm which offers a number of ride options, varying from smooth roads to steep rocky climbs and descents. Most of the rides can be done in a circular loop, but for great technical climbs and descents to test your skill and get the adrenaline flowing, go for an up - to great view points - and back down approach. It is well worth the sweat. For those looking for a comfortable cruise which also delivers an enjoyable workout in which you’re likely to enjoy game viewing, there are plenty of well-maintained roads on the farm. For more of a challenge, let the explorer in you loose: take a detour where your skills may well be tested. While the Nylstroom area is not renowned for its mountains, you will find some steep climbs; a small loop on the upper farm will have all but the most capable doing a bit of a ‘hike a bike’. The routes are maintained on a regular basis as they serve as service roads for the farm. DISTANCE: This will depend on what you want, just cruising on the lower farm will give you around 10km; if looking to go further, venture to the upper farm to cover anything up to 45km with ease before backtracking or covering new terrain. NOVICE: 5/10 INTERMEDIATE: 8/10 ADVANCED: 7/10 TYRES: All-condition tyres with good puncture and sidewall protection are recommended. The roads vary from being sandy to muddy; off the road you may encounter thorns hidden in the grass. Rocky sections may have some sharp rocks. BEST THING: You can decide how easy or technical you want the outing to be, but will always finish the ride satisfied. You will probably see more game on your bike than if you were in a car. The farm is also close to town so you’re in the bush, but not far from civilization. WORST THING: In summer it gets very hot, so no sleeping late before a ride. BEST SEASON: All year round. In the summer months, you will need to hydrate well with a few frosties after the excursion. Winter can be a bit chilly, so sleep late and then hit the trails. This is a summer rainfall area so expect rain from October to February, but it usually comes down in the late afternoons. GET THERE: Take the N1 North from Johannesburg/Pretoria, at the Kranskop tollgate take a left to Nylstroom. The entrance to the farm is on your right about 4km from the last robot as you leave town. There is a board where you need to turn right onto the dirt road. COST: Self catering accommodation, two 6 sleepers and two 4 sleepers, available at R170 per person per night. SECURE PARKING: Yes - pre-arrange before entering the property, otherwise you won’t be let in. BE CAREFUL OF... bushpigs (a TREAD trail tester was tossed off his bike by one) and other animals crossing roads. BE SURE TO... chat to Oom Piet who manages the farm. He will give you valuable information that will make your time most enjoyable. CONTACT: Oom Piet Swart 083 294 1928 TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 29


Is this what we want? M

ountain biking is meant to be an escape; an unrestricted form of exercise that’s fun and free. Not in South Africa! Mountain bikers have become soft targets for criminals – some of them are opportunists, some of the bastards actually plan their attacks. It’s not that new, but over the past year, it’s reached a worrying peak. Well, we hope that’s the peak. We don’t have a solution, yet. We also realise that it’s a negative theme for a feature article. But it’s a very real threat we face every time we go for a ride and it’s too important to ignore. So here’s a summary of the situation with some tips on how to avoid having your next ride, or worse, your life, cut short…

Compiled by Barry McCallum and Sean Badenhorst

30 |




| 31


Almost killed for her Camelbak By Barry McCallum


after being stabbed in the neck in the veld

January I will continue with the occupational

“I try not to dwell on it too much, I’m

near the N1. She spends more than two weeks

therapy. For how long, I can’t say. Grant still

happy being off my bike at the moment,”

in a drug-induced coma after being viciously

recalls that the doctors didn’t have much

she says, before excitingly adding, “Hey! I’ve

attacked on the way to a ride in Doringkloof.

hope for me walking again...”

started driving my car recently! Started in

anuary 2009…

therapy session with her,” says Mathilda,

from a trip to Sabie, where Grant rode the

Mathilda Barnard can’t speak for

“She feels there’s not anything more that

Experience. You get the feeling that it must

herself. She is left unconscious and

she can contribute.”

be frustrating to be spectator rather than

bleeding next to her mountain bike

February 2009… After a group ride at Groenkloof…then-fiancé

There’s still a long road ahead.


Mathilda has scant recall of what happened on the 7th of January 2009.

taking part.

Sabie and I’m loving it! I actually don’t need to get an automatic car now.

(now husband) Grant Williams taps me on the

“I saw these two men sitting under the

shoulder: “Here’s someone I think you’d like

bridge,” she says. “I crossed the railway

to meet.” Mathilda looks up at me from her

tracks without any hassles.

Next thing,

The race she has her sights on is the

wheelchair and manages a meek smile. She

though, one of them had grabbed a hold of

Sani2C Adventure – the same event she was in

says nothing. She doesn’t need to. Her eyes

my bike from behind - I shouted at him to

training for at the time of the attack – “even

say it all. She’s hurt, but alive. She’s fighting.

‘F*ck off’.

if it’s 2011 or 2012”.

August 2009…

“In time, when I regain my balance, I’d like to get on my bike again.”

“I don’t recall seeing the shears in his

Mathilda refuses to let the viciousness

Testing bikes at the MTN Toyota Bike Park on

hand, or feeling the actual stab to my neck.

of the attack get to her. She feels no need

Woman’s Day…another tap on the shoulder. It’s

My next memory is looking up into the

to seek counselling. “No, I don’t think it’s

Grant again. “Someone wants to say hello to

distance and seeing him scurry off with my

necessary. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that

you…” There’s that smile again, then a hearty

Camelbak in his hands. That’s the last thing I

it is overrated.

“Hello”. Mathilda tells me about her recovery.

remember until about a month later...”

Her words are slow, measured and deliberate.

“A year or so earlier I was involved in

She was later discovered by the Epic

a smash-and-grab, which was far more

She has such a long way to go, I think.

Cycles group ride she was on her way to

traumatic. I still remember the nightmares

December 2009…

meet. She was being watched over by one of

about that incident.”

I punch in Mathilda’s number…

two pedestrian passersby who had witnessed

Mathilda refuses to see herself as a

“Hello, Barry!”

the attack. The other had gone off to seek

victim, but she does urge people to exercise

“Hi…can I speak to Mathilda?”



“This is Mathilda, how are you?” The speed and clarity of delivery take me by surprise. She sounds like a completely

Mathilda says it’s “a pity” that she’s never

“I don’t really have any advice, except

seen them since - “I would love to thank

that people should NOT go anywhere alone –

them personally.”

whether it’s on rural trails or not. Even larger

different person to the woman I’d spoken to

Mathilda has managed to spend some

just four months earlier. Mathilda credits her

time on an indoor trainer and an adult trike

speech therapist at Muelmed, Jonelia Theron,

- but not as much as she’d like. At the time

for the turnaround. “Yesterday I had my last

of speaking to her, she had just returned

32 |


groups of cyclists aren’t safe. But don’t be too discouraged, just keep your eyes open. “And don’t do anything stupid – like tell them to ‘F*ck off’!”

Feature Mathilda Barnard before the attack - doing Sabie Experience 2008

We know that your bike is valuable to you, but what is it worth compared to your life? DO • Co-operate fully. Let them feel that they are in control of the situation. Listen attentively to any orders barked at you. Answer any questions by speaking slowly, and always answer truthfully if asked whether you are armed. The outcome could be bleak if they later discover that you have been dishonest. • Avoid direct eye contact with your attacker as they may either perceive your glare as a threat or think you are trying to memorise their features for when you report the incident to the police. If you have the presence of mind, without making it obvious try to focus on one assailant at a time, taking in info about their height, build, clothing, facial features, accent and the make of firearm if they are brandishing one. • Report the matter to the nearest police station as soon as possible. Once the attackers are gone, ascertain the extent of any injuries suffered. Get to the nearest major road and attract the attention of passing motorists or pedestrians. Ask to borrow a phone and call the police on 10111 and, if necessary, medical services immediately. The police can only build a profile on mountain biker assaults/attacks if they’re reported. Once the SAPS have enough reports/info, more targeted action can be taken to make mountain biking safer. • Speak about what happened. Don’t hit the bottle and don’t bottle up your feelings. Let them out. Yes, mountain bikers are meant to be tough, but you are allowed to cry. Seek counselling if you experience any of the symptoms – constant reliving of the incident, anxiety or avoidance – of post-traumatic stress disorder. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Get back on a bike as soon as possible.


Mathilda Barnard after the attack - riding on an adult trike, keen to get fit again.

• Make any sudden movements. This could provoke a negative reaction. Most safety advisers suggest keeping your hands at chest level. In the majority of cases, victims are asked to hand over money, wallets and phones. If any of these are in your jersey pocket or hydration pack, tell the robbers this. Never reach for them yourself, as they may think you are reaching for a weapon. • Try to be a hero. Victims are often ordered to kneel on the ground or lie facedown. Stay there until they have fled the scene. Without making it obvious, take note of the direction in which they leave. Never give chase to try and retrieve your possessions, especially if they have firearms. • Fight back. The key to increasing your chances of surviving any robbery, is to try and stay calm and not fight back. Although it may not be your bikejackers’ first attack, they will still be keen to finish their ‘business’ in the shortest time possible, and as such are likely to be nervous or jittery. They could be worse if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s not easy to do when the adrenaline is pumping, but taking long deep breaths will reduce your heart rate and lower your anxiety. TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 33


The Gauteng Gauntlet


he Irene/Olifanstfontein area was

says Pierre. “However, he also cannot get his

not a good place for mountain

guys involved on private land.”

bikers last year. This was a major headache for Pierre Nel. As

But patrols themselves will not be enough.

chairperson of Cyclosport, which often uses

“People believe it is the inhabitants

trails in the area, he has a responsibility to

of the surrounding bushes that are the

the “vulnerable guys and gals of my club”.

assailants, which is highly unlikely.

He himself knows what it’s like to be attacked on a bike.

“The perpetrators have a logistical system to get rid of the bikes, meaning that it is

“I was involved in a bike-jacking about

more likely that residents of nearby formal

eight years ago,” says Pierre, “and got away

settlements like Thembisa are involved. It

from three more incidents since then.”

will therefore be futile to ‘clean-up’ the

As he would often “train alone and ride in

bushes and ‘burn them out’.”

isolated places”, Pierre used a background

So what can be done?

in survival skills and martial arts to “develop

“The only manner in which we can effectively

preventative measures for myself in order to

deal with the matter is to compile stats on the

be prepared for the ‘next time’”.

incidents and use that to identify hot spots.

Thankfully, to date, that ‘next time’

This information can then be used to approach

hasn’t come…but it has for some of his

council politicians, who will take it up with


the appropriate safety and security forces.”

After a spike in incidents in the area the

To this end, Pierre says he approached

club utilises, Pierre was prompted to involve

Gauteng North Cycling to compile a database

role-players to tackle the crime wave. It has

and “consolidate all information on bike-

not been an easy task.

jacking incidents”, but this hasn’t as yet

He acknowledges that the South African

bore fruit.

Police Service lack the resources and manpower

“This was discussed during a GNC

to effectively control the area. This, says

meeting, but clubs seem reluctant to send

Pierre, is exacerbated by the fact that “the

information of incidents in which their

majority of trails we use for rides traverse

members were involved to us,” says Pierre.

private land, making it very difficult for them

“However, since October 2009, we have

to get involved in preventative measures”.

addressed MTB safety extensively in our

“They must and will respond when

monthly club newsletter and members have

incidents have taken place and are

now started reporting incidents to me as

reported,” he says, “but the area is just too

soon as they hear of them.”

big to expect them to patrol it – they don’t

He is encouraged that the number of

even have enough policemen to deal with

attacks has dropped since last September,

higher-priority crime.”

but says riders still have to be careful out

Another policing option was to involve


David Boshoff, the head of Groenkloof Nature

“Focus on prevention and do so by riding

Reserve, who recently developed a network

in fenced-in areas, ride in groups, ride faster

of trails on Klapperkop.

and be aware of what is cooking around you.

“David is willing and very eager to involve

“That is why it makes sense to join club

his anti-poaching squad, who are extremely

rides. These assailants are cowards and they

capable in dealing with this sort of scenario,”

only take-on soft targets and lone riders.”

