Brendan Snyman rode the 2014 ABSA Cape Epic to raise funds for the J9 Foundation, Joost van der Westhuizen’s charity which supports people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Motor Neuron Disease). Here’s his Epic tale:
The ABSA Cape Epic… it’s very tough to even start explaining my feelings towards this formidable mountain bike race. I only now, a couple of weeks later, understand that I have been so privileged just taking part in an Epic, never mind completing it. Riding through the Western Cape, over eight days… I would have to say it’s an awe-inspiring, majestical, experience.
Once the decision had been made to take part in the Epic and an entry has been confirmed, your journey, begins! Your journey is not only with your riding partner, but everybody in your life – everybody who cares about you and who shares a common interest in helping you achieve your Epic goal. Without these people, it would not be possible to take on the Epic, even if your physical preparation is in order. It would be a lonely experience without the people in your life who supported you; from the day you made that choice to put your body and mind through the taxing and relentless training, to the day you cross the finish line at Lourensford. It would also not be as rewarding, having to rely on the support of family and friends to overcome the combined mental and physical effort.
The support of my friends and family ultimately and undoubtedly, carried me you through the Epic and over the finish line of the final day!
The ABSA Cape Epic lives up to its name… The word “EPIC” conjures up images of the heroes of ancient legends; battling for years to return home, facing mythical beasts and innumerable human foes. As a first time rider and finisher the Epic for me was more than the sum of its parts. It’s more than the torturous climbing. It’s more than the tricky descents. It’s definitely more than the riders with all the fancy gear, bedecked in Lycra in the campsites… It’s made me love mountain biking more because of the epic adventure it provided.
But what the Epic boils down to most, is a test of your mental strength, then stamina, team work and sharing a common purpose. A purpose to prove to yourself that there are no limitations, and nothing is impossible as long as you are prepared to push through anything and endure the aches and pains, the Rusty Gates and Groenland passes… The Epic has the potential to be one of the ultimate achievements in your lifetime. It does not matter who you are, where you are from, what ethnic group you belong to, how much money you have in the bank; on this race track you are all the
same… and the medals at the finish line are all the same too (but only those crossing with their partners will be rewarded).
Some say golf is the great leveller. Who am I to disagree? All I can say that the Epic is not only a leveller, but it also a humblelizer.
To The ABSA Cape Epic: I thank you. You have shown me spectacular beauty I did not know existed in this stunning country. I thank you for teaching me the true meaning of team work and camaraderie. I thank you for teaching me that pain is only temporary and that through perseverance, anything is possible. Most of all… I thank you for bringing me closer, to all that matters!
It has been emotional!
The ABSA Cape Epic…. “I SALUTE YOU”!
The J9 Foundation was formed by the rugby legend, Joost van der Westhuizen in aid of those suffering from the same form of fatal illness that he was diagnosed with early 2011, Motor Neuron Disease.
Joost has created a platform through this foundation to allow people, companies and friends to support the quality of life programs available within this organisation.
The J9 Foundation fosters intimate dialogues with those living with ALS, their families and caregivers. Our approach draws from our hands-on experience, as we continually strive to understand the overwhelming dynamics that ALS families endure. We welcome all of your questions and requests…
Find out more about the J9 Foundation at www.joost.co.za.
At 33 years of age, after traveling the world I decided to come home and with a good friend of mine, Dirk Kotze, and do something adventurous. The ultimate goal he had in mind was the ABSA Cape Epic. Been an adventurous, spontaneous and dedicated person… I took on the challenge.