RENOWNED South African motivational speaker and cyclist Hein Wagner will participate in the annual Desert Dash in Namibia on December 14.
The blind athlete said that the FNB Desert Dash – a gruelling cycling 24-hour contest covering 369km – has been on his to-do list for a while and he expects a “special experience” in Namibia on the back of his tandem bicycle.
Wagner, who has been to Namibia on several occasions to deliver motivational speeches, said he had prepared meticulously for the event.
He has participated in numerous sporting events ranging from skydiving to water skiing, iron man competitions, marathons, bungee jumping, yachting and mountain climbing around the globe.
“After completing the 2011 Cape Epic I promised myself that I’ll never get back on to a bicycle ever again. Well, time makes one forget the ‘eina’ and this is my first attempt at a 24-hour cycling event. I’m putting in around 10 hours per week on both the indoor training bike and the mountain bike at this time. I’m preparing for Ironman next year so I believe the additional time running and swimming may also count in my favour for the dash,” Wagner said.
Also an actor and playwright, Wagner is slightly concerned about the time spent out of the saddle.
“Eighteen hours plus on the back of a tandem can get very long and that is my biggest fear at this time. We will take on the race one pedal at a time and I so know it will be awesome.”
Wagner added that as a blind cyclist he has to be focused at all times to follow his pilot’s instructions, especially on a mountain bike and over the kind of terrain they will be cycling during the race.
He will cycle with Koos Diener, who is participating in his third FNB Desert Dash.
According to Wagner, while finishing the race is the main objective, the experience of the landscape is just as appealing.
“I will make sure I focus on his commands and instructions throughout. I will further set up my feeding bag and supplies on the bike for easy access so that I do not have to take my hands off the handlebars for long times as this could negatively affect our balance,” said Wagner.