34 |


Prevention is better • Fenced, dedicated bike parks and trails are, generally, the safest places to ride. • Everyone canvassed for this feature agrees on one thing: safety in numbers. Ride in large groups, preferably 10 or more. • New to an area or planning on riding at a holiday destination? Speak to the staff at the local bike shops about organised rides, and enquire about safe trails and no-go areas. • Try stay away from informal settlements. These provide easy escape routes for robbers. • Make sure someone knows the route you are riding, and give a family member or friend an estimated time for your return. • Never be complacent. Keep your wits about you and constantly be on the lookout. Just because you ride a trail regularly and know it intimately doesn’t mean that it’s safe. • Make eye contact with anyone you pass on the trail. You are less likely to be attacked if a potential robber sees that you are prepared or aware of them. Give any pedestrians as wide a berth as possible. It is easy for them to bring down a passing rider. • You may not want to pack heat, but a selfdefence device like pepper spray or a Tazer attached with Velcro to a handlebar or top tube could thwart an attack. Martial arts skills may also come in handy. • Spread the word. Tell your club, your mates, your bike shop or post on Internet forums about any suspicious activity you encounter or hear of. You may think they’re ineffective, but report anything to the police and your local community policing forums.


Razor wire fencing and a 24-hour private security company patrol are the measures taken to ensure mountain bikers are safe at the Toyota MTN Cycle Park in Bryanston, Johannesburg. Photo: AUBREY JONSSON TREAD FEBRUARY/MARCH 2010

| 35


So which are the danger areas?


t’s hard to compile a list of dangerous

Northern Farm, and its surrounds, was feared

although there were some incidents reported

areas as the incidence of attacks often

to be becoming a danger area. Reports of

last year, it is considered to be relatively safe

seems sporadic. Statistics are impossible

an unsuccessful attempted hijacking within

for riding.

to come by as the South African Police

the farm was followed by a successful

Majik Forest has long been considered a safe

Service doesn’t have a specific category for

hijacking, where a lone rider was robbed

venue, but an increasing number of vagrants



bicycle robberies, and some attacks may be

of everything but his shorts and heart rate

in the park led to the local Vallei Komittee

opportunistic as opposed to organised.

monitor chest strap. Near the farm, Malcolm

taking the proactive measure of working with

Statistics are impossible to come by as the South African Police Service doesn’t have a specific category for bicycle robberies, and some attacks may be opportunistic as opposed to organised.

the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club and ADT last August to clean up the area. The security company’s Adrian Good said: “This was an ideal opportunity…to contribute to the safety

Gauteng has a bad, but totally deserved,

Schutte and Andrew Bennett were relieved

of those who use the Majik Forest. The forest

rep when it comes to crime. And 2009 was

– at gunpoint – of their Bianchi Oetzis and

is for recreation purposes.” Many of the other

a bad year for it. Parts of the Braamfontein

other items of clothing and gear. Northern

popular routes – Tokai, Eden, Lebanon, etc –

Spruit, Melville Koppies, the trails near the

Farm MTB representative, Simon Nash, said

are believed to be very safe.

Linksfield off-ramp on the N3 have all been

that measures were being taken to beef up

Durban and other destinations in KwaZulu-

the scenes of robberies. The southern reaches

security, but recommended that people don’t

Natal seem to be relatively quiet in terms of

of Gauteng – particularly the veldt behind

ride there on their own in the meantime.

attacks on mountain bikers, although local

Brackenhurst and the dust road alongside the

Ironically, the ‘Environmental Management

riders will say that riding alone anywhere in

R59 down to Kliprivier – also suffered a recent

Plan for Recreational Mountain Biking in the

the sugar cane plantations is asking for trouble.

spate of attacks. But the area with the highest

Table Mountain National Park’, compiled in

Some riders reported isolated incidents in

prevalence of attacks seems to be the Midrand

2002, identified the “presence of cyclists” as

Cedara Forest, Botha’s Hill, Inanda Dam and

and Irene areas.

a “benefit ... (which) may act as a deterrent,

even Giba Gorge but wouldn’t go so far as to

Pierre Nel, the chairperson of the

discouraging criminals from operating in the

call them danger areas.

Cyclesport Club, believes the attacks in the

park”. Yet, they and other trail users seemed

Irene/Olifantsfontein area reached a peak in

to attract the criminals. To such an extent,

Been involved in a criminal incident while

September – including a brazen incident during

that, five years later, the level of crime

riding? Or heard of one? After reporting it to

a race involving 1500-plus riders and within a

prompted the Mountain Club of South Africa to

the local SAPS, log onto

kilometre of where Metro police officers were

say the park was in danger of losing its World

and add a warning under the Cycling Safety

stationed – “and then subsided, with only

Heritage Site status, while the city’s head of

forum. This isn’t only the most popular cycling

isolated incidents”. This, Nel believes, “could

tourism, Simon Grindrod, was quoted as saying

online forum in the South Africa, it’s one of

have been as a result of MTB riders using high-

“Table Mountain is under attack”, and calling

the biggest online forums period. By posting a

risk trails less” because of the awareness

for military intervention to stem the tide of

warning on this site, you’ll be helping fellow

created about the incidents.

attacks. A concentrated effort by the park’s

riders avoid a similar encounter.

At the time of going to press, the popular

36 |


management has improved the situation, and


Riding armed More and more mountain bikers are beginning to ride with guns. Midrand’s Rory Munton is a “keen mountain biker… and a chiropractor in my spare time” who rides with a firearm, and he’s not afraid to use it. Here he shares a tale of a narrow escape, and some lessons gleaned…

So there I am riding along my

Here are some important guidelines Rory

favourite piece of singletrack

compiled in the wake of his experience:

between Midrand and Irene with

• Do NOT carry a gun if you do not

three friends on an early April

weapon snagging on your jersey. • Remember it is only because we have been soft targets that we are now

know what you are doing or you are

being victimised in greater numbers.

Sunday morning, when, suddenly, out the

unsure how to handle it. It is a massive

Mountain biking is a tough, dangerous

grass jump five attackers armed with pangas


sport and mountain bikers are tough,

in one hand and half-brick sized rocks in the other hand. “They come towards me in a crescent-

• Make sure you can get your firearm out quickly. You have less than two seconds draw holster, such as the Fobus holster.

time to see two rocks come flying past my

Make sure there is ‘one-up’ as there is

head. Problem is, I have braked too hard and

no chance to cock. A moon bag is no

that if I land on my feet I will live and if I fall I will die. “I somehow land on my feet and halfstumbling and half-slipping I manage to keep my momentum to run through the attackers, narrowly missing the slash of a panga. As I run I reach for my moon bag, but I struggle

place for a gun. a firearm even in groups, as there is no strength in numbers when you are outgunned or out-knifed. • Do not fight if you do not stand a reasonable chance of winning.

is now running after me. Still struggling with

the front of the group as they will make

the use of my arm and my hand. “Finally, my moon bag is open, and I turn

contact with the attackers first. • Keep the group close together in dense and dangerous terrain where the likelihood of attack is higher.

to face my attacker who is now winding

Ride slowly as you do not want to fall

up to slice me with a panga. I see the cold

when surprised. Be hyperaware and

malevolence in his eyes become confused as

remember surprise is a key factor for

it is replaced by horror, and then pleading,

Rory Munton

• Club rides should have at least two firearms per group. They should be at

although I feel no pain I am temporarily lose

Proactive measures

• Do not ride in dangerous areas without

with the zip as I notice one of the attackers the zip I feel a rock smash into my elbow and

are good options for the rest!

to get this right. So invest in a quick-

shaped attack formation and I brake just in

as I am going over my handlebars I realise

dangerous people. Knitting and bowls

both attacker and defender.

as I take careful aim with my Walther 9mm.

• Practice drawing and shooting while

The hunter became the hunted. Luckily my

you are riding if possible as this will

friends used their bicycles as shields and

build confidence and highlight any

bravely fought the other attackers back to

inadequacies such as gloves making

back. Only two of us where slightly injured.”

it difficult to feel the safety or the

Rory has been in close contact with the police and other role-players to tackle what he calls a “scourge”. He is in the process of setting up a selfdefence unit by enlisting the services of cycling reservists. What is crucial to the success of these efforts, Rory stresses, is “intelligence”. “Everything we plan on doing will fail unless we have communication,” he says. “How can we fight crime if we don’t know what is going on? It may seem like a negative topic, but unless we bring this problem to the attention of everyone, the bicycle industry will die.” If you know of any bike-jackings or robberies of cyclists in the Midrand area, please email details of date, time, number of perpetrators, weapons used, items taken and modus operandi to lara@ Mark your mails for the attention of Rory Munton.


| 37


All is not lost

Inspectors James Swann and Hein van Heerden


n mid-2008, a spate of bike-jackings and

reported dropped significantly, improving

Unfortunately, the SAPS MTB Patrol Unit

a general lack of safety felt by all users

the safety for the trail users. We still run

created by Swann and Van Heerden remains

of the popular Braamfontein Spruit trail

patrols along The Spruit from time to time

a pilot project limited to the precincts they

that runs between Mellville and Paulshoff

to ensure the maintenance of the safety of

have jurisdiction over.

through Sandton and Randburg, inspired two

the trail.”

“We’d love for SAPS MTB Patrol Units to

What was most important is that

become a national initiative. And hopefully

suddenly, The Spruit was being patrolled by

they still might,” says Swann. “But at this

Inspectors James Swann and Hein van

policemen on bikes, shifting it from a haven

stage, like ours, it’s got to be a combined

Heerden, both sector heads of large precincts

for criminals to a risky refuge. The element

initiative between the local SAPS and the

in Randburg and Sandton, managed to get

of the surprise was the biggest factor on the

community. There simply isn’t budget

bikes and gear sponsored or donated to

cops’ side.

allocated within the SAPS to establish these

SAPS members to form a mountain bike patrol unit and ‘clean the area up’.

create a six-rider-strong patrol unit, which began to regularly ride the Spruit Trail.

“We’d ride right up to suspicious looking people and because we just looked like

Unlike other mountain bikers on what

regular mountain bikers, they’d just stand

is probably the country’s busiest mountain

there and not run, like they might if we sent

bike trail, theirs was a stop-start ride, which

a patrol vehicle and uniformed officers,”

took up to five hours to complete the 20-odd

explained Swann.

kilometres from one end to the other. This

The bike-jacking suspect they’d arrested

was because they questioned every single

was eventually released, but only because

person they encountered, whether they were

they lacked any evidence to convict him of

under a tree, or under a bridge, or under

the crime. And this, according to both Swann

the influence... They had a couple of patrol

and Van Heerden, is where mountain bikers

bakkies on call nearby to help transport those

can really make a difference.

they arrested to the Randburg Police Station.

“Report attacks, no matter how minor

“We made quite a few arrests, mostly

you think they are, to your local police

illegal immigrants, but also a suspect in one

station,” urges Van Heerden. “The SAPS can

of the bike-jackings,” recalls Inspector Van

only take appropriate action and make a

Heerden. “We ran a few more patrols over

significant difference if we have information

the next few months and the levels of crime

that can help us identify criminals.”

38 |


kind of units on a nationally structured basis.”

Help them help you Inspector Van Heerden has been a cyclist for years, while Inspector Swann played provincial rugby and has a keen interest in all sport. They’ve both become keen mountain bikers since they started their MTB patrol unit and say that it’s not that difficult to help your local SAPS form a similar unit. “The bikes and gear are the major cost. If that can be sponsored by the local community then it’s most of the battle won,” explains Van Heerden. “There are many SAPS members that are interested in sport or like to be active. It may require a suggestion from the community to get something started though.


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






Rack ‘em up “Roadies are a funny lot,” said one of the major players in the cycle rack industry. “They show up at a race on their own with their bike on the back seat of the car, do the race, slam it back onto the back seat and go straight home.” By Donovan Jackson PHOTOS: Courtesy Thule

40 |




y his account – and by ours – we

some sort of safety specification, such as the

mountain bikers tend to do things

German TUV (Technischer Überwachungs-

a bit differently. We’re a bit more

Verein) standard. Then you’d need to consider

community-oriented, we like to

the type of vehicle you drive. Those silly sports

think of ourselves as friendly and sharing a

cars, for example, often need contraptions

great sport where the views, the terrain and

which feature a lot of straps and pulleys to

the travel to ridiculously awesome parts of

get the rack to cling to the back window. Or

the country are all part of a bigger whole.

you might have a towbar on your convertible;

We also tend to make far more use of bike

that makes things a bit easier, as you can then

transportation systems (that’s just a fancy

just snap on a towbar-mounted rack and Bob’s

term for a bike rack) because when we get

your uncle.

down and dirty, we like all the muck to stay outside the car if possible.

