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R80 000!


M O U N TA I N B I K I N G W I T H S O U L Top Sub-junior Boys XC racer, Joel Heiber, on his Merida O-Nine.




GIRL! Your guide to: • Increased comfort • Better control • Basic trail repairs • The right clothing • Weight loss by bike • Not crashing (as much) • Buying the right bike

ISSUE 9 Nov/Dec 2010 R36.95 (incl VAT)




Cruise up rocky climbs


Lindani - Limpopo’s MTB jewel


Summer races for all levels of rider


Confidence-building tips for beginners


Sintesi 609 | SCOTT Scale Elite 29 | Ghost ASX 5500 Nomad FS Twenty | KHS Alite Team | Ghost Miss 5100 Specialized Era Comp | Pivot Mach 5.7 | GT Avalanche 1.0W



REMARK-ABLE “Being a mountain biker riding through dirty rivers or mud we are exposed to many horrible bacteria and viruses all the time. In most cases, Coxsackieviruses cause mild flu-like symptoms and go away without treatment. But in some cases, they can lead to more serious infections, which is what I faced.” – Amy Jane Mundy ‘My Challenge’ Page 82 “I estimate that bicycles lose about 40-50% of their initial value within the first year, but many of them are in prime condition if they’ve not been ridden too often. After Year 1, mountain bikes depreciate by 10-15% per year, road and triathlon bikes depreciate a bit less.” – Brett Sachs ‘A beer with…’ Page 18 “At the time, I felt mountain biking had potential. It was attractive and a fresh, alternative form of exercise. I didn’t expect it to grow as big as it has though. I think the growth in South Africa has been bigger than that in Europe – proportionately of course – because we have such great weather and so many events and places to ride.” – Michael Hirschfeld ‘Industry Leader’ Page 84 “We duelled to the top of the hill. Fighting for the right to be French. Later, once the testosterone had filtered from our brains back to our balls, we got chatting about what the heck that was all about. It was about the image we’d seen in the paper. The Tour de France had touched us both.” – Andy Ellis ‘Stoke’ Page 20 “But, we all did all the events, on just one bike. There was no distinction between the equipment used for DH, XC or even the foot-ups competitions – we just spent a long weekend riding everything on the programme.” – Tim Brink ‘Retro’ Page 96




Editor’s welcome


Wish you were here


Dept. of Current Affairs Stoke


Tokai Stress-buster


Weekend Away - Lindani, Limpopo


Women’s Mountain Biking


MY FITNESS Francois Theron


Window of opportunity


MY BIKE Joel Hieber




INDUSTRY LEADER Michael Hirschfeld


Fuel - Combat dehydration


Skill - Cruise up rocky climbs


Starting out: Removing the mystery from MTB



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Downhill Inter-provincial, Giba Gorge


Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill 2 Hill


CALENDAR of races for November & December 2010

Tested - Bikes from Sintesi, KHS, Ghost, Nomad and SCOTT


Reviewed: Hot gear - including a batch of women’s gear


Sedgefield Fat Tyre Festival



ON THE COVER Joel Hieber tackles a drop-off in Space Junk at the Toyota MTN Cycle Park. PHOTO: BEN BERGH

A competitor gets friendly with gravity at the Downhill Inter-provincial at Giba Gorge. More on Page 86. PHOTO: BEN BERGH TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

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Editor: SEAN BADENHORST Contributing Editors BARRY McCALLUM, ANDY ELLIS, TIM BRINK Contributing Photographers GREG BEADLE, AUBREY JONSSON, WARREN VAN RENSBURG, DominIc Barnardt, Dion Lloyd, SVEN MARTIN, ZOON CRONJE, TIM BRINK, BEN BERGH, KELVIN TRAUTMAN Creative Director: SUZIE ASSENMACHER Contributors: Donovan Jackson, ANDY ELLIS, BARRY McCALLUM, Jason Bronkhorst, YOLANDE SPEEDY, ANKA MARTIN Publisher: JOANNE BADENHORST Editorial Address: 22 Collins Street Kensington B Randburg 2194 For advertising enquiries Subscriptions or call 083 279 7797

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.



id you know that 36% of all cyclists

But for female mountain bikers, it’s also

women, because I believe that’s tokenist and

over the age of 19 in this country

about them doing something for themselves

somewhat degrading. I like to think of us all

are women? Well now you do. This

that’s fun, outdoors, challenging, based on

as mountain bikers.

was revealed after Cycling South Africa

exercise and unchallenged me-time.

But since we get so many queries from

commissioned a recent census to find out

But for most women, especially

women and ladies make up around half

exactly how big the local recreational/sport

newcomers, mountain biking is formidable.

the numbers at our TREAD Skills Clinics,

cycling market actually is. Of course that

It’s not enough that bike shops are (generally)

we decided to run a feature just for girls in

figure includes road cycling (spit), but since

technical chasms of metal and carbon and

this issue.

mountain biking has way outgrown road

rubber; they then have to try and decipher

Naturally I commissioned women to

cycling, it’s probably fair to conclude that

jargon – afraid to ask for clarity on many

compile it and I trust that if you’re a woman,

more than a quarter of all mountain bikers in

things – ‘a BB is which part of the bike?’ – for

you’ll find good value in what they have put

this country are female.

fear of being ridiculed. And they’re expected


And this is good. Why? Because it means

to know which levers do what on the bike and

Our TREAD Ladies Trail & Tea rides in

that mountain biking is appealing to more than

all this while being continually told to just ‘go

Randburg/Sandton are growing in numbers

just self-centred, Type-A personality catch-

for it because momentum is your friend’.

and, after loads of requests, we’re looking

me-if-you-can males who, admittedly, have

And then there’s societal pressure on

at taking them national. If you’re interested

their place in mountain biking (somewhere).

them to look good, in riding gear and out of

in starting a regular TREAD Trail & Tea

But with a high percentage of female

it – and last time I checked, scars, bruises,

ladies ride where you live, email Joanne at

involvement, we also tend to get family

cuts and grazes didn’t really classify as and let’s grow that

involvement. And that means there’s a next

fashion must-haves. Chicks dig scars – yes,


generation of mountain bikers – a generation

but on guys.

that will grow up with mountain biking playing an integral part of their family lives.

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I’ve never wanted to have a special section in every issue of TREAD just for

Sean Badenhorst Editor




iders fight for positions shortly after the start at the 2010 Megavalanche, a mass-start ‘downhill marathon’

at L’Alpe d’Huez in France. Dressed in full protection gear, riders tackle the 30km, 2580m descent, mostly on 5-7-inch-travel trail bikes. South African entrant numbers are growing each year and at the 2010 edition, Anka Martin gave South Africa its first ever podium, when she finished fourth overall in the women’s race. The Megavalanche is one in a series of similar ‘all-mountain enduro’ races which take place mostly in Europe. Visit for more.


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im Thijs heads over the float ing bridge on one of the trails at Teak Place, northwest of Randburg,

during an early morning ride. There are three stimulating trail options of 11km, 19km and 21km through the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.



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2 0 1 0 © S R A M , L LC


Marco Aurelio Fontana, Nino Schurter, Julien Absalon

THE RIGHT GEAR The world’s top MTB athletes have chosen SRAM 2X10. SRAM 2X10 delivers maximum functionality and minimum complexity with faster shifting, more efficiency, lighter weight, and simplicity across a full range of gears. Taking advantage of technologies like X-Glide shifting, X-Dome cassettes, and wide range gearing, SRAM 2X10 gives you a drivetrain ready for any XC, Trail or All-Mountain adventure. SRAM 2X10 doesn’t mean more gears, it just means The Right Gear, right now.

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Compiled by Barry McCallum



Here at TREAD, we get to test the newest bikes. So it’s common for us to get queries and advice from friends and readers about the latest models on the market. But, as some of us are getting a bit long in the tooth (not saying who of us are…), we are also approached about older bikes. There is a growing market for retro mountain bikes In December, many of you will be making your way to Rietvlei in Joburg’s southern suburbs for the Bicycling 24-Hour race. It’s pure madness, even if you’re just riding it with a social team. Who devised the madness of riding a course from noon till noon? That

market here in SA, with riders dusting off old Timberlines, Topangas and Super Vs, and wanting to restore them to concourse condition and specification. The Museum of Mountain Bike Art – or MOMBAT for short – is a handy resource and marketplace for vintage rigs. It may be a stretch for some to see the Richard Cunningham-designed Nishiki Alien (pictured here) as a thing of beauty, but the curator of the site believes that “as you look through the pictures of

honour goes to Laird Knight, who told us by

the bikes, I believe you will begin to see the art, whether it is as obvious as a paint scheme or as

e-mail that he “wrote the rules for the first

subtle as the radius of a fillet, it is there”. MOMBAT, situated at,

24-hour team relay race in 1991 and produced

contains loads of pics and spec lists of older bikes and components, as well as links to histories

the first race in Davis, West Virginia on June

and brands. The museum is also linked to

6th & 7th, 1992”. He participated in that race

Literature.htm, which deals in old literature like mags, manuals and catalogues.

– “I wasn’t about to miss this much fun” – and continued organising events for 11 years “more or less for fun”, before quitting his job and becoming a full-time, professional promoter.


“It’s been a great ride, ever since,” said Laird,

Names like Hans Rey, Cam McCaul, Mark Weir and Steve Peat have featured in Fox’s ‘When It

“but like most rides, not without a few ups

Counts’ ad campaign. When recently approached to put together a video for the extreme sports

and downs and a couple good crashes.”

company, Clay Porter turned to his favourite subjects, former DH world champions Gee and Rachel

For Laird, it is “exciting… that 24-

Atherton. The acclaimed director’s three-minute-plus insert features edited race footage from

hour racing has become a world-wide

the 2010 season filmed in California, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia and Scotland. View it at

phenomenon”, but he’s “not really not, while you can watch other clips – from a variety of extreme sports

surprised… I designed the 24-hour team relay

- from the campaign at

format, based on my experience as a racer

com/, which also has on offer Singletrack MINDS, which is a documentary looking at the early

and race promoter, to play off of the hallmarks

days of the sport in Marin County.

of the sport: sportsmanship, comradery and fun, that I have found to be such a consistent part of the spirit of mountain bike racing”. A results archive may seem boring reading if


you didn’t race, but go to http://grannygear. com/Races/history_results.shtml and click on the Anecdotes links. There are some funny – and clearly sleep-deprived – observations like: “So as your out on the trail and you come across an extremely pungent smell,

…worth double-checking before you ride:

know that such a smell is coming from one of the members of Flamunda Cheese. So besides

1. Your tyres – pressure and condition

carrying a tube, patch kit and tools make sure

2. The tightness of the Allen bolts on your stem/handlebar

3. Your chain – a lubed chain is a happier chain

you include a gas mask in your arsenal. Now get out there and have some fun!”

Got a website, book, CD or DVD you think we should check out, drop us a mail at and write ‘Media’ in the subject field.

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…that mostly end up breaking some skin:

1. Securing three dual suspension bikes on a three-bike tow-bar mounted rack 2. Removing a right-hand-side pedal with an Allen key 3. washing your bike in a hurry

Clutter PICTURE IT… High-end American boutique brand, Foes, has launched a new programme to allow consumers to choose a frame and fork package that suits their needs/ budget. Since experienced mountain bikers seldom need to buy an entire bike, but often prefer to transfer their prized parts and components onto a new frame and fork, Foes created this simple, yet intelligent advert.




David George on Cannondale 29er


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– spotted on bigger wheels in races recently: SAFindit’s David George on a Cannondale Flash 29er on his way to second place at both the MTN Cullinan Marathon and Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill2Hill; MTN Energade’s Kevin Evans on a Volcan 29er prototype on his way to a dominant victory at The Herald Pennypinchers Karoo to Coast; Specialized’s Burry Stander on a Specialized Stumpjumper 29er on his way to a bronze medals at the Marathon World’s and XCO World’s. Toyota Cycle Lab’s Andrew McLean and Bruce Diesel on Trek Gary Fisher Collection Superfly 100s on their way to overall victory at the Cradle Quest. SCOTT Swisspower’s Florian Vogel and Nino Schurter, on SCOTT Scale 29ers, finishing first and third respectively at the final round of the Swiss National Cup Series in late August.

Clutter WATERFLOOF HOËR WIN SERIES Waterkloof Hoër took the honours as the top-scoring school in the


2010 Anatomic High School Mountain MTB series. Reigning champions,

Kevin Evans and Yolande Speedy, both of the MTN Energade team,

Florida, slipped to fourth, while a small but talented squad from Trinity

wrapped up the men and women’s titles respectively for the 2010 MTN

House bagged them the runner-up spot, ahead of Howick High – showing

National Marathon Series.

remarkable dedication in getting a strong team to Gauteng for three

Evans won four of the first five events in the prestigious seven-race series, which secured him enough points to build an unassailable lead.

races in a seven-week period. It all came to a head at Northern Farm on September 11 with the third and final round, the Tour de Farm. The first round was held at

He has now won the Series six years in succession, an unmatched record that’s going to take some beating.

Rietvlei Farm followed by Round 2 at Hartebeesport High and pupils

Speedy won the first four events in the Series and really just had to

from more than 60 high schools participated in the series, which is

finish a fifth in order to secure the title. She missed Round 5 as she was

proving to be a key development platform for XC racing.

in Canada at the World Championships and was second at Round 6, giving her the title for a third time.

Top 10 schools:

Follow Kevin’s progress at

1 Waterkloof Hoër 297 points;

6 Sutherland High 135;

2 Trinity House 221;

7 Randpark High 135;

3 Howick High 209;

8 Linden Hoër 132;

4 Florida Hoër 184;

9 Menlopark Hoër 129;

5 Garsfontein Hoër 165;

10 Fourways High 123

Kevin Evans in the 2010 MTN National MarathonSeries leader Jersey

“It is safe to say that the 2010 Anatomic High School Series has been a huge success, attracting an average of 300 high school students to each round and giving young people a sense of purpose and personal achievement,” concluded series organiser Deon Steyn from the Goldfields Cycling Club. “They’ve also all done something meaningful for their school and often introduced class-mates to a wonderful sport. We will be back next year with a bigger and better series!” For a full list of results, visit

The individual category winners for the 2010 Anatomic Series were (from left): Ryan Gibbons (Youth Men), Joel Hieber (Sub-junior Boys), Taryn Brent (Youth Women), Emily Chalmers-Banks (Sub-Junior Girls), Lure Viljoen (Junior Women) and Stephan Reyneke (Junior Men). Photo: Roadworks@motorpics TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

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Yolande Speedy on her way to another victory

Clutter ANOTHER MEDAL FOR MINNAAR South African downhill ace, Greg Minnaar, secured his seventh World Championship medal when he finished third at the 2010 DH World Champs in Mont St Anne, Canada on 5 September. The 29-year-old from Pietermaritzburg now has three bronze, three silver and one gold (2003) from the annual global showpiece, making him one of the most consistent downhill racers in history. Minnaar clocked the fastest time in official practice in dry conditions. On race day, most of the field set off in dry weather, but the last 10 riders had to contend with heavy rain, which changed the course substantially. “My training and preparation for World Champs went really well. I felt I was on target. My friend Nico Vouilloz [now retired 10-time world champion] sent this text after the race: ‘Congratulations! Don’t be too bummed with 3rd place, you beat all the guys that rode in the wet.’ I really wanted the Rainbow stripes and I believed it was in my reach. The only thing that makes me happy now is the text I got from Nico,” said a disappointed Minnaar on his website. Follow Greg’s progress at

Greg Minnaar


DOUBLE BRONZE FOR BURRY Multiple South African champion, Burry Stander (Specialized), showed his versatility during his first year in the Elite men’s category when he won two World Championship medals within a four-week period. First Stander claimed third place at the 107km Marathon World Championships in St Wendel, Germany on Sunday 8 August, becoming the first South African to win a Marathon World Championship medal.Then on Saturday 4 September, he was third in the Cross-country World Championships in Mont St Anne, Canada. Follow Burry’s progress at

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FIRST MTB MAKER, BIANCHI, TURNS 125 Bianchi, the iconic Italian bicycle manufacturer, turns 125 and you can expect a 125th anniversary logo on many of its 2011 bikes. Eduardo Bianchi, then 21, started the bicycle manufacturing company in Milan in 1885. Bianchi claims to have brought to the international market two of the most important industry inventions, the safety bike (the first bike that Eduardo made) and the mountain bike. The safety bike was the first bicycle with two wheels the same size, which was said to be safer due to the improved confidence and control it gave cyclists at the time, who’d been riding high-wheeler (Pennyfarthing) bikes. Bianchi claims it first created a mountain bike, a 1915 military bike with front and rear suspension and fat tyres. The bike was designed to move troops through the Alps or across African deserts. It also folded up, allowing infantry to carry it on their backs. “We professed in the ’80s that Bianchi made the first mountain bikes and brought them to Interbike at that time. But they were pretty much ignored,” David Reed, Bianchi USA’s vice president of marketing and communications, told Bicycling Retailer.

| For enquiries contact: Allie: 083 294 0483 | Naas: 083 309 8707 | | | |


A BEER WITH... BRETT SACHS Where do second-hand mountain bikes go? Apparently many of them go to BikeBay, a one-man business run by Brett Sachs from his home in Joburg (and online) for a bit before moving on to a new owner. BikeBay plays an important role in the, er, recycling of bicycles which ultimately helps the market grow.


ow long has BikeBay been in operation

And do you do business nationally, or just in

And who buys from you?

and what gave you the idea to start

the Joburg region?

