Jonkershoek reopens for mountain biking

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Specialized's Bobby Behan got out of the office, and behind the wheelbarrow, to help rebuild (Photo: Ewald Sadie)
Specialized's Bobby Behan got out of the office, and behind the wheelbarrow, to help rebuild (Photo: Ewald Sadie)
  • Mountain bikers will be thrilled that Jonkershoek is being rapidly repaired
  • Some of South Africa's most skilled trail builders are involved to ensure a quality rebuild after the fire damage
  • Although very few of the legacy trails are open, two of the valley's best sections are ready for riding

After devasting fires destroyed much of Jonkershoek’s flora and trails little over a month ago, mountain bikers have been particularly depressed about its future.

Regarded as the best mountain biking destination in South Africa, the loss of Jonkershoek as a riding venue for the foreseeable future, was a grim conjecture.

The mountain bike community in and around Stellenbosch organised for a rebuild and what was expected to take months, has been a mere question of weeks. Jonkershoek will reopen for riding this Friday, allowing mountain bikers in for the long weekend.

Between MTO, Specialized South Africa’s Bobby Behan and master trail builder, Bennet Nel, an enormous amount of work has been done in the last month.

Volunteers have also joined Bennet Nel’s experienced trail building team to clear fire damage and start repairing trails in Jonkershoek. Generous corporate funding from FNB, IBEX Capital and Toyota South Africa have also been resource enabling, for the significant singletrack rebuilding efforts.

Mountain bike volunteers have joined experienced trail build crews in Jonkershoek (Photo: Ewald Sadie)
Having some mechanical digging equipment on loan, has helped a lot (Photo: Ewald Sadie)

With a little help - from all

Although most of the magnificent trails in Jonkershoek are created from the imagination and toil of Bennet Nel, other talented trail builders have assisted in the rebuilding efforts. Banhoek valley’s Trails Crew have also been present and Helderberg farm’s Jan van Schalkwyk made a meaningful contribution with his machine digging resources.

The restoration and repair of Jonkershoek will be an ongoing process, but what has been achieved in a comparatively short timeframe is remarkable.

For the moment, only a few trails have been certified for mountain biking. One of these is Jonkershoek’s iconic Irish climb, which takes riders high on the valley’s eastern side and has all five of its levels open. Once mountain bikers have ascended, they can then descend all five levels of the Armageddon singletrack trail.

Towards the bottom of the valley the lower two levels of Neverending Story are open. If you wish to ride on Jonkershoek’s slightly warmer western side the Firehut one and two trails are active, for descending.

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