Of course, in an ideal world, you’ll have a SUV and a towbar, which makes life a whole

So, when choosing a bike rack, what

lot easier no matter where you intend putting

should you be looking for? And what are your

the bikes – even if it is on the roof. Roofracks,


and specially-designed contraptions to hold

Probably the first consideration is to ensure

your bike up there, are definitely viable, but

that any rack you’re considering has passed

do we like them? The advantage is that each


| 41


42 |


Consumer bike is held individually and it is fairly easy to load them on, unless you’re short of stature. But there is a big minus: too many tales of bikes schmangled against the garage door (or any other low objects) means this is a solution only for the brave and those confident in their ability to remember stuff. Even after a hectic marathon race. The lower-cost towbar-attach types of rack often suspend the bike from a cross-member. While these are really handy for transporting a single bike, because it takes no time to put it on there, they are less good for two or more bikes, as the machines tend to rub against each other and leave scratches in paintwork. The properly lekker racks are the towbarmounted jobbies which are, in effect, a platform which projects out from the back of the vehicle. Available in two, three or even four bike configurations, these hold each bike separately, preventing damage. With built-in taillights and a numberplate holder, safety receives attention. However, they tend to weigh quite a lot, therefore affecting handling; they also take up a lot of space in the car when not in use. Remember the importance of putting a numberplate in that holder (or on any rack which obscures the back plate): the cops often pull cars over when they see racks and will fine you if car plate isn’t visible. In chatting with the chaps who bring in racks (and confirming experience) it emerges that there is always some compromise involved when putting any rack on your car. It will affect handling and performance, and the smaller the vehicle, the more that effect is likely to be. The answer is to drive a little more carefully, especially on bumpy roads notwithstanding the fact that you’re probably running late to get to a start. Most good bike shops will stock a couple of options of bike racks from which to choose. The ideal one provides easy and quick loading capability, reasonable cost and should also be able to pack away into the car fairly easily. You should also look for a good warranty of at least two years to provide assurance of the quality of workmanship. Chat to your dealer to see which option and cost will best suit your needs. But, you can be certain that a rack makes transporting your bikes a lot easier and more convenient than cramming them onto the back seat. TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 43

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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.

44 |


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.


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| 45

Industry Focus

Mr Consistent By Sean Badenhorst


Measuring in Shimano, how big is the mountain bike market in South Africa compared to road cycling?

I’d say it’s about 70/30 in favour of mountain biking, which has really grown in the past five years or so.


How big is Shimano’s share of the MTB market globally?

For two decades, Stephen Meltzer, head of Coolheat Cycle Agencies, has been the official South African importer and distributor of Shimano, the world’s biggest mountain bike component brand, as well as brands like Cateye, PRO, Tacx, Niner and others.

I don’t know an exact figure, but it’s still very dominant. The

company manufactures every single piece that makes up its products, which ensures that the reliability that Shimano is known for is never compromised. And in mountain biking, reliability is high priority.


What new MTB stuff can we expect in the near future from Shimano?

Shimano is not the sleeping giant that many think it is. The company is constantly working on updates and new products. Plenty in the pipeline, but I can’t reveal too much. We can of course expect the new Shimano 10-speed here in March or April.


We see Shimano has extended its sponsorship of the UCI. Thank you!

I’d say pleasure, but that someone else made the decision. It’s a good thing though. Shimano has been a sponsor of the UCI since 1999 and has extended for another three years, until the end of 2012. The deal includes Shimano’s provision of technical support for mountain bike World Cup and World Champs events.


Ah yes, we spotted you and your team hard at work in the pit area at the UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg last year.

What an amazing event to have hosted and been a part of. We were most disappointed to hear South Africa isn’t on the 2010 World Cup schedule, but I’m certain it will return.


What is your biggest challenge in the South African market?

Probably not the answer you expected, but I’d say that safety of mountain bikers is the biggest challenge for all the businesses in this market at the moment. It’s the main obstacle affecting growth.


Rumour has it that you’ve converted from road cyclist to mountain biker. True?

Yep. I’m enjoying mountain biking thoroughly. My daughter, Nicola, who heads up the marketing at Coolheat, has got into mountain biking in quite a big way. I’m not as committed to it as she is, but it’s plenty of fun.


Where do you do most of your mountain biking? The Braamfontein Spruit trail. It’s the closest trail to where

I live.


Which is your favourite MTB trail and why? I’d have to say the Braamfontein Spruit. It’s convenient,

challenging enough, but not too tough and I can choose my riding time with a fair amount of accuracy.

46 |



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CHOICES, CHOICES‌ Our test team tell it like it is when it comes to locally available bikes and gear. *Gear prices supplied: RRP


| 49


GT SENSOR 1.0 | R22995 In Issue 1 of TREAD we rode and raved

collect than anywhere else on the bike – a

no featherweight, was no different. It’s

about the GT Force 1.0, a six-inch (150mm)

germ-fest in waiting. Just use a hydration

probably the fact that the distance from

travel trail bike that the Americans put into

pack or get some clamps to mount a spare

the saddle to the pedals never changes, no

their ‘all-mountain’ categ ory. For a while,

bottle on the seat post.

matter how smooth or bumpy the ascent,

GT has been missing a ‘fighter’ in the very

The Sensor is snow white, with blue

making the bike feel lighter than it is. But

popular 5-inch (120mm) travel trail bike

and silver decals. Not the most practical

like the Force, the Sensor really came into

division, but now that’s a gap that’s been

colour for a mountain bike, but damn, it

its own on descents – the more rugged the

filled – and, as we established, quite well

looks good when it’s clean!

terrain, the better the Sensor seems to

The Sensor is fitted with a sensible

‘bite’! It breezed through both a smooth-


component spec, including an almost full

surfaced, very twisty descent and a long,

Not a hint of carbon-fibre here, just good

Shimano XT groupset (gears, brakes and

rock-strewn downhill with a confidence

old reliable triple-butted, shot-peened

hubs), Mavic XM719 rims, Truvativ Stylo

bordering on cocky. We noticed afterwards

aluminium, carefully hydroformed and

crankset and Ritchey Comp bars, stem

that we’d used the full 120mm of travel

shaped to provide a frame that looks solid,

and seatpost. A Fox RL fork with 120mm

both front and rear and never once felt

but not clunky, strong, but not brutishly

of travel and 15mm through-axle, takes

like the bike was at its limit. Nothing

so. The rear triangle mates to the front

good care of suspension up front, while

seemed impossible which is what you

triangle by GT’s refined Independent

a set of chunky (2.1-inch rear, 2.3-inch

want from bike that’s sells you a promise

Drivetrain design. In fact, we got a sneak

front) Kenda Nevegal tyres add a touch

of all-day comfort, control and efficiency.

peek at a prototype of the new design back

more brawn.

The braking and shifting was faultless and

in March 09 when Robert Stemen, GT’s


the high-volume tyres (not tubeless) were

R&D manager visited the country, so it was

By having slightly less relaxed angles


good to see – and ride – the finished result.

compared to the Force, (headtube 69.5


A Fox Float RP23 shock with 120mm of

vs. 69 degrees and seattube 73 vs. 72.9

At this price, you’ll struggle to find another

travel bisects the front triangle, attaching

degrees), the GT designers have found

bike that’s as capable and versatile as the

to the downtube exactly where a bottle

a sweet spot in terms of rider position.

Sensor 1.0. It’s well balanced in every

cage would normally be located. For some

We immediately felt comfortable,

way and perfectly suited to almost all

reason, GT insists on placing bottle cage

whether ascending or descending.

terrain you’ll encounter in South Africa.

mounts under the downtube. Nobody

We’ve always found GT dual sussers with

It’s designed as a trail bike, but although a

in their right mind should carry a bottle

the Independent Drivetrain design a

little on the heavy side in terms of weight,

there. Nobody in their wrong mind either!

pleasure on the climbs, no matter what

will be just as comfortable in marathons

It’s probably where more mud and grime

their weight. The Sensor 1.0, at 13kg

and stage races for all but the top racers.


50 |





| 51


PIVOT FIREBIRD | R25800 (frame, shock and BB only) One of the biggest problems with freeride

additional welded parts, which Pivot says

and quickly confirmed this by staying with

bikes is their inability to climb with any kind

makes the Firebird lighter, stronger and

riders on trail bikes and even XC bikes up

of composure. They’re normally sluggish,

better aligned between the shock and

all climbs. The small bump compliance is

wallowy and, well, a bitch to get to the top

the pivots. There’s a generous 6.5 inches

superb and we found ourselves not needing

of a climb. Pivot’s designers built the Firebird

(167mm) of rear travel on offer, while the

to be too choosy about lines on rough

to solve this problem and they’ve done a

fork is a Fox 36 Float RC2 FIT – a confidence-

ascents. We were even able to accelerate

damn good job!

inspiring item if ever there was one. With

with a surprisingly quick response. Shifting


160mm of travel and a large 20mm thru-axle

was crisp and not once did we experience

Burly and bold is about the best way to

with quick-release fastening, you start to

any kind of chain derailment, a frustration

describe the look of the Firebird, a larger-

dream big before you even swing a leg over

generally accepted with this kind of bike.

than-life freeride bike that’s built to go

the rig.

Pivot has cleverly designed (patent pending)

downhill – fast. Freeride bikes usually

The other two areas that stand out are the

the front derailleur mount so that there’s

look more functional than attractive and

very wide golden Race Face Atlas Freeride

no change in position or angle between the

the Firebird conforms to that norm. The

bars – almost as wide as lat pull-down bars

front mech and the rear axle no matter

anodised Root Beer Brown aluminium frame

in the gym – and the chunky WTB tyres – a

where the suspension is in its travel. It’s also

is so solid in its construction it looks heavy;

WTB Dissent 2.5-inch on the front and a WTB

single-ring guide compatible for the gravity

but the complete bike weighs a surprisingly

Stout 2.3-inch on the rear – a super-sized


middleweight 14.3kg – not much different to

serving of traction and volume to match the

We expected the Firebird to descend

many mid-range 5-inch-travel trail bikes.

rest of the bike. Our test bike wasn’t from

with distinction. And it did. Drop-offs, rocks,

One of the designers of the Firebird is

the importers, but belonged to customer. We

ruts – you name it, the Firebird wanted it.

Dave Weagle, the creator of the DW Link,

found it a little strange that he ran 160mm

We obliged and were satisfied that any

the understated, highly rated suspension

rotors with the Avid Elixir R hydraulic disc

limitations were rider-related, not bike-

link that’s helped make the Ibis Mojo such a

brakes on both front and rear. A bike with


huge success. The rear shock, a Fox RP23, is

that much appetite for descents should most


housed in a unique full-floating position (it’s

certainly have a 185mm rotor on the front.

Freeriding just got a lot more accessible.

not attached to the front or rear triangle),


Pivot’s Firebird breaks new ground in a

between a carbon rocker at the top and the

The hype around the Firebird is that it’s

category that’s got huge potential in this

DW Link below. According to Pivot, this offers

meant to be able to help you climb with

country where ski lifts are non-existent,

a variable shock rate, which ensures precise

composure and descend like a DH pro. It’s

but mountains are plentiful. Not a practical

control over the suspension performance at

not hype. We took the Firebird to some

purchase if you don’t live near big slopes,

every point in the travel. It also eliminates

real mountain slopes in the Drakensberg

but worth every cent if you do!

