The G-Spot – a great MTB trail
11 April 2016
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Gerald de Kock: Welcome to another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Biking where we bring you all the things mountain biking. The people, the personalities, the trails and the people who build the trails, which is where we are today.
We’re sitting out on what is famously known as the G-Spot and riding down the G-Spot on a beautiful, late summers morning, I found the man who I suppose is the G around the G-Spot. Mark Gordon is sitting here doing some prep work, rehabilitating and maintaining the trails here. Mark, thanks for chatting and lovely to be on your trail here. Where did it all start with the G-Spot?
The story behind the G-Spot
Mark Gordon: To be honest, it started many, many years ago. It was an idea to kind of build something for myself, but also for my friends. A place to come where we can basically come up the trail in five minutes, six minutes and get a good two minute, three-minute ride down. Compared to say Jonkershoek and other places where you’ve got to spend literally hours going uphill and a couple of minutes downhill. That was the idea, basically just something, build it and that was roughly 8/9 years ago.
GDK: Okay, for those, some won’t ever come here and some are dying to come here and some have been here, so just describe G-Spot to us, in the best way you can.
MG: You know, my idea was to have a super-tube of trail, if I could imagine it like that. Literally being bermed every corner, having little jumps, just to lift the wheels off the ground and be safe. I think this trail, top to bottom, is pretty much like that.
Bermed on every corner, flowy, it’s got nice bumps, a couple of jumps here and there for the more experienced riders. Then towards the lower side we’ve got more bumps and technical stuff, a couple of G-forces that you’ve got to deal with. Yeah, pretty much just a flowy run, top to bottom.
GDK: We’re on the sort of low slopes of the Stellenbosch mountain which is where this G-Spot is. For those of you who might or might not know, between Coetzenberg and ParadysKloof, above Dalsig area, that sort of area. An open piece of land here, but in this modern era, might have fallen prey to development. Sad to say, it might still, but with a trail like this, you feel it’s so established here, difficult to remove it.
Maintaining and keeping Stellenbosch’s trails
MG: That’s the nice thing and that’s what I’ve heard actually from a couple of land owners here, saying that they’ll never develop here. Because of what’s happened now, with the trail being here and them loving it. Walking and riding and hiking and the kids, picnicking. They just said they can’t have houses up here, it’s just not doable for them.
They said they want to keep the nature. I know the municipality I think were doing, just development here on the fynbos and keeping it alive. Things like that and I think that was basically their plan. I don’t think that there was going to be much development, but you never know. These days there are so many things coming up, so I hope it stays.
I know with the Trail Fund, the Stellenbosch Trail Fund being involved, the municipality being involved and a couple of other organisations, they’re kind of helping keep it alive. Seeing that there’s potential here and that there’s a bigger plan for the Stellenbosch trails, so hopefully it’s here to stay.
GDK: As I said, I did literally find you with a pick axe and a spade, working here. No trail is any good unless it’s maintained.
MG: Correct, that’s what I found with this place. When I started, I kind of built the trail and I kind of saw, gee, things are getting damaged. There are marks here and the water is staying and I ended up starting my maintenance routine. It’s been nine years that I’ve been doing this and coming up and just doing the drainage, patch up a hole.
You can see now, I’m literally just doing little bits here around the edges, a little bit of drainage. It’s keeping the trail alive. It’s handling thousands of wheels and hours of people on it and it’s still looking good. I’m so surprised and happy as well, it’s great.
GDK: And you’re seeing the world’s finest mountain bikers come down here quite regularly and that must give you a bit of a kick to see that.
MG: It was amazing. I actually had Nino Schurter, he posted a pic of himself just saying it’s good to be number one again. I think he’s ranked number one again and he actually had a photo of him jumping the road gap on his XC bike, high saddle, whipping it. That was just a wow to me, to see a guy like that come and appreciate and enjoy it. It definitely motivates me to come up here and dig in the 30-degree heat and do this.
How do you keep the G-Spot ticking?
GDK: Maintenance is key to it and you’ve added, there’s in fact a new little section that’s been added, the challenge side, what’s the future? Do you want to keep developing it or keep maintaining?
MG: That’s the plan. This year I’ve actually got an idea to do a little pump track section at the bottom. Together with a couple of drops that we’ll do, ladder bridge, easy, medium, hard. Then maintain the rest of the trail, get it up to a standard where all the berms are on a level. All the angles in and out are right. All the jumps are safe, perfect. Landings are secure.
