Boost for conservation

From left are, Adele Toua, Greater Simonsberg Conservancy; Nora Thiel, Delheim; Herman Sandrock, Fairtree Capital; and Meurant Botha, Dirtopia.

The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy (GSC) received a welcome cash injection of R90 000 from Fairtree Capital, sponsors of the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour Mountain Bike and Trail Run Stage Races.

The GSC partnered with local landowners, event organisers Dirtopia and sponsors Fairtree Capital, to offer participants a unique opportunity to access routes across all 32 member farms during the two-day mountain bike stage race, which will be hosted for the third time in February 2018.

According to GSC conservation officer Adele Toua, the race is not only a welcome financial boost, but provides a platform to educate the public on the importance of conservation.

“Efforts in restoration of the natural environment have only been possible through sponsorship and landowner support.

“Funds are allocated to education programmes, fire management, conservation of biodiversity in the area as well as alien clearing campaigns, as this is one of the major threats to water supply,” says Adele.

The GSC is situated in an area that has precious fragments of critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld and mountain fynbos.

The farmland area currently covers over 4 000ha, of which 32% is designated for conservation, including projects such as the Cape leopard, critically endangered Serruria pinnata (sighted on Tokara Wine Farm), endangered Aristea lugens and 300-year-old yellow wood forest (Podocarpus elongates) on Klapmutskop.

The inaugural MTB stage race – dubbed the Fire Ride – took place shortly after the devastating Simonsberg fire in 2016, which damaged 90% of the trails that were constructed over a two-year period, and also destroyed large sections of the forest canopy.

However, route designer and race director Meurant Botha, from Dirtopia, deployed more than 50 trail workers to ensure that a slightly adapted route was ready for race weekend.

Some remarkable vegetation re-
growth has already taken place, and according to Meurant, riders can look forward to even more new trails for the 2018 race.

The event aims to expand and showcase the expansive single- track trail network on the Simonsberg Mountain.

“The final route will be launched later this year, but longer route riders can expect daily stages of 55km to 60km, with around 1 500m elevation, while the shorter 40km route option will focus on a fun trail experience with an 800m climb.

For 2018, we are adding more singletrack to day one, while minor tweaks are on the cards for day two. Sunday’s route boasts over 25km of singletrack and ranks as one of the best stage race days around”, says Meurant.

He adds: “With over 40km of mountain singletrack, connecting more than 10 wine estates, the region is considered a mountain bike hotspot. Riders are also able to catch a rare glimpse of harvest season in the winelands.”

For more information on the conservation work, visit

The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy is a non-profit and public benefit organisation. For more information, visit