Disabled biker notches up Dakar Rally success
A DECADE ago, Joey Evans was rendered paraplegic after a race accident, but at the weekend he defied the odds when he completed the 2017 Dakar Rally in Argentina.
Evans, from Gauteng, was the only South African on two wheels left in the race and finished 93rd overall.
He had broken his T8 and T9 vertebrae and crushed his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed from below the chest down, when competing in the Heidelberg Hare Scramble in 2007.
His daughter Jenna Evans posted a message to her father after he completed the rally at his first attempt.
“From being left a paraplegic, to praying and being able to learn to walk again. Then you started riding again one lap at a time, with your friends helping you on and off the bike, to racing again and finishing races.”
She added that her father had been involved in another race accident when he collided with a cow, and was back in hospital for physiotherapy.
“You then started having your dream play in your mind over and over… your dream to do the Dakar. And so you planned and decided you would do it. You fund-raised, you lost weight, you worked your “Joey magic” and got all the help you needed and more with all the support of all your friends, family and even people you don’t know!
“Your story is now known all over and is inspiring people daily. I am so proud of you, dad.”
ZA Bikers editor Simon Morton and other biking enthusiasts met Evans last year and assisted him with fund-raising to get him to Dakar. Morton said that after meeting him, they all came away as “firm Joey fans”.
“His incredible courage and absolute humility shone through as he shared his story. We felt that if sheer guts could get Joey to the finish at Dakar, he was in it with a serious chance. What we, and no one else for that matter, could ever imagine was how Joey could achieve his dream.”
The gruelling race saw riders being on the road for up to 21 hours a day, and Evans rode the better part of the Dakar with a torn ligament in his knee.
Morton said they were amazed at how persistent Evans was, saying: “No matter what the race threw at him, be it mud, sand, heat, cold, altitude or whatever, he simply sucked it up and soldiered on. Those of us following his progress were astounded by his resilience as he battled impossible challenges and overcame them.”
MIRACULOUS: Paraplegic Joey Evans achieved the impossible, many thought, of achieving his dream by finishing the 2017 Dakar Rally in Argentina.