As was the case with most mountain bikers who were suffering from a serious case of cabin fever, I decided to head out to a trail network that I know well in order establish if I still knew how to ride a bike!
Well, there is good news and bad news! Good news? I didn’t crash! Bad news? After 3 months off the trails, I was incredibly rusty! While I had managed to slot in a few rides during lockdown level 4, it was predominantly on the Greenbelts of the Cape’s Southern Peninsula which is arguably some of the least technical and flat riding you can find in the Cape. It was also packed with many other enthusiastic riders, dog walkers, runners, pram pushers and horse riders which meant that the rides didn’t really contribute to my fitness level either.
With that in mind, I decided to head out to the Hoogekraal and Contermanskoof trails which form part of the broader Tygerberg MTB Clubs trails. There are two reasons I chose to kick off my “come back” on these trails. One, I wanted to check out the condition the trails and two, these trails offer some great flow with just the right amount of tech thrown in for good measure. This way, I would not only be in a better position to stay on my bike, but I would be able to focus on finding my rhythm and flow without having to worry too much about the trail presenting any nasty surprises!
First up was the super fun Cobra trail!
There are a couple of things that the Cobra trail will call you out on. Firstly, your ability to corner and secondly, your fitness! Both of which, in my case, need a lot of work it would seem! That being said, I had no expectations of myself when it came to my fist ride back. My focus was to take it easy, have a good time and get the feel of my bike again. It was time to play and not to race! The trail was also in great condition! Sure, the rain has made it a little loose in sections but that’s what makes it so much fun!
After hauling my now 106kg ass up and out of the valley, I decided to head over to the Hoogekraal DH, or so it’s called on Strava! There is absolutely nothing DH about this trail other than the fact that it is on a downhill. It is super manageable to the point that almost anyone can ride it! It too is in great condition. Towards the midpoint in the run, I found myself riding on a brand new section that the trail building crews had been working on earlier that day! It’s faaaaast and has some great flow! Check it out!
With the second run of the day in the bag , I was beginning to find my flow and decided to head across the valley to the Contermanskloof network of trails to check out Supertubes (enduro line) and the world class Black Rhino trail!
Supertubes is one of those trails where the faster you go, the more exhilarating it becomes. If you ride the enduro line, it’s got a nice little patch of rocky gnar followed by a couple of friendly drops (almost over shot one of them) rounded off by long swooping berms. The trail is in great condition right now!
Next up, Black Rhino! By this point of my ride, my bottle was long empty and I’d burnt all of my matches through the sheer enthusiasm of being back on the trails! The ride up and out of the valley to transfer across Black Rhino had me cursing the McD’s I’d been enjoying during level 4, but I managed to push through. The reward was well worth the effort! Black Rhino is running beautifully! It is a technical trail that demands your attention so be sure to pay it the respect it deserves. In my hypoglycemic state, I accidentally hit the hyper-lapse option on my GoPro Hero 8 Black but here is the clip anyway.
In summary, it was a great afternoon on the trails! My advice is that you take it easy for the first few weeks back allowing yourself enough time to get back to where you were pre lockdown from a fitness and technical riding perspective.
Remember that these trails are only accessible if you are a member of the Tygerberg MTB Club. No day licenses are available! At just R590,00 for the rest of the year, it’s well worth the money! You can purchase your license HERE.
See you on the trails from 1.5m away!