2019 Chairman’s report: Highs, lows & 2020 plans

Call for committee member nominations:
November 14, 2019
2020 COLIN RUSHMERE MEMORIAL CHALLENGE
March 4, 2020

2019 has been a tough year for many in South Africa.

The challenges of our economy, loadshedding, drought and the somewhat interesting political situation have left many searching for positives. As mountain bikers, we are fortunate, in that the blood and sweat of our sport has a peculiar way of bringing perspective, clearing our minds and lifting spirits.

Recently, SA’s victory at the Rugby World Cup showed how sport has the capacity to revive a nation and in an instant, bridge divides. Sport, in general, seems to have more healing ability than we might realise.

As a club, FatTracks has had a reasonably successful year and our “#getitdone” hashtag summarises our ethos when it comes to mountain biking in and around Port Elizabeth.

Bridges built

We have finally managed to have an official opening of Toby’s Bridge – a crossing that was sponsored from outside of the club members and its existing sponsors. After nearly 18 months of asking various municipal officials to officiate the opening and getting little response, Andrew Muir from the Wilderness Foundation agreed to do so.

When interviewed by The Herald, he was very complimentary of our efforts in the valley, noting that private and public participation was key to rejuvenating the green lung of our city. We can all feel truly proud of our contribution.

Off the back of The Herald article covering the bridge opening, Gareth Burley from Kingfisher FM asked us for an interview to talk about the club and its progress in the valley. Neil Bisseker from Algoa FM also made contact and extended some further airtime. These snippets do well to extend our exposure and make non-cyclists aware of the great trails we have in Port Elizabeth and the opportunities waiting for them.

Successful tree drive

As a club, we planted 130 indigenous trees in the valley, 30 of these to celebrate our 30th year as a club and another hundred as a sign of our commitment to the valley going forward.

Thank you to all those who contributed, in particular the Koekemoer, Bird and McNish families who supplied dozens of trees. We still intend on geotagging all of these and making their positions available on our website. Time constraints over the last few months have, however, unfortunately not allowed us to yet to do so.

Inaugural Baakens Bash

We had a successful launch of the Baakens Bash – a mountain bike race borne from the need to encourage people into the Valley and enjoy the trails that we maintain.

Our intention was to make this a break-even event. Ivor Smith Electrical, Rystix Timbacare and PE Windscreens kindly came on board as additional sponsors to our primary sponsorship by Continental Tyre South Africa.

With their contributions, we managed to cover our expenses, and through Mountain Events managed to deliver a superb race. Thanks also to Alpha Sports Nutrition for their hydration points. The fact that so many riders commented that they’d never ridden some of the trails which the route took them on was, in my mind, worth all the hours of planning, prepping, cutting and grooming.

Pump Track preparations

The development of a pump track is something that has been talked about for some time and we’re thrilled with the efforts to date.

Around 300 tons of ground has been used to level the area and create the basis for what should be an asset to mountain biking in Pot Elizabeth going forward. Thanks to East Cape Cycling for the funds that helped get this started. Anyone that has seen the track will understand how ambitious the project is. We hope to have this completed in early 2020.

Trails, tracks, skills

Apart from the pump track, 2020 will also see some substantial changes being done to the trail network around the Containers.

As a start, we have asked Google to change the location name from the “FatTracks Containers” to the “FatTracks Trail Centre” as this is more fitting of the network that we are creating.

Our aim is to develop a nucleus of trails where parents can see their children from one single vantage point. Several new lines are currently being added and one-way signage will be erected once completed. The new trails will help boost skills development in all rider levels and we look forward to feedback from club members when these are completed.

We will also be further concentrating the efforts being put into the existing Valley trails. As a start, the pallets we laid down a few years ago have seen better days and we’ve decided to rather lay some grit in these sandy and eroded areas. This will involve a lot of labour but is required if we are to maintain sustainable trails.

Members, please be sure to thank our incredible trail builders, Joseph and Nedson, if you see them grafting, they really appreciate the chirps.

Joseph and Nedson

Low points in 2019

Crazy Dave’s

Like most things in life, as a club we had some lows too. The torrential downpour early in 2019 and subsequent damage to Crazy Dave’s Bike Park was nothing short of a disaster.

To see such efforts scuttled in a single evening was devastating and we applaud Dave who said, “I’d rather die than give up”. Crazy Dave’s has reopened and is, without doubt, better than before. Dave has credited 2019 FatTracks Platinum Members with the lost months and these can be used into 2020. You will need to present your 2019 Platinum Club Card to gain access though.

3Rivers

Unfortunately, 3Rivers will not be included in our club benefits for 2020. Whilst this was a business decision by 3Rivers, the disregard that some FatTracks Club members had to the rules and signing in at the gate definitely had an influence in their decision. The lack of signing in is simply unacceptable and something that we insist is respected going forward.

