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09 Dec, 2015

Upgrading SA’s ride, one Bike Park at a time

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The Cairnbrogie Pump Park, built at Cairnbrogie Estates near Plettenberg Bay, was also built by DirtLab.
The pump track at Idlewild Country Estate in Gauteng.
Wolwespruit Bike Park near Pretoria is fast becoming one of the more popular bike parks in the northern Gauteng area, and part of this success must be the new pump track built there by DirtLab.
DirtLab has also built the pump track at the Big Red Barn, making this bike park more popular than ever.

Although it only came into being at the beginning of 2015, DirtLab has a wealth of experience and skills to create bike parks out of nothing.

With success stories like the complete redesign of Big Red Barn and Wolwespruit bike parks in Gauteng and the building of Cairnbrogie Pump Park near Plettenberg Bay, among others already on its growing CV, DirtLab has a completely different and refreshing approach to building a bike park.

DirtLab’s first step is to look at the bike park itself, where it is situated and which kind of rider will actually utilize the park.

A concept of what the park should look like is then put together.

“We will only start the build when it’s viable. The development must make sense and it must be sustainable,” said a spokesman for the company.

DirtLab will then build anything from a pump track to a table top, or any feature aimed at making to make that particular bike park more popular and hopefully turn that park’s profitability around.

And the statement: “We share our passion and expertise with our clients while offering them peace of mind,” on the company’s website certainly seems to be true, if the quality and popularity of some of the bike parks where DirtLab has left its mark is any measure to go by.

“We are particularly proud of the skills training areas we have built,” added the spokesman, “which isn’t only a collection of obstacles on a track where teaching can take place but it is also a track where coaches can gauge performance by timing each lap.”

As a corporate member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), DirtLab will often make use of experience and knowledge gained overseas and currently also has a contract to build a bike park in Oregon, USA with a number of very exciting developments on the cards for the future.

Added to this, DirtLab designers and builders have experience in taking part in international and national-level mountain biking competitions as well as degrees in sport science which ensures that bike parks built are of the highest international standards.

“We hope to use this experience to uplift the standard of bike parks in South Africa,” explained the company spokesman, “as we believe we are a little bit behind international standards.”

The company uses specialised but small construction machines like Bobcat to shape the landscape into routes, trails, tracks and courses that make up some of South Africa’s more popular bike parks.

“Our establishment is centred on continued innovation and combines knowledge from various industries including construction, design, project management and many more,” reads the company website.

And it is this industry leader in the construction and design of bike parks, pump tracks and trails which has leapt at the opportunity to help make Huddle Park Mountain Bike Trail one of the best in the business.

“Huddle Park will be the first bike park managed and run by DirtLab and will be used to test different concepts and ideas,” said the company spokesman, “so we really looking forward to that.”

The Huddle Park Mountain Bike Trail upgrade will be built over four phases, which started in late November 2015 and will run into 2016.

An exciting pump track will be constructed adjacent to the existing bike wash area as phase one.

Phase two will be the upgrading of the existing trail which will then be ridden in the opposite direction to what its ridden at the moment. Phase three, which will include the extension of the existing trail plus the construction of a few dirt jumps and perhaps a slalom track, will then start early next year.

After that, phase four will include the construction of a skills area where riders can practice their skills and coaches can do skills training with their clients.

So look out for further developments at Huddle Park, thanks to DirtLab and Modern Cyclist/Modern Athlete magazine, the goal is to make this sports centre one of the best mountain biking and trail running facilities around.

At present, there is an eight-to-nine kilometre trail which is suitable for novice riders, although there are a few tight corners and exciting bridge sections approximately mid-way through the trail.

With berms, tight turns and a few camel humps on the trail, which is mostly single-track, it is considered a good riding experience for young and old.

Check out the websites: dirtlabonline.com, huddlepark.com/recreation-services and moderncyclist.co.za for more information or updates.

Raymond Travers

Raymond Travers

Modern Cyclist Editor |

Editor