If you don’t live there it’s very easy raging into a fit of jealousy when you think about all the nice stuff Cape Town has, that Instagram reminds you of each day.
Yet there is one thing, that the North can now claim, which Cape Town will never have: cable car assisted mountain biking. Indeed, the Table Mountain cable car is world famous, but you are simply sardined into it with other tourists on your way to the top or bottom. The Hartbeespoort cable car now allows upcountry mountain bikers the opportunity to avoid any suffering, by giving them a lift to the top of a newly built downhill track. Cable car up, ride your bike down. What a deal.
Lift-assisted riding is the default in established mountain biking venues throughout the Alps and Canadian Rockies. It allows riders to practice multiple descents of a demanding and scary downhill trail, without any of the associated fatigue one would ordinarily suffer with pedalling back to the top each time.
For years the potential of Hartbeespoort’s cable car teased Gauteng mountain bikers who like going downhill fast. For Hartbeespoort local, Charl van Zyl, the Magaliesberg range had always hold the promise of cable car assisted mountain biking. After years of imagining exactly how he’d shape, cut and build a world class trail down the mountain, he was approached by some other locals in January and given a nearly impossible deadline for delivery in March of this year.
With access and encouragement from landowner WC du Plessis, Charl and his team of five trail gnomes worked tireless on the steep Magaliesberg terrain to shape a brilliant downhill trail, with many jumps and other challenging features, finishing it in time for the 2018 South African championships. The event was a massive success and showed that cable car assisted mountain biking could work in South Africa.
A crucial element of getting bikes up the mountain on a cable car is securing them with the correct specification gondola racks, which must confirm to an exceedingly strict Swiss standard. A local specialist provided the fabrication solution and now, for the princely sum of R250 a month, mountain bikers can enjoy unlimited uplift cable car rides to access some of the best riding in South Africa.
The actual downhill track is currently only open on weekends. Located within the Hartbeespoort Adventure & Trail Park, there are associated trails close to it, with more being planned - all part of a vision to create a mountain biking destination of choice in Magaliesberg. Riding costs are very reasonable at R50 per day or R150 for a month membership. Do the math and R400 a month for cable-car assisted downhill riding is incredible value, especially compared to Canadian bike parks where a single day pass is R600.
In the Hartbeespoort Adventure & Trail Park, Gauteng now offers something that could truly make Cape Town mountain bikers jealous. An unusual inversion of the traditional South African outdoor sports jealousy curve.
Here's a video of the complete track: