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Ignatius (Inus) du Preez is a member of the Summerplace Game Reserve mountain bike team. With the support of Summerplace and the guidance of his coach, he has transformed from a promising racer into a podium contender at high profile South African XCO and Marathon races. We spoke to him to find out more about his background, his role off the bike at Summerplace and his goals.

When did you first show an interest in mountain biking?

Just before high school I did a range of sports. In Grade 8 – my first year of high school – one of the sports I could do at Hoerskool Garsfontein, was cycling. At the time the Spur MTB Series was big and the school was among the more successful schools in the league. I had got a new bike the year before and I was keen to try something new. I did some Spur Series races, but only off cross-country running and hockey fitness. The vibe at these events was awesome and I think that’s what got me keen on mountain biking.

When was your first MTB race and what event was it?

In Grade 3 I entered a 10km MTB race. I was so excited! But took a wrong turn and ended up doing 30km. It was so tough and I was heartbroken by the finish! Looking back, it certainly helped me cope with something physically hard! My next race was in Grade 7. I had got a new bike and I entered the Windpomp Cherie, a 50km race in Stillbaai, where we normally go in the summer holidays. I did that with my dad. It was extremely hard! After 20km it became super difficult. I hadn’t done any specific training and I really struggled to finish. But every year after that I entered the race and last year (2023) for the first time, I won it. It was always a goal of mine since that first one to try and win it.

Inus during the 2024 Tankwa Trek stage race where he and his teammate, Johan de Villiers, finished eighth overall. | Photo:

Was mountain bike racing a focus for you in your later high school years?

In my final year as a Junior, I started doing some XCO SA Cup races for the first time. Hockey was my main focus though. I did do some training for mountain biking – I trained for one hour twice a week.

When did you start taking mountain bike racing seriously?

I was in Grades 10 and 11 during Covid and there weren’t many races happening. I was first year Junior in Grade 11 and I realised I had a bit of potential and I also enjoyed it, so I started taking it a bit more seriously. I would say in Grade 12 (Matric), when I did all the SA Cups for XCO racing, that was when I started to really begin to focus on mountain bike racing.

Inus on his way to sixth overall at Round 2 of the 2024 Ford Trailseeker Series. Photo: Dominic Barnardt

What made you realise that you could become a successful mountain bike racer?

That’s a tough question. In my final school year, I would train two hours a week for intervals and if I didn’t have hockey on the weekends, I would do some longer rides.  I was never planning to race after school, so I was still racing for enjoyment. In my first year out of school, I started to experience asthma sometimes when racing, so it was an okay year, but not a great year of racing. I was also first year Under-23, which is a challenging time for a racer. I can’t say exactly when I realised I could become a successful mountain bike racer or decided to pursue it fully, but I do know that I wanted to reach my full potential. I still haven’t reached that potential, which is what keeps me motivated.

When did you first start training with a coach?

I started training with a coach in Grade 9. It was with Amrick, which is more group training sessions than personalised coaching. It was always fun because it was with friends and was mostly outrides. My first structured training was during Covid in Grade 10. My coach was Eugene Elliot. He saw my potential in the Spur Series races. He coached me twice a week until the end of my final school yea. In my first year out of school, I moved to Deon Carstens. I appreciate all these coaches who have been such an important part of my mountain biking journey. They have helped me to keep it fun, while improving.

After finishing 18th at Round 1 and sixth at Round 2, Inus has taken the lead in the Elite Men’s division in the Ford Trailseeker Series standings. | Photo: Dominic Barnardt

Who is your current coach and what difference has the coaching made to you?

Deon Carstens is my current coach. He’s my first real professional coach. He’s helped me move into a more serious phase where the hours on the bike have become a lot longer and the training is more specific. It’s great to have someone with his experience to monitor and guide me. It’s a long process to get where you want to be. I still feel I have a lot more improving to do. Deon also been so good in helping me shift my mindset to a serious racing one and helping me maintain my focus on my goals.

What impact has the support from Summerplace Game Reserve had on your progress in the last couple of years?

