From the Chairman's Desk

Hi Guys and Girls

I recently sent out an e-mail about safety on the Trails.

Let me just take this a bit further and look at the bigger picture to illustrate our responsibility as MTB’ers on the trails.

Private Land

Where a trail is on ‘private land’ like Fattracks Norm Hudlin or Fattracks PEGC, the use of the trails is regulated by an agreement between the land owner and Fattracks in terms of the usage of the trails. Our agreements with these entities consider MTB’ers, Golfers, Trail runners and even Nguni Cows, amongst others.

Public Land

Riding in the Baakens Valley is a different story and a much more sensitive issue. It calls for extreme discipline as responsible users of the trails. This is Public Open Space which means the Public may use the land / trails for any activity as regulated by the Metro. Although motorized vehicles like 4x4 and cars and moto-x bikes are not allowed, MTB’s are in a grey area as they fit in very well when used as a recreational family activity but when racing downhill or X-country, MTB’s can be a real hazard that could easily upset other users.

In the early 1990 years MTB’s were NOT allowed in Settlers Park for this very reason and we had to lobby for years to change the perception of the general public to accept MTB’ing as a clean family sport (enjoyed in the dirt / bush).

The ONLY way to regulate this grey area of MTB’s in a public open space is to rely on the courtesy and politeness of the MTB’er!! We can put up signs and warnings but the attitude of the rider is the most important factor.

Greet other trail users (also the dog), slow down and at least show an inclination to get out of the way, avoid skid marks and ‘drifting’, pick up plastic where possible it creates a good impression and demonstrate our slogan ‘Caring for the Baakens Valley’.

Don’t be arrogant as if you want to state that the Valley actually belongs to us as we built the Trails and maintain them, it belongs to all trail users!

The Clubs Trail Etiquette and Code of conduct applies, specifically in:

#12. Respect and be polite to other users of the trail network; golfers, walkers, runners, bikers etc.

It is very important to the Club that our members are respectful of all other trails users.


See you in the Bush!!



Trail Report

Greetings trail hooligans, sedate pedalers, newbies and weekend warriors,

Well... one thing is for sure, the last six weeks have certainly proven PE as the windy city! Add to this very little rain and hey presto, the Baakens starts sprouting sand dunes! And yet, despite getting blown off our bikes and some of us ending up face first in the thick sand, we somehow continue to happily pedal the valley by the hundreds! Mountain bikers really are a great bunch!

After the awesome ‘crowd funding’ efforts, Paul has done well to re-establish some of the upper valley trails. As with all trail maintenance, this takes huge effort and we all look forward to this again becoming the playground it was to be when Rob Rudman, Errol Black and Charlie Jackson used to trail build there in the 90’s.

The trail crew have continued doing their thing on the lower valley sections and thoroughly enjoy seeing the week on week increase in bikes on the trail. Let’s hope those enjoying the trails that aren’t yet Fattracks members get their subs paid for 2017.

Herewith a quick summary of recent work:

