Story & Pictures by Andrea Abbott & Tyron Mackenzie
Gabi Ngcobo had finished school and was sitting at home in the rural Valley of a Thousand Hills outside Durban wondering what he was going to do with his life. “There were just no jobs.”
As he pondered his rather bleak future, he noticed a stranger passing by. “I decided to approach him to see if he could give me a job.”
The stranger was Ian Wilson, a MTB trail expert who was building bike trails in the region in preparation for the S.A MTB Championships in 2011.
“Ian offered me a job making the trails,” says Gabi. “From that I started to get interested in riding and after a year, Ian got me onto a bike and taught me to ride.”
Gabi proved to be a talented rider and soon found employment with the Durban Green Corridors (DGC) project as a highly regarded MTB and cultural tour guide at the DGC’s eNanda Adventures site next to the Inanda Dam.
Fast forward to today and Gabi still works for DGC in a guiding capacity, but has added a stellar new role to his CV – head coach at the various bike parks operated by the Durban Cycle Academy, a programme dedicated to developing a cycling culture in the greater Durban region.
“Since the day I met Ian, there have been so many firsts and highlights in my life,” he says. First job; first time on a bike; first bike race; promotion to head coach in the Academy; and first trip to Cape Town last November to compete in the Wine to Wales race. “That was my first time on a plane! I never thought that riding my bike would take me this far.”