I’d say 60-70 percent of my clients are first-


Mostly of my business is done with Gauteng

time buyers of bicycles. You know, new to

I read an article on Avron Sirin who owns Cycle

cyclists, but I do have the capacity to trade

cycling. Quite sensible really since you can get

Traders in Cape Town a few years ago and I

nationally and have been doing so for a

a good quality second hand bike at a decent

realised that there wasn’t really anything in


price. Bicycles lose about 40-50% of their

the Joburg area that facilitated the sale of

And you work from home, right?

initial value within the first year, but many

second-hand bicycles. So just over four years

Yes, I built an 80 square metre showroom at

of them are in prime condition if they’ve not

ago I created BikeBay.

home and can store almost 100 bikes.

been ridden too often. After Year 1, mountain

You’re obviously a passionate cyclist. What is

And does business fluctuate a lot?

bikes depreciate by 10-15% per year, road and

your business background?

Not really. It goes a little quieter in winter,

triathlon bikes depreciate a bit less.

Well I’m pretty much retired from real work,

but since I’ve been going, I’ve sold over 1500

And what is the ratio of bikes you sell between

but I am an engineer by training and spent

bikes – it’s about seven a week on average.

road and MTB?

some time as an executive in the corporate

What kind of bikes do you sell?

I sell two mountain bikes to one road bike on

world before retiring.

Mostly decent quality bikes. In other


And do you find that bike shops resent or

words, bikes you’d be able to buy

Do you assist buyers with advice?

support you?

new at a specialist bike shop. Not mass

Of course! This is a hobby job for me. I love

Virtually all of them support me. Not many

store bikes.

cycling and I enjoy helping get others onto

bike shops do trade-ins and they don’t make

Often people want to upgrade but first need

bicycles. I give them advice about the type of

much money from dealing in second-hand

to sell their bike in order justify – or facilitate

bike that will suit their goals as well as ensure

bikes, so they send people to BikeBay. If

– the new bike purchase. Recently I’ve seen

they get the right size bike. I’ve built Bike Bay

someone wants a new bike and can sell their

more road bikes coming in as cyclists look

on trust and knowledge and that’s core to the

current bike through BikeBay, the bike shop

to convert to mountain biking. Triathlon

business. That will never change.

benefits. I’d say about half of my clients are

bikes have picked up in the last couple of

Visit for more on Brett

referred by a bike shop.

years too.

and his second-hand bike business.

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The legendary quickness and agility of Anthem X gets the bigwheel boost. Developed with the help of Giant XC pros and raced to victory at the Sea Otter Classic Super D, Anthem X 29’er is all systems go. Featuring a lightweight FluidForm ALUXX SL frameset, confident geometry and Maestro Suspension, with the added benefits of 29-inch wheels, the all-new Anthem X 29’er is Giant’s most versatile XC bike.” Look out for the 2011 Trio: Talon 29’er, XtC 29’er & Anthem 29’er go to


Living Memory 1989. A grainy newspaper image caught my eye. Two men – Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond were out of their saddles. Fignon, wispy blond hair and round-rimmed spectacles, half a bike length ahead of LeMond, a square-jawed fella. It was a display of power, determination and guts freeze framed for the world to witness. I marvelled.

and the resting heart rate of monk. I signed up for a VO2 Max test. They told me I had some way to go. So I clocked the odometer, trying to emulate Indurain’s smooth, steady cadence. By now I’d worked out how to stay on my mountain bike for most of the race. Plus, I’d discovered that I was better on the ups than the flats. It worked for Marco

By Andy Ellis

Pantani. A scrawny little pirate who gripped the bottom of the drop bars and stood out of the saddle. He ate the Alps for breakfast… and allegedly some EPO. I changed my grip and asked my mate if he’d consider two weeks in Dullstroom before the next season – you know, get a little natural high. We bought Polar heart monitors instead. Our rivalry continued, we turned training sessions into rivalries. Who was LeMond, who was Fignon? Who was Armstrong, who was Ullrich? “Last one to the top has to eat all the sausages in the off-season.” Armstrong and Ullrich squabbled like wild dogs for a scrap, but not at the expense of sportsmanship. In 2001 Ullrich crashed, Armstrong waited for him. And then he nailed the German. Armstrong was a mechanical bull. He never showed signs of weakness. He used every cell in his body, every synapse in his brain, to ride that bike. He used glare once the testosterone had filtered from our

tactics on Ullrich. They appeared to work.

hat was the event? It was my first

brains back to our balls, we got chatting

I tried one on my mate. He asked if I was

brush with the Tour de France.

about what the heck that was all about. It


Fignon battled LeMond all the

was about the image we’d seen in the paper.


way to Paris. LeMond used aero bars, such a

The Tour de France had touched us both.

In 2003 I watched Armstrong hook a spectator’s yellow musette on the climb

girl, in the final time trail and won the tour

A mud-splattered Cadel Evans came

up Luz Ardiden. It was an intense crash

by eight seconds. Fignon wept (in France

next. I saw a picture of him on the cover

at a critical moment. Ullrich waited for

that’s manly). I was gutted. I really wanted

of a mountain biking magazine. He rode a

him. Armstrong stood out of the saddle

him to win.

Cannondale to victory at the 1998 MTB World

and gunned him down. He was ruthless.

Now it’s 1998, seven on a Saturday

Cup. The guy looked chiselled out of stone. I

Armstrong executed every other opponent

morning. I’m a speck on the fledgling South

called my mate. “I’m going to race mountain

in the peloton for years. Oh, how I wished I

African mountain biking scene. A mate and I

bikes. Seriously. I’m sick of being a spectator.

could do that. I bayed at every hanging. When

are groaning up a piece of forest single track.

Did you know that Evans uses a road bike

Armstrong quit in 2005, so did I. I was tired

He’s ahead. He looks over his shoulder and

as training? I’m getting one.” I bought two

of racing against my ego. Besides, I couldn’t

says, “You’re LeMond, I’m Fignon.” I jumped

second-hand bikes. A mountain bike and a

bring myself to wear that yellow bangle. But

out of saddle and crashed through a bush

road bike. Both of them Cannondales.

I did remain an imaginary participant of the

to overtake him. “No. You’re LeMond, I’m

Tour time again. Miguel Indurain was

Tour. I ride my bike to work every day. Some

Fignon.” We duelled to the top of the hill.

killing it. Phil Liggett raved about his VO2

days I’m Armstrong, Indurain, Pantani or

Fighting for the right to be French. Later,

Max. Indurain had the lung capacity of a horse

LeMond. But most days, I’m Fignon.

20 |


Feature Clutter

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ASX 5500

Features: Fork: FOX Forx 32F -R L 120 mm Tapered Headset: Ritchey Tapered Handlebar: GHOST Rizer light 670 mm 31.8 mm Rear derailleur: Shimano XT 10-Speed Front derailleur: Shimano SLX Shifter: Shimano SLX SL

Brake lever: Avid Elixir 3 Integrated BB Brakes: Avid Elixir 3 Disc 185 mm Front and rear tires: Schwalbe Smart Sam 2.25 Hubs: Shimano XT Shock: X- Fusion O2 R LR 120 mm Front and rear travel: 120 mm

Whatever you do, do it with Ghost! Available at better bike shops: West Rand Cycles - Roodepoort, Linden Cycles - Linden, Mikes Bikes – Greenside, Finish Line Cycles – East Rand, Hot Spot Cycles – Pretoria East, Cycle House – Pretoria North, Olympic Cycles – Cape Town Southern Suburbs, Alpha Beta - Kimberley, Xtreme Sports - Nelspruit, Ride Life - George, Leigh Cycles - Durban, Penford Cycles – Uitenhage, Cycle World – Bloemfontein, Euodia Adventures – Hermanus, Karsten Cycles – Pretoria North

Exclusive Importers and Distributors of Ghost Bikes. Office: +27 11 023 4478; Email: Website:



Discover Mpumalanga’s Newest

Mountain Bike Trails at Misty Valley Lodge Family Resort’s Mountain Bike Park and Trail Centre


ust a two-and-a-half hour drive from Joburg/Pretoria, just outside Waterval Boven, is where your next great mountain biking experience awaits. From children to active teens to recreational riders to hardcore racers, there are purpose-built, flowing singletrack trails to stimulate and satisfy every level of mountain biker, including: 4 Green Trails 4 Blue Trails 2 Red Trails 1 Black Trail Our Trail Centre has high quality bikes of all sizes for hire, a bicycle mechanic and stocks basic consumables and spares. Come for the riding and stay overnight. All styles of accommodation, from camping right through to luxury chalets, is available in the vicinity. To find out more about our affordable mountain biking weekend packages and other off-the-bike attractions, visit Tel: 086 136 4789 E-mail:




REGION: Western Cape CLOSEST TOWN: Cape Town DESCRIPTION: Tokai’s trails are the perfect antidote at the end of a stressful day. Head up from the car park, and just after the second gate enter the Faerie Garden on your left. Enjoy the technical rooty sections and gradual climb, before crossing the main drag onto another short, gnarly stretch. Avoid the back-scraper tree and sprint the sharp climb back onto the road. From here, the only way is up. Turn right into the first side-road, and left 100m later onto the long singletrack climb. The first part is quite sandy, especially in the summer, before it gets rocky and twisty as you gain altitude. The climax is the first of our Challenges – to ride up the Big Berm: get a good middle-ring run up, and in all but the driest conditions, it is rideable. Turn right and enjoy some flat stuff, taking two left forks before you head up the little climb past the ruin. Don’t turn left into the singletrack; keep going another hundred metres and look for the steep, 50m-long track on your left. This is the second Challenge: again, middle ring is the best option. Turn left, onto the open road, until you reach a t-junction. Turn right, and immediately left into the forest onto the Boulders singletrack, and the third Challenge: make it all the way to the end and back without putting a foot down. Drop back onto the road, for the final piece of climbing, and the high point of the ride, at the entrance to the Mamba. After 6.5km, and 270m ascent, you have earned the helter-skelter rush to your car. Three singletracks lead straight into one another here: Mamba, Boomslang and Snake Eyes. At the bottom of Snake Eyes, turn right and hammer the flat back to the top of the Big Berm, to descend the way you came up. The Faerie Garden closes the ride out with some whoop-inducing corners and the final Challenge for the day: the small wooden bridge and the tricky climb out of it. For a one-hour workout, with views across the peninsula, some skillimproving challenges and a healthy dose of fresh air thrown in for free, this is near-perfect. DISTANCE: 13km NOVICE: 3/10 INTERMEDIATE: 8/10 ADVANCED: 8/10 TYRES: In summer, XC tyres will be fine but in winter, find some extra knobbles: wet rocks and roots can be as slippery as a politician. BEST THING: Easy to get to after work, as short or hard as you want to make it. WORST THING: Climbing from the get-go. BEST SEASON: Summer is best for after-work riding. GET THERE: Take the Tokai off-ramp from the M3 (Blue Route) and turn towards the mountain. Straight at the traffic circle. Where the road splits, veer right, and carry on to the end of the road; turn left and follow the dirt road up to the parking lot. COST: R25 for a day permit, from the hut as you enter the lower forest. Free access if you have Cape Nature Wild Card, which costs R245 for the year: SECURE PARKING: Yes, but leave valuables out of sight. BE CAREFUL OF: The rocky step-downs on Mamba and Snake Eyes, as well as the rooty section immediately after the Big Berm. BE SURE TO: Stop and listen to the silence, magnified by the hum of the rush-hour lemmings in the distance... CONTACT:

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Weekend-away Trail


In Zulu, my friends tell me, Lindani means “We’ve been waiting”. And you get the feeling that it has… just for you. More than one of the mountain bikers who gathered for the recent TREAD Summit at Lindani Game and Lodges was heard to exclaim something along the lines of “man, this place was created just for me”.

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Weekend-away Trail


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Weekend-away Trail


he frustration of end-of-week

‘ease the burden of the Family Manager’

Joburg traffic and a 280-kilometre

(see Accommodation sidebar). The generous

scoot up the toll-converted N1,

portions meant lunch the following day

eased upon arrival at the serene

was taken care of too.

private game reserve in the Waterberg. That

A lazy start to the Saturday put back the

and the sight of the nine test bikes editor,

planned ride departure time. Photographer

Sean Badenhorst, had brought along, cheered

Dino Lloyd’s painful inertia is legendary…

up some weary travellers.

“we’ve been waiting… for Dino”. Horse-

Yes, yes, there’s beautiful savannah,

trading over who would ride what, followed

abundant game, scenic kloofs, loads of hiking

by tyre and shock pressure checks and other

trails, great birding… but we were here to

set-up fine-tuning didn’t help to move

touch base on the magazine and, most

things along. But we didn’t have a time limit,

importantly test ride bikes on bush trails. A

so it didn’t really matter.

working weekend, so to speak. Tough job and all that.

It didn’t take long for the pace to rise as we strung out along the trails. The bunch

Things were made even easier for us as

concertina-ed when the route started

we also arrived to the feast that publisher,

pointing upwards, leading to some dabbing

Joanne Badenhorst, had arranged from

or quick dismounts. This gave cause for

the Lindani catering facility designed to

women’s tester, Suzie Assenmacher, to remark

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Weekend-away Trail


that men [not all men – ED] made funnier noises on the trails than women. This may

Lindani has eight separate self-catering

be because men have more to risk by making

accommodation venues, all spread around

contact with a top tube or stem. Such

the property so you’re very isolated from

an incident ruled this writer out of an

other visitors. The TREAD team – consisting

afternoon loop with the rest of the team, but

of four grown up (arguably) men, and two

I made it back for a sundowner photo shoot

couples with two sets of two kids – bagged

on a rocky rollercoaster on the koppie behind

Motseng, which pretty much lived up to its meaning ‘At the Village’. The test bike ‘parking lot’ separated the six-sleeper main house Ditholo from the four-sleeper games room called Pitsi. We tucked into most meals at the former and chilled in front of the telly (highlights from the MTB World Champs were on) at the latter, which boasts pool, table tennis and other fun stuff. On either side of this core area are the two-bedroomed cottage and a farmhouse called Phala and Serolo. All these are

our lodgings. The Bush House trail seems gentle at first, with only small patches of sand threatening to separate bike and rider. You whoop internally when you see the downhill you’re rewarded with after a tough, steady climb over loose rocks. We came to a nice little chicane-type turn, which would make a nice frame showing a line of riders entering, in and exiting the undulation. That was until Geoff the Aussie decided that it would be a good idea to go over the rock that defined the entrance rather than around it, and he set about building a sketchy take-off ramp with rocks.

spacious, with modern, high quality luxury

I was up the trail after the others had done a

fittings with huge patios, which look out

few runs on it.

over a grassy plain and a thirsty-game

“You ready, Dino?”

waterhole, all framed by tree-covered

“Yup, we’ve been waiting…for you.”


What happened next is a blur and put

Each of the four buildings has a very

paid to the rest of my weekend’s riding.

well-appointed, modern kitchen, but we

But what it could never do was dampen my

can recommend the ‘Help for Mom’ catering

enthusiasm for a great biking venue.

option, especially if you’re arriving after

Lindani. “We’ve been waiting.” Well,

a three-hour drive from Jozi on a Friday

now we’re waiting. Waiting impatiently until

arvie. Various home-cooked dishes are

we get back to you.

available in servings of six so all tastes can be taken care of (the apple crumble and homemade ice cream are delish!). Prices are very reasonable. Out the back of the homesteads, nestled in the bush, is a circular lapa with a braai area, where trail tales, bike comments and jokes were swopped under a clear, starry sky. There is a swimming pool and beach volleyball court to add to the many activities for kids and non-riding members of your group. The weekend per-person per-night tariff is R390 and on weekdays is R295. For more Tel: 014 755-4959 Cell: 083 631-5579 Fax: 086 690 2112 email: TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

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Weekend-away Trail LINDANI

DISTANCES: There are about 35 kilometres of

REGION: Limpopo

farm roads on the reserve, which should suit


beginners, while longer loops are possible if

DESCRIPTION: Lindani is a 3 800-hectare

you opt to ride the MTB-specific trails. You can

game reserve with a network of hiking trails,

do up to 50km of riding without repetition,

farm roads, 4X4 tracks and some of the

which is probably a good 4-5 hours of riding,

best mountain bike singletrack we’ve ever

depending on your fitness and skill levels.

sampled. That’s no exaggeration.

Some of the trails can be ridden in the

Just a few pedal strokes from our

opposite direction, so you’ve got loads of

homestead was the trailhead of the

options and would have to stay for longer than

12-kilometre Motseng route. It lulls you with

a weekend to exhaust them all.

a meandering quick-paced saunter along

NOVICE: 8/10 (if you stick to the farm roads)

the Melkrivier, then smacks you upside the


head with twisty, rocky inclines that sap

ADVANCED: 9/10 (with better markings,

your momentum and tax your talent. There’s

it would score a perfect 10)

never a dull moment as even the stretches

TYRES: Hard to pin one down because the

of singletrack are punctuated with sandy bits

terrain varies so much. The tyre that worked

and tricky loose shale lips.

best on the test rigs we had seemed to be a

A quick jaunt along the lip of the kloof

Maxxis Crossmark.

offers a brief respite before spitting you down

BEST THING: The trail isn’t manicured so the

an at-times hateful descent. It’s all do-able,

riding is rugged. The climbs are often short,

but leave any skills arrogance you may have at

sharp and challenging. These are trails you

the lodge. These trails have the potential to

have to think about riding.

humble you. They’re challenging enough for

WORST THING: Having to go home…we

riders with advanced skills and are ideal for

struggled to find fault with this place.

those with moderate skill levels to move up

BEST SEASON: All seasons, but summer will

a notch or two. There’s constant stimulation,

be very hot, so early or late rides would be

which we loved!

best in that season.

