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Dirtopia 20years

Dirtopia - 20 years on
Dirtopia, now well into its 20th season of eventing and trail creation has lived through many changes in the cycling landscape and along the way has had to adapt to shifts in consumer behaviour, new opportunities and even natural disasters.
What started as an instigation of a young sport requiring event and trail opportunities, has morphed into an overtraded, commercialised eventing scene and trails on almost every property worth riding on.
We have coined the phrase 'participation fatigue' to describe the current downturn in adult mtb behaviour. It is not that people are not riding, they are simply choosing how they ride differently. Riding from home is the norm and this is directly related to the increase in awesome suburban edge trail opportunities, something we were heavily involved in and very proud of. If you ride anywhere in the Western Cape, odds are you are riding somewhere where we built or consulted. In KZN we consulted on Giba Gorge, in Gauteng many meetings were held regarding the Braamfontein Spruit and other sites.
Over the years our events have transformed from a mountain bike heavy calendar to one where 70% of our event activations are trail running focused. Who'd have thunk?!
That said, we are still mountain bikers at heart, and this is of course best portrayed by our involvement in the Spur Schools League, South Africa's largest cycling program. This is of course driven through our non-profit off-shoot Amarider.
Amarider was formed in 2006 when we realised that we were focused and passionate mostly about the development of the sport, and in hindsight a pretty progressive move back then.  This stuff was non-profit territory.
Slowly, as Amarider set the ground-rules for trail advocacy, the League grew from a 900 participant, 21 race program to a 60+ race behemoth attracting over 19000 entries in 2019.
The demands on our time has had to shift and when Spur announced a further 10 year commitment early last year, it was clear where our focus had to be.
With the League we can again foster that passion for riding we nurtured 20 years ago, but this time amongst young riders. On almost exactly the 20th anniversary of the original Dirtopia Festival, it was fitting that we ran the inaugural #Spurfest following an almost identical model to that first Festival, but this time focussing on the youth.
To see the participants embrace the program and have a mountain biking blast, was truly enthusing to us as veteran promoters. It felt as if the ethos of Dirtopia had come full circle.
On the home front, Dirtopia continues to manage a calendar of events but after almost 3 years in the hospitality game, we have decided to let go of the restaurant and lodge to focus on our knitting, and make more time for our family.
We have relooked our calendar to accommodate the increasing Spur League and will cut trail runs by 50% to 11 offerings and 2020 will see the return of the 24 Hours of Oak Valley. The 24 hour will take place once every 24 months and alternate with the 100 Miler, which is taking a break next year.
The Enduro scene is flourishing under EWC so we will run pop-up events now and then when the calendar allows.
The Stellenbosch MTB Challenge continues.
The toughest decision has been around the Delvera Trail Centre.
It has always been a passion project for us, but the time has come to alter how it operates.
We will continue to run an office from our original trail centre site (pottery) but will not offer a 7-day a week permit and bike rental service. We will make a call regarding weekend permit sales shortly.
We are super excited about our pop-up Trail Centre on Muratie Wine Estate. The location is simply stunning with over 20km of singletrack starting within 50m of the trailhead. The plan is to open and service the trails during the higher demand times of mornings and weekends with bike rentals and trail related merchandise.
We would like to thank all our supporters for the continued support of our activities and invite all our mtb friends to join us on one of our trail rides.
Meurant & Arina Botha

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Upcoming events:

28 May Pre-Election Night Run @ Muratie

29 May Buffalo Ride

17 June Knorhoek Trail Run

30 June Mid-Year Trail Run @ Muratie

14 July Wine Adventure @ Warwick


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