Mountain biking in South Africa has moved through a number of phases over the past three decades. Biogen, one of the country’s leading sports supplement brands, has been a keen supporter of the sport in its various forms and is now increasing its investment in a project that extends beyond pure performance on the bike.
South Africa is developing into the world’s premier mountain bike trails destination. There are almost 200 established mountain bike trails parks in the county with more being built and many being upgraded to cater for a growing trail-riding market.
Mountain bike events took a serious knock during strict government Covid-19 response lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, but riding grew more popular as new riders discovered the benefits and rewards of mountain biking and trails parks saw record attendance numbers, which have remained impressive in 2022.
Biogen is a major sponsor of mountain bike events, including the UCI-graded Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek and Tankwa Trek stage races and the Attakwas Extreme MTB Challenge Ultra-marathon. But the brand has also been involved in the support of mountain bike trails with campaigns in recent years with Holla Trails in KwaZulu-Natal and Avianto Trails in Gauteng.
Now, Biogen has thrown it’s support into the new MTO Trails network on the Garden Route. Managed jointly by Club 100 and the landowner, MTO, the MTO Trails in Plett now have over 20km of purpose-built singletrack in the forest plantations between Cairnbrogie and Harkerville. And that’s just the beginning…
“We started building the trails about 10 months ago and now have gained some momentum thanks to funding support from companies like Biogen,” said Douw van der Merwe, Eco Tourism Manager for MTB (Southern Region).
“Once we overcame the initial operational and funding challenges the project has been highly productive. Fortunately, Club 100 has been managing the responsible crossing of our MTO land in Plett for some time as it sits between two existing mountain bike trails networks. Danny Aaron of Club 100 has been instrumental in making this all happen, both in terms of sourcing funding and his own trail-building skills,” added Van der Merwe.
For Aaron, the project has been hugely rewarding.
“I have been riding in the Plett area for some years and am really pleased that MTO has seen the value in allowing the building of mountain bike trails on its land. MTO owns a significant amount of land in the area, so the potential is almost unlimited in terms of what is possible. For now though, we are pleased with the first phase, which has resulted in forest singletrack that’s stimulating for all levels of mountain biker. The faster you ride it, the more challenging it is…” said Aaron.
Part of the plan currently is to develop and empower a team that can take over the expansion of the trails network. This includes training of local residents to be able to build and effectively maintain trails that are safe and sustainable.
“Over time we will increase the trails network on MTO’s land. Most of the land we are currently building on has sandy soil and gradual gradient. With the support of brands like Biogen we expect to triple the MTO Plett Trails footprint by the end of 2022. Long term, there’s enormous potential as MTO also has land around The Craggs, which is more rocky with steeper gradient,” added Aaron.
“As a sports and wellness business, a fundamental drive to keep South Africans active and healthier remains a core principle of the brand. Our passion for mountain biking and endurance sports across the board is no secret, so the opportunity to invest in curating some of SA’s beautiful mountain bike trails and supporting riders further, is a natural alignment,” said Brandon Fairweather, Biogen Brand Manager.
“MTO Garden Route offers some of the finest riding, in such beautiful parts of our country, so we look forward to seeing what Danny and Douw continue to create for the growing mountain bike community there,” added Fairweather.
For more information on the MTO Plett Trails, head to their website.