  1. Despite the windy dry conditions, foliage on sections of trail seems to grow over night. Whilst trimming this is a time consuming exercise, we’ve learnt a lesson or two. As a non-profit club our trail crew needs to deliver good tracks, efficiently and be as cost effective as possible. As such we’re now limiting the width we cut to around 1.2 meters, just wide enough for runners, walkers and riders. Doing so allows us to not only cover good distances in a day but also limits the impact we have on the local environment. Speaking of which, it’s great to see continued sprouts of green appearing between the planks on the Conti loop. We look forward to this previously eroded section recovering completely.
  2. The trail at the end of 9th avenue has also had some attention paid to it and is both a nice technical decent and climb. Kudos if you can get up it without dabbing a foot, it is doable. Note, this is a trail for experienced, skilled riders!
  3. We’ve done quite a bit of work at the containers and the facility is really taking shape. By the time you read this, the alarm, lighting and solar system should hopefully be pretty close to completion. Stephen and Llewellyn have finalised the large format map and this along with a remarked Conti and Mayhem loop should be done in early November.
  4. We’re preparing to reopen an old trail that used to run between 14th avenue and the bottom of the Mayhem roller-coaster. This will take a while to bed down but will certainly add to the variety of route combinations that can be put together. This trail will appeal to riders with some skill who are looking to improve their technical abilities in a low speed environment. Look out for the Whatsapp message when this is complete and open to ride.
  5. Killer down has had some repairs and a few splashes of red painted along it. These lines will help define when yells of “Yahoooooo” are about to become shrieks of “Oooooh #$#%%*#”. Seriously, be careful, pay attention and ride within your limits.
  6. The wooden section of the Dormy place crossing has been extended and proven itself when it does rain. Due to building development higher up the stream, excessive runoff water now causes this crossing to flood after very little rain. Usually, torrents of water like this destroy wooden structures that are fastened down as they stand as direct resistance to the flow. The idea at Dormy place was to get the wooden ramp to float off during the deluge and allow flow rather than being destroyed. This has worked well on a few occasions now, let’s hope the chain that it floats behind during flooding is strong enough so that the structure can continue to be put back in place when the water subsides.
  7. A short section of sand ladders has been installed on Baakens down, just below Golf Road. This should make the decent around this corner a little safer and hopefully stop throwing riders off their bikes. The wooden crossing in this area has also been replaced for the second time. Its sturdiness unfortunately seems set to continue being an issue due to localised erosion. The Munic have again been approached to help sort this out as remediating this is beyond the scope of Fat Tracks.
  8. Fynbos (known as Jeep track Joy on Strava) has been trimmed and sections of the twin track have been closed. We’d like this trail to become single track by encouraging indigenous growth. Please help us do so by riding only what remains open.

As a follow on from Johan’s recent mail about safety, I’d like offer to the following, “Ride as hard and fast as your abilities allow, but don’t jeopardise being able to return the following day to enjoy doing it all over again”

See you on the trails!


The Trail Crew

Quick Links

No Helmet No Ride!

No Bike Board No Free Ride!

Ride within your limits!

Check your equipment regularly!

Biking in the Valley – more safety tips from Atlas

Several months ago we wrote about safety whilst biking through the beautiful valley which traverses our city. Although not much has changed in terms of how to be safe when out on the tracks, there are some things we would like to highlight to you.

  • You should always make sure your family or someone knows your route, your time of departure and your expected time back home. There is nothing worse than being stranded and knowing that no-one is looking for you.
  • Riding in a group is always advisable as there is safety in numbers. FatTracks organises group rides regularly in which you can participate.
  • Consider purchasing a rescue-type bracelet which alerts good Samaritans to a number they can contact to alert your emergency contacts.
  • Try to plot your route before you go, or stick to the beaten track. There are more likely to be other riders around and again, this means safety in numbers.
  • Make sure you are contactable, but don’t advertise your phone or other device whilst riding, as it will draw attention. A runner was recently availed of his Garmin in Kragga Kamma Road.
  • Carry pepper spray. Pepper spray* is a very effective weapon when you are confronted by an attacker - it temporarily disables and disorientates them and gives you time to make a getaway and raise the alarm.
  • Make sure you are always cognisant of what’s going on around you. As with driving a vehicle it is a good idea to be keenly aware of not only other riders, but lurkers who may be nearby.
  • Find out from your insurer if your equipment is covered when you are out and about. That would mean that if you are attacked, you might be less attached to the equipment, and this could save your life. Always let attackers take what they want, as they are less likely to become aggressive. If they try and harm you personally, however, you should try and raise the alarm and defend yourself as best you can (use your pepperspray).
  • If you are attacked, try to remember a detailed description of your attacker including height, build, clothing and age range.
  • Make your way as quickly as possible to the nearest occupied place and call Atlas and 10111.

We really love our city and feel that the more vigilance is displayed in this particular part, the more crime will deteriorate, as criminals realise it’s not worth preying on sportspersons who are actively using the valley. Be alert and keep your wits about you, but most of all enjoy the ride!

* If you would like to purchase a hand-held pepper spray with a Velcro strip – perfect for cyclists - please contact us on info@atlas24.co.za

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