Everything that I have achieved so far is thanks to Summerplace Game Reserve. First off, the training grounds – I have some of the best mountain bike trails in my back yard! The whole environment is ideal. I can feel safe on my own, encounter wild animals on almost every ride, improve my technical skills and also do long rides. Starting quite late as a mountain bike racer, my technical skills were a weakness, but living and training at Summerplace has turned that into one of my strengths.

Dave and Simone Baber and Paul Rose are among the few people that saw my potential in cycling and have been incredibly supportive. I didn’t really have that many great results, but they saw more than those results and I am so grateful for them their ongoing support. I wouldn’t be where I am now as a mountain bike racer without them.

Inus on his way to fourth place in the Elite & U23 Men’s race at Round 1 of the XCO SA Cup at Thaba Trails. | Photo: Dominic Barnardt

What support do you get from Summerplace as a mountain bike racer?

There are currently three racers in the Summerplace MTB Team – Lilian Baber, Respect Ramashia and myself. Lilian and I have similar racing schedules and she is a great support and always helps me when I need it. Summerplace Game Reserve basically makes everything available so that all I have to do is train and race my best. They give us great quality kit and top-end bikes. They cover all our transport and race entries as well as our travel and accommodation costs. Everything we need as mountain bike racers we get from Summerplace. With cycling being such an expensive sport, it’s essential to have this kind of support to achieve your potential. I am and will forever be grateful to Summerplace Game Reserve for all the support they give me.

You also work at Summerplace, what is your role/job description?

I don’t have a specific job title. It ranges from doing game drives, trails admin, guide rides, skills coaching, helping with the wildlife, driving to get supplies and more. We all help here with what needs to be done.

You have gone from a top 20 finisher to a podium challenger in both top-tier XCO and Marathon races this year. Do you feel you still more improvement you can make?

There is definitely still more room to improve! It’s quite rewarding to start getting some decent results this year. As a cyclist, you are never quite satisfied with what you have achieved, but I am still young and growing into a more complete racer, so I am excited about what is still to come.

Inus raced to an impressive fourth overall at Round 1 of the 2024 XCO SA Cup Series against a strong field. | Photo: Dominic Barnardt

What are your three mountain bike racing career highlights so far?

I would say the first XCO SA Cup I did at Summerplace in my final year of school would be one of them. It was very different to the other races I had done as it was a very technical track against top competitors. Then, I would say doing the Tankwa Trek stage race earlier this year was another highlight so far. It was the first stage race that I have raced hard. It was absolutely amazing. My partner Johan de Villiers and I were actually competing and it was really cool to learn so much about longer distance racing and stage racing.

And then I would say the Val di Sole World Cup in Italy last year. It was amazing to experience. Racing on the same course as the pros that you see on TV. It was fantastic! I really pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do.

And I’m going to sommer give you a fourth highlight – the XCO SA Cup at Thaba Trails this year was an important milestone for me. Being in contention for second place at a SA Cup with all the top racers present was something I could only dream about last year. To make it a reality this year was fantastic.

What are your main goals for the rest of 2024?

The first one is SA Champs in Paarl in early May. I hope to get a good position and will try and challenge for the SA Under-23 title. The next one is to try gain selection for the XCO World Champs this year. And then also the World Cups that we plan to race this year. I would like to improve at those compared to last year.


There’s a new route at Summerplace Game Reserve that’s instantly broadened the riding options to a greater range of mountain bikers. The 22km Orange Route is ideal for lesser skilled recreational riders, but it also adds great value to experienced riders and wild-life lovers.

Already a premier mountain biking destination, Summerplace now offers even more to mountain bikers. During the summer, trailmaster, David Baber and his team added more than 25km of new mountain bike routes to the reserve’s trail network. Most of these additional kilometres went into the new Orange Route, which explores a fresh section of the reserve.

As you drive into the main gate at Summerplace, the land to your right, which includes a decent sized hill, now has many kilometers of engaging mountain bike trails. You need at least -4% gradient to create good flow and this slope ranges from -4 to -25%, which means plenty of flow.

We’ll get back to that hill in a bit though. It’s important to know that the Orange Route is a route that’s ideal for most mountain bikers. It’s got a couple of steep bits that might be a bit intimidating for some, but these are quite easy to dismount and portage. Ninety percent of the route is unintimidating and ideal for most mountain bikers.