Norm-Hudlin have made the same complaints about members not signing in, or leaving incomplete information on the sheet. This protocol has been implemented for a reason, and by not following this, mountain bikers are potentially brought into disrepute and access to private trails is threatened.

Our situation is not unique, with Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club seemingly suffering from the same indiscretions and associated consequences.

Thank you to the majority of our members who are respectful to landowners and follow their rules. To those who don’t, we will unfortunately have no option but to bring sanctions against these members going forward. I personally don’t look forward to dealing with this, but we have no option, but to safeguard relationships with private trail owners.

Please continue to support all private trails, whether access is directly through the club or not. We’re fortunate to have these all in such close proximity.

AGM

Thank you for the great turnout at the AGM where we gave a rundown of our progress for the year.

Honorary life member: Margie Rudman

We welcomed Margie Rudman as an honorary life member. Whilst Margie is not a cyclist she has contributed hugely to mountain biking over the last 30 odd years. She twice represented the South African Mountain Biking Team at international events in a management capacity.

Further to this, she has been a commissaire for many years and was even asked to be Chief National Commissaire, a role she turned down due to other community involvement. Her strict but fair approach towards all that is mountain biking has gained her huge respect in the sport and we are extremely fortunate to have been able to draw on her counsel for so many years. We wish Rob all the best and hope he recovers from his current illness shortly.

Cycling success: Tony Thorburn

We also celebrated Tony Thorburn’s cycling success at AGM. Like Margie, Tony is also an honorary member, and this year completed his 25th “Hell and Back” race. To have been so competitive over all of these years is inspiring. Tony finished in the top 20% throughout his years of competing in this race!

Committee updates

We received nominations for the 2020 committee and welcome a few new faces. I’m very proud of our past and present committee members and thank them for the substantial amount of time that they put into our club.

The 2020 committee stands as follows:

  • Treasurer – Dee Hayter
  • Events – Vicki Laing and Andrea Von Holdt
  • Admin – Claire Warneke
  • CAM and Mini Enduro series & Vice Chair – Chris Stottelaar
  • Merchandise – Jerran Broadhurst
  • Trails – Justin Steyn, Wayne Iversen, Niki Mizen and Craig Galway
  • Chair – Andrew Rist

Want to be involved?

It’s easy to forget, but our Club runs largely on voluntary hours and with the limitations of professional careers, this time is appreciated.

If you wish to be involved in a less formal way, please make contact with the respective committee member, specifically if you can afford some time to trail maintenance. We will be having a few “build and boerie” days in 2020 and look forward to seeing you at these.

2020

Subs and the associated benefits for 2020 are tabled below:

2020 Benefits:

  • Action cycles, Bike and Brew, Coimbra, Cyclopro, Triangle Sports and Wayne Pheiffer:

10% on in-store parts and accessories to members who produce a valid member card

  • BestDrive:

Great discounts to paid up Fat Tracks members, see in store for offerings

  • Brioche:

Discounts on standard breakfasts and coffee (and tea) to members who have registered their cards at the restaurant

  • Cape Union Mart:

10% off subject to instore conditions

  • Curtains & Linens

5% discount on all goods in the store excluding sale items and custom-made goods. (Members will be asked to produce a card/membership number)

  • Fox Store at Baywest:

20% discount on all Fox products

  • Havilah Jewellers:

10% discount for members

  • Lochners Walmer:

10% off biltong & droe wors

  • Nautical Sports:

20% on Gear4Gear merchandise including bakkie tail-gate racks

  • Partner Trails:

FatTracks covers the cost of members riding at Norm Hudlin.
This requires a FT bike board to be attached to the member’s bike and the sign-in book to be completed. Please abide by the rules and don’t jeopardise our relationship with the land owners.

(Details about Hayterdale will be announced next year)

  • Sumatran coffee:

See Jay instore for details on FatTracks discounts

  • PE Windscreens – special prices on screen protectors for Fat Tracks members:
    • Cellphone – (normal price  R185) FT price  R155
    • Smart watches – (normal price  R75) FT price  R50
    • Tablets – (normal price  R355) FT price  R285
    • Bike GPS devices – FT price R85
  • Retreat on Main Guest House in Walmer:

Discounts offered to member referrals, contributions towards trail maintenance budget per booking received

  • Hire the club’s trailer:

Use of our bike trailer for a nominal day fee, T&C’s will apply

In closing

I’d like to thank Continental Tyre South Africa for their continued sponsorship. We are extremely fortunate to have such a large and well recognised brand associated with our club. Their efforts have helped leverage the club to where it is today.

From myself and the FatTracks Committee, have a fantastic holiday season and travel safe if you are going away. Keep your head down, your ears back and pedal hard into 2020. I hope it’s a great year for us all.

Kind regards

Andrew Rist

Chairman

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