52 |





| 53


KTM SCORE PRESTIGE | R72000 When we first saw the KTM Score Prestige in

As a full susser, let’s take a look at what

comes in at a very scant 1170g, thanks to

a brochure, along with assurances from the

KTM has done to get the bike squishy. It

carbon and magnesium and skinny 28mm

importer that it is a great bike, we were a

has gone for an elegant four-bar-linkage

stanchions) and a degree of fore-aft flex.

little impressed and a lot intrigued. After all,

design with one pivot mounted just above

Where the Score shines big time is on

to most KTM is an Austrian motorcycle brand.

the bottom bracket and another roughly

tight, twisty tracks. It’s lithe, responsive

But when we got the bike ‘in the flesh’,

halfway up the seat tube, offering a

and confidence-inspiring. It is a great

intrigue totally made way for impress.

substantial brace for lateral stiffness. A

climber, too; leave the rear shock engaged


carbon link (the frame is fully carbon fibre)

and it won’t bother you, lock it out and it

This is a striking machine, with its eye-

then joins the two pivots and pushes on a

is rock-solid. The oversize downtube and

catching orange and black livery immediately

DT Swiss XR Carbon shock, which delivers

curved, shaped top tube is bonded through

drawing attention. The white highlights

100mm of travel. That matches the fork:

fully 120mm to the top tube, making for a

are led by the prominent (and familiar)

up front, the Score runs a DT Swiss XRC 100

very stiff feeling frame. The wheels, not

KTM logo; the quality of the paintwork is

air shock with remote lockout.

surprisingly, rolled beautifully and, truth be

uncompromising. On a top-of-the-range bike like this,

The wheels...oh my, the wheels. These

told, put up with the rigours of a good hiding

are something of a bone of contention

(although our testers on this bike were

because the DT Swiss XRC 330 rims are made from carbon and laced via 28 bladed spokes to matching hubs from the same manufacturer. Carbon rims somehow worry us; carbon does not buckle or bend, it shatters. Given that impressive spec, you should be burning to learn the weight. It comes in without pedals at just 9.5kg, with bottle cage but not pedals, for the 43cm (small) bike supplied. That’s less than the top-ofthe-range hardtails of just two years ago. As should be absolutely clear by now, this bike is designed for hardcore racing – XC or marathon. The angles are about as aggressive as you’ll get on a mountain bike; the seat tube is canted at 73 degrees while the head tube turns the protractor to 71 degrees. attention to detail is expected, and the Score


under 75kg); the Rubena Zefyros tyres are

Prestige delivers. From the white grips and

The result is a very sharp handling machine,

not anything we’ve seen before, and were

matching Selle Italia SLR Carbonio Flow seat,

aided in no small part by the rigidity of the

quite up to the job in dry conditions – but

replete with orange and silver detailing, it is

linkages tightly fitted to the main triangle.

performed poorly on soggy terrain.

apparent that as much thought went into the

They’re clearly well-engineered to deliver


design and manufacture of the frame as went

minimal loss from the sideways forces of

This is not a bike for the casual rider,

into its finishes. Further great touches can be

pedalling, channelling it all into turning

although it will impress your mates. This is

seen in head-tube mounted cable guides for

that rear wheel.

not a bike for occasional weekend outings

derailleur cables and the KTM branded slap

The ride on this bike is, however, not

and a lekker cruise with the coffee shop

plush. As a race machine, even with a super

set. This is not the bike for you if you

Everything on this bike comes off the top

smooth rear, the KTM is somewhat jarring;

enjoy stopping and enjoying the view. No,

shelf. In the cockpit, there’s a Ritchey Carbon

much of that can likely be ascribed to the

this is a pure racing machine, designed to

stem and flatbar, matching the headset

DT Swiss up front. While favoured by some

perform without compromise. It’s a bike that

and seatpost. The groupset is Shimano’s

hardcore racers, others, especially those

demands a thrashing as it helps you carve

XTR, in this case with the carbon ‘shadow’

fond of stage events, may find its somewhat

your way to the top step of the podium. It’s


‘hard’ and not worth the weight saving (it

a very, very desirable racer.

sock and chainstay chainsuck plate.

54 |




| 55


SCOTT SPARK 30 | R29999 The Spark is now entering its fourth year

mance and durability, while the braking

ly rode like a lighter bike. Climbing is the

as SCOTT’s racing full-suspension model.

duties have been given to Avid with their

Spark’s favourite activity. The stiffness and

Kevin Evans rode one to a top 10 finish at

Elixir R hydraulic disc system. Shimano’s

acceleration, combined with the ability to

the marathon world champs last year and

much-praised SLX model trigger shifters,

adjust the suspension with the flick of your

current XC world champion, Nino Schurter,

front derailleur and crankset are mated

thumb make it a pleasure on the ascents.

rides the Spark when the terrain calls for a

to a XT Shadow rear derailleur. It’s not the

We like the traction control (middle) set-

full-suspension option.

lightest parts spec, but man it screams

ting, especially on rocky climbs and then


reliable, leaving upgrade potential should

made full use of lockout on smooth terrain

Pretty isn’t a word you’d automatically as-

you want it.


sociate with a mountain bike, but the Spark


The slightly relaxed head-tube angle (69.8

30, with its polished dark carbon frame and

The first thing we noticed was the snappy

degrees), trail-length stem and mid-width

rear triangle, sports white with electric

acceleration. Somehow, SCOTT has cre-

riser bar, combined with the extra 20mm of

blue detail. And that colour theme is car-

ated an extremely stiff platform that

fork travel allowed us to tackle downhills

ried through to the grips, stem, fork, saddle,

translates into very noticeable, immedi-

and rocky terrain with a little more pace

shock link, brakes and even the rims, mak-

ate responsiveness to any pedal input.

than we’d normally be comfortable with

ing it, well, pretty.

The second thing that struck our testers

on a more traditional XC-racing set-up. We

The full carbon frame and rear triangle are

was the sharpness of the steering. Not

waited a long time to be able to test ride

mated by a four-bar linkage design that fea-

the sharpness that surprises you, but the

the Spark 30, which really did impress us

tures an asymmetrical chainstay and long,

sharpness that pleases you and puts you

more than we expected. Turns out then,

unbraced seatstays (great for mud clear-

instantly in confident mood when tackling

that it was worth the wait.

ance), as well an oversized seattube. The

tight, twisty trails.


shock is a SCOTT/DT SWISS Nude with 110m

By having 110m of rear travel and 120mm

We can’t often claim that a full-suspension

(4.5 inches) of travel, while the fork is a

up front, SCOTT has blurred the current

race bike is fun as well as fast, but the Spark

Rock Shox Reba SL with 120mm (5 inches)

category line somewhat, which is usually

30 really was also fun to ride. That little fun

of movement. Both the shock and fork are

drawn at 100mm of shock absorption. Our

factor element made our testers very fond

remotely and simultaneously adjustable be-

less weight-sensitive testers liked this be-

of it. It truly is a very versatile bike that’s

tween full suspension, traction control and

cause it places the Spark 30 more firmly

ideally suited to marathon and stage racing,

lockout, all with the flick of a left-thumb

in the marathon-racing category without

but can also be thrashed about on a XC race


really moving the bike out of the XC-cate-

course by most. It’s not super light, but the

The DT Swiss DE-XR tubeless rims and hubs

gory for anyone but the very elite racers.

parts spec, while very reliable, is also very

promise plenty, both in terms of perfor-

Our test bike weighed 12.0kg, but certain-


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CONTACT:; 011 7943808 X C - M A R AT H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E

GEARS: Shimano XT shifters and front derailleur; Shimano XT Shadow rear derailleur BRAKES: Shimano XT hydraulic disc with 180mm rotor front and 160mm rotor rear CRANKSET: Truvativ Stylo 44/32/22 WHEELS: Shimano XT hubs with 15mm through-axle system front, Mavic XM719 disc rims TYRES: Kenda Nevegal 2.10-inch rear, 2.35-inch front COCKPIT: Ritchey Comp riser bar, stem, seatpost; WTB Rocket V Comp saddle

FORK: Fox 32RL with 120mm travel and lockout

WEIGHT: 13kg FRAME: GT EV6 hydroformed aluminium with Fox Float RP23 with 120mm travel shock

TOP TUBE LENGTH: 589mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 484mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69.5 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 424mm WHEELBASE: 1091mm SPECS PRICE: R22995 COLOURS: White with blue and silver trim

GEOMETRY SIZES: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL


GEARS: SRAM X9 trigger shifters, SRAM X9 rear derailleur, Shimano XT front derailleur BRAKES: Avid Elixir R hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors front and rear CRANKSET: Truvativ Stylo 44/32/22 WHEELS: Stan’s ZTR Flow rims, American Classic hubs TYRES: WTB Dissent 2.5-inch rear, WTB stout 2.3inch rear COCKPIT: Truvativ AA stem, Race Face Atlas Freeride bars, Titec Duke Prolite seatpost, WTB Pure V-race saddle CONTACT:; 041 3685708 XC-MARATHON-TRAIL-FREERIDE

GEOMETRY SIZES: S – 16.5-inch, M – 17.75-inch (tested), L – 19-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 571mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 443mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 67.2 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 71.5 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 431mm WHEELBASE: NOT GIVEN SPECS PRICE: R25800 (frame, shock and BB only) COLOURS: Anodised Black; Anodised Root Beer Brown WEIGHT: 14.3kg FRAME: Oversized, triple-butted, hydroformed 6061 aluminium with Fox RP23 shock with 167mm (6.5-inches) of travel FORK: Fox 36 Float RC2 FIT with 170mm of travel



COCKPIT: SCOTT Pro stem, SCOTT Pilot Pro 18mm riser bar, SCOTT RC seatpost, Scott RC saddle

COCKPIT: Ritchey WCS carbon flat bar, stem, seatpost; Selle Italia SLR Carbonio Flow saddle CONTACT: XC-MARATHON-TRAIL-FREERIDE

TYRES: Maxxis Lust 21.1-inch front and rear

FORK: Rock Shox Reba SL with remote lockout/adjuster with 120mm of travel GEARS: Shimano SLX rapid fire shifters and front derailleur; Shimano XT Shadow rear derailleur BRAKES: Avid Elixir R hydraulic disc with 185mm rotor (front) and 160mm rotor (rear) CRANKSET: Shimano SLX 44/32/22 WHEELS: DT SWISS XR30 rims and hubs

WEIGHT: 12kg FRAME: IMP carbon fibre with SCOTT/DT SWISS Nude shock with 110mm of travel with remote adjuster

TOP TUBE LENGTH: 585mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 387mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69.8 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73.5 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 422mm WHEELBASE: Not given SPECS PRICE: R29999 COLOURS: Glossy carbon with black/white detail



BRAKES: Shimano XTR hydraulic disc with 160mm rotor front, 140mm rotor rear CRANKSET: Shimano XTR Hollowtech II 44/32/22 WHEELS: DT SWISS XRC 330 carbon rims; DT SWISS 240s hubs TYRES: Rubena Zefyros 2.1-inch front; 2.1-inch rear

FORK: DT SWISS 100 RL with 100-mm travel and remote lockout GEARS: Shimano XTR Rapidfire Plus

GEOMETRY SIZES: S 17-inch/43cm (tested), M 19-inch/48cm, L 21-inch/53cm TOP TUBE LENGTH: 585mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 430mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 71 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 430mm WHEELBASE: 1077mm SPECS PRICE: R72000 COLOURS: Matte/gloss black combo with burnt orange and white detail WEIGHT: 9.5kg FRAME: Carbon fibre monocoque with 100m-travel DT SWISS XR Carbon shock



Gear MINI DV MD80S HELMET VIDEO CAMERA Ever thought how cool it would be to video record your ride along your favourite trail? Well, we have. Which is why we got quite excited about the Mini DV MD80S helmet camera when it arrived for review. It claims to be ‘the smallest digital video camera in the world with high resolution image’ which means it weighs almost nothing and looks more like a memory stick than a video camera. It was surprisingly easy to fit. We skwodged it to the top of a helmet, but it also has various attachments to allow fitting to your arm or bike – anywhere really. The three ‘sticky straps’ it comes with are very effective and hold it firmly in position (we only required one strap for the helmet fitting). It downloaded easily onto both PC and Mac using our existing movie-player software and impressed with the quality of the video (2000K pixels, 25 frames per second for 640/480 video output)...and the fact that it also records sound! We’d recommend riding around the block first to determine the correct angle before heading out for your trail recording as our first ride had the angle set too low. The Mini DV can record up to 1 Gig (about 40 minutes) at a time and holds two hours of charge before it’s time to hook it up to some juice. If you’re into remembering gnarly descents and rude climbs, this is a gadget well worth the price as an addition to the usual gear. Price: R1400 Contact:; 087 7203951

BLUE STEEL CHAFE CREAM, SOOTHING GEL, HAIR REMOVAL LOTION As a mountain biker, you fall into one of two camps where hair is concerned: either you get rid of it or you don’t. If you’re in the first camp, great news! Blue Steel has a whole range of stuff you could/ should be interested in. If the latter, then at least part of the Blue Steel range should still be interesting. That’s because it offers Hair Removal Cream, Anti-Chafe Cream and even a Soothing Gel. You know, for application after shaving, getting sunburned or other such silliness where you might find yourself, ah, inflamed. We tried the stuff and it: • Removed hair • Limited the dreaded chafers • Soothed that which needed sooth Just one major warning. The Blue Steel range is packaged in very similar tubes, especially the Hair Removal Lotion and Chafe Cream. We’d hate to imagine a mix up of these two products... Prices: Soothing R56.95 Anti-Chafe R49.95 Hair removal R42.95 Contact: 031 209 4081; TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

