Specialized Bicycle’s Soil Searching programme is a movement to recognise and support the trail builders who help shape our sport and ensure our stoke. Since 2018, it has provided financial, organisational and outreach support for trail systems around the world. In 2021 two songo.info graduates were funded by Soil Searching as they embarked on internship programmes with two of South Africa’s top trail builders. Now Specialized Bicycles have donated two limited edition mountain bikes, which songo.info are auctioning, to continue to fund the charity’s graduates in the next phase of the trail building internship programme.
The first chapter in songo.info’s Soil Searching journey was undertaken by Sipho ‘Morgan’ Futhela. In early 2021 he joined, Stellenbosch trail builder and Soil Searching ambassador, Bennet Nel and his company Ace of Spades. A few months later Aphiwe Ginyayo began work with seven-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz, of Stoltz Trails.
What followed was a true apprenticeship. Futhela and Ginyayo learned everything from trail design to technical trail sculpting practices. They even got to grips with the admin side of the businesses. Once their internships with Ace of Spades and Stoltz Trails were completed the pair were employed full-time by the Winelands Cycling Club as trail rangers. Their jobs are not only to maintain a designated section of the vast trail network, but also to serve as marshals to prevent rogue riding and help ensure the safety of the trail users.
With their success to build upon, and thanks to the continued generosity of Specialized Bicycles, songo.info is hosting an online auction to fund the next phase of the Soil Searching internship programme. Specialized South Africa have donated two custom, Soil Searching limited edition, mountain bikes to the cause which members of the public can bid on. The first is a Specialized Turbo Levo Soil Searching LTD, featuring a Specialized Turbo Full Power System 2.2 Motor and a 700Wh integrated battery. The second is a Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Soil Searching LTD, with 150-millimetres of trail devouring rear travel paired with a plush 160mm Rockshox Lyric Select Plus fork.
These unique bikes will not only provide the winning bidders with years of trail shredding pleasure but will also contribute to the funding of songo.info’s graduate programme. “Employment opportunities are limited to the vast majority of the children who grow up in Kayamandi,” emphasised, songo.info Programme Manager, Sipho Madolo. “We do what we can to find internships or help our graduates obtain bursaries to further their education. The Specialized Soil Searching programme and the trail building internships which Morgan and Aphiwe served are excellent practical means of achieving these goals. It’s been fantastic to see not only their development as trail builders, but also their personal development over the last two years. Aphiwe has obtained his driver’s licence and Conrad taught him how to operate a digger, while Morgan has improved his people skills tremendously, from being an exceptionally shy teenager to a vastly more confident young man.”
“There are already a group of boys in the songo programme who I’d love to see follow in their footsteps,” Madolo continued. “We do regular maintenance on our BMX track at the clubhouse and there are a handful of the guys who have a love for that building and who show a clear aptitude. The money raised by this auction will go to paying them a salary while they learn their trade from Bennet, Conrad and maybe a few of the other Winelands Trail builders.”
To place a bid in the songo.info Soil Searching auction please visit www.songo.info/auction. From there bidders can click through to the individual bikes to view the full build specifications and place a bid. The auction closes on Youth Day, Friday 16 June 2023, at 17:00 (CAT).