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Soil searching and global MTB trail building with Fanie Kok

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Despite a global travel and trail building schedule, Fanie Kok loves coming home to Africa, to ride. (Photo: @andrewbrown)
Despite a global travel and trail building schedule, Fanie Kok loves coming home to Africa, to ride. (Photo: @andrewbrown)

Nothing gets a mountain biker's stoke going quicker than a sculpted, well-built piece of trail. 

But how many of us take the time to consider how much blood and sweat it took to transform raw earth into amazing singletrack?

Fanie Kok did, and then he made it his mission to ensure that these hard-working people, the trail builders, get the recognition they deserve.

Kok was raised in what he describes as conservative Pretoria and participated in regular school sports. His dad often took him riding out in the east, and one day, some friends invited him to a cross-country race at Fountains Valley. On his dad's bike, Fanie discovered he had a natural talent for riding bikes and was hooked

Kok rode cross-country for a couple of years and amazingly made the switch downhill. There was no such thing as trail riding back then.

"I think I liked riding as a lifestyle more than racing and worked at a few local bike shops to pay for my hobby, says Kok, who now heads up Specialized's Soil Searching programme on a global level.

Kok went on a gap year to Mozambique, but he had to sell his bike to fund that experience. When he returned home, Kok realised that he needed to make a plan to get a bike, as he missed riding.

Kok took a chance and called the Specialized head office, in Johannesburg at the time, asking if they had a job for him that included a staff bike.

Amazingly, he got the job and started doing random admin duties like inventory checks and cleaning the warehouse. A few months later was promoted to driver of the Specialised events trailer that took demo bikes all around the country.

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