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ASSOS F1.UNO BIB-SHORT Take the finest lycra available to humanity and have it stitched together by people more accustomed to making Swiss watches, mate it to a pad so comfy your undercarriage will think it’s in heaven on a bike and you’re approaching the perfection that is a pair of Assos shorts. The problem? All of that comes at a cost. Even the packaging is quite over the top, with every pair of shorts dispensed in a designer box complete with Assos catalogue, chamois cream and ‘special’ soap to wash ‘em with. And even a ‘wash bag’ into which you slip the valuable garment before lobbing it into the washing machine. Comfy? Very. Value for money? Are you mad. Desirable? Definitely. Price: R2250 Contact:

FULCRUM RED METAL 3 WHEELSET Fulcrum...that’s a division of Campagnolo, you know, the Italian company which made an ill-fated foray into MTB groupsets, oh, sometime in the 1990s. The wheel division is making a much better play of it with a range of rounds which hit the mark in all respects. What we did to test the midline Red Metal 3 wheelset was to put our 80kg brand manager onto them for a couple of months before and the duration of the Sabie Experience. Result? Not a ding, all spokes intact, wheels still rolling true and a very successful end to the race. Weighing in at a fairly chunky 1685g without quick release skewers, the proper tubeless (no rim tape here) Red Metal 3 sports sealed bearing hubs and a quiet running freehub. Good value for a solid wheelset which is likely to last. Price: R4999 Contact:

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Vredestein Spotted Cat UST Tyre A rather intriguing tyre in that it has a quite flat tread pattern, the Spotted Cat is clearly a fast-roller best suited to dry, rocky conditions. With UST sidewalls, it has the toughness you’d expect..and let’s have


a quick think, what race coming up soon

Do you know how much your saddle weighs?

is characterised by lots of dry,l rocky stuff

Not many mountain bikers do. Probably be-

where a robust sidewall comes in handy?

cause comfort is the priority when it comes

Hmmm...ahah. Yes, the Absa Cape Epic.

to this contact point between you and your

These babies seem like a good choice for

bike. Often you’ll find that the lighter your

the Karoo.

saddle, the less comfy (and more pricey) it

In over two months of testing, the

is, which is why the Serfas Tegu surprised us.

Spotted Cats have proven to be resilient

Weighing just 338 grams, this dual-density

(no punctures, even in rocky stuff in

perch offers plenty of shock absorption

Krugersdorp and out in Dullstroom) and

(read comfort) and is shaped to offer a good

predictable; that’s thanks to those low

leverage with its high back section. The

knobblies and quite a hard tread. For those

hollow titanium rails is where it saves on

of you who do a bit of ‘town and country’

weight and at R695, is half the price of most

training, you’ll love their performance on

saddles we’d put in the same weight/com-

the occasional tar stretch as much as you’ll

fort category. A good choice for stage-racers

appreciate the ruggedness over rocks. And

for sure.

for those where it rains a lot? Leave ‘em

Price: R695



Price: R499

041 3685708


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Gear LEZYNE ALLOY DRIVE CO2 Portable compressed air is one of the great conveniences we enjoy as modern-day mountain bikers. These days, very few venture out on a ride without a CO2 ‘bomb’ in their pocket, saddlebag or hydration pack. Lezyne (who else?) has come up with a system to allow you to carry your compressed air on your bike too. By designing an anodized brushed aluminium canister, they’ve made it possible to attach this important piece of equipment to the bottlecage-mounted clip, usually used for a minipump. The canister carries one threaded 16g CO2 bomb, which you simply remove and screw into the CNC machined inflator head, which inflates both Schrader and Presta valves – very well actually. We expected some rattling of the bomb inside the canister, but such is Lezyne’s engineering precision, that there was no need for concern. Very compact, clever and classy. Colours: Red, Blue, Gold Price: R225 Contact:; 041 3685708

WTB WOLVERINE TYRE WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes) has been making mountain bike tyres for more than 25 years, which makes it one of the most experienced producers of MTB tread in the business. Little wonder then that the Wolverines impressed us with their sticky grip in all but wet conditions. Sketchy hardpack, the kind found mostly in Gauteng and the drier parts of the Western Cape (Karoo) is where this tyre most impressed, holding traction longer than most tyres we’ve ridden. The tread pattern features medium-spaced knobs shaped as a series of shallow ‘V’s’. Damp roots and wet conditions are the enemy, but on dry hardpack and rocky terrain, they’re dreamy! We rode the 2.2-inch width, which is a versatile option if you’re looking for a marathon/stage-race tyre. The relatively shallow tread profile makes it fast-rolling, yet grippy. We didn’t experience any flats and we didn’t go easy on them, so believe them to be quite durable. The Wolverine is also available in tubeless, which, at 860g, is almost 50% heavier than the non-tubeless (600g). Price: R515 Contact:; 041 3685708

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Giro Monaco Gloves We’ve been wanting to get our hands, er, into these since we first carried an advert for them way back in TREAD Issue 1. Why? Because Giro, makers of some of the most desirable helmets on planet Earth (we don’t yet know of any alien bicycle helmet makers), boldly crowed in that ad that ‘If you can find better gloves, buy them’. What we found is that the Monacos are very well made. A glove’s a pretty small thing, especially the ones with no fingers, but the Giros pack plenty of smart and fine touches, including an extension of the palm with a little rubberised pull tab to facilitate getting them on easily. There is even a similar bit of stylised rubber on the Velcro closing tab; the fingers are double-stitched; the back is quite a dense mesh and sports yet more rubberised detail in the form of a Giro ‘G’ and the maker’s full logo on the index finger. All in all, a clearly very well thought-out product. The leather padding on the business side is quite thin, but with raised ridges in all the right places (under the knuckles, the pad of the thumb and the pad of the palm) the Monaco offers great shock absorption for the bumpy stuff. The all-important snot-wiper, the terrytowel bit on the thumb, is a good size to take care of, er, business. In setting out to make a winning glove, Giro certainly seems to have hit the mark. Available in short and long finger in a range of colours. Sizes: S, M, L, XL, Price: Monaco Long Finger R450 Monaco Short Finger R395 Contact: Omnico, TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

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Gear LEZYNE ENERGY CADDY Maintaining your energy levels, especially during a marathon or stage race, is obviously crucial. But it often requires you to stop to take the relevant energy bar, dry wors, peanuts, dried fruit, energy gel, jelly babies etc out of your hydration pack, which disrupts your momentum and, more importantly, loses you time. Lezyne’s Energy Caddy is an ideal solution. With a three-point Velcro system, it straps firmly onto the head of your top tube, just behind the stem, and can hold a reasonable supply of energy foods, certainly enough to support you through at least 4-5 hours. It’s easy to access while riding because the closure flap just has one small square of Velcro which lifts easily by hand, but stays closed on even the most challenging terrain. It doesn’t only have to hold nutrition; it’s ideal for a multi-tool and cell phone too. Price: R140 Contact:; 041 3685708

NOKIAN NBT LITE TYRE Interestingly, Nokian tyres are hand made in Finland (same place as the similarly-named Nokia cell phones) by the Suomi Tyre Corporation, one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers. We introduced a pair of NTB LITEs (non-tubeless) to some rugged South African terrain during January to see just how they stood up to local conditions. The tread has three main elements – closely spaced small centre knobs; staggered medium-sized knobs (set 5mm–10mm from the centre knobs); and large, tapered outside knobs. This gave the NBT LITEs low rolling resistance, but good cornering bite on hardpack and dry, stony terrain. At 500g each, they’re light enough for XC racing, but are hardy enough for marathon and stage racing. Being January and having ridden the tyres in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, we encountered some water and soft surfaces, which the NBT LITEs managed with a reasonable level of composure, but not great confidence. A great dry-condition tyre choice if you’re in the market for some new racing rubber (2.2-inch width recommended for appropriate volume). Price: R395 Contact:; 0114860060

HOPE VISION 1 LIGHT A good light for night riding usually means laying out a fair chunk of cash and then spending a fair chunk of time fitting it to your bike/helmet. The Hope Vision 1 is refreshingly well priced and simple. The CNC machined aluminium shell (available in four colours) takes four AA batteries – we’d recommend rechargables – which gave us 3 hours on the brightest of the four settings. The 240 lumens are more than adequate to light the trail brightly, although peripheral light is a little limited, but not uncomfortably so. It has mounts for handlebars and helmet, both of which held firm, even on the roughest terrain. The only real negative is that there’s no charge indicator, so there’s no warning before the light shuts down. The good thing is that you can carry spare batteries in your pocket and replace the kaput ones when necessary. Price: R1650

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Contact:; 0114860060



| 67



68 |



PREVENTION R E I EAS IS BETTER THAN CURE It’s all very exciting standing astride your finely tuned bike at the start line. But getting to the finish line can sometimes require more than just pushing the pedals around. There’s a lot more to a mountain bike than a road bike. And as a result, there’s a lot more that can go wrong. At the risk of sounding like scout masters, we say it’s better to be prepared. Here’s a handy guide to preventing the most common problems with some temporary repair tips just in case. Compiled by Anton Bosman


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RAME The frame is often the most neglected component of your bike. There is not much you can do in the rare instance of a frame snapping. Race over. But you can

keep tabs on your frame and look for warning signs

of weakness to avoid potential disaster. When washing your bike, look for hairline cracks especially around the welds. On carbon frames, do exactly the same and if you see something suspicious, immediately get your bike to where it was purchased and have an expert inspect it. These days, almost all mountain bikes have replaceable derailleur hangers. It’s the little aluminium bit onto which your rear derailleur is attached. The hanger is replaceable so that you don’t have to replace your entire frame, as was the case in the ‘old days’ when the frame bent or broke at this vulnerable point. Note: Carry a spare rear derailleur hanger in your hydration pack or saddlebag. Your local shop will be able to sell you the correct one.

70 |


Masterclass WHEELS Wheels endure consistent impact and abuse. However, there is more to a wheel than just the spokes, rim and hub. Always ensure that the bearings feel smooth and that there is no vibration when you spin the wheel. The freehub body is the part of the hub the cassette fits onto. Some are serviceable and some simply get replaced when they become faulty...but this is one component that should always be smooth and spin freely. To inspect the freehub, lift the bike and spin the back wheel. The wheel should spin freely without the pedals turning forward; if the pedals and the cranks start turning then have the freehub body checked, repaired or replaced. Another way to check is to simply turn the pedals backwards and see if the chain glides smoothly over the sprockets and through the rear derailleur. This is not the most accurate way but it will give you some idea of something that just doesn’t feel right. When the freehub body seizes, your race is pretty much over. The wheel will still spin freely but the freehub won’t engage, making it impossible to pedal. Temporary fix: A rather extreme/desperate temporary fix is to turn the bike into a fixed wheel system. Run two or three cable-ties through the biggest sprocket on your cassette and bind these around some spokes. By doing this you are essentially “fixing” the sprocket to your spokes allowing you to turn the pedals and get home or finish a race. This is purely an emergency solution and you must expect not to be able to freewheel – at all! On bikes with V-brakes, always check the braking surface. Slide your finger from spoke to tyre along the braking surface. If there is a groove then have the rim replaced. There is no quick fix should the pads rub through the rim. Always make sure that the nipples on the spokes are in tip-top condition and don’t appear to be scuffed or rounded from careless workmanship. This just allows a mechanic or yourself to have a much easier time when it comes to truing the wheel when it goes out of alignment.

TYRES Tyres should regularly be inspected for cuts and tears as well as extreme impacts such as nails. Always check the sealant levels in your tubeless tyres, especially in summer, as the sealant tends to ‘disappear’ a lot quicker when it is hot. Inspect the rim strip on tubeless conversions and also look for possible leaks from spoke holes. When using a UST wheel or a conversion that uses a tubeless valve, always make sure to carry a spare valve or two. Cuts and especially sidewall cuts can bring your race to a premature end. Temporary fix: Carry some pre-cut pieces of the old-style tyre-liner (the hard plastic type). Cut them in squares or rectangles (about 80-120mm in length). If you cut your tyre, simply replace the tube and before re-fitting and inflating the tyre, insert the piece of tyreliner on the inside of the tyre where the cut is located (between the tyre and the tube). Other items that get you to the finish in the case of a cut tyre, are money (a note obviously), leaves and energy bar or gel wrappers.


