When we launched the TREAD – Mountain Biking With Soul brand in February 2009, we had four primary objectives: 1. create an authoritative, credible South African mountain biking media platform; 2. improve the general level of mountain biking skills in South Africa; 3. help give women mountain bikers greater recognition; and 4. grow trail riding in South Africa.
With our magazine and website and years of media experience and cycle industry support, we ticked the first box quite quickly. Our TREAD Skills Clinics were next and are now – thanks to successive sponsorships from MiWay, Nedbank and Peugeot – the most expansive, successful skills improvement education system in the country.
We’ve always found it strange that with women making up 35-40% of the mountain biking market (and growing) that
the industry treats them as an afterthought when sourcing clothing, bikes or gear. And at the top end of racing, why so few events have rewarded women equally in terms of prize money.
Yes, we know there’s a depth discrepancy, but how will that ever change when women’s bike, gear and clothing choices are so limited? Women must be encouraged to ride and race mountain bikes and the best way is to make them feel like they’re welcome to…
Encouragingly, that’s all starting to change now. Clothing brands in particular are making wider choices available for women, while bike brand importers are finally including women-specific models in every shipment.
Sponsors like Bridge and Sasol have given women racers due recognition by ensuring they have equal prize money in the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek and ABSA Cape Epic respectively. Other sponsors are sure to follow their lead and create the important ‘pull-through’ effect that will help grow women’s race participation at the lower levels.
And trails? Well, back in early 2009, there were less than 10 recognised, marked trails in South Africa. We count well over 100 now and have reviewed at least 60 of those in TREAD magazine.
We’ve never accepted the numerous requests we get for TREAD to be the ‘official media partner’ to events, but when Ecobound asked us if we’d like to partner with them on the Big MTB Year, we didn’t think twice! (See the promotional advert on pages 84 and 85.)
Why, because it’s an ‘event’ that encourages trail riding, trail improvement and trail growth, all of which are healthy for South African mountain biking and which give mountain bikers greater choice.
While building our brand, it’s satisfying to have played a role in the improvement and growth of South African mountain biking. But there’s still a lots of work to be done. We launched TREAD as a passion-project rather than a profit-project because we know that passion and knowledge are the factors required to make anything a success. We also knew it would require patience, because credibility is earned, not automatically given. You also can’t pay for passion and knowledge. And that’s why we’ve always stayed true to our pay-off line – Mountain Biking With Soul…
TREAD Magazine is sold throughout South Africa and can be found in: Spar, CNA, Exclusive Books, Discerning bike shops and on Zinio
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 26, 2013 – All rights reserved