Some respite finally comes when you are

GET THERE: From Jozi/Pretoria, head north

delivered back to the fast, flowing farm road,

on the N1. At the Kranskop Toll Plaza take the

and the speed picks up as you joke about offs

Modimolle (Nylstroom) offramp. You head

and near-offs, and head off to the next loop.

straight through Modimolle to Vaalwater,

It’s a good one-hour ride to the far end

which is a further 60 kilometres down the

of the farm, which includes the option of

road. Here you’ll turn right to Melkrivier at

going onto the neighbouring property where

a four-way stop. Lindani is just over 36 kays

you can extend your distance and see white

down the road on the right.

rhino. We chose instead to ride the 4x4 track,

S 24° 03.107’ | E 028° 20.469

which was a proper challenge, before heading

SECURE PARKING: Hell yeah! Don’t even need

back again.

to lock your car at night.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the Stone

BE CAREFUL OF… bush pig holes on the

House-Bush Camp-Stone House loop, which

singletrack of the Motseng loop.

comprises a long, steady jeep track climb

BE SURE TO… grab a map before you head out

to of the highest points in the region. The

onto the trails. Although they’re marked, the

reward for the ascent is a fabulous singletrack

intersections with footpaths, farm roads and

descent of roughly 30 minutes (depending on

4X4 tracks have the potential to confuse. Try a

your skill and fitness level). It’s a thrill-a-

quiet ride on the singletrack along the river in

second steady plunge down the hillside that’ll

the late afternoon to see loads of wildlife.

leave you properly satisfied at the base, eager


for a second loop…

Tel: 014 755-4959

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+ COMF RT = CONFIDENCE Every woman wants confidence. Whether it’s on the bike, at work, at the party, or at home. Confidence can take years to build and just a moment to crush. Confidence on a mountain bike only comes when there’s comfort and control. Confidence on a mountain bike is within every girl’s grasp… By The TREAD Women’s Test Team

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utdoors, all weather conditions, unpredictable surfaces, the risk of crashing, sweat, dust, mud, a puncture or broken chain in the middle of the bush, a saddle pressed up against your tender bits, sharp branches and thorns… Mountain biking is tough enough. Don’t make it worse by sacrificing comfort. And by comfort, we mean both physical and emotional comfort. As with any other sport, there are different levels of comfort, which usually improve as the price increases. But basic comfort can cost nothing, just a matter of getting your set-up on the bike sorted out. So let’s start with the bike:


level and the correct height. Your brake levers

• Get the right size. Your husband’s old

and gear shifters need to be within reach and

bike is probably too big for you. Most women

not awkwardly angled. And your handlebar

should ride XS, S and M sized bikes. Only

shouldn’t be too wide or too narrow, while

tall women should really consider L and XL

your grips shouldn’t move and should be

bike sizes. A good bike shop will be able to

grippy with some some cushioning.

advise you on size. When we say bike shop,

• Cadence. A comfortable pedalling

we mean specialist bike shop, not the sports

cadence is just a few thumb or finger

department at Game or a bike section in a

movements away. There at least 24 gears

department store.

on most mountain bikes – use them! A good

• Fit. Once you have the right size bike,

default cadence is about 85 pedal revs per

you may need to fine-tune the fit. Generally,

minute. That’s more than one per second.

women’s torsos are proportionately shorter

Most women ride too hard a gear and get

than men’s. This means your reach to

caught out by changes in gradient or terrain.

handlebars is shorter. Women-specific bikes are designed with this in mind and generally

BODY • Your




have a shorter top tube. A shorter, more

uncomfortably tight. It should allow you

angled stem can help shorten reach and

freedom of movement and offer you support

improve fit.

and protection where necessary. Fabrics

• Set-up. Your pedals (we recommend

should be soft and breatheable. There’s no

clipless) need to not be too tight or too loose.

reason to ever wear a cotton t-shirt as there

Your saddle (women-specific) needs to be

is such a big choice of riding gear brands



osing control on a mountain bike can be exciting – for guys! Usually a loss of control leads to pain or discomfort – or both… Something we women prefer to avoid. Much of maintaining control comes down to ability and skill. But there are certain measures you can take to ensure you minimise the risk of losing your composure. • Handlebars. Most of your ‘controls’– brakes, gears, steering – are linked to your

• Gears. These need to work smoothly

and not puncture! The best way to ensure

and shift on demand. Any lack of sync and

they grip, is to not pump them too hard

you’re going to lack assurance. And a lack of

(2bars/30psi is about right for most). And

assurance leads to insecurity. And we all know

the best way to prevent punctures is to use

what a horrible feeling that is…

tubeless tyres. You can get a conversion kit to

• Cadence. Most mountain bikers,

convert normal tyres to tubeless (about R600).

especially those used to road riding, select

Not you yourself obviously. Men at bikes shops

too hard a gear. When you get to an obstacle

are paid to do that.

or tricky terrain, the chances of you clearing

• Shock/fork. These are suspension

it without unclipping or falling are much

devices designed to add comfort and control.

higher if you’re in a relatively easy gear. Not

And they do. Just make sure your bike shop or

too easy, but one with a cadence (revolutions

a male friend in the know, gets the pressure

per minute) of around 85.

right and sets it the middle. Some have

handlebars. Make sure your handlebars are

• Pedals. Assuming you use clipless

lockout levers. Use these only if you’re very

around shoulder width (wider is fine, but not

pedals (as we highly recommend), you don’t

confident. Otherwise just enjoy the bump

narrower), that your brake levers are easy

want it to be too difficult to unclip your shoe


to reach and pull (not angled to awkwardly),

for obvious reasons. By the same token, a

• Anticipate. Something we women

that your gear shifters are within comfortable

pedal that’s not tight enough will result in

know well, right? The taste of chocolate

reach and that your grips aren’t too fat for

you unclipping inadvertently, which is also

cake, the look of a killer pair of heels on

your hand.

not ideal.

your feet, the rocky gradient of a steep hill.

• Brakes. They need to be predictable

• Tyres. Tread patterns vary in order to

Hmmm, that last one didn’t fit did it? Well, it

and reliable and sharp-ish. Without the

perform better in different conditions and

should. It’s a different kind of anticipation,

ability to stop, you’re not going to have the

guys spend hours discussing this. Who cares!

but it’s still anticipation. Look ahead,

confidence to go with any reasonable pace.

All we know is that we want the tyres to grip

be prepared. Shift to an easier gear before

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these days. Plenty of good sports bra brands mean you can have comfortable support while riding.

EMOTION Unlike men, we don’t feel the need to ride as fast as possible and try to pass the

• Your riding shoes should be snug

rider ahead of us on the trail. We also don’t

and you should always ride with socks. For

feel the need to ramp as high

gloves – long-fingered is best for maximum

as possible in the air over

protection, but not always practical if you

everything that’s slightly

have long nails. Helmet should be the correct

sloped upwards. Sure, some

size – most women wear small/medium

girls do have the competitive

helmets. Some hold a ponytail better than

gene in bigger doses and

others, especially the feminine styled models.

that’s fine. But even they

A bandana is a useful option to manage your

are more measured in their

hair if necessary.

intent. Sensible actually.

• Sport-specific eyewear is essential as it

We’re wired differently

protects your eyes from objects like stones

and therefore we ride for

and branches as well as dust and mud. It also

different reasons to guys. We

stops you straining your eyes and reduces the

like that mountain biking can

likelihood of eye lines.

give us freedom, fresh air, me-

• And then of course there’s sunblock

time, calorie-burn, a break

and lip balm to protect you from sun damage.

from the grind, distance from

Worst affected areas are usually back of the

our commitments. Mountain biking is good

next and forearms.

soul food really. Actually not good, great!

BASIC REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE • PUNCTURES Probably the most common threat to pleasant rides. Carry a spare tube (preferably slime-filled), a CO2 bomb or two and tyre levers. It’s not only worth learning how to change a tube, it should be compulsory for you to know how. It’s not really negotiable. Ask your local bike shop to show you how. • CHAIN DERAILMENT Usually happens when you desperately try to shift to an easier gear under pressure. Stop, dismount, pull the rear derailleur towards the front of the bike to add some slack. Reposition chain on chainrings and/or cogs on the rearwheel, wipe grease on your black cycling shorts (a good reason to wear black, but not, you know, the main reason).

you come to a grinding halt… • Commit.





anticipation. You have to commit to the obstacle or terrain ahead of you. Hesitation can be dire. But really commit! Visualise yourself riding powerfully over/up or smoothly through/down and then just give it all you’ve got. You can never be too committed. Never! • Desire. Guys don’t suffer much from motivation. Mostly because they don’t have as much stuff to worry about and take care of as we do. If you don’t feel like riding, don’t. Mountain biking isn’t like chocolate – you have to want to ride to really enjoy it.

Women-specific bikes, such as this Specialized Era, have been purposely designed for female riders. Note how the rider isn’t too stretched out giving her a position of control and comfort


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Anka Martin, South Africa’s top female downhiller, knows a thing or two about control (she still has all her own teeth!). She shares some valuable advice: STEEP, SHORT DROPS If you can, get off the bike and spend a minute looking at the drop, noting any kind of rocks, ruts or trees that could cause bodily harm. Look for the smoothest line (which isn’t always smooth!) and make a mental note. Check out the trail that leads into the drop and how you will be riding into the take off. For steep short drops, make sure that you are not going too fast, otherwise you will over-clear the landing. Lean far back to be behind your saddle, roll up to the drop with the appropriate speed needed and let go of your brakes for that moment that you take off the drop. Always look ahead and look at where you want to put your bike. LONG DESCENTS On long, fast descents, it is really important to look far ahead and to read the terrain that you are approaching. Try to look at the trail and to see how it curves ahead of time, so you can be ready to lean your bike, to slow down for a turn or to clear an obstacle. Use both brakes together; never grab either of your brakes very abruptly when descending fast or you may get tossed over the bars. Get a nice stable hover position going over your bike, not too far forward or back, just nice and centered in a position where you have good control over your bike and can react to anything. Strong arms and elbows out to the side a little also helps to create some stability on fast downhills. ROCKY, RUTTED TERRAIN Attack the rocks! Attack the rocks! This is how I was taught to ride in technical rock gardens by my good friend Maxine. To this day, when I enter a rock garden or rough section, her voice rings in my ears and I try to ATTACK the rocks! Basically, be strong on your bike, hold onto those grips and go in there with confidence. Use your upper body to lift, pull and push be strong, but relaxed – loosey goosey – I know, that doesn’t make sense, but it is possible! Lead your bike to where you want to go, don’t let it take you for a ride. DOWNHILL TURNS This is something that is always a challenge no matter how long you have ridden for. The best advice that I can give is to really keep your chin up and to look ahead. Look up, ahead and around the berm or the turn to where you want to go and let your bike follow. Don’t brake in the turn or berm, brake before and let go of your brakes to roll through the turn. If you brake in the turn, your bike cannot turn, because you are wanting it to stop, so it does all kinds of funny things and your turn will be ruined. Let off the brakes and your bike will roll on through and it go where you’re looking.

In most sports, there’s specific gear made with the intention of adding comfort and enhancing your enjoyment. Mountain biking is no different, as long as you get the sizing and fit right:

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Shoes: Need to be snug-fitting – at most 10mm between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Socks: Always wear socks! Ankle length is best – opt for cycling-specific socks because they’re made to breathe. Shorts: Tight Lycra is most popular (always choose black), but also consider baggies, which have a Lycra inner with padding. Jersey: Sleeveless minimizes tan lines, while short- and long-sleeved options are abundant. Not too tight is about right. For increased comfort, opt for those with no tight elastic waist and sleeve cuffs. Sports bra: Go for support and comfort first, then colour and style. Sports bras are also useful for mid-summer when you want to unzip your jersey – looks like a crop top and not a bra. Base layer: Helps wick sweat away from you skin in the heat and keep you a bit warmer on chilly rides. Highly recommended in all weather conditions. Gloves: Fit should be snug, but not tight. Opt for full-finger for increased protection. Helmet: MTB-specific helmets have a visor and a lower rear section for added tumble armour. Fit and colour are import – first fit, then colour. Hint. When unstrapped, it shouldn’t fall off your head when you bend over. Eyewear: Absolutely essential to protect your eyes from stones, bugs and branches, as well as the sun’s harsh rays. Some brands have smaller frames made to fit women’s faces. Go with photo-chromic style lenses, which change tint according to light conditions. For more on women-specific gear, see the gear reviews starting on page 69


SKILL - COMFORT Yolande Speedy, Beijing Olympian and multiple South Afrian marathon and crosscountry champion, knows how to manage discomfort, but agrees that comfort is essential for confidence. Here are her tips: SHORT, STEEP CLIMBS Keep as much momentum as possible going into the start of the climb, get your weight low and forward on the bike (sit towards the tip of the saddle, bend arms keeping your chin close to bars). Pull back and down with opposite arm to pedal down-stroke to generate more power and keep front wheel down. Spin a light gear or stand and power over depending on steepness and terrain. Keep looking ahead, over the top of the climb. LONG, STEADY CLIMBS Use your gears to allow you to keep a high cadence, pushing heavy gears puts extra strain on your muscles and it will be harder to maintain your pace and keep your momentum over obstacles. Get into a comfortable rhythm and climbing position. Focus on breathing efficiently and keep looking ahead. ROCKY/ROOTY/RUTTY SURFACES Always look ahead to where you want to go. Keep your momentum going and ride light using your bike’s suspension and body weight to lift your wheels up and over obstacles. Try ride over roots as close to 90 degrees as possible and avoid putting power down as your back wheel goes over especially in wet conditions. When faced with ruts you are unable to avoid keep your wheels in the rut relaxing your arms and allowing the bike to flow with it. If the rut is very deep keep your pedals horizontal to avoid catching them on the sides. Don’t be afraid to climb off and walk if things get too hairy! TIGHT TURNS Brake before you get to the corner entering it at a speed at which you are able to ride controlled without having to brake again through it. Bend your arms keeping your elbows wide and bringing yourself low over the bike. Keep your outside leg straight, pushing down on the pedal, lean into the corner and pull on the bar with your inside arm looking through the corner to where you want your bike to go. Once you are through the apex of the corner accelerate out. PACE We all know that the only way to get faster is to ride regularly and go out of your comfort zone. But don’t make every ride hard and fast because you won’t recover sufficiently and will risk overtraining, illness or injury. Choose one or two rides a week to focus on increasing your pace (these could be spinning classes) and use the other rides in that week to ride at a more comfortable pace. The more you ride, the better your body (and mind) will adapt to the mountain biking and the sooner you’ll find what you used to consider a fast pace, quite comfortable. TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

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o many bikes out there – which is the one for you? Here are the key factors to consider:

TYPE OF RIDING From a distance, mountain bikes all look similar. But a careful examination of each will reveal differences, mostly for different kinds of riding and partly for difference in price. Here’s a guide to the most popular types for women: • Recreational: Ideal for dirt roads and park paths • Marathon: Ideal for short and long races (20-70Km-plus) • Trail: Ideal for long, steady rides over harsh terrain Generally, recreational bikes don’t have rear suspension (hardtails), while marathon bikes have low-travel dual suspension (80-100mm of travel); and trail bikes have moderate to plenty of travel (120-150mm). SIZE Buy the right size the first time and you’ll have the right combination of comfort and control. Women’s sizes range predominantly from 14-inches through to 19-inches (seattube measurement). Never buy a bike that’s too big – unlikely at a good bike shop, where you should be given sound advice and proper bike sizing treatment. WOMEN-SPECIFIC Most of the big bike brands are making womenspecific models, which have been designed specifically for females, who, compared to males, tend to have a shorter torso (reach), longer legs, are lighter, have smaller hands, have a wider pelvis and lower levels of strength. These bikes are designed to specifically improve confidence and control. Beware the brands that skimp on R&D costs and simply ‘shrink-and-pink’ small sizes in a model range or two that they pass off as womenspecific. We highly recommend a women-specific bike for most women. Some serious racers may still prefer a regular bike, but they’re in the minority. COLOUR It’s a girl thing, but that’s the way we like it. Colour is important to us and we’re not about to change that little fact. Most brands these days have shied away from pale pinks, lilacs and light blues because it’s stereotypical, tending to go for bolder primary colours or with neutral silvers, whites, grays and blacks. But sometimes you’ll be captivated by that dusty pink frame and have to have it. Just make sure they’ve got your size! PRICE For a basic recreational hardtail, you’re looking at anything from R2 500 – R6 000; for marathon (hardtail and dual suspension) R6 000 – R60 000-plus; and for trail (longer travel dual suspension) R10 000 – R60 000-plus. You can pick up second-hand bikes for very good prices, but try and get the help of an experienced mountain biker to ensure that the size is right and that the seller is charging a reasonable price.

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At first glance: White and purple with some gray

saddle and grippy-in-most-conditions Schwalbe

makes for a softer look, but doesn’t take away from

Racing Ralph tyres.

the whole this-bike-means-business feel.

The ride: The gears were very smooth and easy

Type of riding: Social to racing, it can do it all.

to shift. The bike isn’t super-light but it felt like

Suspension: The 4-inches (100mm) of suspension

it floated downhill over rocks and ruts. Really

front and rear allow you to ride over most terrain

confidence inspiring on the descents. It also climbed

and still maintain control. There is a lockout lever

quite steadily, especially with the shock locked out

on the shock if you want to eliminate rear end

(when we remembered). We found the fork lockout

movement. The fork has a remote lockout lever.

lever too tricky to reach, so didn’t really use it.

Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes front and rear.


Other highlights: A comfy white Ghost-branded

011 023 4478


At first glance: Toffee apple red is very bold and not too girly. It really has a depth to it in the direct sunlight. Type of riding: Excellent for recreational riding, but most appropriate for racing. Suspension: Uses Specialized’s unique Brain system at the back – basically when you hit a bump it activates the shock. So it only moves with forces from the bottom (trail) and not from pedalling, which means there’s no pedal-induced ‘bob’. Has a good quality Fox fork with lockout. It’s got 4 inches

(100mm) of travel front and rear. Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes front and rear Other highlights: Good quality SRAM X7 and X9 gear shifting system. Very good wheelset (Shimano hubs and DT Swiss rims). The ride: Very powerful, yet smooth brakes. This bike is very responsive and you feel every bit of energy you put out goes into pushing it forward. It’s a superb climber and generally very comfortable and quick over all gradients. A good choice for racing. Contact:; 0861 SWORKS


PIVOT MACH 5.7 | R23 000

(frame, shock, seatclamp & bottom bracket) ROUGH TRAILTAMER

At first glance: Dusty pink – how appropriate for MTB girls – if you like pink that is. Type of riding: Trail riding and more rugged terrain. It actual category is ‘All-mountain’. Suspension: With 5.7 inches (142.5mm) of travel, the Pivot Mach 5.7 is designed to take you over any obstacles with mimimal effort. There’s a little link by the back shock called the DW-Link, which allows for the bike to be able to climb as well as it descends. The robust Fox fork adds strength and control upfront. Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes front and rear.