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DRIVETRAIN The drivetrain consists of the front chainrings, chain, cassette and pulley wheels. Inspect the teeth on the chainrings for wear by gently pushing down on the right pedal with one hand; now, with the other hand, pull the chain forwards and backwards where it makes contact with the big chainring. If the chain moves excessively between the teeth then it may need replacement. A broken chain is quite common and is often a result of a poorly joined pin or some aggressive/desperate cross-shifting. Always carry a chain tool. If you need to join the chain from a male link to female link, be sure to use a Shimano chain pin. Also make certain it’s the correct pin for your chain as they differ for chains that are for 7, 8, 9 or 10-speed systems. We prefer to use a masterlink. This is easy to install, as it only requires the pin that joins the two remaining outer plates on the broken chain to be removed. This will leave you with two female ends; pop the master link in between.

72 |


Masterclass GEARS Gears go out of sync for various reasons and require consistent checking and fine-tuning. During a race, when the gears are not indexing crisply, it’s usually as a result of the cables not moving as they’re intended to within their housing. Instead of attacking the limiting screws on the actual derailleur (which is often the first reaction), try turning the barrel adjuster where the cable joins the lever. Adding or reducing tension by turning the barrel one way or the other should return crisp shifting to your rig. On bikes with regular SRAM and Shimano rear derailleurs, turn the barrel away from you (when on the bike) to improve upshifting (easier gears); and towards you to improve downshifting (harder gears). With a rapid-rise rear derailleur, the opposite direction of adjustment will apply. If this doesn’t help enough, then cables probably need to be replaced. Again, do NOT turn the limiting screws! These really are to prevent the chain from falling off the outside or inside of the chainrings or cluster and usually only require attention when stripping and rebuilding a bike or when a new bike is being assembled. Should a gear cable break, you should still be able to pedal to the race finish but will have limited gear options. Check cables regularly and replace them if they’re damaged or not responding to barrel adjustment action. Note: If you experience an irritating noise from the front chainrings that isn’t caused by severe chain angle, check that the front derailleur is correctly aligned and properly positioned (height-wise) – it shouldn’t touch the big chainring.

BRAKES Mud can and does wreak havoc with brakes, whether they’re the V-sort or discs. Regular examination and adjustment will allow you to monitor them properly and replace appropriate parts or have them serviced, when necessary. It doesn’t happen often, especially if you’re diligent with bike maintenance, but during a long race, you could find yourself actually replacing your disc brake pads (assuming you carry a spare set with you, which we advise). Here’s how: Remove the wheel and push the pistons back with the original pads still in the caliper. Once the pistons have been pushed back, remove the old pads and install the new ones. Loosen the caliper adjustment screws, spin the wheel, pull the brake lever and keep it gripped while you tighten the caliper bolts again. Be sure that the wheel is spinning freely when you release the lever. A possible problem you may face, albeit very rare, is a hydraulic cable getting snagged and losing fluid. No quick-fix for this. Just proceed carefully/slowly and, if you want to avoid damaged pads, remove those as they may get some of that fluid on them, which will ruin them. V-brake users face one obvious dilemma: a buckled rim. The quickfix solution here is to either slacken off the tension on the cable or, if it is very severe, then proceed to dislodge the cable guide hose from the caliper. Be aware that the latter will render braking useless so only do one of the two brakes to get you to the finish, obviously with added caution on the descents. TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

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WIN a Volcan FS1 bike plus Volcan’s pro-team backing for a year, including spares, team mechanic and race support all worth R100 000.

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

SHOCK Rear shocks come as air or coil shocks. Although both are very reliable, the coiled variety will never lose their air - there is none, after all. If the air variety does, and it has a lockout, engage it. This should get you to the finish line, but it’s not ideal and should be given to a mechanic to repair asap.

To find out more, visit FORK Some forks also suffer from ‘stiction’ in very dry and dusty conditions. This makes the fork feel very hard and unresponsive to movement. Wipe the stanchions clean and turn the bike upside down for a few minutes. If the fork has been serviced properly, then some of the floating fluid in the lower legs will lube the foams that sit below the dust wipers. This will provide a slicker and smoother contact area for the stanchions to slide through. 74 |


Be sure to get a lower leg service done asap after the race.


EMERGENCY REPAIR These handy items are only a schlep to carry in your pack or pocket – until you need them! • Small pliers – for those pesky and stubborn valves and anything else you can’t grab/reach with your fingers • Duct tape – this sticky plastic tape has been known to be a


remedy for many cures. Take some and roll it around your

A loose headset is quite a common problem. There isn’t one specific

seatpost, this way it will be very easily accessible

reason for this, but there is a universal element of concern/frustration,

• Spare rear derailleur hanger – juuuust in case

especially on descents and in corners. Stop and loosen the stem bolts that

• Spare brake pads – especially if rain is expected

clamp the steerer tube (there are usually two). Then loosen the Allen bolt

• Spare cleat bolt – trust us, this small bolt makes a big difference!

that sits on top of the stem in the headset cap. Turn this bolt clockwise and pull the front brake, rocking the bike forwards and backwards. Feel the headset with your fingers and try and feel for movement or “play”. Keep turning the Allen bolt until the play disappears, but be sure that the bars are still turning smoothly. Be careful not to overtighten this bolt, as doing so will render the bike unsteerable. Once satisfied, align the front wheel and fasten the Allen bolts that fix the stem to the steerer tube.

REGULARS Always carry these items with you in a race or ride: • Mini-pump or CO2 bombs (or both) • Tyre levers • Spare tube • Multi-tool


• Chain-tool (if the multi-tool does’nt have one)

Check your cleats from time to time and tighten the bolts if they’re

• Gators (pieces of old tyre-liners work well)

loose. Carry a spare cleat bolt or two in a race to ensure you don’t

• Small bottle of chain lube

suffer the frustration of a loose or even lost cleat!

• Master link or chain pin TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

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My Fitness

What’s Up, Doc?

Fitness has never been foreign to Dr Michael Mol. The Top Billing presenter and businessman always looks like he could tackle a physical challenge with confidence. As any finisher – or better still, non-finisher – will tell you, the ABSA Cape Epic isn’t quite your average physical challenge. Here’s how Mol is preparing for the 2010 edition of this tough event.


ou’re clearly a healthy, fit guy. What activities did you incorporate in your regular fitness routine in the past?

Ever since reading a Harvard Study on exercise intensity I’ve been a big believer in shortduration, high-intensity exercise (interval or surge training) and steered clear of the long-duration, low-intensity stuff – which really suited my lifestyle (and schedule). This approach to exercise meant that I generally did the flash and dash stuff – which really boiled down to running, occasional riding and a Powerplate at home with an occasional Dusi canoe marathon or Ultra marathon thrown in for good conscience. Other than mountain biking, what sports

By Sean Badenhorst


76 |


have you previously participated in on a

My Fitness regular basis?

Toyota MTN Bike park is just down the road

Spent some time with Dylan Victor to polish

As a student I spent most of the academic year

from home and I’ve spent some significant

up on bike handling and Shaun Bartlett’s Epic

on an indoor volleyball court and most of the

time there since it opened, polishing off

partner, Bruce Diesel, is throwing in some

breaks on a beach volleyball court. Football

adrenal glands and improving my technical

advice from the side as well … so I think I’m

has also been a favourite, and for the past few



years I’ve played in a social league. Surfing’s

How did you get involved in your Cape Epic

Give us an example of an average high-

also been an essential part of my fitness

2010 challenge?

mileage week of Cape Epic training:

(often more mental than physical) – but ever

Two years ago, Toyota’s Marketing Director,

Given the time off in December, I did a lot

since leaving Cape Town, it’s become a little

Andrew Kirby, invited me to ride the Epic

more mileage than usual – and this was

harder to pursue, but that’s where mountain

with him – and I said “No thanks.” Though

probably the longest week – all LSD – Sat:

biking came into the picture. It was the

my reasons were justifiable at the time,

3-4hrs; Sun 3hrs; Mon 4hrs; Tues Off; Wed

closest I could come to exercising in a natural

I’ve always seen that as a bit of a cop out.

3hrs; Thurs 4hrs; Fri Off; Sat 5hrs – not what

environment, which also required a little

When he made the call again last year I

the pro’s do, but more than I’ve ever done.

technical proficiency and the promise of some

just couldn’t say no!

You completed the Sabie Experience in

adrenaline-surging moments.

Most Cape Epic entrants have to allow the

December. How was that?

Did you do any mountain biking before your

preparation for the event to dominate their

It was my first taste of MTB stage racing

Cape Epic 2010 challenge began?

lives for at least four months prior to the

and my first real taste of mud. I think

Nothing worth mentioning, though the

event. Has it been the same with you?

the hardest part of the ‘Sabie X’ were the

Given my flash-and-dash past, I started a

elements – or more accurately “the element

little sooner than that – kicking off with an

MUD.” I managed the climbs okay, and the

LSD program in October, after I disastrously

singletrack and downhills were a blast – but

failed a lactate threshold test. It has

the mud sucked! But crossing that finish line

dominated life in some ways, but I’ve had

every day made it worthwhile… I enjoyed

to manage the degree of interruption – for

the camaraderie of the other riders and

example I promised my family that I would

of my partner particularly – Doctor Shock

train while they slept (which was rather

(a.k.a. Robert Cunnington), who is a superb

naïve in hindsight) – but it has meant that

mechanic and he taught me more about my

most of my training happens in the wee

bike in four days than I’d ever learned.

hours of the morning.

Do you have any sponsors for the ABSA Cape

Your partner for the Epic is former rugby


star, Jeremy Thomson, who’s become a

I will be riding with the Toyota Cycle lab

very accomplished mountain bike racer

team, and as a brand ambassador for Cycles

over the past couple of years. Does this

Africa (importers of the funkiest bicycle

intimidate or motivate you?

components) who, in conjunction with

Bit of both actually! Intimidated because

Morewood bikes, are providing me with

I’ve been watching Jeremy’s results and

arguably one of the most pimped bikes on

he’s a regular top-10 finisher – so he’s tough,

the tour! That’s another source of huge

tenacious and talented – but that’s just

motivation – gotta be worthy of the bike!

the kind of partner you want for the Epic.

You’re CEO of Sportron, a nutrition

It motivates me on the other hand to keep

supplement company. Have you found your

training hard, so that I’m able to keep up.

own products sufficient for the demands of

Personality wise, I couldn’t have found a

mountain bike training and racing?

better partner. Despite his great ability on

We designed the SPN range for the endurance

a bike, Jeremy’s full of grace.

athlete, and I’m proud to say that it has

Have you followed a structured training

proved to be completely sufficient for all

programme, or have you just slotted

my training and racing needs – no additional

in training around work and family

supplementation required. I’m also aware


of the danger of immune compromise

Under advice from the Kirby’s I went to see

with excessive training, but with these

a cycling bio-kineticist who put together an

supplements I’ve not had a day off training

initial program for me which has been a huge

yet – so doubly impressed (if I may say so

help, knowing you’re doing the right thing.

myself!). TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 77


78 |


My Bike

A Speedy New Machine


s one of the toughest and most accomplished female mountain bikers on the circuit today, Yolande Speedy regularly features in the top twenty of the country’s hardest mountain bike races. Having signed to the MTN-Energade squad, she’s been issued with a Volcan FS-1 (reviewed as a prototype in TREAD issue 3). Already Yolande’s put it to great use, convincingly winning the ladies competition in the MTN Attakwas Extreme Ultra Marathon over 135 kilometres and coming in 19th overall.

By: Donovan Jackson

Tell us about your bike?

Yes, last year I had both; it was the first year of

Well, it’s a Volcan dual suspension, equipped

racing a softtail, with the ABSA Cape Epic being

with SRAM XX, DT Swiss front and rear shocks

the first event I did on a dual suspension. The

and DT wheels. Handlebars, stem and seatpost

concern was always that a softtail is heavy,

are Ritchey, and I’m running Continental Race

but with the Volcan that’s no longer an issue.

King tyres. Set up like it is, the weight comes in

It’s light and still gives the advantages of full

at just under 10 kilogrammes. We are getting

suspension. On lockout, it is also just as stiff

the carbon DT Swiss wheels soon, which will

as a hardtail. That compares very well with

take the weight down a bit further. The bikes

previous full suspension bikes, which tended to

we’re running now are still prototypes, but

be a bit sluggish. It’s not just on the descents

we’ll be getting the production ones as soon as

that a full suspension is better, either. On

they are ready.

rocky, rough climbs, you can keep traction and

SRAM or Shimano?

momentum better. With the Volcan, I think I’ll

Having used both, there are advantages to

be riding dual through the year.

each; I was formerly sponsored by Shimano.

