Black Mamba is one of the oldest trails at 3Rivers and one of its most well-known, having held a National XC race a few years ago.
The trail snakes it’s way through a combination of wattle and indigenous forest and while being one of the shortest trails, is probably one of toughest. This is because there is virtually no level sections of trail for the rider to have a rest on and its descents are short, yet technical and usually followed by a short, sharp climb straight afterwards.
The trails opens up with a shallow descent with sweeping turns which ends with a small rollable drop, followed by a steep rooty climb – a signature feature on the Black Mamba. The trail then continues upward taking the rider up some short, sharp turns laden with roots looking to halt a tired rider in their tracks. After the climb is one of the few flat sections on the trail giving the rider a few seconds to catch their breath before another root infested descent with some loose rocks, sandy corners and ruts thrown in for good measure. After the descent its straight into another steep, rooty climb up to oak tree drop – named so because of the giant oak tree which towers over the forest – it is not a bad idea to stop here for a few minutes and admire the tree’s magnificence. The drop gives the riders some line choices with a steeper, faster line to the left or a flatter line to right over some roots. Holding speed here is key for the getting over the routes which lay in wait on the uphill right after the drop. With that negotiated, the trail then continues its journey through indigenous forest with another steep and (yes, you guessed it) rooty climb up to fence-line decent which ends in sandy corner ready to swallow anyone who enters over zealous. From here, one more climb lies in the path of the rider – steep and rooty once again – after which the trail mellows out for a few hundred before joining backup with the Yellow Monkey.
Black Mamba is one of those trails which you might not enjoy first time because it takes a bit of time to figure out but, guaranteed if you put the time in, this trail will be one of your favourites. It is also a great option on a windy day as the valleys and forests the trail meander through shelter it in all directions from the ever-present Port Elizabeth wind.