CLOSEST TOWN/CITY: Kempton Park
DESCRIPTION: No longer do mountain bikers on the East Rand have to constantly wish they lived somewhere else. There is now a proper mountain bike park in Modderfontein! Central Park opened to the public in April and has been a huge hit. Why? Well besides offering a new riding venue in the country’s most crowded province and just 15 minutes drive from South Africa’s largest city, Central Park offers a combination of good flow, distance and non-technical riding.
There’s a 17km Green route and a 33km Blue route currently, with progression plans that include extending the existing routes and adding in some more technically challenging loops. Designed and built by Trailflow Sports’ Grant Nathan (the bloke who built those memorable trails at Teak Place), Central Park’s trails are ideal for beginner and intermediate riders, both in terms of distance and type. Nothing technically formidable on the Green route and only a couple of bits on the Blue that could be considered challenging from a skills perspective. Of course if you ride fast enough, the twisty forest singletrack, of which there is plenty, is highly stimulating, no matter what your skill level. The flow is superb and that’s really all that matters when it comes to singletrack. The huge piece of land on which the trails are built is partly the Modderfontein Reserve and partly AECI property, a South African based global chemicals and mining company. Part of the land has been sold to a developer, who commissioned the building of the mountain bike trails. How cool is that? There are some sections of the trail that aren’t terribly exciting, but great if you want to train for distance, including jeep track, singletrack and some gravel road. Two laps of the Blue route will take you at least three hours to complete. The trails are quite well marked, but the dark colours of the arrows can be tricky to see at speed. There is wildlife on the property, including wildebeest, zebra, springbok and blesbok and loads of birdlife and there are a few dams too. You get a feeling of being deep in the bush at times, incredible considering you’re just a few kilometres, from the city. It’s a security-patrolled area with perimeter fencing, but it’s still South Africa, so avoid riding alone, even though it feels safe. At this stage, Central Park is only open to riding on weekends and public holidays, and then only until 14h00. But plans are in place to expand the riding hours into weekdays.
DISTANCE: 17km Green; 33km Blue
TYRES: With no obvious puncture threats, virtually any tyre is appropriate here. If speed through the singletrack is your thing, an aggressive knobbed front tread is best for optimal traction.
BEST THING: Close to Joburg; decent distance of trails; great ‘flow’, Seattle Coffee van at the car park on most riding days.
WORST THING: Way too little info on the website and Facebook page!
BEST SEASON: Hard to tell since it’s not been ridden in summer, but probably fine in all seasons.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the London Road offramp from the N3 and head south east (away from Sandton/Alexandra) along Peace Street for a few kilometres until you reach a traffic light intersection with Modderfontein Road. Turn left into Modderfontein Road and head east. Just before the Gautrain flyover, turn left into Centenary Street, which you follow (Modderfontein Golf Club will be on your left) until a T-junction.
Turn right into Antwerp Road at the T-junction. At the traffic circle, continue straight (2nd exit) and then bear right where the road forks. Take the first right and follow that road (Montessori School will be on your left) and head up to the car park at the sports club (bowls, squash, tennis facilities will be evident). You can park there and buy your riding ticket. There is also a map on the Trailflow Sports website.
COST: R40 per rider per day. Frequent rider packages will soon be available.
SECURE PARKING: Seems quite secure, but don’t leave valuables in view.
Facebook page: Central Park Modderfontein;
Grant: 072 336 5055
Originally published in Tread Issue 18 – 2012
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