Charging wildlife isn’t the first thing on a mountain biker’s mind in the heat of a race, but the animals don’t know that.
Evan van der Spuy was racing in the 38 km Time Freight MTB Express mountain bike race at Albert Falls Dam, 20km outside the city of Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa for Team Jeep South Africa over the weekend.
His teammate, Travis Walker, was in third place with a GoPro camera mounted on his bike, and captured this amazing footage below of Evan, who was in second place until this red hartebeest (a member of the antelope family) had something to say about it.
Yes, the hit was as hard as it looks. Evan was stabilized with a neck brace and taken to the hospital for overnight observation. He sustained a minor concussion, whiplash and some bruising on his head where his helmet imploded on impact.
F&S spoke to Evan today to get his take on the events behind this video, which is rapidly going viral.
Evan said he is recovering well, and feels extremely lucky.
“Luckily I walked away with just a bit of whiplash and a concussion, considering what happened,” he says. “I saw the animal moving to cross the road in front of me, but when I saw how close it really was, I was shocked. Then, from the moment it hit me I was unconscious. I actually don’t know what happened from then.”
The first thing Evan says he remembers is the ambulance ride to the hospital.
“I know my teammate helped me to the ambulance, but I don’t recall any of that.”
After he began to recover, he was amazed to see his accident captured by his teammate’s GoPro.
“I was shocked. I was just shell-shocked. A few people had told me what had happened, but I never knew how big it really was. I hadn’t realized how hard I had really been hit and how lucky I really was to just walk away with the injuries I have,” Evan says.
When he saw the state of his helmet after the accident, he felt even luckier.
“My brother actually had a good look at the helmet afterward. The helmet was virtually in half. There were just a few strands holding it together, so the photos don’t actually do it justice. I’m really lucky.”
“I’ve never been close to being hit by an animal at all. Maybe a monkey or something, but nothing as big. You’re always aware of the animals around you. You always watch for anything out of the normal when you’re racing, but this is a freak accident that will never happen again.”
Evan is healing up and hopes to be back on his bike in the next couple of weeks.
In case you were wondering, the animal was totally fine after the collision. It got up and trotted off. According to Max Cluer of Sports Marketing, the event organizer, the animal is part of a small herd of red hartebeest that reside at the Albert Falls Resort and Game Reserve.
A big thanks to Max Cluer of Sports Marketing and Team Jeep South Africa for providing the footage and to Evan van der Spuy for talking to us through a concussion haze. And, of course, to GoPro South Africa, without which we all would not have this awesome clip.