Other highlights: Good quality Shimano XT gears and light, but strong DT Swiss wheels. You can just get the frame and shock and build up the bike with your preferred parts, or you can buy a complete bike – they have different options. The ride: You don’t feel afraid of anything. It’s got slightly less aggressive geometry, which puts you in riding position that’s not racey, but very much a position of control. It descends extremely well – the bumpier, the happier it seems. It climbs steadily and smoothly and it feels very firm and sure through corners. Contact:; 041 368 5708




an you swim for two hours? Can you run for two hours? Well maybe some professional sportswomen can, but the rest of us (read: most of us) can’t. Which is why mountain biking is such a great way to lose weight. It’s not that difficult to ride your mountain bike for two hours – or more, if you’re conditioned to it – and, depending on your effort, you can burn between 500 and 800 calories an hour. Since the secret to effective weight loss, isn’t as much a secret as it is a matter of discipline and being able to burn more calories than you consume, regular mountain biking can really help you lean up. It’s also a fun, outdoor activity that’s seldom predictable, making it a form of exercise you actually desire rather than dread. Don’t fall into that trap that many do where they want to lose weight, do a ride where they burn 600 calories and then feel justified in eating a big post-ride feast because they feel they earned it. By just having a small portion of post-ride nourishment, that’s low in fat, you’ll already be on track to gradually pedal away those extra kilograms. The riding has to be consistent too. Don’t think that one or two rides a week will suffice. It won’t. You need to aim to ride at 4-5 days a week in order to turn your body into a fat-burning machine…

MTB WEIGHT-LOSS SUCCESS STORY Bev McKenna changed her diet and pedalled her way to 25kg lighter in 18 weeks. “I wish it was 80% exercise and 20% diet because the diet is tough, but the mountain biking is easy – I can ride all day every day if given the chance. The best thing about mountain biking is that it’s fun and doesn’t feel like exercise,” says Bev. Name: Bev McKenna Age: 40 Occupation: Photographer No. of children: two, ages 10 & 7 Weight lost: 25kg Time period of weight loss: 18 weeks Hours of cycling a week: 5-7 hours, including road, MTB & spinning Diet changes: cut out carbs, milk, fats & sugars, stuck to protein & veg, three meals a day and lowsugar fruits BEFORE

travel and lockout.

The ride: The Avalanche 1.0 is very responsive and fast, but that’s what a hardtail is meant to be. It’s stable over moderately bumpy terrain and the saddle is comfortable. A bike with rear suspension is definitely more comfortable, even if it is a bit slower. The brakes and gears work well and the tyres see to be very firm in turns and slightly sketchy surfaces. No rear shock gives you one less thing to worry about, which is quite nice, allowing you more time to focus on controlling the bike.

Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes front and rear.

Contact:; 011 794 3808

At first glance: Black with some light yellow. No girly feel about this bike. Type of riding: Easy to moderate terrain. Ideal for newcomers to mountain biking. Suspension: It’s a hardtail, which means no rear shock. This makes for more snappy acceleration, but not as much comfort or control as a bike with a rear shock. The fork is a Rock Shox with 100mm of



WORTH R80 000!

Subscribe to TREAD magazine for one year (6 issues) and stand a chance of winning a Pivot bike of your choice. One lucky subscriber will win a bike of their choice from Pivot Cycles, the coveted American boutique brand that’s revered for it’s magnificently crafted frames and extremely efficient suspension design.


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40 |


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Pivot Cycles™ is the result of 20 years building

The dw-link suspension design allows us

some of the highest quality, best performing

to achieve the ultimate ride. The perfect

full suspension bikes in the world. Pivot™

balance of traction, acceleration, square-

builds on my reputation for designing and

edge bump performance, superior braking,

manufacturing suspension bikes that feature

and the ability to handle big hits with ease, The design starts out with a slightly rearward

great feel throughout the suspension travel,

is what Pivot bikes are known for. The dw- travel path for better square edge bump

and have excellent pedaling performance, with

link’s patented position-sensitive anti-squat performance and then goes to a more vertical

unparalleled frame stiffness and durability.

eliminates pedal bob during hard pedaling path, remaining active throughout the travel.

We’ve taken this winning combination to a new

efforts out of the saddle and gives the bike The dw-link truly allows us the tunability to

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additional traction while climbing (seated or give the rider the best pedaling performance

you more of what you love about full suspension

standing) as well as really helping propel the

mountain bikes, and less of what you don’t!

bike forward during sprinting and hard efforts suspension feel. Simply put, the dw-link is the

We lay awake at night thinking of the

out of corners.

possible without sacrificing braking or next level of suspension design.

perfect suspension curves, shock valving, linkage ratios, bearing tolerances, weight, materials and anything else that goes into perfecting a mountain bike so that you don’t have to. We are relentless about perfecting the details that will make your ride better. Ultimately, making our customers happy by producing the highest quality, best performing bicycles in the world with unparalleled customer



service is what Pivot Cycles™ is all about. Chris Cocalis – President/CEO Pivot Cycles™

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: Visit and click on the Pivot Subscribe & Win button. Fill in your details, pay your R180 (securely of course), enjoy your summer of riding and dream of your ideal Pivot until we do the draw on 25 April 2011.


| 41


Mountain biking in South Africa isn’t just opening up new experiences for mountain bikers. The increasing popularity of stage races has created a coming together of classes and cultures that were previously worlds apart. And entire rural communities are embracing the opportunities that the events and their socially conscious organisers and sponsors are presenting. By Sean Badenhorst

42 |




| 43

Feature otice the contrast on that opening

And as we know, building a lasting,

image? Two city-dwelling mountain

meaningful relationship requires give and

bikers in the highest LSM bracket on

not just take. When the local community

“It’s a win-win situation because we

bikes costing upwards of R25 000 each, riding

in a small country town or rural settlement

affiliate Old Mutual with the landowners

past two rural-dwelling youngsters sharing,

benefits from having a race pass through, a

and we get brand awareness and exposure

a horse for transport to get to school. Two

sense of belonging and involvement develop

to the mountain bikers in the race – who are

different worlds that have come together

and a different sub-community builds around

virtually our perfect target market – and the

through the Fairbairn Capital Old Mutual

the race itself, which has an annual goal/

MTB community in general.”

joBerg2c, a nine-day stage race from just

highlight to aim for. It may not be a uniquely

But, while he’s most interested in

south of Johannesburg to Scottburgh on the

South African thing, but it’s certainly being

growing the awareness of Fairbairn Capital,

KwaZulu-Natal south coast.

perfected here.

Loxton is proud of the race’s organising crews’

in the country, helps us to reinforce this relationship,” said Loxton.

Mountain bike stage racing is the new

Race sponsors, usually large corporates,

black. But it’s more than a seasonal trend, it’s

also benefit from this community involvement

“Craig Wapnick and his team have

becoming an industry staple, like denim. And

and, according to Stuart Loxton, Executive

ensured that this race is more than a race, it’s

that means it’s here to stay, but its survival

General Manager of Fairbairn Capital and

an experience. There’s a strong community

– and growth – depends primarily on land

Wealth, it’s one of the reasons Fairbairn

spirit throughout the event and that’s


Capital, a wealth solution division of Old

something you don’t often get with a sports

Mutual, came on board as the title sponsor


Stage races travel great distances across largely privately owned land. Access

of joBerg2c.

initiative and sense of community.

The joBerg2c has been modeled

to that land is often initially difficult to

“Old Mutual has always been close to

primarily around the Subaru Sani2c, which is

secure. But once a race has smoothly passed

the agricultural population of South Africa. In

now legendary for the way it has involved and

through someone’s land , it starts to become

fact, Old Mutual has a very solid presence in

uplifted the rural and farming communities

a relationship between the landowner,

the country areas and our association with an

through which its race route passes.

the inhabitants on his land and the event

event that travels a few hundred kilometres

For Kevin Vermaak, founder of the ABSA

(organisers and participants).

through some of the lesser known places

Cape Epic, the community upliftment element

44 |


of his annual race is often overshadowed by the drama and action of the event. “It’s an integral part of the race that doesn’t get much attention, but we have helped create some fantastic community upliftment successes over the years,” said Vermaak. And the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, which celebrated its second edition in October this year, is also making a marked difference to the local residents of the six-stage Klein Karoo event. “At the 2010 joBerg2c, more than R100 000 was raised at each of the seven race villages,” explained race director, Craig Wapnick. “Hoerskool Reitz and Hoerskool Wilge Rivier in Frankfort were paid to wash bikes, paid for the use of their sports grounds and paid to cater three meals. They were also paid a set fee for the marquee. If they could get this marquee sponsored – which they did – then it was a bonus for them.” “The same formula is applied to the water tables along the route where we pay other smaller communities like churches, farmers associations, the Pevensey School for the Disabled, to man and run the water tables. There are 22 water tables. Each table can raise up to R10 000. In 2011 this amount will go up considerably.” Wapnick also pointed out that the 2011 edition of the joBerg2c will have a high percentage of purposely cut singletrack in the first three days through Gauteng and the Free State, which is another opportunity to include the local community. “The event pays for trail-building labour that comes from the area. Glen Haw employed a team of workers who had no work, to carve some



| 45

Feature sublime singletrack for both the Subaru Sani2c

were involved with setting up and running the

and the Fairbairn Capital joBerg2c. The next

tent villages for the riders.

event will see more teams employed across the route in this manner.”

“KHS bicycles sponsored 800 tents with all the necessary ablution facilities for the

Stage races also provide a platform

tent villages, while Klein Karoo International

for product, or service sponsors to create

donated the meat to the different schools to

corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives.

enable them to prepare meals for the riders

The infrastructure is already in place, which

and spectators. And SA Breweries sponsored

allows companies to worry less about logistics

beer gardens every night to enable the schools

and spend more time and effort on the

to make a profit,” explained Rademeyer.

initiative itself.

Since the first Absa Cape Epic in 2004,

One such initiative was the Intel

the organisation has had a formal programme

computer project. Wapnick was approached

of giving back to the communities that host

by Joubert de Lange from Intel to use the

the race. Initially the project involved handing

Fairbairn Capital joBerg2c as a platform for

bikes to key people in the villages and towns.

their CSI initiative. This involved donating 30

Today, these programmes have evolved into

laptop computers to a school in each of the

Big Tree Foundation, a Section 21 company,

three provinces the raced passed through and

which works to uplift the communities that

it included training and ongoing support.

host the race through educational projects.

At the 2010 DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, the

“The Absa Cape Epic passes through

overnight-stay tented villages formed part

some very diverse countryside, not just

of the event’s local community upliftment

geographically, but also economically. From


the word ‘go’, we’ve used the race’s resources

“At least 70% of the scholars in the

to uplift the communities that the Cape Epic

schools of the towns through which the race

touches. The race benefits from the support

passes are from previously disadvantaged

of these local communities and we want to

communities. At the moment most of the

give something back,” says Victor Sables,

schools battle to make ends meet, because

Managing Director of Big Tree Foundation.

funding to these schools is limited and most

“Our belief is that poverty can be

of these learners’ parents struggle to help

alleviated through education,” Sables

in this regard,” said race organiser, Henco

continued. “From where we started, we’ve


vastly expanded our programmes to face the

“That is why one of our goals is to make

challenges in many of the smaller communities,

sure that the schools will benefit directly from

which are largely educational. We’re talking

the Cape Pioneer Trek. This year about 3 500

about starting with supplying basic stuff, like

pupils, from seven high schools in six towns,

books, clothes, even desks and chairs.”

46 |


Don’t give them fish, teach them to fish

Mountain bike stage racing has the rather unique capacity to offer new opportunities for communities to grow. That growth may seem small at first, but it can develop a ripple effect that can make a difference to an entire region. One such success is the Big Tree Foundation’s Sibabalwe story: Grace and Bongi are two middle aged, HIV-positive women. Less than three years ago they had little hope of breaking out of the poverty cycle in the rural community of De Doorns. Bongi was running a day-care centre from her shack – a basic wood and iron structure in the middle of the township. With no training and no activities for the children, this meant that they were simply sitting idle for eight to 10 hours every day, with very little mental stimulation. Big Tree Foundation has changed all that. Grace, Bongi and another local woman, Zukiswa, were taught basic first aid and then trained to teach pre-school children. Once their training was complete, they were immediately tasked with starting a formally structured pre-school with proper classes. The opening of the Sibabalwe (meaning ‘Blessing’) pre-school on Friday 29 May 2009 marked the culmination of a year of hard work, determination and strong partnerships with the riders of the Absa Cape Epic. The pre-school now accommodates 90 children per year. Impressed with the development of the children, Grade 1 teachers have highly complimented the programme’s work and now, the school has received 380 applications for 2011 – testimony to the effectiveness of the project. This project is one of the great success stories of Big Tree Foundation – the training of the teachers; the building infrastructure and the equipment were all supplied through the generous donations of the ABSA Cape Epic riders. The pre-school was adopted by the official government departments and is now able sustain itself with a government subsidy and school fees.

From bike handouts to plans for uplifting

Capital joBerg2c will continue with the same

the nation, Big Tree Foundation has, through

community driven formula. We get asked by

the ABSA Cape Epic, instituted programs that

charities all the time to get involved with

now have the full support of the government.

their fund raising activities. We would like

The Department of Education has actually

to help everyone but we have agreed to stick

adopted a development model built on the

to beneficiaries that are on our route,” said

success of the Sibabalwe pre-school in De


Doorns, set up by Sables and his colleagues

“I must stress, that we are not a charity

(see sidebar). Now, Big Tree Foundation is

– every beneficiary works very hard for their

poised to take this model and to expand it

slice of the pie and this way we ensure there

into the Western Cape and hopefully, the

are no handouts. Something which we believe

entire country.

in strongly and which will make South Africa a

Cycling in general, particularly road

better place with stronger character.”

cycling, has always been used as a fundor awareness-raising platform. But it’s traditionally been in the form of charity support through cash donations. While these are fantastic, they usually offer temporary relief and don’t often address causes of problems or adversity, By involving the communities through which they pass, mountain bike stage races have shifted this to a new level. Community residents are encouraged/incentivised to get involved in making a difference. What this does is ensure the communities largely take control of their own destiny; rather than wait for change, they now have the platform to make change. And each year, through their interaction with these stage races, they now have that all-important element – sustainability. Wapnick sums it up best: “In 2011 the Fairbairn

If you have a mountain bike event that’s made a difference to a community or benefitted a needy cause, email the information to us at We want to make these success stories known, both through TREAD magazine and on


48 |





DEFY DEHYDRATION THIS SUMMER: • Wear sport-specific gear, which is designed to keep you cool • Use a powdered carb-electrolyte drink in your bottle or hydration pack • Try and drink around 500ml every hour  (demand may vary, but this is a good guide)

The South African sun is scorching hot, especially in summer. Of course that’s just the way we like it and one of the reasons mountain biking is so popular here. But the hot conditions can challenge your system more than you expect, with, at best, some dehydration, at worst, heat stroke.

during hard riding in hot conditions • Water alone isn’t ideal for rides lasting longer than 90 minutes • A hydration pack is designed for mostly hands-free drinking, but you usually require one hand off the bar briefly to get the nozzle into your mouth • If you struggle to drink while in motion,

By Sean Badenhorst

stop briefly three or four times an hour to drink


here are a couple of dominant

So they’re conditioned to handle heat and

• Because you generally only replace about

theories about dehydration that have

it’s associated risks. Most of us head into a

50% of your body’s fluid losses during a

been published to death in endurance

hot ride or race under-prepared or under-

hard ride or race, replenish afterwards with

conditioned to handle it.

a quality recovery drink, especially if

activity media over the past few years. One theory is that you should drink when you’re thirsty and the other is that you should drink before you’re thirsty.

you’re doing a multi-day rider/race

So, what’s the solution? Well, considering you lose both fluid and

It is highly unlikely any of the research

electrolytes when you sweat (you also lose

done on these theories used mountain biking

some fluid through the moisture in exhaled

as its platform. Why? Well, the drink-before-

air) the trick is to replace both as best you

you’re-thirsty theory says you should take a

can, terrain permitting. Water takes care of

few mouthfuls of fluid every 15-20 minutes. Yeah, like that’s possible when you’re scooting along rocky, rutty trails afraid to remove a hand from the bar for fear

the fluid replacement

repeated trials have showed that endurance cyclists and marathon runners achieve significantly faster times if they drink carb-electrolyte drink in place of water.

of losing control. Even drinking when you’re thirsty is tricky while mountain biking.



(magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium) need to come from a decent quality


supplement. Sodium is the most significant of these minerals. And carbs are also essential in terms of

Interestingly, research done by Professor

maintaining a steady rate of exertion with all

Tim Noakes and his protégés showed that the

your senses intact. Run low on carbs and you

top finishers in an endurance sports event are

start losing strength, concentration, judgment

usually more dehydrated than those mid-pack

ability and reaction time.

hackers knocking relentlessly on the side-by-

Many high profile nutrition supplement

side doors of pain and suffering. Which means

brands include electrolytes in their powdered

that it’s not the end of the world – more

on-the-bike carb drink and in their energy

specifically, your world – if you dehydrate. But

gels. Powdered sports-drink formulas are

it’s best to keep that dehydration to minimum

practical since they can be diluted to suit

if you want to enjoy your ride or race.

the climate and the individual. Isotonic carb-

The top finishers are usually professional

electrolyte drinks generally contain 4-8%

athletes, who, while we’re sitting indoors in

carbs, are rapidly absorbed (as quickly as or

an office on weekdays, are out in the hot sun

quicker than water) and provide fuel. The

pedalling to their own career-choice rhythm.

benefits of carb drinks in delaying fatigue

50 |


are well documented; repeated trials have showed that endurance cyclists and marathon runners achieve significantly faster times if they drink carb-electrolyte drink in place of water. Don’t make the mistake of not drinking anything at all and only start thinking about it when you’re feeling weak. It’s likely that you could be heading for some early stages of heat stroke, which can in extreme cases, be fatal. Seriously, people have died from heat stroke – sad when you consider how avoidable it is.

