The wait is almost over for mountain bikers in Gauteng who have been bristling with anticipation to ride at the new world-class Toyota MTN Bike Park in Sandton when it opens on Saturday 22 November.

    Besides many kilometres of man-made trails catering for all skill and fitness levels, there’s also a world championship standard BMX track at the park, which is situated on the land adjacent to Main Road and the N1 freeway between Bryanston and Fourways. The entire park is enclosed by a new perimeter fence and will be patrolled by a private security company. 

    With a recent spate of bike-jackings and attacks on mountain bikers in Bryanston and Fourways having highlighted the lack of a safe riding environment, the new Bike Park will offer a sanctuary for anyone that owns a mountain bike or a BMX bike.

    Built by international mountain bike trail builder, Geoff Vorpagel, the park adheres to stringent standards as practiced by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and the African Mountain Bike Association (AMARIDER). These standards take into account rider safety and enjoyment and environmental impact. Vorpagel’s previous projects include the building of mountain bike trails at Amelia Earheart, Oleta State and Markham Parks in Florida USA, and, more recently, Logwood Bike Haven at Muldersdrift, northwest of Johannesburg.

    “The Toyota MTN Cycle Park is actually also part of a variety of city and provincial environmental groups’ efforts to rehabilitate natural wetland, particularly in an area under such high levels of urban development pressure,” explained Vorpagel. “Currently, there are about 15km of mountain bike trails built with another 15km to be completed by the end of Phase 2 in February 2009.”

    There is a range of trail options to ensure all levels of mountain bikers are catered for. And, according to Vorpagel, besides the specifically rated trails, which are colour-coded green (novice), blue (intermediate) and black (advanced), additional detours from the green trails will ensure plenty of variety for users.

    “If a guy is riding with his wife or kids on a green route, he’ll be able to nip off on the detours for some interesting intermediate- or advanced-level obstacles and rejoin them a few metres later. It’s a way for a family or group to ride together with all the riders being stimulated and challenged,” said Vorpagel.

    Andrew McLean, a cycling industry leader and director of the Cycle Lab bike store franchise, has been instrumental in the establishment of the Bike Park and believes this kind of facility is long overdue.

    “I am really excited about this project, I have been working on getting a lease on this land for years now, and at last it is about to come to life,” said McLean. “The park has been designed to cater for families, kids of all ages, kids parties, and of course mountain bikers. There is something for everyone and the biggest win is its ideal position. We will also have skills clinics, development projects on the BMX track, rental bikes, mom’s weekday rides, night rides, racing and more.”

    In accordance with International Cycling Union regulations, the BMX track will be suitable for riders from the age of five. Sections of the track will initially need to be ‘ridden in’, giving riders a chance to master the track gradually during the first few weeks after opening. Super Sport’s Let’s Play initiative, aimed at motivating children to participate in physical activity, is also a co-sponsor of the Bike Park.

    “We need to make it ‘cool’ for kids to ride bikes again and Super Sport’s Let’s Play is a vital partner in this project,” explained McLean. “If we cannot create safe environments for families and especially kids to ride bikes then Cycle Lab is always going to battle to sell bikes. This is one of the most exciting projects I have been involved in and I cannot wait to see hundreds of kids doing exactly what we did as kids, enjoying riding bikes!”

    A one-off visit will cost R50, but for regular visitors it will cost on average R32 per visit per rider. BMX-only regular visitors will pay R100 per month. Annual memberships will also be available.

    Fee structure:
    One-off visit: R50
    •    4-visit card: R150 (valid for 3 months)
    •    10-visit card: R300 (valid for 6 months)
    •    20-visit card: R550 (valid for 12 months)
    Annual membership:
    •    Unlimited visits: R1500 (valid for 12 months)
    •    First 100: R995 (valid until 1 January 2010)
    •    Corporate packages are available and individually tailored
    Kids BMX Club:
    •    Unlimited visits: R100 (valid for one month)
    Kids parties:
    •    R1000

    Toyota MTN Bike Park information:
    •    Normal opening times: Dawn until dark – will vary according to season
    •    Night racing will be held regularly at the floodlit BMX track
    •    Night riding will be scheduled occasionally on the trails
    •    Secure parking
    •    Toilets and change rooms with showers to be added by Phase 2
    •    Seattle Coffee Co. for refreshments and nourishment
    •    Shimano Tech Centre for bike repairs and adjustments
    •    Cycle Lab satellite store for bike consumables
    •    Motorex bike wash

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