A man with a mountain to ride

2013-08-20 00:00

AN Amanzimtoti man thought his sporting days were over after losing a leg in a car accident on the Angolan border during his national service in 1985.

But today Danie Beyleveld (46) is celebrating his third year as a mountain bike cyclist, after his right leg was amputated below the knee, and he was fitted with a prosthetic.

He is currently training for a 45 km half- marathon on September 14, which also happens to be his birthday, from Cato Ridge Golf Club to the Polo Club at Hillcrest. His advice to those with physical challenges is: “Even if you’re missing a limb, you can still do it!

“There are many cyclists disabled like myself and worse off, who are doing exceptionally well in the sport and hopefully one day I can improve enough to compete against them on an equal basis.”

His main challenge right now is to strengthen the muscles in his legs.

Beyleveld, who said he was very active at school, was shattered when his lost his limb.

“From being fit and very active, I had gone to wheelchair-bound and ready to be muzzled for life. These were my first observations after the amputation. My left ankle joint was also badly damaged and had to be fused, hence no movement there,” he said.

The challenge with losing a limb is that the brain does not automatically adjust to the lifestyle, and the desires of the heart do not automatically tone down, if ever, he explained.

Beyleveld’s love for sport was rekindled during a conversation with a colleague, who asked him if he would be interested in off-road cycling about three years ago.

The father of two, who works for an IT company, said he had never considered mountain biking, but admits that it sounded appealing.

Up to then, the last time he had been on a bicycle was in 1983. He did not own a bike, and so his colleague lent him his.

He has been hooked ever since and has fallen in love with the sport. He had tried swimming and skiing, “but was never good at it”.

In June 2011, he entered the Scottburgh 10 km fun ride, something he now describes as the best thing he could have done.

He told The Witness that the mountain biking fraternity is very supportive.

“I don’t like to put myself out there. How­ever, the people are very accommodating and do not treat me any differently.”

Beyleveld’s wife Chareen has now also joined her husband on the mountain bike circuit.

“Even if you don’t want to do competition, it’s a sport that you can do with your family,” he said.

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