The Orange Route starts near the Bike Village on the road that heads to the main gate. It hugs the side of the hill on a trail called Spook Huis, where many rocks have been cleared to ensure as smooth a ride as possible before it joins onto Drop to Gulley trail.

This piece of trail rolls gently down the slope in the direction of the main reserve road for a few hundred metres before it takes a left onto a trail called Old School. This is a completely new trail that winds its ways gradually in a northerly direction down to the low ground and then up the opposite slope, which is very slight in terms of gradient. It then turns east and takes you on an engaging path before turning north to join a gravel road.

You follow the gravel road for a while until you reach a boundary fence, turn right and then right again to begin the first of three ascents of the large hill that dominates this section of the reserve. David has masterfully crafted trail to make the most of this elevation, which delivers a moderate climbing challenge and stunning views.

The first descent is on a trail called Mountain Oak, which starts off steep, but which eases as you reach the gravel road where you can take a drink, chat excitedly to your mates about that cool descent before turning onto a long singletrack trail called Easy Going, which lives up to its name and allows you some freedom to enjoy more game-spotting.

The second ascent is more direct and on a jeep track road, which has some steep pitches but is superbly rewarding once you begin the second descent, which takes you about halfway down the slope before tackling the final ascent. This ascent brings you to the top of the hill again where you can appreciate some superb vistas to the south and west before dropping down the final descent on a trail called Ball Itch.

The name may be uncomfortable, but the trail is a delight! It drops 100 metres in 2km, has an average of -4.6 percent gradient and delivers some classic David Baber flow! This is sure to become one of the new favourite trails at Summerplace because no matter what your skill level, it’s so much fun.

The fun does end though, right in the dip, but you do get to take a steady pedal back to the end of the Orange Route on the gravel road, where you can process what you have just ridden or contemplate a second lap!

The Orange Route is mostly rideable for newer mountain bikers, but expect a couple of short portage bits. It’s all part of the adventure and it does allow you to pause and take in the natural beauty around you. For Intermediate and Experienced mountain bikers, the Orange Route is an absolute gem! The balance of climbing, descending and singletrack is just right and, like a small slab of your favourite chocolate, leaves you feeling both satisfied and craving more…

The Orange Route can also be considered a Mountain Biking Safari. A wide range of game can be encountered on this route, including Giraffe, Zebra, Roan Antelope, Impala, Kudu, Sable Antelope, Eland, Tsessebe, Warthog and Reedbuck, partly because the route covers a large area and partly because the vegetation isn’t too dense, which makes it easier to spot wild animals from your saddle.

For experienced/fit riders, the Orange Route is a great start or end loop as either a long warm-up or cool-down to a longer ride. It’s a highly engaging way to add another 20-odd kilometres of distance without too much toil.

To experience the new Orange Route – and all of the other mountain bike routes and trails at Summerplace Game Reserve, book your accommodation here.


While many Gauteng and Limpopo mountain bikers know about Summerplace Game Reserve, we’re still growing our awareness nationally as a premier mountain biking destination. Coverage in the various South African media helps us grow this awareness. Recently, we hosted Bike Hub, South Africa’s largest cycling media. Here’s how that went…

Bike Hub is a digital media that includes a very popular classified buy-and-sell section, a well-known discussion forum and an articles section that carries current South African cycling industry content. One of Bike Hub’s strong regular features is Trail Daze, a mountain biking destination or trail feature that’s visually weighted to offer superb imagery of mountain bikers riding and enjoying a featured destination.

Started by world-class photographer, Ewald Sadie in 2015, Trail Daze ran for three years until 2017. At the time, mountain biking in South Africa was heavily racing focused and Trail Daze showed the more recreational trail-riding culture, which has become more prevalent these days.

“We used to have a new edition of Trail Daze every two months and then it almost became monthly for a while. But I am a freelancer and my workload changed and I took a break from Trail Daze,” explained Sadie.

The Covid-19 related lockdown by the South African government essentially banned racing but boosted riding and saw the growth of many more trails parks in South Africa. That, along with a partnership from Mercedes Benz and Maxxis Tyres, helped Sadie and Bike Hub revive Trail Daze in 2023.

