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Cape Trails

The FNB Wines2Whales is renowned for its phenomenal trails which have been curated over 10 years to what they are today.
This careful curation, innovation and hard work is testament to a route team which works tirelessly behind the scenes.

Cape Trails

Meet the men who build and maintain the trails from Wines to Whales

Established in 2011, the Cape Trails team are four trail builders tasked with creating and curating the singletracks, which provide every FNB Wines2Whales rider with serious gees. Get to know the men behind the picks, shovels and chainsaws, and find out what they love best about building trails.

FNB Wines2Whales is famed for its singletrack-packed route. From the trails on the slopes of the Helderberg, in Lourensford Wine Estate, through Oak Valley, Paul Cluver, Beamont and Wilderkrans Wine Estates to the tracks flowing the forests in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, every single one is painstakingly sculpted by master trail builders.  The roughly 200-kilometre-long route requires constant maintenance, and new singletracks are added to every edition of the race, meaning the Cape Trails team, tasked with much of the work, are busy year-round.

Unofficially, three of the guys who now form part of Cape Trails – Ashwell ‘Fakie’ Swartz, Brenden ‘Pikkie’ Boysen, and Denzel ‘Max’ Scheepers – and a fourth member, Skabba, who has subsequently left the team, worked on the second event in 2010. But Cape Trails was officially formed in 2011. Since then, they’ve built at least 150 kilometres of singletrack on the race route and more for other events across the Western Cape. More recently, in 2021, Keenan Cupido joined the team, taking the Cape Trails group back up for four members. 

Cape Trails Youth Development Initiative

The Cape Trails programme is an FNB Wines2Whales youth development initiative.

Ashwell, Pikkie, and Denzel are the founding members and they do sub-contracted trail development and alien clearance. They are also contracted to provide services during the FNB W2W events and at other events. They are also bike mechanics and have started their own bike shop in Grabouw – the workshop is a 12m container sponsored by Big Box. They buy 2nd hand bikes from BEN (Bicycle Empowerment Network) service and repair it and sell it at a profit.

Cape Trails House

In 2016 FNB Wines2Whales purchased a house for the Cape Trails team. Situated in Grabouw, near the Country Club and within easy riding distance from the A to Z trails and Oak Valley, the house has been a base for the team for nearly eight years. Built on a double plot, the property also includes a flatlet and space in the backyard for a Big Box container.

This container has been converted into a bicycle workshop and also serves as the meeting point for an informal cycling club the Cape Trails have founded with friends from the Grabouw community. Though mountain biking interest takes a dip during the icy winters of the Elgin plateau, the group is active in the warmer months, especially when there is new singletrack to test ride.

The workshop also services the broader Grabouw community and serves as an additional source of income for the team. Given that the majority of cyclists in the broader Elgin/Grabouw community use their bicycles to commute to work, the workshop is invaluable. The next nearest bicycle shop is in Somerset West, so the Cape Trails Big Box Worksop keeps all manner of machines on the road.

Cape Trails

Meet the Cape Trails Team

Ashwell ‘Fakie’ Swartz:

Founding member of Cape Trails, Ashwell Swartz, takes on multiple roles during the FNB Wines2Whales event. He joins the route marking team, ensuring that the course is correctly marked for riders to anticipate corners and maintain their speed and flow. Ashwell also supports Spook and Erika Groenewald, assisting them with their clients during the Absa Cape Epic. His dedication extends beyond FNB Wines2Whales, as he actively contributes to other events by offering event services, sub-contracting for route marking, setting up branding, and managing water points. Ashwell's involvement in these activities strengthens the cycling event industry in the Western Cape.

On the bike, Ashwell is an avid mountain biker and enjoys the challenges that the trails present. He particularly cherishes working on the Gaf se Bos trails, despite the occasional challenge of bees in the area. With each trail he helps build, Ashwell strives to create an enjoyable riding experience for himself and others. He finds motivation in the friendly competition with his work partner, Lance Stephenson, and looks forward to taking on new challenges together.

Faki Cape Trails
Pikkie Cape Trails

Brenden ‘Pikkie’ Boysen:

As a founding member of Cape Trails, Brenden Boysen actively contributes to the success of the FNB Wines2Whales event. He oversees the Squirt Cycling Products bike wash, ensuring that riders' bicycles are well-maintained throughout the race. Additionally, Brenden operates a sweep vehicle and assists with marshalling, guaranteeing the safety and smooth operation of the event. Beyond FNB Wines2Whales, Brenden offers his expertise in event services, sub-contracts for route marking, sets up branding, and manages water points at various other events. Through these activities, he shares his knowledge and strengthens the cycling event industry in the Western Cape.

