Craig Kolesky.

“It was a very big privilege to have been invited out there,” said Nils Hansen from Woodstock Cycle Works, of The U recce ride out on the Piket-Bo-Berg trails, which took place this past weekend. “If I had the energy I would’ve ridden 120kms!”.

According to Nils, the location is just amazing. “It’s like travelling back in time through all those rock formations,” he said. The much-needed rain and mist in the area over the weekend added another dimension to the ride. “It was a bit like being on a rollercoaster, because all you could see was the trail and not much else, so you were 100% focused just on the trails,” he said. “But even in the damp the trails held up very well,” Hansen said.

“It’s amazing how naturally-inspired the trails are and how much work has gone into the construction of that trail network,” he added. “Surely there aren’t other trails that good anywhere in Southern Africa.”

Ashley Haigh-Smith.

Professional rally driver and two-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, Ashley Haigh-Smith, echoed Nils’ sentiments. “It was the epitome of riding,” he said. “I mean, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from riding it, but it is aimed at those who are fit and technically sharp and I love that! You must be able to flow and keep the rhythm and all that - you can’t just be a racing snake who sits on his brakes down the Umkomaas. But my goodness, the features on those trails are amazing. We only rode like 15% of the trails and everyone who has ridden the entire network said the whole way was like that.”

Craig Kolesky.

Ash added that the vibe among the riders and the hospitality of the Starke family was just something else. One person who can attest to that, is Oli ‘The Pinner’ Munnik, who has ridden the trails more than most. “We had a fantastic energy among the riders on the recce, everyone was in the same frame of mind and they just got the ethos of the event. There are many, many good events in South Africa but The U is certainly up there, on and off the bike,” he said, explaining that to him the event is all about the vibe, but also the riding is very much in line with where mountain bike technology is going.

Oli ‘The Pinner’ Munnik.

“Modern mountain bike geometry and technology is all kind of going toward more capability and more technical riding,” he said. “It’s all built to allow the rider to improve, and, with this in mind the trails of Piket-Bo-Berg that The U utilises really embraces this development. It’s a departure away from very manicured stuff toward stuff that actually makes you think,” he said.

“Of course, there is certainly a place for trails that are manicured and there is a point to events on trails like that, but on the other side of the coin there are mountain bikers who are developing skills sets who want to use their equipment for what it is made.”