“We’re calling it Trail Daze 2.0. It’s a great way to shine a light on different places to ride in South Africa as well as pay some homage to the trailbuilders who put in so much time and effort to create trails networks that bring so much joy and satisfaction to mountain bikers,” said Sadie during his visit to Summerplace.

“It was a first for me to ride my bike in a game reserve, and it didn’t disappoint. Riding among wildlife and being on the lookout for animals is a totally different experience of mountain biking. And it’s not just sandy jeep tracks either as most people would assume – Dave and his team have done a stellar job building some proper trails. Then there’s the five-star hospitality and accommodation to round off the entire experience,” said Sadie.

Sadie keeps the Trail Daze human complement lean, usually just himself and two riders. But this trip to Summerplace Game Reserve was slightly different and Kylie Hanekom, Content Manager at Bike Hub, joined him.

“Summerplace Game Reserve is a hidden gem. It offers a complete mountain bike experience, from a range of accommodation options, to bike rentals, and endless kilometres of fun, flowing trails.

“It is some of the best and most diverse riding I have experienced in a long time. It is such a privilege to be able ride amongst free-roaming game and experience the diverse vegetation of the Limpopo province on both raw and beautifully manicured Bushveld trails. Coming from the Western Cape it was an unforgettable experience.

“The Baber family make the Bike Village feel like a home away from home, and Dave is an absolute magician of a trail-builder. He works with the land and existing natural features to build trails that are both safe and technical, so that the fun factor dials up exponentially the faster you go. I haven’t had a smile like that on my face on a mountain bike in a long time, and I will be back to ride everything I missed out on this time around,” said Hanekom.

The two riders selected to feature in this edition of Trail Daze were both from Gauteng. Sam Bull, former Downhill racer and Managing Director of Rush Sports, the South African distributor of brands that include Santa Cruz bikes and Maxxis tyres; and Cade Badenhorst, a 17-year-old junior Enduro racer who is a Specialized ambassador.

With daytime temperatures in the mid-to-high 30s, the Trail Daze shoots were limited to early morning and late afternoon. Sadie’s objective was to showcase the variety of trails as well as feature the Bushveld landscape, which is mostly hilly and covered in small- to medium-sized trees with patches of savannah grassland. One of the main attractions at Summerplace Game Reserve is wildlife encounters and he was able to capture that too.

To check out the Trail Daze Summerplace Game Reserve feature on Bike Hub, click here.


More and more South African mountain bikers are discovering the gem that is Summerplace Game Reserve. And they’re returning for more. What is it about this Waterberg mountain bike trails venue, a short drive from Pretoria, that’s made it into one of South Africa’s premier mountain biking destinations? Here’s what…

Beautiful wilderness trails

There are more than 100km of incredible mountain bike trails at Summerplace Game Reserve. The trails network is still expanding and delivers a stimulating experience for all mountain bikers, from Beginner to Advanced. The mountain bike trails climb and descend the slopes of the Waterberg and are both challenging and rewarding, offering mountain bikers an opportunity to experience unspoiled natural beauty with flourishing Bushveld vegetation, indigenous birdlife, a range of wildlife and incredible views.

Hand-built and well-maintained trails

David Baber, the landowner and expert trail-builder has meticulously built all the trails at Summerplace Game Reserve using the existing natural features of the Waterberg to deliver trails that have flow and are fun to ride. As an accomplished mountain biker, David understands how to make the most of the gradient, rocks and gulleys to deliver one of the best mountain bike trails networks in South Africa. There is a full-time trails team that helps David to hand-build the trails and which ensures the trails are maintained all year round.

Range of trails to suit all mountain bikers

The trails at Summerplace have evolved to cater for all skill levels and the various fitness levels of mountain bikers. Beginner mountain bikers can cruise on the various gravel roads, while Novice mountain bikers will enjoy the tame, but stimulating singletrack close to the trailhead. Intermediate mountain bikers have a large range of trails and routes to choose from, while Experienced mountain bikers will love the ample challenging singletrack climbs and descents that Summerplace is well known for.

