As multi-faceted as a cyclocross, Chris leans against the counter at the Bike Barn, laid-back and as humble as they come. And yet get him talking about the Bike Park, or cycling in general, and you’ll see a different animal emerge entirely… focused, zealous and full of vision for the future.
Former SA BMX Champion, SA Cross-Country Champion, SA Downhill Champion and Downhill World Champion, designing and overseeing the Bike Park at Uitsig has opened up a field of dreams for Chris, who is passionate about honing and developing the skills required to take SA’s cycling to the next level.
Julie: What are you most excited about regarding the Bike Park?
Chris: Well, it’s basically a dream come true for me. From 16 years of age, while riding my BMX, I dreamt of creating a space like this. I get to witness cyclists improving hourly… I watch them arrive, and then leave an hour or two later, completely different people, with different personalities even! You just can’t beat that feeling.
J: Tell me about your most memorable moment at the Bike Park.
C: There have been loads… so many. I hadn’t realized how many autistic people love cycling. One of the kids wouldn’t talk to us or let us touch his bike when he first came. Since then, we’ve earned his trust and watched his cycling improve too. Cycling is something that bridges the gap – allowing us to relate and connect across so many different spaces.
J: Who is the Bike Park intended for?
C: Anyone of any skill level or age. Neil Bramwell, one of only seven cyclists to have ridden in every Cape Argus Cycle Tour (more than 36 in total), rides here with his grandchildren – everyone can have fun here.
J: What is your hope for SA cycling?
C: I hope that more and more Bike Parks are built all over the country. They’re simply the best thing ever – for kids in particular, and for skills development in a safe, controlled environment.
J: The next step for the Bike Park?
C: Well, we’re going to be starting a club soon, and our coaching sessions and outrides for kids have started already. We’re still building new tracks, and plan on completing a dual slalom course in the future – allowing you to race against your friends. We’d also like to create something special for smaller kids on push bikes. After that – who knows? We’re not afraid to grow and evolve all the time – we’ll always be changing things, keeping the tracks but changing up the obstacles.
J: Chris, does anything ever really get to you? Any pet hates?
C: Not really – I’m a fairly relaxed guy. I don’t like sitting in traffic I suppose…