We’re fortunate to have such a variety of mountain bike trails in South Africa. From inner-city mountain bike parks to remote wilderness trails, from free-to-ride trails on public land to privately owned mountain biking gems. Since we launched TREAD in 2009, our crew has ridden most of South Africa’s mountain bike trails. Here’s a look at Number 4, yet another Western Cape trails network, in our TREAD Top Trails of 2020.
Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club
Location: Durbanville, Western Cape
Best suited for: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced riders.
What we love about it: So much choice. Wow! Having been mountain biking since the early 1990s when mountain biking was grouped with skateboarding as a very fringe activity, our ultimate dream was to have kilometres and kilometres of mountain bike-specific singletrack to ride every day. And that is exactly what you get at the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club. Durbanville mountain bikers, especially those that have started riding in the past five years, are probably not aware just how lucky they are. To be able to ride from home and have access to over 150km of marked trails, mostly purpose-build singletrack, across private land belonging to 30 landowners, is truly a massive privilege. Add to that the fact that the trails cater for every level of rider, from novice to accomplished Enduro/DH riders.
The network is managed by the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club, which, with over 7000 members, is probably the largest mountain bike club in the world. The club is managed by a committee of volunteers, which is responsible for the building and maintenance of the trails within the network, with membership fees and sponsors funding the club. Because the club makes a profit, it re-invests into various social initiatives to support the local community. It also helps fund the Western Cape XCO and Enduro Series.
With over 7000 members, the club has secured a Discount Partners reward system with local businesses, both cycling and non-cycling offering discounts to members.
Signage: The signage is generally very good. Not all of the signage is the same though as some landowners only permit smaller directional arrows. The official Tygerberg MTB Trails signage is very distinct, with a wooden ‘horseshoe’ denoting the start of each trail, with its name at the top.
Grading: “The trails team uses the IMBA grading system as a guideline and signage is allocated accordingly. The IMBA system has various interpretations and ambiguities. As a result we feel its impractical to apply throughout our network, but we do use it as a guideline.” – Morne Veer, member of Tygerberg MTB Club’s Executive Committee.
You can also find the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club trails on Trailforks https://www.trailforks.com/region/tygerberg-mtbc-trail-network/ where they are rated mostly Green and Blue, with a few Black.
Bloemendal and Hillcrest – Total distance: 27.5km; Total elevation gain: 878m; Total elevation loss: 1176m
Contermanskloof – Total distance: 36km; Total elevation gain: 720m; Total elevation loss: 1124m
Fair Cape – Total distance: 13.4km; Total elevation gain: 286m; Total elevation loss: 248m
Hoogekraal and Welvergenoegd – Total distance: 23.9km; Total elevation gain: 681m; Total elevation loss: 768m
Klipheuvel – Total distance: 13.3km; Total elevation gain: 215m; Total elevation loss: 215m
Majik Forest – Total distance: 11.6km; Total elevation gain: 310m; Total elevation loss: 307m
Meerendal – Total distance: 20.1km; Total elevation gain: 405m; Total elevation loss: 440m
Corridors – There are corridors to link the various trails. These are only for members and require an access code.
There is more very detailed trail information here: https://www.tygerbergmtb.co.za/trails/#traildistances
Photo credit: Johann Potgieter
Off the bike: Well, you’re basically in a highly productive wine-producing region and most of the wine farms in the Durbanville region have superb restaurants. Cape Town is a 20-minute drive away so all the usual Cape Town activities are within a short hop by car.
Summary: It’s unlikely you will ever tire of riding this incredibly varied mountain bike trails network. There is heaps of gradient to ensure you are challenged on the many climbs, but the descents are so well thought out and provide ample reward for the ‘gravity tax’ paid. The scenery is simply superb, with the Stellenbosch/Franschhoek mountains to the east and Table Mountain and Cape Town to the southwest.
Cost: The trails network is only open to paid-up members that display the current year membership board. Day visitors are able to buy a temporary trails access permit at Meerendal and Bloemendal (R50); Contermanskloof, Fair Cape, Hoogekraal and Welvergenoegd (R60). To find about the various membership packages, click here. https://www.tygerbergmtb.co.za/shop/
Security rating: 4/5
Note: The TREAD TOP TRAILS 2020 feature is subjective. If you feel we are missing great trails from our top 15, please email Sean Badenhorst on firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Here’s our TREAD Top 15 Trails countdown so far:
Number 14 The Spruit, Randburg/Sandton, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-2/
Number 13: Tokai, Cape Town, Western Cape http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-3/
Number 12: Cradle Moon, Johannesburg, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-12/
Number 11: Buffelsdrift, Pretoria, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-11/
Number 10: Northern Farm, Johannesburg, Gauteng http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-10/
Number 9: Holla Trails, Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-9/
Number 8: Giba Gorge MTB Park, Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-8/
Number 7: Paul Cluver & Oak Valley, Western Cape http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-7/
Number 6: Stellenbosch, Western Cape http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-6/
Number 5: Banhoek Conservancy, Western Cape http://www.treadmtb.co.za/tread-top-trails-2020-number-5/