Cystic Fibrosis Patient Completes Gruelling South Africa Bike Race

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by Charles Moore |

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Jason van’t Slot — a 20-year-old South African — was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and after receiving a prognosis of a 10-year life span at the age of 8 months, celebrated his 20th year of living with CF by cycling the beguiling and grueling ABSA Cape Epic — the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world, also known as as the Tour de France of mountain bicycle racing — on 15 March, 2015. He was supported by his father and manager, Barry van’t Slot, and his close friend and teammate, 24-year-old German elite debut triathlete, Philipp Sassie.

Cystic Fibrosis Cycling RSA was born out of van’t Slot (age 20, cf) and Sassie (age 24) tackling the Absa Cape Epic. Jason says he wanted not only to raise the profile of the disease through his participation in the demanding event, but also hopes to raise funds towards helping The Cape Cystic Fibrosis Association (CCFA) to achieve the goals of early detection of CF in newborns with sweat test units throughout South Africa, and to support the Cystic Fibrosis clinic at the Red Cross Children’s hospital with much-needed equipment as a way of saying “thank you” for the years of great care they have given him. “Their care and many other influences have created this opportunity for me to be the first cyclist who has CF complete the race,” says van’t Slot. CCFA are also trying to build a database that will help identify key factors for research objectives to help cure and/or manage the disease thus increasing the potential lifespan of sufferers which now stands at age 37 with optimal care thanks to greater understanding of the disease and development of better treatments.

SAssiePPhillip Sassie says he entered the the 2015 Absa Cape Epic both in support of his good friend Jason van’t Slot, and because he likes epic events that are a great challenge. “I love nature and competitions and this event is as challenging as it can get for a mountain biker which excites me very much. A few years ago I looked at a book about the Absa Cape Epic and said to my girlfriend that this is an insane event and I would never be able to do this. Now I find myself entered for this insane event. Very exciting.”

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a rare autosomal recessive genetic disorder genetic, life-shortening chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems. In persons with CF, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that causes recurrent life-threatening lung infections and loss of lung function, restricts breathing, obstructs the pancreas which stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food and results in digestive problems.

Born as a twin with sister Carla, he with CF and she without, Jason wants to share his struggles and his triumphs to enhance the lives of others living with cystic fibrosis by serving as a living example that the disease need not be a death sentence, but a challenge to overcome, through positive and rigorous living and the benefits of early detection.

“I wvantslot2as 12 years old when Uncle Koos, gave me his Cape Epic medal in 2007″ in recognition of the challenge he saw that living with cystic fibrosis was for me,” says Jason in a CCFA blog. “Now eight years later, with school behind me, I feel really blessed to be healthy enough , and to have been given this great opportunity to tackle this race myself. Who knows perhaps I will be able to return his medal to him soon…”

The Absa Cape Epic must be completed by both members of a two-person team. The route changes every year, leading aspiring amateur and professional mountain bikers from around the world through roughly 800km of unspoiled scenery and 15,000 meters of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in South Africa.

The Absa Cape Epic is claimed to be the most televised mountain bike stage race in the world and the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catgorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). This official UCI status makes it a highlight on the professional racer’s calendar. The Absa Cape Epic also attracts aspiring amateur riders wanting to test themselves against the best. It is a full-service race, meaning that everything is taken care of from the start – all riders need to think about is riding.

Jason and Philipp both completed the Absa Cape Epic they entered as a team — a truely remarkable achivement for a team member with CF — and achieved the following results:

2015 Team Cystic Fibrosis Cycling (Men), Cat Pos: 196., GC Pos: 376. Their time was 53:02.10, in which they covered 748km (465 miles) and climbed 16,000 meters, posting an average speed of 14.1km/h.

Next year’s 13th edition of the Absa Cape Epic will take place from 13 to 20 March 2016 will be as challenging as ever. Local and international mountain bikers will tackle the demanding eight-day adventure through the Western Cape region in South Africa.

A photo gallery of the 2015 event can be found at:

Absa Cape Epic riders enjoy a rare opportunity to explore some of the most remote and spectacular parts of Cape Town and the Western Cape during the race. For riders and their supporters wishing to experience more of the unrivaled natural beauty this area has on offer the Absa Cape Epic makes for an ideal launchpad. Whether they arrive before the race to familiarise themselves with the climate and terrain, or decide to stay after the event to relax and unwind.


Cape Town, the tourism capital of South Africa, is famous for its incredible beauty, set amongst towering mountains, historic vineyards, turquoise waters and white beaches. The wider Western Cape is picturesque and caters to all travelers, be it five-star luxury or wild adventures they seek. The weather is typically enjoyable over the months of March and April with an average high of 25 degrees Celsius and an average low of 14 degrees Celsius. Rain is unusual but not unheard of.

Cystic Fibrosis Cycling RSA
Cape Cystic Fibrosis Association (CCFA)
Absa Cape Epic
Trail and Tar

Image Credits:
Cystic Fibrosis Cycling RSA
Cape Cystic Fibrosis Association (CCFA)
Absa Cape Epic

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