Blind adventurer Hein Wagner to take on epic race with Pragmas Gerrie Olivier as pilot

August 31, 2012

Blind adventurer and motivational speaker Hein Wagner will take on next
year’s Absa Cape Epic with experienced cyclist Gerrie Olivier as Team
Pragma Beyond Vision. It will be the first time in history that a blind
person participates in this extreme endurance event.

Gerrie 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.

Says Olivier: “I’m a keen cyclist but due to my work commitments, I
don’t ride to win but rather to enjoy it and keep fit. This will be a
brand new challenge for me, something that I thrive on, and it’s heart
warming that we’ll be doing it for a good cause, raising funds in the
process.”

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 will
definitely be the most physically challenging event I’ve take on to
date. Eight hundred kilometres over 8 days will not be easy, especially
not over the kind of terrain that even sighted cyclists struggle with.”

However, he has total confidence in his pilot. “Gerrie is an
experienced, skilled and sometimes daring cyclist. A specially adapted
Cannondale mountain bike tandem, better known as ‘Worshond’ will be put
through its paces and in preparation, we recently completed the Karoo to
Coast, a 100km mountain bike race. Although all went well and we
finished in good time (5h25min), we both agree there are still lots to
be done.”

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.” Those interested can sponsor Wagner and Olivier per
kilometre or simply make a one-off donation.

During the next seven months, Team Pragma’s training routine will
combine indoor and off-road saddle time. Says Olivier: “Computerised
indoor trainers will allow us to synchronise our remote daily training
via the internet whilst simulating the same routes and difficulty levels
and comparing our heart rates. The off-road training will entail a mix
of flat dirt roads for us to gel as racing team as well as ‘dungeon
explorations’ to master the technical challenges along the route. One of
the challenges we face as a team is to get hold of an audible Polar
heart monitor that can keep Hein posted on his heart condition.”

Besides Pragma’s two teams riding next year’s Absa Cape Epic, the
company is also responsible for two of the most important services
during the gruelling event namely the on route pro- and amateur tech
zones and daily bike wash. This includes receiving the bikes on the
finish line and securely placing them in the bike park. Says Olivier:
“This is a natural fit as our company specialises in providing physical
asset management improvement services and products to our clients around
the globe. We’re perfectly positioned to do the same for the 1 200
cyclists participating, ensuring that their bikes are clean in support
of getting them in a perfect working condition to take on the next stage
of the demanding 800 km.”

For frequent updates on their training progress and funds raised, follow
their official Facebook page – Beyond Vision Mission. You can also
follow the team’s preparation on Pragma’s website, YouTube and in the
media.

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