HEAT STROKE – BEWARE! Heat stroke can develop from dehydration, is potentially fatal and requires urgent medical treatment. Here are the symptoms, which may not all be present in each case: high body temperature, the absence of sweating, hot red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, disorientation, seizure, and/ or coma. Summon professional medical assistance if you or someone you’re riding with experiences any of the above symptoms.


USN’s new 90g Vooma Gel tubes are the most convenient and practical way to get the instant kick you need during lengthy endurance events. During high intensity road cycling and mountain biking you can burn up to 1000 calories per hour. Add to this the loss of essential electrolytes and phosphates when you sweat and it’s no wonder fatigue, dehydration and cramping start to set in. But when you’re out in the hot sun, grinding away one pedal stroke at a time, making sure you don’t get dropped from the pack, or maintaining that all-important rhythm, you need your energy to be fast – and practical! USN Vooma, South Africa’s most trusted sports energy gel contains a scientifically formulated blend of short- and long-chain carbohydrates, which supply a rapid, lasting energy boost. It also contains essential minerals to ensure ongoing electrolyte and phosphate replacement, which combats fatigue and muscle cramping.

“In a mountain bike race, I can’t afford to waste time by stopping or risk crashing to take in my energy supplement. USN Vooma’s new tube is the perfect way to get a quick energy boost without the risk of losing time – or control of my bike.” Karien van Jaarsveld, leader of MTN National MTB Marathon Series

“Unlike many of my rivals on bigger teams, I don’t have the luxury of a support vehicle to carry my nutritional back-up. The new USN Vooma tube is the most practical way for me to ensure I’m always topped up with energy and electrolytes.” Cherise Taylor, South African Elite Road Champion

1 VOOMA GEL TUBE = 3 VOOMA GEL SACHETS WHY IS VOOMA GEL SO EFFECTIVE? VOOMA is scientifically designed to assist in ensuring optimal energy delivery through the addition of short and long chain carbohydrates. The product will ensure that phosphate levels are maintained during an endurance event, as well as providing the necessary electrolytes for adequate homeostasis in and around the muscle tissue and optimal muscle function. USN VOOMA is now also available in a convenient 90 gram tube, which offers the following benefits: t Easy to carry in your pocket t Longer lasting t Flip-top cap for one-handed ease of use t Lower litter risk t No sticky fingers t Re-usable if not empty t Available in Peach Flavour & Unflavoured

Feature Skill

Cruise UProcky climbs It’s one of the most advanced skills in mountain biking, but also one of the most rewarding. Being able to cruise up a rocky climb puts you on a whole new level of riding satisfaction. By Sean Badenhorst

Firstly, you never really go smoothly up a rocky climb. A skilled rider doing it may look smooth, but that rider is putting in a lot of effort and power and making stress-inducing split-second decisions on line choices. Now that you know that, here’s a step-by-step guide: 1. Anticipate. As you approach the rocky

ascent, you need to scan as far up as

you can to determine length, gradient,

rock surface, rock consistency and whether

or not there’s an obvious line.

2. Shift. Select the appropriate gear, which is

not always the one you think (so a mid-

climb shift may be necessary), but make

sure it’s not too light. Rocky ascents

usually require a high level of power so

your gear choice should allow for that.

3. Stand. Standing on the pedals is better

than being seated as it allows you to

manoeuvre the bike’s line better as well as

shift your weight quickly.

Photo by: DINO LLOYD

4. Pick your line. This is a split-second

Some useful hints:

• Expect stress! Both mentally and

decision, which you continue to make

• Don’t let yourself focus on individual

physically, this is a tough skill to master.

every split second during the ascent.

rocks, rather see them as a series of

Your heart rate will climb and you’ll

There is seldom an obvious line so you need

‘bumps’ and concentrate on an ideal line a

need to catch your breath and regain your

to commit to one, making minor

few metres in front of you.

composure once at the summit.

adjustments if necessary throughout the

• Your bike is made to get up rocky climbs.

• Just because you get up once, doesn’t


mean you’ll get up the next time. It’s

• When in doubt – seek more momentum.

always a stimulating challenge every time

The slower you go (generally), the less

you tackle a rocky ascent!

chance you have of making it up without

dabbing or stopping.

5. Mix power and finesse. In order to ascend  without uncleating, or falling, you need to

Trust it!

mix up bursts of brutal power with

moments of low-speed, soft touch finesse.

Most of the time you’ll need momentum,

but will, at times, have to slow right down

• Initially, follow an accomplished rider

to adjust your line or to negotiate a more

(if possible). They’ll give you an idea of

rugged one.

the appropriate pace and line required.

Want to improve your skills? Sign up for a TREAD Skills Clinic. Find out more at TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

| 53




Removing all mystery from mountain biking SKILL Most newcomers to mountain biking tend to ride heavy (hard) gears. What this does, however, is tires your muscles out quickly because they’re having to work hard to keep you rolling along. Try select 2-3 gears easier than the one you’d normally choose to save your muscles. Sure, your cadence (pedal revolutions) will increase and it may feel too light, but consistent use of lighter gears will ensure you become conditioned to riding efficiently in easier gears. Initially, you’ll find yourself breathing more heavily, but your cardio system will start to adapt and your breathing while riding lighter gears will become more efficient. And besides, it takes your lungs seconds to recover from a hard effort, but it can take your muscles a couple

Always consider selecting an easier gear to save your legs PHOTO: DINO LLOYD

of days… Which would you rather have?

NUTRITION Recovery nutrition is very under-rated, but shouldn’t be. Think about it – when you start a ride, you’ve got a whole lot of glycogen already in your system, which your body can use to fuel your muscles through your ride. First your body takes available carbohydrates as fuel, because that’s what’s most efficient. Only once that is depleted does it start looking for proteins and fats for fuel. Riding

and send muscle-building protein to your

reach. Handlebars come with different grades

weary muscles. It’s not always practical or

of curvature and rise, which allows you to

desirable to eat solid food within 30 minutes

perfect your position even further. Seatposts

after your ride (the ideal window period to

can come with set-back clamp positions,

feed it recovery fuel), so get a powdered

allowing you to move further away from

recovery drink from one of the reputable sport

your handlebars, which adjusts your fore/aft

supplement brands to boost your recovery. Not

position that can help improve your handling

recovering sufficiently can lead to you feeling

or comfort.

tired and weak and, if you’re riding again the


next day, a bit flat and lacking zip.

We generally classify mountain bikes into

consistently at an easy to moderate pace


(like most beginners) for 90 minutes or less is

Once you have the right size bike, you can

description of each:

unlikely to exhaust your available carbs, which

fine-tune your set-up using different stems,

XC or cross-country: Usually hardtails or

is why it’s quite safe to just take water along

handlebars and seatposts. Correct set-up

short-travel (3-4 inches) dual suspension

on rides lasting 90 minutes or less. After your

means your riding position is one of control

bikes that are light, agile and have aggressive

ride is when your body needs some quality

and comfort. Stems come in different lengths

(racey) geometry.

nourishment to top up your glycogen levels

and angles, which allow you to fine tune your

Marathon: Similar to XC bikes, with 4-4.5

54 |


five categories these days. Here’s a brief

inches of travel, but can have slacker headtube and seattube angles for improved comfort over longer duration rides. Trail: Dual suspension bikes that have around 5 inches of travel. They’re a bit heavier than marathon bikes, but offer greater comfort and control. Freeride: Also known as All-mountain, which means they’re robust enough with their 6-8 inches of travel to tackle almost any descent, but are designed to be light enough to also ride (not necessarily fast) up the ascents. DH: Downhill bikes are just that. Heavier, strong with at least 8-10 inches of suspension travel. They’re not made to go uphill which is why downhillers catch a lift in a vehicle or a ski lift to the top of the hill or mountain.

RACES GAUTENG BIOGEN MTB Series Event 3: 7 November & Event 4: 16 December, Babas Lodge, Bultfontein. The 12km and 35km distance options are perfect for newcomers. The course isn’t very difficult so you can focus your energy on keeping a steady pace.


S L L I K S In Partnership with

Cult cycling

TREAD and Cult Cycling have combined more than 40 years of mountain bike skills experience to bring you a comprehensive serious of practical educational modules to give you the confidence to ride your bike better – no matter what challenges you face.

WESTERN CAPE Medscheme Tour de Vino: 6 November. Franschhoek. The 15km distance will give you a good challenge in some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find. Mountains all around, but your course won’t climb any of

CONFIDENCE CLINICS New to mountain biking? This is your perfect introduction

them. EASTERN CAPE Longmore Classic: 5 December. Offcamber Adventures. The 15km and 30km distances of one of the Port Elizabeth’s favourite events will suit novice racers. The start/finish venue has changed this year to be more family-friendly and fun.

TREAD SKILLS 101 Beginner – Stuff you think you know, but don’t really

RECOMMENDED TRAIL Rietvlei Farm near Alberton in the south of Joburg is a great place for all levels of mountain biker. The gradients aren’t too steep so you get to enjoy a steady pace on the various trails, which are all singletrack and all flowing! Security is also good and there’s a bike shop and a

TREAD SKILLS 201 Intermediate – Avoiding unforseen trouble – and seen trouble

restaurant among other facilities.


– the amount of movement available in your shock or

fork – measured in inches by the Americans and in millimetres by everyone else.

BB – Bottom bracket, which is located in the hollow shell at the bottom of your bike to secure your crankset to the bike.

Manual – a skill that involves riding on the back wheel while standing on the pedals (freewheeling) – like a wheelie, but harder to perfect. Also that booklet you get with everything you buy at the bike shop and only read if really necessary.

Lid – another name for a helmet. Shortened from the original Skid Lid.

Baby heads – refers to rocks that are round and medium-sized and tricky to ride across.

TREAD SKILLS 301 Advanced – How to get your picture taken and impress others Visit: for full details



SINTESI 609 | R40 000 (r17 999 frame/shock)


talian mountain bikes tend to be of

ProPedal system on the rear, but when the

the racy hardtail persuasion, so we

Monarch is set up just right, it does a great

were keen to swing a leg over the new

job) and well thought out pivot positioning

Sintesi full-suspension that arrived on our

makes for hardtail-like seated climbing.

doorstep. It certainly looks the part, in a

Standing up and pedaling hard does get a little

Milan catwalk/F1 wind tunnel kind of way.

bob out of the rear, but then there really isn’t a design that has managed to fully isolate this,


without locking the shock out completely. The

As you would hope with a full carbon

relatively relaxed seat angle also encourages

frameset, the 609 is pretty light – a shade

you to stay seated, gear down and spin your

over 2 200g is the claimed weight, with the

way to the top. All-round, the 906 climbs as

svelte RockShox Monarch shock unit. That

well as many a bike twice its price. Our test

certainly does not make it into the superlight

rig did develop an annoying creak from the

category, but then the price is not in the

main suspension assembly, but, again, that

superlight league either. What you do get

was probably some over-zealous cleaning.

is a really stiff, solid frameset that is also

The large-volume carbon ‘tubing’ probably

a real looker. The pivots and linkages seem

amplified it beyond its worth.

robust enough, and our test bike had been

Comfort on the 906 is a surprise – it is

ridden for a few months before we got a ride,

plusher than we expected – again, from well-

so chances are, if there were flaws to find,

whole lot of personal touches. The basis of

researched pivot placement, which is even

they would have materialised by now. The

the drivetrain was Shimano Deore XT, with

more critical on a big, bold carbon rig like this.

importer offers a three-year manufacturer’s

cranks, shifters and derailleurs, and the

The Sid is a proven performer and behaves

bomb-proof XT wheelset. Braking was a new

impeccably in both the tight stuff, and at

one for us, in the shape of some zooty Hygia

speed, and the Monarch did its job without

Elite hydraulic discs. Initial impressions were

fuss. There is no noticeable brake jack, even

that they were not too special, but that may

on the really bumpy stuff. With a steepish

have been some over-zealous cleaning before

73-degree head angle, this was always going

we collected the bike, as they got better as

to be a lively handler, and we loved playing

we rode more. Lever action was progressive

with it in slower-speed single track situations

and light, and the modulation surprising, once

– again, it almost rides like a hardtail at

they had settled a bit. They are pretty light,

times, but if we were to fault it, the overall

too, with carbon levers and ti bits aplenty.

rigidity would be an issue. We found it a little

Hutchinson Pythons were all the rage a few

skittish – for a 110mm-travel machine – in

years back, and although they have dropped

the really bumpy stuff. Not unreasonably so,

off the most popular tyre list of late, they

fortunately, it just rides like an XC machine,

remain solid, predictable performers. The

rather than the marathon bike it ostensibly is.

finishing is mostly from Sintesi’s house brand,

If you enjoy fast, sensitive handling, and are

called 991, with carbon bars, stem and seat

skilled enough to make the most of it, you will

post all detailed in white and red, to match

adore the way the 609 descends.

the frame. The RockShox Sid Team is a solid,


light and reliable performer, and matches the defect warranty, and a buy-a-replacement-

An odd bike, in many ways: the looks are

rest of the bike perfectly.

space-age, and it is, on paper, a marathon


bike of note. In reality, it might be a bit of

at-cost programme should you manage to

We expected this bike to climb well –

a handful at the end of a seven-hour race (in

bust it through your own carelessness. That

as it should for a lightweight carbon dream

average-Joe hands), but it is an absolute blast

is quite some faith from a low-volume carbon

bike – and were not too disappointed. The

to ride if you like it fast and furious.

frame maker. Sintesi offers framesets, and a

stiffness of the carbon certainly helps, as does

few different build options – SLX/XT, XT/XTR

the combination of the Monarch rear shock

and XX – but our pony was dolled up with a

(we still prefer the idiot-proofness of Fox’s

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HS has been available, in very

and seatpost and a WTB Devo saddle. As we

if the Small Block 8s are not generally the

small numbers, on the South

said earlier, this is a build that is obviously

greatest options for the gnarly terrain. They

African market for a number of

focused on reliability and value for money –

are, however, exceptional when you point the

years, but a recent change in distributor

this bike could easily shed a kilo (as is, it is a

KHS downhill – so long as you remember you

has increased its presence immensely. The

shade over ten kilos, with pedals) and make it

are on a race bike, not a DH machine. The 71-

curvaceous Alite Team is its flagship race

into the super-light category.

degree head angle is in keeping with the racy



nature of the bike, keeping the steering lively


won’t die, will they?

Hardtails just The first thing that strikes you about the

With all the advances

Alite Team is the outrageously curved top

in full suspension,

tube/seat stay combination. Whether this is


purely cosmetic, or functional, is moot – it

wonder why the

looks stunning. And it is no bimbo supermodel,

bike makers keep

thankfully – the monocoque frame weighs in

on with these butt-

at, we are told, a shade under one kilogram,

crushers. Thankfully,

which is impressively light for such a well-

they do, because

priced rig. Carbon dropouts help, although

there is a special

we suspect the replaceable alloy hangar may

place in mountain

well have been removed for the weigh-in. Up

biking for pinning


and direct, with the Sid performing as effortlessly as expected. Surprising on the Alite Team was how comfortable the ride is – all too often, bike designers just slap the minimum amount of it on a race-ready

carbon together, make sure it won’t break

XC bike; feeling it

and hope it rides well. KHS has obviously not

surge as you pedal

done that, as the small, irritating stuff just



seems to be absorbed by the frame, leaving

your way through

you fresher than expected. It will never give

front, the Sid Team is the perfect foil for the

tight, twisty single track at impossible speeds;

the long-term comfort of a duallie, but for a

carbon frame – light and strong, and reliable,

wringing out your aching arms after a long

1000g-carbon frame, it is as smooth as you

with a bar-mounted remote for the PopLoc

descent! The KHS is one of the best examples

are likely to find. It is most comfortable (and

lockout. KHS has taken a sensible outlook on

of this that we have ridden lately. It makes no

fun) in well-maintained, fast singletrack, but

speccing the bike, both from a price-point

bones about being a pure race machine, and

remarkably stable at high speed as well.

perspective, and for reliability, with the bulk

you will struggle to ride it slowly; climbing


of the components sourced from Shimano’s

is a breeze, whether you are stomping up

What a fun bike to ride! We wouldn’t

Deore XT gruppo: front and rear derailleurs,

a short, steep ascent (the stiffness in the

choose it for marathon racing, or stage racing,

shifters and wheels. Truvativ Stylo cranks and

bottom bracket area is phenomenal) or

but for XC, and for playing around, look no

a KMC chain complete the drivetrain. Braking

settled in for a long, seated climb. The

further. You will struggle to beat the per-kilo

comes from Hayes Stroker Carbons, and the

steepish seat angle, and short chainstays,


tyre choice is pure race; the John Tomac-

give an aggressive position for the climbs,

signature Small Block 8s. The finishing kit

and we found no trouble getting traction

comprises Truvativ Noir carbon bars, Q2 stem

from the rear wheel on the loose stuff, even

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SCOTT SCALE 29 | R14 899


COTT is originally an American

levers, grips, saddle,

brand, but is now based in

stem and even the rims.