How long does it take to get used to a new

Right now, though, I am loving the SRAM XX,


with the dual chainring setup, the ratios are

Well, we got our new bikes just two weeks

perfect and the Avid XX brakes deliver great

before the Attakwas, but I know from past

modulation and control.

experience that it can take some time to

Do you, or have you ever, used a women-

get tuned in. Getting that sorted meant

specific bike?

coming down [to the Southern Cape] early

Nope, never. I ride a smaller frame, which

for a training camp, specifically to practice

results in the geometry being just right. The

technical, which is the best way to familiarise

length of the top tube can be an issue; I have

yourself with a new bike. The Volcan has

found that in some bikes it can be a bit too

quite an aggressive fork angle, which makes

long. I’m in two minds about women-specific

for very direct steering. Luckily, though, it

bikes, although I’ve never felt the need to ride

wasn’t a major change and I got comfortable

one. When looking at them, I can see they tend


towards a nice short top tube which is great...

Comfortable enough to come 19th overall in

but I can’t understand the taller head tube

the toughest one day race on the calendar,

and high stem. That seems to say something

the Attakwas?

about how women ride...They also seem to be

Laughs....Why weren’t you there?*

heavier, and somehow, you’d think they should be lighter!

*Author’s note: Yolande has a habit of getting

You raced predominantly on a hardtail last

to the finish line before the writer...but not

year. Will you be on full-suss only this year?

always and never without a fight! TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 79

My Challenge

Put me back on my bike By: Donovan Jackson

Cancer. It’s the word everyone dreads. And it’s not an old man’s disease, either. Sebastian Bona found that out in shattering fashion, just as he and wife Fleur prepared for the birth of their first child.


ate in 2008, everything was going

and then, he very soon came to realise the

chemotherapy which first necessitated

great for Sebastian Bona. On the

implications. “I was, I guess, a bit confused

another operation to install a port in his

bike, he was fitter than he’d been

at the time. It was very shocking, I mean, I

chest into which the drugs are fed for a

in a very long time, mentally and

was only 36 at the time,” he relates. “But

period of six months.

physically he was sharper than ever, his

one thing was for sure, I didn’t think I was

construction business was flying and he was

going to die.”

What about his bike? Since the disease struck, Bona has tried to get back on as

looking forward to the imminent arrival

In a bizarre twist, Bona was scheduled

quickly as possible. A spinning bike in his

of a little girl. But his world was about to

for surgery on the very day on which his

lounge is testament to that. “Not being able

be turned upside down. What started as a

daughter was born. “The timing was

to do something that you have enjoyed in

ruptured appendix quickly deteriorated into

shocking. I was looking forward to being

the past was really frustrating. Chemo was

a nightmare, as doctors advised him that his

there for the birth of our child, but instead

especially debilitating, as the two-weekly

colon was riddled with cancer.

I was expected in theatre. However, we

cycle of taking the treatment meant you

“From being in a bit of pain after a Pilates

managed to move my appointment to the

start to feel OK just in time to be knocked

class, I deteriorated rapidly and went in for

day after the Caesar so I could be there for

back by the next dose,” says Bona. “That

an appendectomy. When the anaesthetist

the birth of Lily.”

was mentally frustrating.”

came to see me the next morning, he said in


The operation, called a hemicolectomy,

But like all survivors, Bona was

In a bizarre twist, Bona was scheduled for surgery on the very day on which his daughter was born. “The timing was shocking. I was looking forward to being there for the birth of our child, but instead I was expected in theatre.”


25 years, he’d never seen anything like it.”

was a success, insofar as you can regard

determined. So much so that in the same

His appendix, Bona relates, had calcified

the removal of a sizeable portion of your

year in which cancer could quite possibly

and basically exploded. “Usually an

stomach and surrounding material. Part of

have killed him, he tackled the Sabie

appendectomy leaves a 2cm scar. Mine was

this procedure was the rather disturbing

Experience. “I only rode two days, the first

20cm. They had to scrape around inside to

process which Bona describes as ‘having

and the last, as with the weather change

try find all the bits.”

everything [in his abdominal cavity] pulled

and my depressed immune system there

But worse was to come. “The surgeon

out, examined and packed back in’. “I still

was a chance of getting sick. But I was

came in to see me. He drew the curtains

didn’t know how serious the situation was,

very pleased to record four hours and 47

around the bed and pretty much blurted it

really, and the doctors hadn’t explained

minutes for the 55 kilometre route in the

out. ‘You have cancer’.”

it to me either as they didn’t really know

last stage,” he says.

While Bona reckons he didn’t fully get to grips with just what that meant right there

80 |


themselves,” Bona says. What followed was a course of

While the cancer was life-threatening and quite advanced before the initial

My Challenge

interventions, he says the speed at which it happened and the confluence of events around it were something of a blessing in disguise. “Everything just moved so quickly. There was the appendicitis, then the C-section for the delivery of the baby, then my second op. With all that happening there was just no time to panic, no time to think of the negatives, but rather to just make a plan and make it work.” If anything, Bona says he is a little resentful at the cancer striking when it did. “I missed out on the process of getting home from the hospital with our first child, of giving her her first bath, putting her to sleep. Instead I was drugged up on painkillers in hospital. And then when I got home, the side effects of chemo meant I was too tired to do anything useful and my wife was basically a single mom,” he says. At the time of this interview, Bona answered the door to his house looking healthy and fit. Just a month previously, before Sabie X and when the accompanying picture was taken as TREAD by chance caught him training at the Bryanston bike park, he still looked somewhat pale and unwell. That led to the most important question of all in this interview: ‘What’s the situation now?’ Bona’s answer comes with a smile: “I’m cured, to all intents and purposes.” His daughter has just tuned ten months old and he is looking forward to bringing her up. And riding his bike.


| 81

Race with Soul

LOWVELD BLISS By Donovan Jackson and Christopher Dutton PHOTOS: Kelvin TRAUTMAN

South Africa has absolutely no shortage of stage races and grateful we all are for that. The thing is, with so much great terrain, from dry and dusty through to wet and muddy and everything in between, we really can indulge ourselves by having more events than any other country. Among all of them, there are a number which are simply ‘must dos’ for every keen mountain biker. Count the Sabie Experience in that number.

82 |


Race with Soul


| 83

Race with Soul


oming as it does at a somewhat...

tough test of the legs with plenty of uphill

day, especially in the forests where drainage is

unusual...time of year, in mid-

punctuated with a trip over the Bridal Veil

poor and tracks especially slippery.

December, the race is run over

falls to truly demonstrate the beauty of the

But did that dampen the fun? Not at all,

four stages in the inimitable

Lowveld. The final 54km stage was short...

as over 350 teams of two took to the start

beauty of the Lowveld. The event structure

but as with any biking in Mpumalanga, it is

line for the 2009 edition of the race. And did

is slightly different to most other stage

never easy.

they enjoy it? No question. Just for a change,

races, in that participants get to choose their

It was in that second stage that ‘Sabie X’

too, the final day made up for the goop with

accommodation from the lodges and hotels in

showed what it is famous (infamous?) for: it

beautiful weather and top class mountain

the area, rather than being provided with the

is consistently one of the muddiest events on

biking in lush forests and beautiful scenery.

usual tents. That also means a lower entry

the calendar, given that it is run in the rainy

Hopefully the event, consistently one of the

fee than most, at R3250 for the four days.

season. At the top of the serious climbs of

best organised stage races in the country, will

For this edition, the race format was

the day, riders were enveloped in mist and –

attract a sponsor this year.

changed a little, with the first stage time

paradoxically in mid-summer – cold drizzle.

If you haven’t already, put this one on your

trial run over 30km, followed the next day

From there, they dropped down some sharp

calendar for 2010 to experience real mountain

by a 65km slog ‘into thin air’, with 1650m of

descents made all the more interesting by the

biking in real mountain biking territory. For

climbing in just 36 of those kilometres. Day

weather. The third stage had plenty of leftovers

more on the 2009 race and other event info,

three took riders through 75km, another very

from the inclement weather of the previous


Mudbath camaraderie: Less interested in taking the stage, participants take advantage of the natural facilities for a cleaner geartrain...

84 |


Race with Soul A pontoon bridge was a new addition for 2009 - which always offers the possibility of an unexpected dip...

*The Sabie Experience 2009 was won by the DCM Chrome team of Brandon Stewart and Max Knox.


| 85

Race with Soul

South Beaster By Sean Badenhorst PHOTOS: ALLEN DINHAM


he 10th annual Omni-Motion 24-hour, the longest-running such event race in Africa, found a new venue, a new sponsor and a new

set of ultra-endurance converts between 12h00 on 5 December and, well, 12h00 the following day. This edition of the country’s most popular 24-hour event was sponsored by Bicycling magazine and took place at Rietvlei Farm, south of Joburg. Experienced 24-hour participants said it was probably the toughest course they’d ridden for this kind of event (the previous venues were Northern Farm and Logwood Ranch). More than 500 riders competed in the race, entered in the eight different team categories and six solo categories. A run-to-your bike Lemans-style start in searing heat got the event off to its usual frantic start and with a tented village, good music and fun-loving supporters, a festival atmosphere didn’t take long to develop; but neither did a massive thunderstorm. Such was With 30 laps, Anton Bosman was the clear winner overall

The Le Mans style start was one of the event’s traditions that was recognised

86 |


the intensity of the storm that the organisers

Race with Soul

called a stop to the race for two hours, after just five hours of racing. Once the race restarted, thick mud and slippery trails made the course even more challenging for riders and bikes alike. The organisers then decided to shorten the 11km course a little to eliminate a ridiculously muddy section, largely responsible for claiming a few drivetrains. The traditional road-bike tossing contest was once again a familiar attraction as was the ritual burning of said road bike at midnight. The hardcore riders continued through the night, while others skipped laps in favour of naps. By early morning, the course had smoothed out enough to be fast flowing again and all finishers seemed relieved at having completed such a unique, challenging event. Anton Bosman won the solo men’s event with 30 laps, while Mattie Viviers claimed the women’s solo crown by completing 18 laps. For detailed results and information on the 2010 edition, visit

Sean O’Flynn Madden heads into the rainy night in full battle gear. He finished second overall. TREAD MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 87

Race with Soul

MTN Attakwas: Properly Extreme Mountain Bike Action By Adele Drake

Three T’s defined the 2010 MTN Attakwas ultra marathon: Technical, Tough and Thrilling.

88 |


Burry Stander leads eventual winner Kevin Evans through one of many truly tricky technical sections.


Race he fourth Attakwas Ultra Marathon kicked off the MTN

national mountain bike series in fine style on Saturday 16 January, setting the bar sky high for national races to follow. Attakwas 2010 saw a 50% increase in entries compared to

2009 with 734 mountain biking purists arriving at the start line. The growth in numbers and the quality of organisation is again testament to the commitment and attention to detail which is a hallmark of Dryland Event Coordinators.

Technical The crazies tackling the 135km route set off at 06:30 from the Chandelier Game and Ostrich farm south of Oudtshoorn on a jeep track meandering through unspoilt fynbos, leading into the Doringrivier Nature Reserve. Riders were soon greeted with short, steep, rocky climbs followed by short, even steeper, rocky descents. The first half of the race felt like an XC race, testing the technical ability of even the professional riders. The hair raising rocky descent into the Bonniedale valley claimed many a riders’ ego with some unintended ‘out of your depth’ dismounts onto unforgiving rocks.

Tough Following the third water point at 78km, temperature became the enemy, with the mercury pushed all the way to 37 degrees and three monster climbs remaining. With a total ascent of 2820 metres, the MTN Attekwas is one of the most demanding events on the calendar. Not even the wide open district roads which comprise much of the last half of the race could prevent profuse sweating (nor quite a lot of swearing) and did little to alleviate the pain. The toughness of this event meant that just 511 riders (70% of the field) managed to finish the race within the 12-hour cutoff.

