Meet the mountain biker riding 700 kilometres with just 20% vision

 
 
 

The Cape Epic is a gruelling physical challenge. It demands commitment, strength and determination of its participants. The route changes every year, but it’s always harsh. Roughly 700 kilometres of rocky climbs, river crossings, steep descents and gravel roads trouble even the most experienced of mountain bikers. And Gavin Kilpatrick is going to attempt it with only 20% vision.

Kilpatrick was six when he was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. His sight degenerated over the years, leaving Kilpatrick with only his peripheral vision. Tasks such as reading and identifying faces became a daily struggle. But it couldn’t stop Kilpatrick from pursuing his interest in sport. In addition to playing volleyball, golf, and cricket, Kilpatrick also represented South Africa in rowing, and brought home bronze in tandem track cycling at the 2008 Paralympics. He continued to prove a visual impairment is not a limitation for him when he participated in the 2013 Cape Argus Cycle Tour. Guided by a friend riding alongside him, Kilpatrick completed the 109 kilometres around the Cape Peninsula.

Now the athlete wants to take on the mountains. For the Cape Epic, Kilpatrick plans to ride in tandem with cyclist Francois Esterhuizen. “I was in awe of how he was willing to go above and beyond his physical limitations,” Esterhuizen says. Kilpatrick’s enthusiasm and resilience is infectious. “Having met Gavin and the way that he overcomes obstacles despite his disability has inspired me to take on many things,” Esterhuizen says. While sporting challenges are at the centre of Kilpatrick’s goals, what he really wants is to influence how others measure themselves and their capabilities. “I hope to inspire and motivate people,” Kilpatrick says. His adventures are proof that the world is there for us all to experience, if we just dare.