PwC Cycle Park /
South Africa

Posted by: Christiaan Hulleman on 17 Feb 2013.
Date of Visit: 11 Aug 2012

Great cycle park for the entire family!

The PwC cycle park, formerly known as the MTN cycle park changed its name due to the change of title sponsors. The cycle park was created to give mountainbikers in and around Johannesburg a safe environment to ride. Unfortunately riding around on the general roads in South Africa can be a dangerous thing due to traffic accidents, which have taken numerous lives including world cup level rider Burry Stander (RIP). So the cycle park is serving the great demand for a safe place for everybody to ride. The razor-wire fence enclosing the park leave’s the unwanted visitors out and creates a safe environment to ride. The park initially consisted of 15 km’s of trails and recently started the 2nd phase of the park expanding to approximately 30 km’s of trails. I have visited Johannesburg about 2 times a year for the last 5 years and I couldn’t leave without numerous visits to the cycle park.


The cycle park has everything that you need for a great day. The toilets have always been clean and can also function as a changing room. There are a few bikes for rent, nothing spectacular though just sturdy hardtail bikes and BMX bikes. The helmets are free to borrow which can save you the trip home if you forgot yours as helmets are mandatory. There is a small store offering some clothing from their sponsors and also some tubes etc. to keep you riding. Food and drinks have been well thought out, there is a coffee shop which offers good coffee’s but also has a big fridge full of sports drinks and sodas. Around lunch time the Burger stand opens which has a large menu and a decent price, on the weekends I believe it’s open almost the entire day. Around the entrance there is a large area with many pick nick tables. You can bring in food and drinks from the outside so you are free to have a large extensive pick nick. The locals also enjoy their braai which is the South African BBQ, so could bring some wood or coal too. The parking lot has a security guard just like nearly all parking lots do in South Africa. Unfortunately one day I was there somebody’s car was stolen. I don’t know the details, maybe the guy had left his keys in the car, in any case it made me think twice about where I parked my car. I usually go on weekdays and park the car in front of the toilets so I can check on it when I’m taking a break. Thinking about the situation in retrospect I don’t think it’s any more or less likely for your car to get stolen anywhere else like a big shopping mall. It’s part of the game, this is Africa.


So finally to the point, probably the most important factor of a bike park, the trails. The trails have been designed by Geoff Vorpagel an international trail builder who has also worked on parks in Florida, USA. The park adheres to standards set by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). To find a balance between rider safety, enjoyment and the environmental impact. The trails have been graded and colour coded. The colours represent the basic classification; Green (novice), Blue (intermediate), Black (advanced). Then within each colour there is a grade from 1 (easier) to 5 (more difficult). This scale allows for 15 different difficulties, not even including the double diamond black which requires addition protection (think full-face helmet etc.). All the trails are connected by jeep tracks, big wide open tracks. All drops or jump like features (even small ones) have signs. There are two parts to the park, split by a highway and connected by a tunnel. I’ll call the side with entrance the main area and the other side of the highway the additional area. A great addition to the cycle park is the BMX track built by Sifiso Nhalpo one of South Africa’s best BMX’ers. The track claims to be a UCI World Cup BMX track though I don’t see how that is possible. I am not a BMX rider but I had a great time riding on the track as you are allowed to ride it with any bike. The start hill and huge asphalt covered berms are definitely something different.

Green Trails: The green trails are the most basic and great for a warm up. There are two trails on the main side which start at the top of the hill and have a great flow with big banked turns. The left one of the two has numerous splits with little bits of a different difficulty to mix it up. There is no need to stop and read the sign’s. If you accidentally go in a path that you feel is above your level just adjust your speed and ride it out. On the right track there is only really one extra option which is a black route containing two very tall wooden bridges. On the additional side there is another green track, this track goes up and down with tight turns. Be careful when going over a crest as there might be a small bridge or tight turn on the other side. Half way in the trail there is a great corner where you have to manoeuvre between rocks trees and branches, a feature which I would consider more than green. Then there are a few trails which I forget if they are green or blue. There is a great trail just next to the parking lot where you start off riding along a small incline continually going up and down it. After that there is a great rhythm section which allows you to go fast by pumping your bike. This is one of my favourite areas and has a few options to loop back to the beginning of the rhythm section so you can do it over and over. Then there is the wetlands, this part goes through the lower section of the park and depending on the weather will either be really wet and marsh like or dry and sandy. The second part of this trail contains a long section where you ride on wood only 40 cm wide so if this isn’t your thing you might want to avoid it. Then there is a section which is a bit of a combination between green and blue which has two entrances on either side. This area has really good flow and ends in a selection of drops or very steep descents. This is about the only place I would actually take a moment and memorise the options before you come blasting down into a double diamond black drop.

Blue Trails: Now for a real blue section. The canyon consists of many turns and bridges, with a lot of options that loop back so you can keep going again and again. As the name suggests there must be some sort of canyon, this is a more than 3 meter plunge into a pretty dirty stream. With the addition of some unusual bridges that don’t go straight from A to B, this really gets the adrenaline pumping. The Zombie Bird house. Here you can expect some damn difficult climbs and make the most vertical meters but it’s definitely worth it as there are some great descents. On top of the small hill you have climbed you’ll find a rhythm section with some small gap jumps. This area has been expanded and has many options to explore.

Black Trails: There are some black trails along the side of the additional area, these consist of many tight corners, short steep climbs and descents. I found these trails difficult as you barely have enough room to get up to speed and the inclination is so high it’s difficult to just power through. In the main area there is a great trail along the fence with huge climbs and descents, fortunately it has less small turns allowing you to get up to speed. There is also a dirt line which requires you to wear additional protection, it looked good but rather short without too many line options. There is also a pump track which I found rather disappointing, the crests were probably less than 10 cm tall making it extremely difficult and once you are up to speed there are corners with barely any banking which you won’t get through at speed. So you pretty much have to brake and start all over again on the next section.


South Africa is a very warm and sunny place. It is also particularly dry as Johannesburg is 1700 m above sea level. So it is important to stay well hydrated. I always took an extensive lunch break to let the burger settle but also to avoid the brightest time of the day. I suppose at 1700 m it would also be beneficial to train here due to the thin air although I rarely noticed a difference, I just think the air is very dry. Around the cycle park there are many shopping malls with loads of restaurants. If you are on a budget, places like Spur might be a good choice, they offer decent meats at a good price. What we would consider fancy restaurants in Europe are actually very affordable in South Africa, at least from our perspective. Most meals would range from 6 to 12 euros, so if you can afford it, eat out as much as you can! Cycling itself is probably seen as a luxury in South Africa as most parts need to be imported, this results in an expensive hobby. I would advise to take enough spares with you when you come, as bike parts are expensive here. If you really need something the closest place is probably cycle lab in design quarter. They are a sponsor of the cycle park so I’m sure an employee could help you with directions. Lastly something very important, don’t leave South Africa without biking in a nature reserve! There are many nature reserves throughout South Africa which have single trails for you to ride on. Most trails won’t be too exciting but riding a single trail between giraffes and zebra’s is something you probably don’t frequently experience. My favourite was GroenKloof as it has plenty of wild life but also some impressive single trails.


All in all I think this is a great cycle park and definitely worth a visit. If you only stay for a few hours it is on the expensive side but 5 euros for an entire day is nothing to complain about. The park has a huge variety of trails for beginners and experts. The ideal bike would be a 4 inch full suspension allowing you to enjoy the blue trails more, though you can ride it all on a hardtail too. The new trails need to be worked in a bit more as they were very sandy and loose. Due to the confined space in a city you can see the entire park rather quickly and all the trails are very close together.

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