The organisers of the FNB Wines2Whales take pride in the fact that every year the route includes more, and new singletrack. These additional kilometres of trail are built by the Cape Trails team.
Ashwell Swartz, Brendon Booysen, Denzel Scheepers and Keenan Cupido are the men behind the brush cutters, spades and rakes which create many of FNB Wines2Whales’ favourite trails. In their decade of involvement with the event, they have gone from novices to master builders and are now often hired by other events and landowners to construct trail networks beyond the FNB W2W route. For the Switchback edition they had to build new linking singletracks, which helped make the race one for the trail riding enthusiasts.
When the concept of the Switchback was first mooted, the first concern was how to make the transition stages, from the Curro School in Hermanus to Oak Valley, and from Oak Valley to Lourensford, not only interesting but memorable and exciting for the teams racing. Cape Trails and the cooperation of the various landowners along the route made that possible.
“The first brand-new, purpose-built for the Switchback, singletrack the teams encountered in the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales events was the Karwyders Contour” Johan Kriegler, FNB Wines2Whales and Cape Trails founder, explained. “Then on the way towards Kat Pas the Cape Trails team cut a new singletrack, JK’s Switchbacks, in order to make it possible to detour around Botrivier itself. Both of these trails served a definite purpose in terms of the route, but also added to the magic of the FNB Wines2Whales.”
“Stage 2’s highlight was, undoubtedly, the extended Rietvlei Magic trail and the 120-metre-long bridge across the dam. The team from Paul Cluver Wines drove the project, with assistance from Cape Trails and Kaap Agri, and made this dream a reality” Kriegler continued. “Yet what riders perhaps don’t realise is the amount of work that goes into maintaining existing trails. Particularly this year, due to Covid-19 enforcing the cancellation of the 2020 race, there was a lot of clearing and cleaning of existing routes. Paul Cluver is now also closed to mountain biking outside of events, so their trails needed touching up before the event. But the break between events turned out to be positive as it gave us the chance to really explore what was possible.”
“The biggest build was the Lourensford Ultimate, however” Kriegler pointed out. “We had a lot of help from Lourensford, particularly with running earth moving equipment through the sections where pine trees had recently been felled. But Cape Trails still had to fine-tune the trail bed to ensure the singletrack flowed from start to finish.”
“We’ve been building a lot in Lourensford this year” the Cape Trails’ team leader, Swartz, highlighted. “Not just for FNB Wines2Whales but also on the farm’s growing network of trails. Once we’re done there, we’ll probably start working on new sections for the 2022 route. The return to the ‘normal’ direction, from Lourensford to Onrus, gives us a chance to perfect a few trails we couldn’t use this time and build a few new pieces. As mountain bikers ourselves we know how everyone looks forward to riding new singletracks and we are proud to be a part of the FNB Wines2Whales and the race it is.”
“Seeing riders so excited to ride to trails we built makes the hard work we put in worthwhile” he smiled.
If you want to experience all the incredible trails that the Cape Trails have carved, by hand, be sure to secure your spot on the FNB Wines2Whales startline when entries open on 14 February 2022.