Thrilling The mountain views in the Attakwaskloof are breathtaking, and not just owing to elevated heart rates and lack of oxygen). With the route well marked and proficiently manned water points on average every 20km, riders could enjoy the spectacular mountain splendour while pondering ‘what the hell I was I thinking entering this race’ and scheming about how they could possibly make it to the finish line. Making up for the brutality of the course, first class treatment was dished out at water points, with bottles refilled, sunglasses wiped clean, refreshing wet towels, glorious fruit and cool heavenly drinks. A head wind carrying the fresh smell of the deep blue sea, visible in the distance welcomed riders to the finish at Pine Creek Resort in Great Brak River. This smell, the view and the knowing the end is in sight, made the conquest of completing this gruelling race worth the effort for souls brave enough to take on the Karoo. With an entry fee of R425 higher than most, the question is: Was it worth the pain? Having delivering yet another awesome Karoo riding experience, the answer is another question: When do 2011 entries open? *Kevin Evans and Yolande Speedy (both MTN-Energade) won the men’s and women’s titles respectively.


| 89

Race Wih Soul

The Age of Aquariu(m)s By Sean Badenhorst PHOTOS: JACQUES MARAIS

Once a year, fish at the uShaka Marine World Aquarium get front glass ‘seats’ to the Hewlett Packard Urban Rage, presented by Jeep Apparel. Seriously. The unique mountain bike event, which sees riders tackle a variety of existing and purpose-built obstacles take participants down into the aquarium and past the big fish tanks.

90 |




| 91


f course you have to have some higher-grade skills to compete – successfully – in this event, which is a spectator treat. Here’s a run-down of the some of the stats:

• The course took 7 days to build • …with a total of over 2900 man hours of labour • …and 28 tons of scaffolding from SGB-Cape • The course was 2.1kms long with 45 obstacles • A total of 600m of the obstacles was over the water • Wooden obstacles weighed in excess of 12 tons • There were 2 broken collarbones ¬and multiple bruised ego’s • What was at stake? R 50 000 in prize money! Philip Buys (Garmin adidas) and Candice Neethling (DCM Chrome) won the men and women’s titles respectively. For more information, results and images, visit

LEFT: Stop and stair...or rather, don’t. Hammering it down a staircase is all in a day’s work for eventual ladies’ winner, Candice Neethling. BOTTOM: Bombing the berms is all the rage. The unique event puts rider’s skills fully to the test...

92 |





Schedule of South African mountain bike events Place


Parys, Shiloh Shalom

Sat 6th March

Bethlehem, Wolhuterskop Sat 20th March Nature Reserve


Dicipline FREE STATE


Contact Person


Parys Island Dirtmax MTB XCM Series # 2 To-Go-To MTB Challenge XCM Night Race


Belinda Basson



Leon v Dijkhorst

072-9104040 & 082-4124606 082-7916003


Sat 27th March

Kroon Wedren



Willie Stoman


Sat 27th March

Soetdoring MTB



Monica Naude

KWAZULU-NATAL Underberg/Scottburgh

Wed 3rd March

Subaru Sani2c Adventure

XCM Stage


Thurs 4th March

Subaru Sani2c


Port Shepstone

14th March

Wagondrift Dam

Sun 21st March

Hilton, Cedara College

Sun 28th March

Momentum Health XC XCO Series # 3 Bushmans MTB Super XCM Classic # 1 Jowetts Super Classic # 2 XCM

Race Glen Haw

Kurt Kuhn

083-7801832 083-7801832 082-7889374


Heidi Mocke



Jowetts Cycles Events Brian Dinkelman

083-6598605 084-6931502

Stage Race

Glen Haw

P i e t e r m a r i t z b u r g , Sun 28th March Cascades

Greg Minnaar Mongoose DH DHI Series

Franschoek, Boschendal Sat 6th March - Sun 7th Wine Estate Challenge March Western Cape Sun 21st March - Sun 28th March Oudtshoorn, Lategansvlei Sat 27th March Somerset West, Lourensford Sun 28th March Wine Estate

Cape Argus Pick’n Pay MTB XCM

Cycle Tour


ABSA Cape Epic


Grandstand Management

60km/35km/10km/5km 55km/21km

Essie Esterhuyse Grandstand Management

021-4264373 084-2791065 021-4264373


Driekie Darcy



Ian McEwan

083-5568439 083-4411108 083-7508968


Lategansviel Kleuterskool XCM MTN Cape Times Vigne à XCM Vigne

EASTERN CAPE Stutterheim, High School

Sat 20th March

Stutterheim High School XCM Enduro Longhill MTB Challenge XCM

Queenstown, Longhill Sat 27th March Game Park Bathhurst Sun 28th March Port Elizabeth, Woodridge Sun 28th March School

Bathhurst Bundu Bash


Pretoria North, SVJ Farm

Sun 7th March

AmRic SVJ Series



Richard Sutton

Pretoria, Babas Lodge Krugersdorp

Sun 7th March Wed 10th March

Babas Lodge # 3 Moonlight Series

XCM XCO Night Race

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

Andre de Beer Lynne Venter

Pr e t o r i a , F o u n t a i n s Sat 13th March Reserve Johannesburg, Northern Sun 21st March Farm Krugersdorp Wed 24th March

Heritage Classic




Northerns Quickie




Moonlight Series

XCO Night Race

One Hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

Antoinette Harding EPMBA/Fattracks


Muldersdrift, Kloofzicht

Sat 27th Mar - Sun 28th Kloofzicht Premier MTB XCM Mar Challenge


Sat 27th March

MegChem Cosmos MTB XCM Race

Munnik, Town Hall

Sat 27th March

Munnik Meerkat Challenge

Rob Jackson

082-9018703 www.amric. 082-7905061 079-8785379 w w w. 083-3272499 0861-100101 079-8785379 w w w. 082-5501628 www.leveragecorporation.

MPUMALANGA 75km/45km

Hein Schmidt



Johan van Dijkhorst

082-7408740 w w w. m u n n i k m e e r k a t .


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 MARCH/APRIL 2010

| 93








Contact Person

Nigel, Italian Club Krugersdorp

Sun 4th Wed 7th

Route 42 Suikerbos MTB Classic Moonlight Series

XCM XCO Night Race

60km One hour (1.6km lap)

Noel van der Miller Lynn Venter

PTA-North, SVJ-Farm

Sat 10th

AmRic-SVJ Series



Richard Sutton


Wed 21st

Moonlight Series

XCO Night Race

One hour (1.6kn lap)

Lynn Venter

Jhb-Scottburgh, Suikerbosrand Pretoria, Babas Lodge

Fri 23rd – Sat 1st May Sun 25th


XCM Stage Race

230km/9 days

Elrina Venter



Andre de Beer


Belinda Basson Louis Harmse

Babas Lodge #4

Contact 082-374 6681 079-878 5379 / 082-901 8703 079-878 5379 / 082-714 4796 082-490 5061

FREE STATE Parys, Shiloh Shalom Heilbrom, Morotuwa

Sat 3rd Sun 4th – Mon 5th

Parys Island Dirtmax Series #3 Morotuwa


Bloemfontein Clarens, Town Square

Sat 10th Sat 17th

Eden Classic MTB MTN Clarens XCM #4


Swaziland, Malkerns Club

Sat 3rd

Swazi Design Kidz Mini MTB Race

Rustenburg, Hunters Rest Hotel

Sat 17th

Kgaswane MTB Classic


Willie Oelofse Advendurance

083-595 8439 082-557 6884 083-256 9724 083-327 2499



Amapushpush Cycling Club

00 268 6110681


Hennie Fourie

083-226 9730

50km/65km/40km (2man)

Hill2Hill Events

072-125 2382 083-327 2499 / 083-744 7103 083-327 2499 079-100 6164 082-572 4522 082-402 5554 084-693 1502


KWAZULU-NATAL Hilton, Laddsworth School

Fri 2nd – Sun 4th

Fox Hilton Explore

XCM Stage Race

Pietermaritzburg, Cascades Port Edward, Hardin-Port Edward

Sat 10th



Sat 10th – Sun 11th Sun 11th

Secret Trail MTB Stage Race

XCM Stage Race

Advendurance/Martin Fourie Max Cluer




Cumberland Super Classic #3 Juicy Lucy Classic Bonita Sunday Tribune Giant’s Castle MTB Challenge Greg Minnaar Mongoose DH Series


Pietermaritzburg, Cascades Cumberland Nature Reserve Mid Illovo Farmers Club Drakensberg, Giant’s Castle

Sun 18th Sun 25th Sun 25th

Pietermaritzburg, Upper Ferncliff

Sun 25th

40km/25km 40km/25km/10km 75km


Nicole Talbot Brett Austen-Smith Bruce Houghting Brian Dinkelman

EASTERN CAPE East London East London, Wansley Farm Seymore, Katberg Hotel Port Elizabeth, Red House

Sat 3rd Sun 4th

Border Provincial Cross Country Club Race #3


Sat 17th Sun 25th

Kat Leisure MTB Challenge #4 Scott Ayton Memorial



Tues 27th

Homtini Enduro

Antoinette Harding Amatola MTB Club 60km/35km/10km 30km/15km/5km

Justin Price Fattracks


083-441 1108 071-140 5549 043-726 3116 083-750 8958


Sat 3rd Sat 3rd Sun 4th Sat 10th Sat 10th

Kaktus En Die Koppe WP Provincial XCO #2 WP Provincia DHI #2 Oudtshoorn MTB Relay Geard Pharmacy MTB


Johan Gerber

082-094 2526

80km/60km 60km/30km

Essie Esterhuyse Gert van Staden

XCM Stage Race


Arno Botha

Makadas Star Gazer

XCM Stage Race


Mitzi Knipe

Sat 17th Sat 17th

Kingfisher Enduro Balance Breërivier MTB


70km/45km/20km 55km/30km/16km/4km

Cherine Schmidt Edelgard Lategan

Breede River, Laerskool Breeriver

Sat 17th

Fine Breede MTB Challenge



Edelgard Lategan

Franschoek Centre

Sun 25th

Franschoek Valley Grand Prix



Geddan Ruddock

Calitzdorp Spa

Fri 30 – Sun 2nd May

Klein Karoo Klassick

XCM Stage Race

130km/90km/45km/15km/45km TT


084-279 1065 083-626 3919 083-395 9038 084-549 7700 www.makadaadventures. 083-285 8680 083-556 4947 083-556 4947 082-578 3017 083-508 9642

Sun 11th – Sat 17th Fri 16th – Sun 18th

Cederberg Tour - Tour #1

Hoekwil Primary School

Nelspruit/Sudwala - Mankele MTB

Sat 17th

Sudwala Mankele Challenge


Mark & Geoffrey

082-338 9532 082-338 9533

Rooiberg, Jakkalsans

Sat 24th – Mon 26th Sun 25th

Rooiberg Eco Ride

XCM Stage Race



Bike4Beasts Venetia



Lycaon Logistics

Mon 26th

Bike4Beasts Fun Ride



Lycaon Logistics

083-326 6721 www 083-657 1551 083-657 1551


Ceres Montagu De Bos


LIMPOPO De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve Mapungubwe National Park

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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 | BICYCLE SHOP



Tel:+ 27 11 341 0627 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


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

Catherine Labuschagne

PHOTO: Courtesy


ge, location, day job? I’m 30 and I live in Makhado (Limpopo), about 100km north of Polokwane and 100km south of

Musina. My job? I’m a fighter pilot in the South African Air Force, currently flying Hawk jets.

Why mountain biking? I love being outdoors, cycling and all the challenges of a technical route. You get to see and experience parts of the country that a lot of people miss out on. There is also something quite acceptable about getting dirty, muddy and wet, while on a mountain bike. How long have you been riding for? About 4 years now; I started off doing triathlons and road cycling. For the past year I have been spending a lot

more time on my moun-

tain bike and I love it. Tell us about your bike? I was on a Giant Anthem 2 and just replaced it with a Specialized Epic which is much lighter. I’m loving the change but my next move will definitely involve a lot of carbon. What would you replace on it right now? Right is a well oiled machine! Favourite race? I have a few, Sabie Experience, Mankele 3 Towers and Transbaviaans. I am hooked on stage races and long endurance events, anything that pushes the limits! Are you more of a Top Gun fan...or a Hotshots fan? Seriously?.....Top Gun! Maverick or Iceman? Maverick! Where do you train? In the heart of the Soutpansberg, I can be on dirt road within a kilometre of my front door....awesome. Any other sports? Triathlons, road cycling, running How often do you compete? I try to compete once or twice a month, time permitting. My races also vary from MTB to road races to triathlons. I will, however, focus more on mountain biking this year. Can you fix a puncture? Of course, but...tubeless...need I say more. How about a busted derailleur? Yes, I blindly rode Sabie Experience in 2008 without that valuable knowledge and learned a hard lesson...rookie mistake. Now I’m older and wiser.

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TREAD Issue 5  
TREAD Issue 5  

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