On a bike and a prayer: A blind man’s mission to break his limits
Jacob Kruger lost his wife and his eyesight in a bike accident, but that hasn’t stopped his passion for life
“There are no limits other than those you apply to yourself.”
These are the words of Jacob Kruger, 46, who lost his wife and his eyesight in a bike accident in November 2005. But one of first things he did after he had recovered from the accident was to start doing research on the Internet on “blind bikers”.
He came across a man named Billy Baxter, who in 2003 set the blind world land speed record on a motorbike. Kruger, a self-taught web application developer who has always had a passion for motorcycles and computers, there and then decided to take his destiny in his own hands.
Despite the huge loss of his wife and the damage to his optic nerves that left him 100% blind, he made a choice not to feel sorry for himself.Earlier this month Kruger made history in the South African biking world by riding five full laps in the space of an hour at the Red Star Raceway in Delmas, Mpumalanga.
It had literally been a long road for him since the devastating 2005 accident, after which he had to learn not only to live as a blind person but also to cope with how others perceived him. “I was annoyed, irritated, cross and hated people’s assumptions,” he told Times Select.But 12 years later Kruger would smash stereotypes by driving a motorcycle with the help of Ian Howard, a motorcyclist who drove behind him and guided him through the ride with his voice.
Kruger’s mission was to ride a full lap without stopping. He ended up doing five laps on a sponsored Suzuki SV 650 last weekend.
“It was a dream come true,” said Kruger. “Reaching the finishing line felt really good. I was really determined. I knew there would be a lot of people at the event but I told myself that I was not going to put myself under pressure because I was doing this for myself.”Howard told Times Select he met Kruger about eight years ago and the two became friends, which made it easy for him to agree to help him achieve his dream.
“When he first approached me, I thought: ‘Let me just do it’,” said Howard. He said it was “an absolutely rewarding experience” and that Kruger was remarkably relaxed about riding the bike.
The event enabled Kruger to raise a significant amount of cash that he donated to the charities Action for Blind and Disabled Children and the SA Guide Dogs Association. The latter reminded him of his wife, who was an animal lover. After her death, he donated money allocated to pay for her funeral to the SPCA.
“It took me a while to deal with her death,” said Kruger. “But I figured there was no point in moping and decided to pursue the things I enjoyed doing: computers, riding and cooking.”