Blind athlete rides Cape Epic
Tulbagh - Blind adventurer and motivational speaker Hein Wagner completed Stage 2 in this year’s Absa Cape Epic with experienced cyclist Gerrie Olivier (Team Pragma Beyond Vision).
It is the first time in its history that a blind rider participates in this extreme endurance event.
Commenting on the day’s race after they crossed the finish line of Stage 2 in 08:23;42 (overall time of 17:43;20), Wagner said:
“Today’s stage had a couple of downhills, but we started with a mountain which we literally had to climb as it was just too difficult to ride. And then we had to cross that again on the way back. We made up a little bit of time on the downhills and the flat areas, but it was a long day. Gerrie had lots of responsibility today. That downhill was really, really scary. It was exceptionally high, exceptionally dangerous. So all in all it was a rough day.”
Olivier added: “I don’t know what you can call the key ingredient for a day like today, but I can say one thing - you need stamina, stamina and more stamina, because without it there is just no way that you would be able to do a stage like this. It was tough; we had to work very hard and I was very scared when we went up the mountain on the ox wagon trail and coming down too, but we managed to ride most of it (down) and we made up some good time.”
Olivier, Managing Director of Pragma Acuity and four-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, has invited Hein Wagner to be his partner.
They met each other at the 2010 PAMTL (Physical Asset Management Thought Leadership) Conference, found common adventure ground and agreed to tackle the Absa Cape Epic on a tandem mountain bike with the goal to comfortably complete each day.
The team won the coveted Frank van der Velde Cup for the first blind rider to cross the finish line at this year’s Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour in Cape Town.
The team also took on the tough Ironman 70.3 (also known as the half Ironman) in East London in preparation of this year’s Absa Cape Epic, finishing the race impressively in a time of six hours and twenty seven minutes.
Wagner has set aside the fact that he has been totally blind from birth to live a fulfilling and abundant life and never hesitates or stands back for any challenge.
“I’ve taken on many daring adventures such as mountain climbing, sailing from Cape Town to Rio, running several marathons and becoming the fastest blind driver in the world (he holds the World Land Speed record for a blind driver), but this is definitely the most physically challenging event I’ve taken on to date.”
Wagner started the VisionTrust, the beneficiary of their participation, three years ago. “The main aim of the trust is to make the world a more accessible place for persons living with disabilities.
For example, in order for a blind person to work a standard computer, he requires specially adapted screen reading software.
This software could cost anything between R10 000 and R15000 and could be the only obstacle for a blind person to land a meaningful job.
The VisionTrust provides blind and other disabled persons with free access to these and similar essential aids.”