Ride routes or create your own

Some mountain bikers like to ride set routes and others like to be more spontaneous on their rides. Summerplace is ideal for both in that it offers marked and measured routes, which are denoted by coloured directional arrows. It’s also easy to ride a combination of specific trails using linking trails. For example, Enduro-focussed mountain bikers like to ride the Enduro lines, whereas marathon and stage-race mountain bikers like to cover ample distance on their rides.

It’s a safe place to ride a mountain bike

Mountain bikers at Summerplace often remark on how safe they feel. Besides being far from any main roads or urban settlements, Summerplace Game Reserve has a secure perimeter fence that is monitored by cameras. There are also regular patrols done through the reserve and surrounds by the local security company.

Wildlife encounters

Because Summerplace Game Reserve has more than 40 species of large mammals, your chances of wildlife encounters while on a mountain bike ride are high. Mountain bikers often encounter Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Kudu, Zebra and Giraffe. There have also been recent sightings of Leopard by mountain bikers.

The Bike Village is geared for mountain bikers

By nature, mountain biking is highly social. The Bike Village, which is the trailhead at Summerplace, has developed around the mountain biking culture. There’s ample comfortable seating indoors and outdoors as well as plenty of space for mountain bikes. There is a bike wash facility, free uncapped Wi-Fi (for post-ride uploads to Strava and Instagram), a pump to inflate tyres and high-quality coffee and cold beer to purchase. There are also excellent toilet and shower facilities and DSTV where local and international bicycle racing content is prioritised. Mountain bikers enjoy gathering at the Bike Village to watch live UCI World Cup XCO and Downhill racing.

Bikes and helmets to hire

Summerplace Game Reserve invested in a fleet of mountain bikes for rental. There are 10 eBikes, which are a blend of Specialized Turbo Levo (full eBike) and Specialized Turbo Levo SL (light eBike) and three Specialized Stumpjumper regular bikes. All the bikes are full suspension and there is a range of sizes. Specialized helmets are available to hire with the bike.

Trail guides and skills instructors

Many of the Summerplace staff members are mountain bikers. Several have completed the PMBI mountain bike skills-coaching and mountain bike trail-guiding course, so are qualified to offer skills lessons and/or guided rides.

Ideal for family breaks

Many mountain bikers take their family to Summerplace because it’s ideal for family getaways. It’s in the bush, but the large well-kept lawns and fun, flowy bits of trail in front of the Bike Village encourages kids to ride their bikes. For lodges that don’t have a swimming pool or hot/cold tub, there’s a plunge pool at the Bike Village, which also has uncapped Wi-Fi, great coffee, cold soft drinks, cold alcoholic beverages and DSTV.

Hosted top mountain bike events

Summerplace Game Reserve has successfully hosted several high-profile mountain bike racing events. In 2022 and 2023 a round of the South African XCO Cup that carried UCI grading status was hosted at Summerplace, attracting the country’s top XCO racers, including world-class performers, Alan Hatherly and Candice Lill. In 2022 Summerplace hosted a round of the Provincial Enduro Series for Gauteng, North West and Limpopo. And in 2023 it hosted a round of the SA Enduro Series.

Will be hosting more high-profile mountain bike races

In 2024, Summerplace will host the Glacier Waterberg Traverse, a three-day mountain bike stage race, organised by Dryland Event Management. Summerplace will also host a round of the 2024 South African Enduro Series, which will carry UCI grading status. There will also be a round of the South African Downhill Series hosted at Summerplace in 2024. The inaugural Waterberg Biosphere Bundu Bash will also be hosted at Summerplace Game Reserve in 2024. This event includes mountain biking over three different distances.

Range of accommodation to suit all budgets

Although it’s possible, day visits for mountain bikers are rare. Most mountain bikers book accommodation in order to make the most of the Summerplace mountain biking experience. There is a wide range of accommodation at Summerplace Game Reserve, ranging from camping through to luxury bush lodges. The accommodation is suited to the needs of mountain bikers.


Summerplace MTB Team’s Lilian Baber and Inus du Preez recently spent five weeks racing in Europe. They stayed in the new Summerplace Game Reserve camper van and travelled to races in Switzerland and Italy. It was an incredible experience to race in the hot bed of global XCO racing. Here’s what they thought of it.

