31 Mar, 2015

Jozi club turns 25


One of South Africa’s oldest mountain bike clubs, the Johannesburg Mountain Bicycling Club (JMBC), is now 25 years old. We got Sonja Uys, who pens the club’s newsletter, to give us a bit of background.

One of my fondest memories on joining the JMBC was battling on a family ride in the green group with my yellow hard tail Avalanche.

Adrienne, who was the sweep, diligently and patiently stuck with me, encouraging me, saying she remembered going through a similar experience and it was good for her training to ride slowly.

When I took my bike to the bike shop it was found that the frame was cracked and scraping on the wheel.

It was this memory that had me wondering what memories the first members of the club had and so I asked them. Here are their responses:

Gregg Schneeberger said he rode with the JMBC in the early 90s. At the time, he worked as a telecom electrician for Telkom. He said the rides were very different then. There used to be a very fast Black Group that averaged between 23 and 25 kilometres per hour on very long rides of up to 70 kilometres. Now he enjoys a social ride with the club and seeing his old mates, some of whom have since died.

Keith Bingë, a former chairman, joined JMBC in early 2003. He was a chartered account at the time. He loved the big variety of club rides all around Johannesburg and surrounds. He also loved the camaraderie and friendship of a really nice, fun bunch of kindred souls!

Sparky, also a chartered accountant, joined the JMBC in 1996 on his steel framed hard tail with an undamped front shock. The most enjoyable thing was discovering new routes to ride off-road, new equipment to buy, new friends, new ways to involuntarily dismount (especially electric fences), and then being able to share that excitement and discovery with new members.

James Trace, our current chairman, says he doesn’t fall into the same category as all the other icons that JMBC has. He joined in about 1996-ish and worked as an engineer for a manufacturing company. He enjoyed JMBC because they rode in different places each week and mostly off-road on single track.

Adrienne Barker, a high school mathematics and science teacher, says that “old” club members will remember how freely they roamed the myriad of footpaths … no GPSs and no worries about bike-jackings. In fact, the term didn’t even exist. What they did do was FOCUS. Focus on their surroundings, the paths and on anything that would get them around the track. Ride leaders had to recall the entire ride because of one error and the fun started in earnest.

Apart from the Black Group which is no more, nothing much has changed. Mountain bikers are by nature friendly, helpful people who love getting muddy. The club still rides at a different venue every weekend. There are still groups of Green, Yellow, Red & Blue riders, each with a leader and sweep.

Recces of planned, and new, routes are very important as buildings and roads tend to spring up overnight, blocking off old MTB tracks. The club rides more at private venues now, including Modderfontein Nature Reserve, Heia Safari Ranch, Rietvlei, Thaba Trails, Northern Farms, Krugersdorp Game Reserve and Groenkloof Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Pretoria.

As riding/racing has become more popular in game/nature reserves, so the club has organised more rides among our fauna and flora. The value of this is that the club then pays for a member’s entry. There are always plenty of visitors (non-members) on rides, but they then pay a once-off fee to the club and their own entry.

Some of the main tenets of the club constitution are:
a. To arrange organised rides to cater for all levels of riders, from novice to expert, in a social and friendly atmosphere.
b. To build the membership of the JMBC, starting at grass roots level.
c. To improve the skills and knowledge of the members of the JMBC.

The JMBC is a social, family-orientated club. Members ride for the fun and enjoyment of it. There are usually four groups of riders, each with a leader and sweep for safety. The groups differ in the speed and distance they ride so that members can ride with others with similar fitness and skills. There is a Family Ride, a Tough Ride and two Moderate rides every month on a Sunday. Details are sent out in a weekly newsletter and posted on the club website.

If you would like to know more about the JMBC, contact them via or visit the website or find them on Facebook.