Tokai is the heart and soul of the community of riders from the greater Cape Town area.
Tokai is not a suburb. At least not to mountain bikers. Tokai is not a peaceful, leafy backwater on the foothills of the Constantiaberg in Cape Town. It’s not a mountain and nature area. It is all those things and more. To the mountain bikers who regularly frequent Tokai, it is the very heart and soul of the bike community.
Woven together by a network of trails crafted to cater for all manner of bike choice and grounded by years of rich history, a tiny bit of the spirit of the place glows inside every Cape Town mountain biker. It has been that way since the early 90s, when a triangular portion of singletrack at the top of the saddle was the only trail ridden. Back then nobody was quite sure if it was legal, but that singletrack lap remains etched into the annals of SA mountain-biking.
Since that original loop on the top of the saddle and some singletrack (near what is now Vasbyt) started to take shape, the trail-building history is much storied among the inner circles. In fact, most of the original singletrack that has since played host to World Champion riders, events big and small, was built by a crew of downhill riders for some of the very early races dating back into the mid 90’s. In those early years, the trails were developed and maintained purely by volunteers who had advocated for access.
Year after year more singletrack opened up and the park became a major riding destination for the Western Cape and something of an icon for SA mountain biking. Somewhere in those years, as legend has it, the proverbial trail elves armed with spades snuck in to sculpt and maintain the magic of the trails. In fact, the story goes that there are still spades and shaping tools hiding on the slopes that date back to those early pioneers.
As disciplines became more defined some tension rose over the use of certain trails, especially with regards to which direction they may be ridden in. Fortunately, things became more organised as the years went on and in 2014, TokaiMTB was formed. The founders behind the NGO have been active in various forms since the mid-1990s, but only later finally gained a SANParks permit for TokaiMTB to build and maintain a world-class network of mountain bike trails.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Credits: Gary Perkin & Various
WHAT THEY SAY
It is thanks largely to the rallying of the community around the Tokai MTB NGO that the trails could reopen after the destructive fire of 2015. In more recent times the trails were closed again during lockdown but since restrictions were lifted there are more people than ever plugged into this beautiful community of riders. The spirit of the place lives on, and indeed is perhaps stronger than ever, as the playground today features trails for all skills levels and rider types including Gravel, eMTB, XC, Trail and DH. Trail maintenance is largely still community funded through annual club membership, donations and corporate support. The money raised is also used to strengthen everyone’s safety in the Park through visible patrols.
Cheers to everyone who contributes to and cherishes what the Tokai MTB Trails offer.