What did you find to be the biggest difference between European and South African XCO racing?

In South Africa, it’s flat out straight from the start, but in Europe it’s more strategic. I could keep up with them from the start. At home, we push as hard as possible throughout the race, but I found there, they ease up a bit and recover on the flats and then push super hard on the climbs. They do it so intuitively though, which took me a while to get used to.

You are the dominant Junior female in South Africa. How did it feel to be in races where you weren’t the fastest?

It felt different, but good. I was chasing others instead of being chased. I pushed myself harder than I do at home. I felt like I achieved new levels of personal performance.

What are the key things you learned from your European racing stint?

You must know how to race technical climbs, especially the slippery ones! You also must be aggressive. Their starts aren’t super fast, but they are aggressive. You have to fight to get into the first singletrack in a good position. There’s no politeness in the races. And you must stay calm. You mustn’t freak out when someone passes you because often, they blow and you pass them again later.

What was your racing highlight from your trip?

I would say my first race, which was in Switzerland. It was 42 degrees Celsius on the start line and the whole experience of racing in Europe made such a big impact on me. And the last race, in Italy, which had a lot of mud, but also a bunch of pros racing and seeing how I compared to them on the same course.

What was the racing low point of your trip?

I would say the Swiss Bike Cup race, which was my fifth race in five weekends. I was really tired and I was fighting with the course. I needed a rest week, but it was an opportunity to get in another European race. I know I could have pushed harder, but my fatigue was a factor.

What are you doing differently in your training after your European trip?

I am working more on intensity. I have a good endurance base, so really have just been sharpening up, which is where I struggled a bit in Europe. I can go hard, but not for as long as the European girls. I have been working on that.

What is your goal for the 2023 UCI World Champs?

My goal is to finish in the top 20. I think only one South African has ever finished in the top 20 at the Junior World Champs before so that will be my focus.

What did you find to be the biggest difference between the European and South African XCO races?

Definitely the level of competition. The fields there are bigger and the level is so much higher. In South Africa you have your 20 top riders or so and you still end up alone somewhere in that field, whereas in Europe there is always someone just in front or just behind you, which pushes you to new limits.

What are your key learnings from your European racing stint?

The race isn’t over until you cross the finish line. It sounds obvious, but it’s more evident to me now. If there is a crash at the start and you get held up, you still have six or seven laps to make up for that. You have to keep on fighting to the end. I also learned that you can’t go by looks. Some riders look strong, but aren’t necessarily stronger than you. You must focus on yourself and not compare yourself to others. The racing speed is also higher there, so I have to learn to adapt my training to race at that speed.

What was your racing highlight from your trip?

Definitely racing the World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy. It’s so much bigger than I thought. You see it on TV and know it’s big, but when you are there and see all pro teams and the pits, it just feels so much bigger. Being able to start with the best guys in the world was amazing. I started quite far back, but just knowing than I was racing in a World Cup race was insane!

What was the racing low point during your trip?

I would say that would be the last race. After racing six weekends in a row and going onto a seventh race, my body was really tired. I didn’t achieve what I wanted to. Your body can only take so much.

What are you doing differently in your training after your European trip?

I need to get faster overall. I will be getting on a gravel bike more and going on those long rides. The gravel bike will help me do longer intervals better. My base training also starts earlier so that I’m ready in January when the season starts.

What was it like racing a World Cup compared to other races you have done?

It’s hard to describe the feeling of being on the start line at a World Cup! The biggest race we had in South Africa was in Stellenbosch where we had about 50 riders on the start line. At the World Cup were had 120! It’s overwhelming. Going to practise the course you see the big international pro teams on either side looking at the lines and you are riding the course and they are watching you and the lines you take. In the race you have to deal with mistakes made by the riders in front you, which all add up, but you must stay focused on yourself. It was a massive highlight for me, not just for the trip but in my life.

You have improved significantly in XCO racing since 2022. What are your racing objectives going forward?

I just finished my first full season of racing. I’m happy with the improvements I made. Even just the improvement from the first races of the season to the last races. It can take months and years to build a foundation and speed. You have be dominant in your home country to even hope to make an impact in international races, so my goal is to focus on becoming one of the best in South Africa.

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