GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Stephen Drew (60) from Knysna will attempt to become the first mountain bike racer in South Africa with an above the-knee amputation. He was a mountain bike rider on the world stage before he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in 2016.
This almost brought his career to a complete stop - but he gathered courage after his loss and got back on the bike. He was already practising again five weeks after his loss, even before his prosthesis was fitted.
Fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge, Drew will attempt a long-distance mountain bike race. Of all the events he could have chosen, he set his sights on the 36ONE MTB Challenge - a 361km challenge in the Klein Karoo with a 36,1 hour time limit.
The popular event, described as the "ultimate race", captures the hearts of adventure-seekers and tests the endurance of every man and his machine.
"As far as my research goes, there are no above-knee amputees doing mountain bike races in this country and certainly none that have attempted this kind of distance. We are breaking uncharted territory!" said Drew.
"This race is not about finishing and being a hero, it's about exploring the world of cycling as an above-knee amputee. I have just been fitted with a left and right power meter, because it's believed that you can only get 10 to 15% power out of the prosthetic side. We're using this race to evaluate that and believe that we can improve. Ultimately my objective is to get other amputees on their bikes - not necessarily to race but to be able to have a better quality of life."
As a familiar face on South Africa's mountain biking scene, Drew has an army of supporters behind him.
Henco Rademeyer, director of Dryland Event Management, the organisers of 36ONE, has watched Drew conquer mountain bike races for years. "Stephen is a rider of great resilience, one that embodies everything that 36ONE is all about," he said.
"It's an absolute honour to have him attempt something of this magnitude at one of our events. With his truly admirable sense of grit and determination, we believe that he can achieve everything he sets his mind to!"
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