Brenden appreciates the problem-solving aspect of trail building and finds joy in overcoming obstacles that arise each winter season. He believes that rational thinking and teamwork are essential to finding solutions, both in trail building and in life. Brenden's diverse strengths, and the teamwork within Cape Trails, enable the team to achieve great results. Although he doesn't have a specific favourite trail due to the numerous projects he has worked on, Brenden eagerly anticipates building a new section in Beaumont for the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback.

Denzel ‘Max’ Scheepers:

As a founding member of Cape Trails, Denzel Scheepers brings his skills and dedication to the FNB Wines2Whales event. He operates a sweep vehicle, ensuring that the race route remains clear and assists in placing marshals to maintain safety. Denzel's knowledge and experience have made him an invaluable asset to the team. In addition to his on-event responsibilities, Denzel contributes to other events by offering event services, sub-contracting for route marking, setting up branding, and managing water points. His involvement in these activities showcases his expertise and helps strengthen the cycling event industry in the Western Cape.

Denzel finds great fulfilment in trail building, appreciating the valuable life lessons and skills it has taught him. From time management and problem-solving to perseverance and organisation, Denzel applies these qualities to his work and personal life. His daily encounters with nature, from remarkable sightings like rooikat (caracal) to the presence of snakes and spiders, make each day on the trails memorable. Denzel's hard work and dedication are driven by the appreciation he receives from riders and the recognition of his contribution to their enjoyable riding experiences.

Max Cape Trails
Mango Cape Trails

Keenan Cupido:

Having joined the Cape Trails team in 2021, Keenan Cupido has quickly become an integral member. During the FNB Wines2Whales event, Keenan takes on the crucial role of route marking alongside Ashwell Swartz. With Spook Groenewald and Lance Stephenson, Keenan ensures the course is well-marked, allowing riders to navigate corners and maintain their speed and flow. Outside of FNB Wines2Whales, Keenan supports Spook and Erika Groenewald by assisting their clients during the Absa Cape Epic. Moreover, he contributes to the cycling event industry in the Western Cape by providing event services, sub-contracting for route marking, setting up branding, and managing water points at other events.

Keenan's passion for trail building is evident in his favourite projects, such as Rietvlei and Witklippies 1 and 2. He particularly enjoys the teamwork aspect of trail building, especially when constructing bridges. Keenan also finds interest in maintaining the trails, embracing the daily problem-solving opportunities it presents. He looks forward to completing upcoming projects like the Canal Trail on Lourensford Wine Estate, where he envisions a fun and technically moderate trail for riders to enjoy. Keenan's enthusiasm for mountain biking and his dedication to creating exceptional trails make him a valuable member of the Cape Trails team.

Building Bridges Beyond FNB Wines2Whales

One of the more exciting and impactful projects the Cape Trails team has worked on beyond FNB Wines2Whales was building the Cradle of Humankind singletrack. It has been used for events too, but primarily it’s a safe and fun section of trail which follows the provincial road. It keeps cyclists off the hard shoulder and is a great flowing ride. They also trained local trail builders, who have gone on to build and maintain more singletracks in the Cradle/Muldersdrift area.

The team have also built trails in Stanford, which were used for races including the 2023 Absa Cape Epic, and have completed projects in the prestigious De Hoop Nature Reserve. Being able to work in a minimally environmentally impactful manner makes Cape Trails a trusted service provider to organisations like Cape Nature, which require hand-built routes. Trails through pristine fynbos showcase the Western Cape’s floral beauty and diversity without negatively impacting rare and endemic species.

Cape Trails’ primary sub-contraction work on projects the FNB Wines2Whales route is often bridge building. Some of their finest works include building Poffadder three times, creating the Witklippies bridges and helping construct the massive Rietvlei Magic Bridge. That know-how makes the team the go-to sub-contractors for trail builders when constructing bridges across rivers or gorges.

Future Cape Trails Projects

A trail builder’s work is never done. The team’s maintenance work on the FNB Wines2Whales route is a constant process, which ramps up after winter in the lead up to the event. They are also tasked with building new singletracks for every edition of the race, with the Switchback, in particular, requiring new trails to avoid simply riding the existing routes in reverse.

As their event services skills continue to grow, the individuals within Cape Trails will increasingly sub-contract to other events, rolling out branding, route marking and marshal management to the same high standard, they have helped maintain at FNB Wines2Whales. Most importantly, they will continue mentoring young trail builders when collaborating on a project. Sharing their eye for flow, their knowledge of how water should be directed off the trail surface and educating fellow trail builders on the endemic fauna and flora which provide the natural backdrop for mountain biking in

Thanks to the Cape Trails Sponsors

The great work done by Cape Trails is only possible because of mountain bikers taking part in FNB Wines2Whales and the payment of permit fees to ride the Elgin trails throughout the year. The financial support of companies like FNB and Big Box has also been invaluable, as has the landowner’s trust and support. Not only have farmers like Dr Paul Cluver allowed and encouraged Cape Trails’ projects, but they have also funded materials for bridge and feature building and hired the team for non-mountain biking projects.