Reuben Van Niekerk (29) from Centurion, South Africa, looks set to become the first lower-limb amputee to complete the ABSA Cape Epic, the world’s premier mountain bike stage race. Teamed up with Dagmar Muhlbauer (37) from Ballito as team Driepoot Toyota, the pair have successfully complete the first five days well within the cut-off time limits.
Last year, Van Niekerk was eliminated from the race after he and his teammate missed an official stage cut-off. But this year is a different story.
After completing Stage 4 on Thursday, he says: “We’re making cut off every day quite comfortably so we’re very happy with the way things are going. The weather isn’t really helping and making something this hard already, even harder. But we’re still in it and doing way better than last year. If we can get through the next two days I’m confident that we’ll be able to finish the Epic this year.”
Van Niekerk, who is self-employed in the publishing industry, is participating in his second Absa Cape Epic this year. “I’ve had my eye on the Absa Cape Epic for a couple of years. I worked as a volunteer at the race in 2012 in order to secure a spot. Once I confirmed my entry, Toyota came on board with sponsorship and they have once again helped us in 2014.”
Van Niekerk, a below knee amputee, says it takes a combination of things to successfully complete the event. “You need to be prepared to spend long days in the saddle for consecutive days. You also need to prepare for every eventuality in terms of your equipment and you need a partner who understands you and your abilities. And you have to have a sense of humour!”
He feels that the route this year is “epic” and that it has “everything from river crossings to rocky climbs, and spectacular single track descents”.
“The ABSA Cape Epic is the world’s premier mountain bike stage race and after setting myself the goal to be the first lower limb amputee to complete this race, I have really focused on achieving this goal.
“After falling out after missing the maximum stage time last year, I just knew that I had to come back this year and finish what I’d started. Riding around the Western Cape is also spectacular and doing a race like this takes you to places that you’d never be able to see by any other means but on a mountain bike,” he said.
Source: Purple Pine PR