(Port Elizabeth) – Mountain bikers in Nelson Mandela Bay can look forward to the rare pleasure of hitting new trails when the Baywest MTB Trails open for riding on June 16.
Criss-crossing the undeveloped land behind Baywest Mall, the new trails are designed and managed by Fat Tracks Mountain Bike Club, and promise the same kind of family-friendly recreational riding that mountain bikers have come to expect from the club.
Fat Tracks chairman Johan Gerryts said the Baywest trails comprised a 12km loop, with shortcuts for a 6km or 9km option, and offered similar riding conditions to the nearby Norm-Hudlin trails. He described the trails as a well-balanced mix of 10% gravel road, 40% jeep track and 50% single track.
“The trails are not technical at all in terms of drop-offs, hills and jumps. But about 50% is still very raw so it will require hard work on a mountain bike and can be tiring on the body. The route is winding and scenic, with a variety of bush, beautiful fynbos and forest.”
Gerryts said alien invasive forest vegetation, such as black wattle and Port Jackson, was being cleared as part of a long-term environmental project by Baywest developers and would be replaced with indigenous plants in time to come.
This is reflected in the route naming, Coral Tree and Waterberry, which are naturally occurring in the area.
The trail head starts just outside Entrance 4, which is the entrance to Baywest Mall’s Fun Factory entertainment wing, where a route map and bike racks will be available to riders.
“Because the trails start at the mall, this ride really has a completely different ‘feel’ to anything else in the Bay,” said Baywest Mall marketing manager Christopher Hutchings.
“It’s perfect for families, as those who aren’t keen on mountain biking can go shopping or catch a movie, while they wait for their riders to return. Dad or Mom can have a quick hour on the bike and then meet the rest of the family for coffee or lunch at one of the restaurants.”
For maximum safety and security, Gerryts said the trails would be open from sunrise to sunset but that organised night rides were being planned.
Instead of the traditional “honesty box” system, he said there would be a Fat Tracks Zapper QR code which riders would scan to make a donation of between R20 and R50. While Baywest Mall will carry the costs of trail maintenance, rider donations will be used to develop the trails further.
The trail officially launches on June 16, with a “Ride for the Youth” family day, comprising a 1km kids’ dash, 6km and 12km social rides, and an 18km mountain bike race.
In the lead-up to the launch, Baywest Mall Ster-Kinekor will be hosting a screening of the Trails in Motion MTB Film Festival on June 8.