Building The Wines2Whales ROUTES
Martiens Scheepers and his team built the initial Schapenberg Trails in 2009. During the 2009 route-building days these route builders cycled the W2W routes over the weekend on broken bicycles, without brakes just to experience the challenges of some of their trails.
During that same period, it wasn’t always possible to arrange transport for the route builders to and from the trail sites.
A close friend at King’s Cycles in Worcester identified a key customer who had four basic aluminum mountain bikes and two helmets that he was willing to trade for a W2W entry. Two additional helmets were obtained from another friend after which the FNB W2W Trail Building Team was able to cycle to the trail sites.
By 2010 W2W was finally in a position to properly fund trail building. Four previously unemployed youth from Grabouw were assisted in starting a Trail Building enterprise, contracting their services to W2W – today known as Cape Trails. These trail builders build and maintain mountain biking trails throughout the year.
Martiens son Denzel, Denzel’s nephew Ashwell, and Brendon were part of Cape Trails partnership since 2010. In 2012 Murzon, Denzel’s brother left and Jason Adams joined the Cape Trails.
W2W facilitated a Continual Service Improvement (CSI) process involving Martiens, who has since established Martiens Scheepers Conservancy (Pty) Ltd. The company employs 25 people and perform alien clearance on contract for the Arabella Hotel and SPA, Groenlandberg Conservancy and individual farmers.
In 2014 Cape Trails received ownership of their new Specialized mountain bikes with the compliments of the organizers of the FNB W2W MTB Events and Specialized South Africa.
New and existing Routes
On average these trail builders each cycle 50km a day and build the trail from 08h00 to 16h30. It is difficult to determine how many kilometers track they build per day as the difficulty varies. On easy flat terrain with minimal vegetation, the builders complete about 1km a day.
In comparison, a special feature like ‘Die Kontoer’, a newly constructed contour against a steep cliff in Oak Valley Wine Estate, required 30 x 2m steel poles and 150 x 2m tar poles to create a retainer wall against the cliff to support the track. The filling of the track with soil over a distance of 400m took over 4 months to complete.
Johan Kriegler, FNB W2W MTB Director, decides where new routes will add magic by listening to rider and landowner feedback, walking the mountains, exploring Google Earth options, within a MTB mind’s looking for fun, interesting, scenic, safe and not too difficult trails. After approval by a landowner, all tools are moved to the new site where after it becomes Cape Trails’ new ‘Pad Kamp’ until they have finished the track.
Initially the W2W route changed a lot, but recently only slight changes are implemented. At this point the route builders make smaller adjustments, and in future will perform more alien clearance and nature conservation. Cape Nature plays an overseeing role in observing that the W2W events comply to a pre-determined nature conservation criteria, before, during and after the events.
A key FNB W2W MTB objective is to continuously develop the W2W routes, creating and maintaining MTB Trails that are scenic, safe and adventurous.
Some sections of the W2W routes are exclusive and not open to the public or other events. Some sections of the Grabouw MTO Trails, Oak Valley, Paul Cluver, Wildekrans and Hermanus Trails are open to the public.
Over the past seven years these routes have become legendary within the mountain biking community.
“Each year it is our mission to increase the scenic level of our routes, while raising the fun bar,” says Johan Kriegler, FNB W2W MTB Director. A structure such as Pofadder (a 100m wooden trail structure that runs between cliffs and a waterfall) has become infamous amongst riders, locally and internationally.
In 2014 W2W celebrated the opening of the spectacular Amphi Bike Park at Paul Cluver.
Dr Cluver has always had a passion for wood work and creative ideas. He co-opted Anton Potgieter, who is well known for his eco-bridges in South Africa, to oversee the construction of the Pedal Power Association (PPA) swing, Raka, Slangpark, the resurrection of Pofadder and Witklippieskloof.
New home for FNB W2W MTB route builders
The organizers of the FNB W2W MTB Events have recently purchased property in Grabouw for Cape Trails, the official route builders of the FNB W2W MTB Events.
According to the event organisers, purchasing a house for Cape Trails has been a goal for over four years. The route builders from Cape Trails are hard workers that have a passion for mountain biking.
They cycle to and from work every day, covering a distance of ±13 000km on their Specialized mountain bikes each year. In December last year Ashwell’s home burnt down destroying everything that he owned. This highlighted the need for decent housing for the trail building team.
Situated in the town of Grabouw, the house is near all the major shops and is in a safer location. It’s a double plot with a two bedroom house and a one bedroom flat on it. Ashwell Swartz has moved into the house, while Denzel Scheepers has moved into the flat. Future plans include building two more dwellings on the second plot for remaining Cape Trails members, Jason Adams and Brendon Booysen. For now Jason and Brendon have made it clear that they are still happy living with their parents.
Both Ashwell and Denzel will pay rent, the amount will be similar to what they’ve paid for their previous accommodation. Depending on how well they look after their new homes, the long term goal is to work out title transfer arrangements with each of the Cape Trails members.
“Being part of the FNB W2W MTB Events has changed our lives for the best,” says Ashwell Swartz of Cape Trails. “When my Wendy House burnt down it broke me. I tried to remain optimistic, hoping that a better opportunity would arise. It is difficult to describe the impact that the Directors of the FNB W2W MTB Events have made on our lives. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to us.”
“We are proud to be part of the event team.”
READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE! THE STORY OF WINES2WHALES
READ MORE: W2W CHARITIES