Switzerland where it has grown to

It all combines to make

become Europe’s biggest bike brand. It’s a bit

for a sleek, bold look.

of a latecomer to the 29-inch wheel market,


but seems to have really done its homework

derailleur are Shimano

with its first batch of bigger-wheeled models

SLX with a Shimano XT

of the Scale hardtail range.

rear derailleur. The



very popular Avid Elixir THE BIKE

3 supplies hydraulic disc

Made from butted 6061 alloy tubing, the Scale

braking, with a 185mm

Elite, is SCOTT’s top model in the aluminium

rotor up front and a

material category. It’s got an integrated

160mm rotor on the

headtube for increased front-end stiffness

rear. Strangely, on our

and a replaceable rear derailleur hanger.

test rig, there was only

Its dropouts are also designed to force you

a bottle cage mount on

to close the quick release lever forwards,

the downtube and nothing on the seattube,

our test team was unanimous in deciding that

which is fine for road bikes, but not ideal

despite there being ample space. Apparently

on a racing 29er such as this one, remote fork

on mountain bikes, but not a major issue.

this isn’t the case on production models, which

lockout is essential.

Upfront, a Rock Shox Recon Gold TK29 fork

sport two cage mounts. The Schwalbe Rocket

On rugged, rocky trails the Scale really shone,

with 100mm of travel and remote lockout

Ron tyres complete the package with good

able to stick with – and at times out-ride –

manages the suspension duty.

allround performance, albeit with a higher

five-inch travel trail bikes. The larger wheel

The colouring is striking. Who’d have thought

puncture risk due to their light weight.

size and increased tyre volume, combined

bile green could work on a bike frame? Well,


with the frame geometry undoubtedly allows

as a combination with the gloss black and

SCOTT has got the geometry spot-on – the

you to tackle lines that you’d probably avoid

white, it does. And SCOTT has also taken

slightly relaxed 69.5-degree head angle and

on a 26-inch bike due to the fact that you can

colour-coding to a new level with white or

the 72.5-degree seattube angle put you in a

confidently roll over gaps, rocks and ruts. The

green (or both) accents on the fork, brake

slightly upright, but powerful position, both

Avid Elixir 3 brakes worked well enough on

in terms of pedalling and steering control.

fast, frenetic descents and the larger 185mm

We didn’t find the Scott-branded saddle very

front rotor was no doubt partly responsible for

comfortable – quite convex in its shape – and

this, because we’re not bowled over by this

replaced it with our own favourites. With some

Avid model, which is incredibly popular and

of our testers still developing an acceptance

more than adequate for most riders. But our

of the 29er platform, we had some initial

test team just feels they lack that little bit of

trepidation to contend with – a bit like a kid

high-performance bite you need in emergency

low on coordination that gets picked last for

decision times… The Shimano shifting was

a playground game of cricket… Boy were our

predictable and reliable as expected, while

testers surprised! The Scale Elite is one of

the Rocket Ron tyres impressed us with their

the most versatile bikes we’ve ever tested.

versatility, be it on sketchy, dry hardpack in

And we tested it in three different provinces

Gauteng, rock slab in Limpopo or mud in the

in wet and dry conditions and over varying

Western Cape.

terrain. It was the epitome of smooth, steady


rhythm on tight singletrack as long as we

If you’re competitive and like your riding

planned ahead with gear selection and with a

fast, you’ll find it hard to beat the versatility,

flip of the remote lockout, climbed powerfully

control and performance of the Scale Elite,

up both short and long ascents, the former

especially at this price.

requiring perhaps a bit more effort than a similar model 26-inch bike would. Something we now expect from 29-inch wheels. Actually,

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GHOST ASX 5500 | R19 995


host is a German brand that began

02 RLR 120mm travel shock. A Fox 32-RL

making bicycles in 1993. It only

with 120mm of travel takes care of bump-

achieved global recognition in the

munching upfront. Both shocks have full

past few years, largely through its sponsor

lockout. Air force blue/gray is the dominant

ship of top female racers, Sabine Spitz, the

colour with white, silver and red detail.

2008 XCO Olympic Champion, and Elizabeth

Colour-matched saddle, brake levers, brake

Osl, the 2009 XCO World Cup Champion.

caliper mounts, fork and shock rocker give an aesthetically pleasing look in a businesslike


way. We like how the cabling is neatly run

Incredibly, Ghost makes two different 5-inch

through full outers beneath the top tube. The

(120mm) travel dual suspension models, the

white strip on the side knobs of the Schwalbe

AMR and the ASX. And each has a different

Smart Sam tyres adds a nice touch. Shimano

suspension system design. The ASX is aimed

XT hubs and Alex DP 20 rims make for a solid

at the more budget-conscious consumer who

wheelset, while Shimano SLX front derailleur

is dipping his/her toe into the dual suspension

and shifters are matched to an XT rear mech

waters. The ASX 5500 is the top of the ASX

for a reliable 10-speed gear dept. Avid Elixir

range and is made from a combination of

3 hydraulic disc brakes and a Ghost house-

hydroformed aluminium and gusseted tubes.

brand bars, stem, seatpost and saddle cockpit complete the package. THE RIDE When you first pick it up, the ASX 5500

wear a hydration pack anyway. On the rough,

feels every gram of its 14.0kg. But swing a

rocky terrain the ASX 5500 was in its element,

leg over it and start hitting some trails and

skipping confidently either up or down uneven

any thoughts on the bike weight are quickly

surfaces with poise well beyond its price

replaced by your newfound ambition. The ASX

point and weight division. Ghost carefully

5500 has impressive pedalling efficiency and

configures the geometry of every single size in

really surprised us with how agile a climber it

each model range to ensure each bike is well balanced for its intended purpose. We felt completely in control with the excellent Fox fork no doubt playing a role in this. The Smart Sam tyres were very versatile, but probably the first thing we’d upgrade for 5-inch-travel riding. The next would be the grips, which worked fine, but tended to move inwards after some hard riding. A welcome addition is the 5mm hole on the BB shell, which lets moisture drain out after wet, muddy rides.

Because the Germans are so big on safety,

is – that’s with the suspension fully active. The


they put gussets beneath the downtube at

X-Fusion shock is custom-tuned to be slightly

This is a bike for all seasons and terrain at

the headtube, between the downtube and

on the stiff side, but it works well for this bike.

an incredibly competitive price. Testers were

the toptube, where they meet the headtube

Lock it out completely on smooth surfaces

reluctant to give it back and concurred that

and between the toptube and seattube.

and you’ve got even greater responsiveness.

the ASX 5500 is easily one of the best allround

This is apparently to minimise any chances

We found that moving the bottle in and out

bikes we’ve ridden.

of the frame breaking. The classic four-bar

of the cage could inadvertently switch the

suspension design sees the rear triangle

lockout lever on the shock, which wasn’t

joined to the front triangle via an X-Fusion

ideal, but most riders of this bike would

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omad is a new model range from

bracket. RGP stem, bar and

Raleigh, aimed at offering value-

seatpost and Raleigh saddle

for-money race-ready bikes to

complete the package.

budget-wary riders. The challenge of


course has been to ensure there’s still qual-

At 12.89kg, the Nomad FS

ity at this low price.

Twenty isn’t particularly light, but then for this


price, you’d be delusional

There are two dual suspension models in the

to expect much else. It

Nomad range, the FS Twenty and the FS Fifty.

gives a smooth, firm ride

Both have identical frames, but the Twenty

feel on all surfaces and

has better spec and is therefore the more

even manages testing,

expensive of the two. It’s made from 6061

rough trails quite well –

aluminium with an X-Fusion 02RL 100mm

probably better than its

travel shock with lockout. Glossy black with

target market rider would.

white and red accents made for a

shorter. We like that there’s plenty of space

bold looking rig, which has a Rock

to hold a large bottle in the main triangle.

Shox Recon Gold fork with 100mm

The Nomad handled descents with confidence

travel and lockout. It’s a bike made

and there was no topping-out or bottoming-

for marathon/stage racing and has

out of the fork whatsoever, something we’ve

the appropriate geometry (70 degrees

encountered on budget-focussed bikes in the

headtube and 73 degrees seattube).

past. The Avid Elixir 3 brakes worked fine and

The wheelset is nothing special – KT

shifting was crisp. The wheelset leans towards

TR8 hubs and Weinmann Taurus 2000

robust and is definitely an area that could do

rims, but the Maxxis Crossmark tyres

with upgrading if you’re looking to shed some

add a measure of trail- and race-

weight after a while.

proven confidence. Production models will be

The X-Fusion shock is relatively stiff, but


specced with similarly respected Continental

works well and we only chose to lock it out on

The Nomad FS Twenty is a bang-for-your-buck

Mountain King tyres. Avid Elixir 3 provides

smooth, long climbs. The rest of the time we

bike that’s well specced, race-ready and

the hydraulic braking. Gear shifting is taken

kept it active and liked the way it held firm

brimming with ambition. Plenty of upgrading

care of with a mixture of SRAM X7 and SRAM

in the traction dept. We found the rear brake

opportunities on what is essentially a sturdy

X9 10-speed. Cabling for the rear brake and

and derailleur cables a little errant and had to

frame that offers a rewarding ride.

derailleur runs through full outers, but looks a

zip-tie them against the chainstays to prevent

bit untidy despite being clipped to the bottom

them from touching the rear tyre. This could

of the downtube to run beneath the bottom

be remedied by trimming the cables a little

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Tested SINTESI 609



GEOMETRY SIZES: M, L(tested), XL TOP TUBE LENGTH: 585mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 483mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 422mm WHEELBASE: NOT GIVEN SPECS PRICE R17 999, frame and rear shock; R40 000 as tested FRAME: Full carbon fibre front and rear triangles, carbon dropouts with Rock Shox Monarch 110mm shock COLOURS: WEIGHT: 11.6kg incl. pedals FORK: RockShox Sid Team 110mm travel with remote lockout SHIFTERS: Shimano Deore XT FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Deore XT REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Deore XT Shadow CRANKSET: Shimano Deore XT BRAKESET: Hygia Elite hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors front & rear WHEELS: Shimano Deore XT



FRAME: Full carbon fibre monocoque COLOURS: WEIGHT: 10.8kg incl. pedals FORK: RockShox Sid Team 100mm travel with remote lockout SHIFTERS: Shimano Deore XT FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Deore XT REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Deore XT Shadow CRANKSET: Truvativ Stylo Team BRAKESET: Hayes Stroker Carbon hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors front & rear WHEELS: Shimano Deore XT

TYRES: Hutchinson New Python 2.0 OTHERS: 991 carbon bars/stem/seatpost/saddle

TYRES: Kenda Small Block 8 OTHERS: Truvativ Noir carbon bars/Q2 alloy stem and seatpost/ WTB Devo saddle CONTACT:; 021 551 5228 X C - M A R AT H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E

FRAME: custom butted 6061 aluminium COLOURS: Glossy black, with white and green WEIGHT: 11.6kg FORK: Rock Shox Recon Gold TK29 with 100mm travel and remote lockout SHIFTERS: Shimano SLX Rapidfire 10-speed FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano SLX REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Deore XT Shadow CRANKSET: Shimano FC 42/32/24 BRAKES: Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc with 185mm rotor front & 160mm rotor rear WHEELS: Shimano FH rear hub, SCOTT Comp disc front hub, DT SWISS 485d rims TYRES: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29 x 2.25 front & rear OTHERS: SCOTT Pilot bars, SCOTT Comp stem & seatpost, SCOTT Racing saddle CONTACT:; 041 4048500 X C - M A R AT H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E

CONTACT:; 083 309 8707 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E


GEOMETRY SIZES: 16-inch, 17.5-inch, 19-inch (tested), 20.5-inch, 22-inch TOP TUBE LENGTH: 595mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 480mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 69 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CAHINSTAY LENGTH: 435mm WHEELBASE: 1115mm SPECS PRICE: R19 995 FRAME: Hydroformed aluminium with X-Fusion 120mm shock with lockout COLOURS: Gray with black, white & red detail WEIGHT: 14.0kg FORK: FOX 32F-RL with 120mm travel and lockout SHIFTERS: Shimano SLX Rapidfire shifters & FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano SLX REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT 10-speed CRANKSET: Shimano FCM 42/32/24 BRAKESET: Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc with 185mm rotors front & rear WHEELS: Shimano XT hubs with Alex DP 20 rims TYRES: Schwalbe Smart Sam 26 x 2.25 OTHERS: Ghost saddle, bars, stem & seatpost CONTACT:; 011 023 0478 X C – M A R AT H O N – T R A I L - F R E E R I D E


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

TOP TUBE LENGTH: 590mm SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 485mm HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70 degrees SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73 degrees CAHINSTAY LENGTH: 425mm WHEELBASE: 1086mm SPECS PRICE: R12 999 FRAME: 6061 aluminium with X-Fusion 10mm shock with lockout COLOURS: Gloss black with red & white detail WEIGHT: 12.89kg FORK: Rock Shox Recon Gold with 100mm travel and lockout SHIFTERS: SRAM X7 shifters FRONT DERAILLEUR: Sram REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM X9 10-speed CRANKSET: SRAM S1000 44/33/22 BRAKESET: Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors front & rear WHEELS: KT-TR8 hubs with Weinmann Taurus 2000 rims TYRES: Maxxis Crossmark / Continental Mountain King OTHERS: RGP bars, stem & seatpost & Raleigh saddle CONTACT:; 041 404 8500 X C - M A R AT H O N - T R A I L - F R E E R I D E

HOW WE TEST BIKES • Our test team is a core group of experienced mountain bikers that have no affiliation with any bicycle industry brands. • We have men and women on our test team. • We have test team members in Cape Town, Joburg, Pretoria and Durban. • We often invite guests to ride our test bikes and give us their feedback. • We test ride bikes for at least three weeks each, most for around double that. • We take each bike through a variety of riding terrain to get a good idea how it rides in South African conditions. • We test ride each bike with the components and tyres it is sold with. • We give honest, from-the-saddle opinion. • We only ride bikes that are available in South Africa. • We don’t only test ride brands of our advertisers, we test ride bikes that are relevant to the local mountain bike market. • We know we have the coolest job in the world…

68 |


Gear BELL VARIANT HELMET The low-back trail styling is for added back-of-the-head protection, but (thankfully) our testers couldn’t comment on its effectiveness. The mottled gray, silver, white and pink colouring is bold, but attractive. The removeable peak is colour-matched with is a nice touch. There are lots of small vents, which offers good airflow and the retention adjustment on the back can be operated with one hand. There’s not a huge space for a ponytail between the back of the helmet and the clasp, but that’s the same for all trail style helmets. COLOUR: Various SIZES: S/M; M/L PRICE: R1 200 CONTACT:; 011 794 3808

SPECIALIZED BG RIDGE GLOVE Specialized’s Body Geometry science has been incorporated into the Ridge Glove, with padding placed on both the inner and outer palm, the latter specifically positioned to eliminate ulnar nerve pressure which can lead to numbness and pain. We like the slender cut, specifically for smaller female hands, the soft breatheable fabric and the touch of pink detail, which whispers – rather than shouts – girl gloves. COLOUR: Black SIZES: S, M, L, XL



OAKLEY JAWBONE WITH CLEAR-TO-BLACK LENS Oakley’s aggressive Jawbone frame has become a hit with mountain bikers since it was launched last year. And Oakley’s customisation option, which allows you to choose the colours of your frames (earpieces, frame tops and frame bottoms) as well at the colours of your earsocks and lenses puts the American brand at the front of the pack when it comes to styling. What we were most interested in, however, wasn’t fashion, it was function; in particular its new clear-to-black Transitions® lenses, which claim to go from, well, clear to super-dark within seconds when moving from dark to bright light. Because mountain biking is essential constant movement through a mixture of shade and sun (and sometimes cloud), we believe that this function

is essential. We weren’t disappointed. The lenses transformed faultlessly, seamlessly and appropriately according to the light conditions and our riding judgment, timing and special awareness was no doubt better for it. COLOUR: Pick just about any colour you can think of. PRICE: R3 000 CONTACT:; 021 486 6172

Gear FOX REFLEX GLOVE Very comfortable gloves, improved no doubt by the shaping of the curve from thumb to forefinger. The colours are neutral, which is good, but the white (our one test pair was white) is more high maintenance to keep clean (duh!). The terry cloth on the thumb is always a bonus for wiping a sweaty brow or a dripping nose. They’re a perfect long-fingered choice of glove for summer. The light mesh fabric is soft and light and quite cool. The silicone gripper detail on the inside of the forefinger and middle finger ensure good brake lever grip, even in the wet. Some testers felt the padding at the base of the inside of the fingers wasn’t ideal over rough terrain, but overall the Reflex received a, er, firm thumbs-up. SIZES: S, M, L (tested), XL COLOURS: Graphite/White; Graphite/Black PRICE: R330 CONTACT:; 031 3132660

SPECIALIZED ROCCA GRIPS One way to say ‘I love you’ to your bike is to give it a new set of grips every few months. The Rocca Grips from Specialized are worth considering because they fulfill all the requirements of a good grip: They lock on securely with small, recessed Allen-bolt clamps on the inside; they’re made from a softer (but not soft) double density compound, which is claimed to dampen minor vibrations; and they have a textured pattern for non-slip performance. Our test set were white (they also come in black), which is more eye-catching, but requires a solid scrub when you wash the bike. They’ve got a slightly larger profile than pure racing grips, which isn’t that noticeable, but is no doubt ideal for those with bigger hands. The recessed grooves and stipples combine to offer excellent grip, even in wet conditions. COLOURS: white; black PRICE: R255 CONTACT:; 0861 SWORKS

RYDER COCKPIT – BARS, STEM, SEATPOST When you need to fine-tune your position on your bike, the most practical way is to look at replacing your seatpost, bars and stem (individually or together if necessary). This can cost a packet, especially for carbon fibre parts, or it could be quite reasonable if you go with good old solid aluminium. An efficient riding position is more important than weight. Ryder, an established South African parts and accessories brand, recently added these lightweight aluminium cockpit accessories to its stable. The handlebar is 685mm wide with 40mm rise and 6 degrees backsweep. The seatpost, which has a 400mm long shaft, comes in 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm widths. The 4-bolt oversize clamp stem comes with two options – a 6-degree rise and a 35-degree rise. The former is reversible. And the stem lengths run in 10mm increments from 60mm up to 130mm. Interestingly, Ryder has committed to a lifetime guarantee on its cockpit parts. As expected, they were solid and easy enough to fit. PRICE: PRICES: Bars R130, Stem R149, Seatpost R105 CONTACT:; 011 794 3808

70 |



Is it ... Christmas yet?