Then do little extra bits for the training people. They’d like to have a little mean little climb for them to burn their legs quickly and have a bigger jump and something a little bit more rocky. So I’m going to look towards doing more development stuff for the more experienced or the people who want to progress their skills a little bit more.
GDK: What’s mountain biking to you?
MG: I wouldn’t even know where to start. I can remember, we’re looking across this view here and that is Onder Pappegaaiberg over there. We used to ride there as kids, on the very, very first mountain bikes that came into the country. No shocks, no disc brakes, it was, gee, as basic as it came.
It started from there, just riding and being out and being able to go distances and being in these beautiful areas. One day Bennett Nel from Ace of Spades, he’s a good friend of mine and he wanted to do some jumps. I ended up building him a jump, he jumped it, almost killed himself.
I thought, I’ve got to build this better. I built a little bit better and better and better. It just got to a point where I was enjoying it and wanting to do it more and really wanted to get into it. Next thing I knew, I’m in mountain biking, building trails, loving riding, just going to these places and seeing it, smelling it.
Every area is different, every trail to me is awesome. I don’t care what people say, sometimes you hate the rocks and the this and the that, but every trail is awesome. I don’t think I could think of a trail that sucks, I think they’ve all been brilliant.
GDK: What bike do you ride down here?
The pure thrill of riding a bike
MG: I’ve got a Hardtail, I’ve got big suspension, I’ve got about 150 on the front, yeah, that’s pretty much my style. The Hardtail, it’s more responsive to me, it feels a little bit quicker on sections like this, short, bumpy, on the rocky stuff. It feels like it’s going to break your back, but that’s what I like. I like to feel the ground, feel my bike manoeuvre under me, I like to feel the bike. It’s not about the suspension and making it easy, it’s more about the experience, the ride, that’s what’s so awesome about it.
GDK: Feel the ground I suppose.
MG: Yeah, you’ve got to feel it, that’s where the G-forces and the senses come from, that’s what gets you rushing and pumping. Your arms, going through your back, into your legs and your eyes and your mind is responding to rain and it’s just working all the time. I like to feel that intensity so that you can just feel the rush afterwards, just give a hoot afterwards and go, damn, that was good! That’s it!
GDK: I take it you don’t do too many races, stage races?
MG: No, no, I actually did. I think it was Wiesenhof 24-hour race with Dirtopia at the time. I was actually building for them and it almost killed me. Racing through the night and when must I take this snack and that snack, oh, it didn’t work well!
After that it was kind of, let’s stick to building and I prefer to build at the moment. The other side, I’m a skateboarder for probably 30 years now and that’s probably my first love. I’d prefer to be on the board than be on the bike, or fall on the bike. Not be able to skateboard, that would just kill me, terrible.
GDK: Here you are building the trails, maintaining the trails and working on them, what’s the other side of your life? Is there another side?
MG: I would have to say, I’ve been involved with skating for many years. Helping other companies and little bits and also helping the youth and getting boards out there, things like that. So that’s my main love and I like to stay in that.
On the other side it’s the trail building and doing stuff for communities. I mean this area here, not a soul walked here, nobody would come up here. I think people were under the impression they weren’t allowed to come up here and until I built the trail, gee, it’s turned into something amazing. Having so many people out and enjoying it.
So now the plan is to try and do that for other areas which I’ve spoken to people in Plettenberg Bay and in Hermanus as well, who are quite keen on doing things like that to uplift the community. Not necessarily think of personal gain or let’s make our farm better or this better and make money out of it.
There’s a bigger picture to it and I like that side of it. I’m trying to head in that direction and maybe get some kids into it as well, show them that there is something. If you don’t want to go study, you can become a trail builder, you can learn this, you can do this. If it’s your passion, your love, you can make something from it.
GDK: Mark Gordon, thanks very much for chatting.
MG: My pleasure.
GDK: If you’re ever in Stellenbosch and you have a mountain bike and you don’t come to G-Spot, then you have only yourself to blame. It is the place to ride, although as Mark says, there’s so many other places. But you have to ride G-Spot and if you spot a guy in shorts, not often wearing a shirt, particularly if the sun is shining, give him a wave, it’s Mark Gordon. The man behind the G in G-Spot. This has been another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Biking, thanks for downloading, until next time, cheers.