it’s been five years since you left us so suddenly. we still think about you often. each time we talk about you, we feel a hollowness in our stomachs because you should still be here. you lost your life because another person acted irresponsibly and broke the law.
what a senseless loss. so avoidable. if we feel like this, we cannot imagine what your family members feel every single day.
compiled by Sean Badenhorst
we still went to the northern berg the day after you died. it felt so surreal being there without you and cherise. we never did get to ride those amazing mountain trails with you; never did get to shoot some cool pics for our tread photo library as planned.
we do return there every year and we do think about you when we’re in those majestic mountains.
we never went to your funeral. we didn’t feel we were emotionally strong enough to handle it. it’s selfish, yes, but man you left a huge void. probably bigger than you can imagine. not just in our world, but in the world.
you were a hero to many, young and old. you were an inspiration. you still are an inspiration. cameron wright, one of your young fans from your home province of kwazulu-natal won the junior men’s xc world championship title last year. he uses the #iride4burry hashtag all the time in social media his posts. you’d be proud of him, even though he races for australia now. your nephew, logan, is inspired by you. he’s racing regularly – and standing on podiums at such a young age. you’d be so proud of him too.
we went to visit your mom and dad a few months ago. they miss you so much man! you were such a big part of their lives. we don’t know how they muster up the strength to get through each day. they have made sure you are never far from them though. your grave is at their house. well, it’s not just an ordinary grave, burry, it’s a flippen shrine! it’s truly magnificent and they make sure it always looks good and ready for anyone that comes to the burry stander bike park for a ride or a coffee or a steri stumpie chocolate milkshake.
oh, every year on the anniversary of your departure and on your birthday, thousands of south african cyclists drink a chocolate steri stumpie in remembrance of you.
but we digress, back to our visit with your mom and dad. we spent a whole morning there and it was so good to hear your mom and dad tell stories about you and how you were so determined to become a successful bicycle racer from a very young age.
your parents told us a lot of things we didn’t know about you – stories about your formative years. wow, you were always up against big odds man! but you never, ever let that get you down.
we rode a lap of your bike park, specifically on your XC training route. holy cow! no wonder you became such a powerful, skilled racer! that’s a tough course burry! respect for spending hours and hours on it honing your ability as a youngster. very few strong men could ride one lap of that entire course, never mind repeatedly as you did as a youngster!
your mom does a lot for cycling development among the underprivileged kids in the area. what an amazing woman! but she gets very little support. we can see where you got your determination from. your dad still rides and races. he had a bad fall a couple of years ago. really bad! but somehow, he fought his way back to ride and race again. we can see where you got your grit from.
your brothers, charl and duane, are still running the bike shop businesses you started. they run them with such pride. some things have changed in the cycling industry since you were here, but your family’s commitment to honouring you has never faltered. you would be so proud of them.
cherise struggled for a long time after you left, burry. losing a husband at such a young age isn’t something you just take in your stride. but she’s doing better now. she has moved on with her life and now has a new family, but she never ever lets anyone forget about you and the incredible athlete and man you were.
nino has missed you too. he’s only really had jaroslav and julien to battle and to be honest, there are some races where he seems to soft-pedal until it’s time to make his winning move. he’s worked those guys out so well; but he was never really able to work you out with any consistency. xc racing misses you bru! you always added something extra and made the podium battle more exciting, especially for us south africans.
nino actually won the cape epic last year! we were a bit surprised too, but he did deserve it. christoph came out of ‘retirement’ to give it one last bash with jarolsav and they ended up second, forcing nino and his young teammate matthias to really work for their victory. if christoph and jaroslav hadn’t had tyre issues…
the cape epic, now that’s a race that’s paid great homage to you. and rightfully so. you’re still the only south african to have won it and the organisers have made sure your legacy lives on, including the addition of the burry stander trophy for the first african team each year.
nino recently became the patron of the burry stander foundation, which was formed to raise awareness of cyclists on our roads after you lost your life. the foundation hasn’t been run very consistently, but it’s there and with nino’s backing we’re sure it’s going to have a higher profile and greater impact.
the guy that killed you, he eventually got a prison sentence. it wasn’t nearly a long enough sentence, but it did create a precedent and hopefully motorists in south africa will become more aware of the consequences of injuring or killing a cyclist as a result. we can only hope…
each year on 3 january, the anniversary of your death, south african cyclists do #iride4burry memorial rides. they were initially huge, but have dwindled in numbers over the years. of course your real fans and friends and family will never, ever let the 3rd of january pass by without a pedal in your memory. and will never, ever forget you and the very full short 25 years you were here.
today, on the fifth anniversary of your departure, we’ll ride for you and all the other cyclists that have lost their lives on our roads. and we’ll raise a toast to your memory with chocolate steri stumpies. and, as you may have noticed, we wrote this without any capital letters, because that’s what you would have done.
five years ago you left us, burry, but you’ll always live on in our hearts… #weride4burry
the tread team (sean, joanne and dino)
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