With sleek, racey styling, the Skyla is a featherweight 254 grams. It doesn’t have thick inner padding, but the placement of the padding makes it super comfy. The large vents ensure plenty of airflow to cool you on a hot day and there’s some bug netting behind the front vents to keep little creatures out of your hair. The one-handed retention adjustment system is great for on-the-fly tweaks and there’s plenty of ponytail room at the back. The pearl white/silver colouring is classy and goes with anything. COLOUR: Various SIZES: 50-57cm PRICE: R640 CONTACT:; 011 794 3808


Falke’s mountain bike-specific sock is quite thick and probably made to be more durable in the tough conditions mountain biking delivers. Not all our testers are fans of the thicker sock (Falke do thin cycling socks too), but some love the additional cushioning it offers. Either way, they’re all in agreement that the fit and performance of Falke’s cycling and mountain biking socks is superb. A range of colour options exist for those that are into colour-matching (and which girl isn’t?). COLOUR: Apple Green, Fire, Pink, Pistache, Royal Blue SIZES: 4-7; 8-12 PRICE: R34-95 CONTACT:; 011 023 4478

2011 SRAM X0 Groupset 2X10 WAS R17,754.00

NOW R11,075.00

2011 SRAM X9 Groupset 2X10 WAS R11,600.00

NOW R7,241.00

Making Cycling Affordable

OLYMPIC HURRICANE III SHOES They should sell clipless shoes and pedals with bikes. But because they don’t and because it’s the first thing you need to upgrade to, Olympic’s Hurricane III offers a well-priced entry point. These popular shoes have an appropriately rigid sole and breathable mesh uppers, which use triple Velcro strap closure. They’ve got quite a wide toe-box so accommodate most foot shapes and are neutral in colour; so don’t clash with anything else. They’re not women-specific, but are available in all smaller sizes. COLOUR: Black with gray/silver detail SIZES: 3-12 PRICE: R700 CONTACT:; 011 794 3808

KS i950-R ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT SEATPOST For those that enjoy trail riding but find the saddle a bit of a hindrance on steep or technical descents, an adjustable height seatpost is a fine solution. KS has made a big impression with its i-Series model, winning numerous awards, including a Eurobike Design Gold Award. But this hydraulic post it goes further than design. The KS i950 has 125mm of drop height and can be stopped at any point. The one-way bearing lock works extremely well and we found no play or ‘slop’ (movement), which is something we have experienced on other adjustable seatposts. The remote adjustment works well and the whole thing is quick and easy to install. At 499 grams (plus another 100g for the remote cable), you’re looking at a little more weight, but it’s certainly not noticeable and the function at the flick of your finger is something to behold. You’ll never have to stop and dismount to drop your saddle for a technical descent again. Also available with a non-remote, seatpost mounted lever. If you’re a keen trail rider, you should be adding this to the top of your to-get list. LENGTH: 385mm DIAMETER: 31.6mm (tested); 30.9mm; 27.2mm PRICE: R2 434 CONTACT:; 011 486 0060

SPECIALIZED JETT SADDLE Specialized offers three different saddle widths, which is a good thing, because women’s pelvis widths differ. There are 130mm, 143mm and 155mm widths and you can use a Specialized test saddle (see Body Geometry sidebar for detail) to determine which is best for you. Our tester, a competitive racer,

Atera products are developed and manufactured in Germany. For more info visit

opted for the 143mm and chose the Jett model, which is ideal for road and mountain biking. We like that it’s got a sleek design and looks quite similar to a men’s saddle. Because of the slim cut, there’s no unnecessary rubbing when pedalling. COLOUR: White with silver detail SIZES: 130, 143, 155 PRICE: R1 120 CONTACT: www.specialized-sa.; 0861 SWORKS

Gear SOCK GUY SOCKS Sock Guy is a San Diego-based company that’s been manufacturing performance socks for 13 years. Not just for guys, but for girls too. Girls like options, right? And that’s why we love the variety of colours and designs you get from Sock Guy socks. The variations seem endless and it’s a relatively low-cost way to make a small statement about your personality. Functionally, they’re not too thick and have excellent breathability. They also come in two women’s sizes S/M and L/XL. COLOUR: How much time do you have? SIZES: S/M (4-7); L/XL (8-13) PRICE: R119.00 CONTACT:; 011 023 4478

PEARL IZUMI P.R.O. BIB-SHORT Our tester has never been a bib-short fan, but the P.R.O. bib has converted her. “The strap that clips between the breasts looks odd but is actually really comfortable and unlike with other bib-short straps, you forget that you are wearing it.” The seamless padding isn’t too bulky, but offers adequate comfort, even on long rides. The ‘leg cuff’ elastic is very soft, but keeps the shorts from creeping up without the bulging leg squeeze, which is not a good look, but difficult to avoid… The fabric is soft and highly technical and there are some well-placed reflective logos for low-light riding safety. COLOUR: Black SIZES: XS S, M, L, XL PRICE: R1499 CONTACT:; 011 608 2003

PEARL IZUMI ELITE BARRIER CONVERTIBLE JACKET The obvious difference between this rain/wind jacket and others we’ve tested is the softness of the fabric. It’s obviously water and wind resistant (note, water resistant doesn’t mean waterproof) and we like that it has removeable sleeves, which zip off quickly and easily. It’s well vented and breatheable to keep you from overheating in summer. There’s plenty of attention to detail including one long rear pocket, two smaller rear zip pockets, a small zippered chest pocket (for money, card, MP3 player) and reflective detail for low light visibility. COLOUR: Rose, Black, Screaming Yellow SIZES: XS, S, M, L, XL PRICE: R1499 CONTACT:; 011 608 2003



Giro is newish to the glove market, but has made a good impression with the Tessa, a women-specific glove (smaller cut, narrower wrist closure and softer colour option). There’s ample padding in three areas – outer palm, thumb base and front of palm – offering plenty of bump absorption and comfort for soft hands. Some of our more experienced testers prefer less or no padding at the front of the palm (base of the fingers) as it affects the directness of the ‘feel’, but all agree that for women and/or newcomers, that section of padding counts for a lot in terms of comfort and minimising the likelihood of callous formation. COLOUR: White/Sky blue/Charcoal; Black/Charcoal SIZES: S, M, L PRICE: R295 CONTACT:; 011 794 3808

UNDER ARMOUR SPORTS BRA All our testers agreed that this is the Rolls Royce of sports bras! Under Armour started out



layers and underwear for








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comfort are both exceptional and the colours are practical, yet feminine. The soft yet technical heatgear® fabric is designed to wick moisture from your skin, which helps in keeping you cool and dry on hot rides, something few sports bras get right.

Exclusive Importers and Distributors of Ghost Bikes, ESI Grips, Halo Headband, Chamois Butt’r, Buh Bump, SockGuy, Bike Medicine, Bike Brake, SDG Components and Zero Goo Hydration Dryers. Office: +27 11 023 4478; Email: Website:

COLOUR: Blue; white; black


CONTACT:; 011 405 3300

Gear FOX FLUX HELMET The Flux is Fox’s only trail helmet and they’ve done a damn good job of it. It fits well – three different sizes – with a dual ratchet retention system that clasps the cranium comprehensively. The retention adjustment requires both hands so isn’t something that’s recommended on the fly. The extra protection on the back suits the freeride/trail riding look – and obviously adds more protection. The peak isn’t adjustable, but none of our testers are precious about adjustable peaks. There are helmets with more vents, but the Flux’s vents are large and seem to suck in the air efficiently which we like. Also, at this price, it’s one of the best value-for-money helmets you can get. SIZES: XS/S, S/M, L/XL COLOURS: Matte Black, Black & White, Black, White & Red PRICE: R1 099 CONTACT:; 031 3132660

PEARL IZUMI TRANSFER SLEEVELESS BASE LAYER TOP We’re big fans of base layer garments, even in summer. They keep you cool and offer an extra layer of protection against grazes, bruises and scratches. The Pearl Izumi Transfer SL, from the brands flagship PRO range, is lightweight and breathable – as you’d expect with a base layer. But we liked that it fits snug, but doesn’t feel restrictive (a sign of high quality fabric) and is long, so it can be tucked in. Some may find the high neck line bit it restrictive. COLOUR: black; white SIZES: S, M, L PRICE: R430

PEARL IZUMI P.R.O. AERO JACKET From Pearl Izumi’s top-end women’s range, P.R.O, the Aero jacket is a good-looking lightweight (130g for the medium size) barrier against wind and water. It’s figure-fitting, stretchy and well-ventilated – ideal for cool mornings and evenings. It has a high quality full-length front zip, reflective detail for low-light safety and it folds up really small so you can stuff it in a jersey pocket if necessary. COLOUR: White/black; red SIZES: XS, S, M, L, XL PRICE: To be confirmed in January 2011 CONTACT:; 011 608 2003 TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

| 75


Making Cycling Affordable Below Volcan Frameset (950g) WAS R16,000.00

NOW R8,000.00

Volcan FS PRO Carbon MTB FRAMESET WAS R23,000.00 NOW R16,416.00

Another product that uses Specialized’s advanced Body Geometry physiological science, which is evident in the inner soles that have longitudinal arch support, which Specialized claims improves comfort and pedalling efficiency. We can’t argue with that. They’re very light (under 700g for the pair) and stiff, which is what you expect from a flagship shoe model. We like the dark gray/blue colouring, which is not too girly and the secure fastening of the two Velcro straps and the ratchet buckle lock. They’re extremely comfortable, are easy to clean and dry fast. COLOUR: Dark gray/blue SIZES: 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 PRICE: R2 995 CONTACT:; 0861 SWORKS



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t’s not that new, but for those new to mountain biking, it’s worth drawing your attention to Specialized’s Body Geometry FIT. Developed in conjunction Dr. Andy Pruitt Ed.D., PA of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, BG FIT (Body Geometry Fit Integration Technology) is a comprehensive fit philosophy created to help cyclists improve efficiency, enhance comfort and reduce the risk of injury. Our female testers that have been introduced to BG FIT have become fans of the technology, many of them converting to Specialized BG Fit gear items after having tested them. The key areas where BG FIT comes into its own are the contact points between body and bike – saddle, shoes and gloves. Specialized has also developed measurement methods for retailers to be able to help you narrow down your options with products that incorporate Body Geometry technology. Yes, other gear and accessory brands also have some unique technology around which their products have been developed, but none is as comprehensive or has had as much far-reaching impact as BG FIT. If you’re ever in doubt when shopping for shoes, gloves or a saddle, check out the BG FIT Experience on, which has taken bicycle fit science and simplified it.



| 77

My Fitness


hose stories that cyclists swap about the dangers of pushing it when you are sick are true. Team Garmin adidas rider Francois Theron found that out the hard way, straining his heart by refusing to listen to his body. Fortunately, the story has a happy outcome for one of the country’s rising young MTB stars.

By Donovan Jackson


78 |


My Fitness


A LESSON TO YOU ALL… How old are you, how long have you been

Had you realised prior to this that training

down to Cape Town for tests, and each time

riding MTB, how long have you been pro?

while fluey/sick could have such an adverse

the result was astounding. I was recovering

I’m 22 years old and I’ve been racing for eight

effect on you?

much faster than expected. After the first

years now. This year is my second year as a

I knew it was bad for you, everyone tells you

test I was told that I would be racing again by

full time pro mountain biker.

to not train while sick. But you know how it

June 2010. Even though this was great news,

What exactly happened with this incident?

is, with so much money and effort that goes

I knew I could be better. I followed the exact

It all started with me being sick after a race in

into a race, you don’t always think straight

training programme that the doc gave me and

which I got an excellent result. My confidence

and take the risk. That’s what I did... and it

by March 2010 I was back racing again. I was

was high and I was super-motivated for

definitely wasn’t worth it!

really lucky as this thing could have turned

upcoming events. Having a snotty nose wasn’t


going to stop me training! However, just

recommended treatment once the problem

So what was your first race back?

before the next race I got really sick. While

was identified?

The ABSA Cape Epic! Yeah, I know, but it was

I took a short break, I thought ‘with all this

There were two options: medication, or rest.

under full medical care and supervision with

money and effort already spent, I’m definitely

We went for the second, but had no indication

proper preparation to make sure I didn’t

doing it anyway’. Even though I wasn’t feeling

of how long it would take.

overdo it. That’s probably what led us to finish

good, I got on my bike and raced. BIG mistake!

What was it like going from being a healthy, fast

14th overall (with teammate Philip Buys); we

I didn’t get the result I wanted.

pro to being an inactive for a couple of months?

rode a consistent race, pacing ourselves to be

But that didn’t slow you down?

It’s really difficult to describe, as there were

strong to the end.

Nope. I decided that I must just train harder

so many things that changed drastically. It

Are you fully recovered?

for the next race. This started a process of

was a really bad time of my life. Dr. Basson

Yes I’m fully recovered, but I still have to

me underperforming then trying to fix it

couldn’t give a date when or even if I would

get back to the shape that I was in before. I

by overtraining. It went on for months; my

ever be able to race again. This broke me

feel I’m a bit behind, but will catch up soon

results weren’t bad, but I was constantly

mentally and physically. I wasn’t able do what

enough; I’m really committed to my cycling

tired. The one major thing I noted was that

I love most; being an active type, that was a

and plan to be racing pro for a few more

my maximum heart rate kept coming down.

major blow. However, I went to a few races to

years. I want to be the best, and win major

Eventually I couldn’t get it over 162 (before

support my team; this and the support from

races locally and eventually internationally.

it was 194).

my girlfriend, family and friends made me

What can the rest of us learn from your

When did you realise there was something

decide that I wouldn’t give up.


more serious at play here?

Tell us about the recovery process?

My advice to everyone is real easy: if you are

Alfred and Petro from PVM (our nutritional

It took two months of doing absolutely

feeling tired or sick, just rest. You won’t do

sponsor) heard my story. They made me

nothing. I wasn’t allowed to take my heart

yourself any good by training, or especially

realise that there was potentially something

rate over 130 bpm. Eventually I could start

racing. This whole situation set me back quite

badly amiss. They advised me to see Dr Wouter

riding my bike again, as long as I stayed below

a bit, but it sure made me stronger mentally.

Basson (yes, THAT Dr. Basson – he is a leading

130bpm. Believe me this wasn’t easy being

It also taught me the lesson of how important

cardiologist) and his team in Cape Town.

unfit and with my mind telling my body it can

and fragile health is. I just hope that others

A series of tests showed damage to the one

go faster, while watching everyone riding past

can learn from my mistake and not overtrain,

heart chamber. This was really bad news.

me as if I was standing still. I kept on flying

or train when sick.

Follow Francois’ progress at





out completely different.


| 79

My Bike

Hardtail F

o u r t e e n - y e a r - o l d cross-country ace, Joel Hieber, of Trinity House, was the top SubJunior at the 2010 Anatomic High Schools Series and winner of the 2010 MTN National Cup in the SubJunior category. His weapon of choice is a Merida 0-Nine Team frame, with some specially selected parts.

By Sean Badenhorst

Photo by: BEN BERGH

80 |


My Bike This bike is pretty new right? Yes, I got the frame at the end of July. What did you race before? A GT Zaskar. Why did you replace it? Well, two of the Zaskar frames I had cracked. Friends recommended I try the Merida. And? So far, so good. The Merida is definitely lighter and stiffer. How much does it weigh? It’s currently 9.4kg. Currently? Yes, I’m going to replace the Fox F100 with a Rock Shox Sid World Cup fork. It’ll make the bike lighter for sure. Any special parts? Oh yes! I have a Noir carbon crank, SRAM XO shifters and rear derailleur, Hope hubs and Stan’s ZTR rims. How often do you get to ride it? I have another aluminium-framed Merida which is heavier and which I ride mostly when training. The O-Nine Team I train on sometimes, but I always race on it! How many days a week do you ride? Ah, five or six usually. Between 1-2 hours each ride. Where do you do most of your riding? Toyota MTN Bike Park in Bryanston. My current favourite trail there is Zombie Birdhouse. Which was your best racing moment of 2010? The final round of the National Cup at Mankele, where I secured the overall title. It was on the GT Zaskar then. I won all three events in the Anatomic High Schools Series on this bike. That was quite special. To find out more about the Merida O-Nine Team D, visit


| 81

Feature My Challenge

Photo by: BEN BERGH

82 |


Difficult Detour

My Challenge So when did you get back on your bike?


n March 2008, multiple South African

My body eventually won the war after a long 11 months of rest and I was given the go

champion, Amy Jane Mundy, was struck

ahead to get back on my bike after a blood

by the Coxsackievirus, forcing her off

dying. At this point I was mentally drained and

test confirmed the virus was almost clear and

the bike and into waiting rooms of various

the only thing I could think of was my heart.

cardiologists. After the most frustrating period

occur, which would happen most days a few

I would wait anxiously for a palpitation to

of her life, the 29-year old KwaZulu-Natalian

times a day – not conducive to getting into any

is almost fully recovered. And fittingly,

How did you get past that tricky/scary point

kind of training routine of course!

much of her healing has come from riding her

of just not knowing?


while resting and riding (very intense beats

Still not happy with how my heart was feeling and high heart rate readings), I went for a

By Sean Badenhorst

third opinion and after all the testing that could possibly be done, it was confirmed there is absolutely nothing wrong with my

It’s good to see you back on your bike again.

generally go away within a two-week period.

heart. I needed to mentally get over the virus

How long has it been since you were last in

My immune system was obviously not strong

and what it had caused and get on my bike

peak racing condition?

enough to fight off the virus and within the

and train as normal.

It’s awesome to be back in the saddle. I fell ill

time I had the virus, it replicated itself almost

Phew, that’s pretty formidable stuff to deal

in 2008 at the Absa Cape Epic so its been over

double. I experienced heart palpitations, sore

with. How did you cope emotionally?

two years now since I was racing fit. But I have

throat, aching bones and muscles, nausea,

Waking up every day feeling terrible and

been on my bike for a while now getting my

cold sores, headaches as well as being very

anxious took its toll. For me to trust the

head right and slowly picking up fitness.

tired with no energy at all.

doctors that the virus had gone was hard. I

Are you planning to race at the top level

What did the doctors say?

would constantly monitor my heart rate while


It took many doctors appointments and a lot

driving, sitting at my desk and when riding.

I will be back racing next year and hopefully

of frustration to get an answer. Firstly my

We later discovered this was causing anxiety/

be able to get back to the top.

GP referred me to a cardiologist who did a

panic attacks, which were being brought on by

How did you get Coxsackievirus?

scan and a 24-hour ECG. He diagnosed my

worrying about my heart. I was treated with

It’s hard to say where I contracted the

palpitations as me suffering from anxiety.

an anti-depressant for six months to help stop

virus. It could have been from anywhere.

Not happy with the diagnosis and scared I

these attacks, which was a lifesaver and really

Coxsackieviruses are part of the enterovirus

had damaged my heart, I then went to see

got me over the last stages of my illness.

family of viruses that live in the human

a homeopath cycling friend who picked

Were you able to ride your bike at all while

digestive tract. They can spread from person

up an abnormality with my heart beat and


to person, usually on unwashed hands and

he referred me to another cardiologist for

There was absolutely no riding or exercise

surfaces contaminated by faeces, where they

a second opinion. This cardiologist did an

whatsoever. Quoting my doctor, “You see this

can live for several days. Being a mountain

effort test and picked up an irregular heart

(he lifted his baby finger off his desk), this is

biker riding through dirty rivers or mud we are

rhythm whilst I was exercising. I was rushed

as much exercise as you will do until the virus

exposed to many horrible bacteria and viruses

into ICU with a resting pulse of over 150 bpm.

is clear”.

all the time. In most cases, Coxsackieviruses

An angiogram revealed that there were no

Can the illness return?

cause mild flu-like symptoms and go away

blockages or any damage done to my heart. I

I guess it can as it will always stay dormant in

without treatment. But in some cases, they

was tested for various viruses and this is when

my system. There isn’t too much knowledge

can lead to more serious infections, which is

they picked up that I had three strains of the

about the virus, so I ensure my immune

what I faced.

Coxsackievirus, which was said to be causing

system is always boosted by taking vitamins

What are the symptoms?

the palpitations. I was told to rest and let the

and eating correctly .

Firstly the virus is a parasite that is not

virus run its course, as there is no treatment

What are your plans for the near future?

considered a living organism. It cannot exist

and very little is actually known about the

To get back to the top with my riding and

without a host but the parasite can replicate.

virus. I was treated homeopathically to help

to race at the upcoming World Cup in

There are many strains of the Coxsackievirus,

boost my immune system to fight of the

Pietermaritzburg; and hopefully qualify for

which have different symptoms, which


the SA team for the 2011 World Champs. TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

| 83

Industry Leader

INDUSTRY GIANT Michael Hirschfeld has been importing and distributing Giant bicycles in South Africa since 1991, making him and his company, Dragons Sports, the longest running single bike brand distributor in the country. He’s seen mountain biking grow from just more than a hobby, to the huge sporting and recreational activity it is today. manufacturing great product. Giant doesn’t

made a major impact on the industry since

specialise in marketing support. So we’ve had

Giant introduced it.

to build the brand ourselves in this country

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge

with very little support. Such quality product

facing the South African mountain bike market

that offers excellent value for money has


made it easier to build the brand. Giant is

It’s a changing market in that there are so few

one of the few brands that manufactures its

industry standards these days. Every brand


bicycles and doesn’t just trade with bicycles.

has something unique, whether it’s suspension

ow did you begin importing Giant

This allows Giant to be a leader in innovation.

design, type of shock, hydraulic brakes and


Much of the early – and current – carbon fibre

so on. So maintenance and back-up needs

I started Dragons Sports in 1989 –

technology used in frames was pioneered by

to be more specialised. Mechanics that are

initially we focused on the skateboarding

Giant. This, combined with the consistency

trained to maintain and repair certain types

market, which was quite popular in the 1980s.

that comes with being the manufacturer of

of designs/products need to become a bigger

Then mountain biking arrived and we saw a

the brand, have been instrumental in Dragons

part of the retail sector.

business opportunity there with the Giant

being able to build the brand’s presence

What do you think can be done to overcome



this challenge?

At the time, were you expecting much from

And what is the most rewarding aspect?

I’m seeing it improving more and more. The

mountain biking?

Going to races or when riding on trails

market is responding to these demands. You

At the time, I felt mountain biking had

and seeing how many people are riding

can get parts from anywhere in the world

potential. It was attractive and a fresh,

Giant bikes. It’s become a household name.

these days, but you can’t get good back-up

alternative form of exercise. I didn’t expect

When someone says: “I have a Giant,” most

service and knowledge. And this is important

it to grow as big as it has though. I think the

non-cycling people know they are talking

if we are to keep the business within our

growth in South Africa has been bigger than

about a bicycle.


that in Europe – proportionately of course –

Do you find the size of the Giant brand dilutes

Do you ride mountain bikes?

because we have such great weather and so

the perceived value of its bikes in any way?

For sure! I ride at least twice a week, but

many events and places to ride.

Sure, niche brands have more flexibility

usually more often. I live in Cape Town

What has been the toughest challenge for you

perhaps and can focus on smaller areas

so am spoiled for choice. Because time is

as an importer of a major bicycle brand?

and they have a place in the market. But

often a challenge, I ride mostly at Tokai and

It’s hard to pinpoint one tough challenge

Giant makes sure that every season it has


because they come and go and are usually an

something new to offer, either in design or

What trends do you see developing in

expected part of business.

construction or innovation. A lot of time and

mountain bikes over the next few years?

The recent recession perhaps?

money go into research and development

I believe 29-ers will make a big impact over

The effects of the recession are still evident,

and that has benefits for sure. For example

the next few years. I ride one and can feel the

but I think the mountain bike market in

carbon fibre frames within a model range

benefits it offers in terms of stability, control

particular and the cycling industry in general

of bikes can differ in price by as much as

and momentum. I also think 29ers have given

hasn’t been as affected as other industries.

R9 000. Unlike smaller brands, Giant can create

the hybrid bike market a boost in making a

Did you get brand-building support from Giant,

unique carbon fibre grades and manufacturing

bigger-wheeled bike cool to ride.

or did you have to build it here yourselves?

process for different frames within the same

Check out more on Dragons Sports, including a

Giant specialises in innovating and

range. The Maestro suspension design has also

very up-to-date blog, at

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Race with Soul


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Race with Soul The Heritage Day long weekend in September gave Gauteng downhillers the perfect reason to head to the slopes of Giba Gorge for the first ever, KwaZuluNatal-Gauteng Downhill inter-provincial. Practice on the Saturday was made more challenging by bouts of coastal rain, but the weather dried up for Sunday’s racing.


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Race with Soul


iders scored points for their province and it was the host province that showed the greatest depth, with

eight of the top 10 fastest times overall. Sponsors included Mongoose, NSRMTB and Scooters Pizza, but old-school provincialism and pride were more of a priority than prizes as riders treated spectators to some fantastic action. For the record, Hayden Brown on a Mongooose Boot’r secured the fastest time with Tim Bentley (GT Fury) and Brad Illingworth (Giant Glory) second and third quickest respectively. For a full report and detailed results, visit

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Race with Soul

2 Hill Just over 2000 riders reveled in a new-look Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill 2 Hill Marathon between Hilton and Hillcrest in late September. With two of the country’s top course gurus in the team of Hill 2 Hill organisers, the emphasis was always going to be on giving riders in the annual race a mountain biking experience worth remembering, and World Cup track designer Kim Phillips and Nick Floros, formerly of Sani2c fame, did not let the competitors down.



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Race with Soul

Flowing singletrack adds the ‘mountainbikey’ feel to the route. PHOTO: KELVIN TRAUTMAN


phrase Phillips constantly used in the build up to the event

was: ‘The route needs to be more mountainbikey.’ The English

may not be strictly accurate, but the meaning was clear and

Women’s winner Eszter Erdelyi led for most of the race. Here she negotiates a sandy corner at The Ark, with 15km to go.

between the two of them they added kilometres of flowing singletrack to provide the riders with a race worth remembering. The 100km race – which takes its name partly from the starting and finishing points of Hilton and Hillcrest and partly from the fact that it is an event that leads riders from hill to hill to hill to… – is never going to be easy, and it was never meant to be, but for Phillips and Floros the test was to create a ‘mountainbikey’ route that does not add difficulty to an event that will always have its challenges due to the terrain. This year an easy 18km fun ride was added to the Saturday programme, making the event a genuine two-day festival and giving more people the chance to be part of the Hill 2 Hill experience. Sunday’s action was a 44km race from Cato Ridge to Hillcrest as well as “the big one” from Hilton. It is rumoured that 2011 will have a few more additions to create a mountain biking jamboree that should not be missed. For the record, Max Knox (DCM) earned his first victory in the tough race but he had to work hard to see off a strong field and only dropped David George ( 300m from the finish on the last climb, while defending champion Brandon Stewart (DCM) was only dislodged as a challenger when he could not hold the pace up the brutal 5km Sunrise Hill climb 10km from the finish. In the women’s race, Eszter Erdelyi (Jeep) was without doubt the strongest rider and she made a break in the first half of the race and continued to pull away as the race progressed to secure a comfortable win over Samantha Oosthuysen (Garmin adidas) and Karien van Jaarsveld (USN). For more race information and full results, visit

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David George was involved in a race-long battle with the DCM duo of Knox and Stewart, but eventually finished second, in between them.




26th SEPTEMBER 2010 31st OCTOBER 2010 7th NOVEMBER 2010 16th DECEMBER 2010 All online entrants receive a FREE T-SHIRT. FREE BIOGEN GOODIE BAG for each participant.

Max Knox relates his race-winning tale.

VENUE Babba’s Lodge, Bultfontein | GPS coordinates: 25.489275, 28.182311 START TIME 8:00 am COSTS / DISTANCES 1km kiddies: R30 | 12km: R50 | 35km: R100 | 70km: R120 TIMING BY Spectrum Sport ENTER ONLINE @

(Click on Online entries and select MTB events)

0017663 LION MARKETING (011) 453 4297




With distances for all ages and fitness levels, this is a great, safe and fun family day out.


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Race with Soul After more than 100km of hills and other challenges, the finish line is a welcome sight for participants.

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Schedule of South African mountain bike events Place





Contact Person



Sat 6th Nov

AmRic-SVJ Series



Richard Sutton

082-901 8703


Wed 10th Nov

Moonlight Series


One Hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

079-878 5379

Johannesburg, Waterfall Country Estate

Sat 20th Nov

Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge



Harford Sports Promotions 011-463 2743

Pretoria, Babas Lodge

Sun 21st Nov

Biogen Series Babas Lodge # 11



Andre de Beer

082-490 5061


Wed 24th Nov

Moonlight Series


One Hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

079-878 5379

Pretoria, Rust de Winter

Sat 27th Nov

Toyota Rust de Winter Challenge



Deon Kok

082-920 6103

Windmill Casino

Sat 6th Nov




Monica Naude

082-791 6003


Sat 13th Nov

Trophy Series 3


Willie Oelofse

083-256 9724


MPUMALANGA Witbank, Highveld Mall

Sat 13th Nov

Highveld Mall MTN MTB Challenge




082-8022 088

Sabie, Castle Rock

Sat 27th Nov

Noon to Moon

XCM Enduro

10 hours

Brett Coates

083-774 5821

KWAZULU-NATAL Winterton, Emseni Camp

Sat 6th - Sun 7th Nov

Natro Berg and Bush

XCM Stage Race



083-230 9091

Durban, Suncoast Casino

Sun 21st Nov

OUTsurance KZN Expedition




011-662 2494

EASTERN CAPE Cathcart, Thomas River Village

Sat 6th Nov

New Balance Thomas River XCM Stage Race MTB Challenge

65km/45km/35km/10km/ John Potter Kiddies chocolate ride

East London, Pine Forest

Sat 20th Nov

Club Race # 9


Niew Bethesda, Sports Club

Sat 20th Nov

Compassberg Full Moon Ride


Oudtshoorn Quad Club

Sat 6th Nov

Oudtshoorn Relay


10km lap

Essie Esterhuyse

084-279 1065


Sat 6th Nov

Medscheme Tour De Vino MTB



Tim Morris

083-500 9973 tmorris@matchworld.

Oudtshoorn, De Hoek

Thurs 11 - Fri 12th Nov

To Hell & Back Adventure

XCM Stage Race



083-508 9642


Fri 12th - Sun 14th Nov

Wines 2 Whales 3-Day Stage Race

XCM Stage Race

70km/70km/80km various

Stillwater Sport & Entertainment

082-578 3297

Oudtshoorn, De Hoek

Sat 13th - Sun 14th Nov

To Hell & Back

XCM Stage Race



083-508 9642

Montagu, De Bos

Sat 13th - Sun 14th Nov

Makadas Overland Challenge

XCM Stage Race


Mitzi Knipe

084-549 7700 www.makadasadventures.


Sat 13th Nov

Big Five


Wimpy Geyer

082-899 8970


083-452 6191


082-575 4923

Amatola MTB Club

071-140 5549


082-401 0001 082-413 0579


NORTHERN CAPE LIMPOPO Zebula, Zebula Golf Estate Sat 6th - Sun 7th Nov

Zebula Corporate Challenge




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Contact Person



Sat 4th Dec

AmRic SVJ Series



Richard Sutton

082-901 8703


Wed 8th Dec

Moonlight Series


One Hour (1.6km lap)

Lynne Venter

083-878 5379

Pretoria, Babas Lodge

Thurs 16th Dec

Biogen Series Babas Lodge # 12



Andre de Beer

082-490 5061

Hennie Verster

083-702 1932

FREE STATE Tweespruit, Newberry Dam

Sun 5th Dec

Newberry Dam Tweespruit XCM

Pilgrims Rest, The Vine Restaurant

Sat 4th Dec

Pilgrims Rest MTB Classic



John T Reinders

074-276 1787

Sabie, York Timbers Sports Grounds

Thurs 16th - Sun 19th Dec

The Sabie Experience

XCM Stage Race


Fiona Coward

083-564 7767

3km lap

Max Cluer

083-744 7103


KWAZULU-NATAL Durban, uShaka Marine World

Sat 11th Dec

Hewlett Packard MTB Urban Rage

Urban XCO

East London, Wriggleswade Dam

Sat 4th Dec

Kubusie Challenge



Mike Stone

082-490 8444

Port Elizabeth, Off Camber Adventures

Sun 5th Dec

Longmore Classic



Cyclo Pro

083-262 4392

Murraysburg, Showgrounds Sat 4th Dec

Sneeuberg Crawl



Kay Hesselink

049-854 9113


Sat 18th - Sun 19th Dec

Rock Pedal Classic

XCM Stage Race

Hannes Neethling

082-774 3474

Grootbrak River

Fri 31st Dec

Bokkie's Grabadoo


Matrix Advertising

084-583 3144 www.matrixadvertising.




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 083 279 7797 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.

94 |


Classifieds TO ADVERTISE IN TREAD MAGAZINE, CONTACT: 98mm x 112mmmm Ad 8/2/10 11:41 AM Page 1 Joanne Badenhorst | Email | Cell +27 83 279 7797 |

Bring your rods, bikes, boardgames and books and relax amongst the game, a mere 230km from Johannesburg towards Harrismith



SPECIALIZED DEALER FOR 9 YEARS We stock top end mountain and road bikes and love building bikes from the frame upwards in order to make your pride and joy


Tel:+ 27 11 341 0627

more personal. We specialise in Specialized, Silverback, Niner as well as 29-inch and singlespeed bikes. We can help you with the best build to suit your needs as well as your budget.

tel: 011 315 8311 Midrand TREAD NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

| 95


o r t Re hese

. ng, but almostF.eTstival, . . n e h s ber w as you t Tyre Rememte when rock w2 Sedgefield Fuantain biking hsaay

o ui 99 ch mo rate t the 1 Not q w mu naccu from o i h bike e e r n e b i a t not nta qui u pics d e l o t u m a o r age. It w de a llust ears. ilgrim ho ro y and i p w 8 d y 1 n d and eeke ed in rybo owell ter W t eve P chang s u a e o i E b is bb ax ust a de th s, Ro at Tr that j on El the F ca ma d i d r n f n a a A r s th yB Cycle in Sou sed b break rgani h o c a s e a It w rom B Vos, f . Gavin in PE Club B T M By Tim Brink


nd it was a real festival – everybody

tried their hand at everything, from the massive 25km outride (that was

a hell of a long way then), to the Monday morning hillclimb, usually as a tonic to the excesses of the previous night’s celebrations. The XC racing was fast and furious – for its time and competitive, while the downhill would seem tame today. But, we all did all the events, on just one bike. There was no distinction between the equipment used for DH, XC or even the foot-ups competitions pictured here – we just spent a long weekend riding everything on the programme. And having a pretty smashing time in the evenings – few will forget the x-rated talent show that evolved for the final event t-shirt...

Photos cour tesy: Jimm y Mills and Jakes Jako bsen

96 |


TREAD Issue 9  

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