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'Watch the buck': South African mountain biker video goes viral

October 12, 2011 |  8:11 am

 "Crazy footage. Only in Africa," blares the heading on the YouTube footage of a young South African mountain biker that went viral this week.

For biker Evan van der Spuy, 17, last Sunday began with a mountain bike race across South Africa's golden bushland, near Albert Falls Dam, north of Pietermaritzberg.

"Watch the buck," warns Van der Spuy to his teammate, Travis Walker, pointing to the right.

Then, in a moment that attracted more than 5.7 million YouTube views this week, a red hartebeest (a large kind of antelope) gallops from the right, smashes into him and topples him to the ground.

The buck's hoof struck the biker's head, breaking his helmet. Walker, filming the whole thing on a handlebar cam, shouts "Whoa, holy cow! Are you OK dude?"

Van der Spuy lies groaning and crying, but later gets to his feet and displays his badly damaged bike helmet. He sprained his neck but was not seriously injured.

Van der Spuy, later nicknamed "Buck Norris" on the Internet,  won a youth cross-country bike championship in South Africa last year. Footage of the weekend incident was posted Monday.

After his story ricocheted around the Internet, a sporting group has promised to buy him a new bike.

"It was a freak accident. I knew the buck had rushed up to me, but I can't remember what happened after that,” Van der Spuy told Beeld newspaper. 

Van der Spuy is a member of Team Jeep South Africa, a sports squad based in Pietermaritzburg. Two days after the accident he tweeted "I didn't think I'd ever be this famous." In another tweet, he joked that his team leader should warn riders about antelopes and not just rhinos.

Team Jeep aired a breathless interview with Van der Spuy about what it felt like, being rammed by a galloping buck.

Well, it hurt...

What was the first thought that went through your mind when the buck hit you? 

"I didn't have any thoughts, I was knocked unconscious.... When I woke up I couldn't remember what had happened" 

 Looking at the footage, it seems like you sped up once you pointed at it – why didn’t you stop?

"Often buck run in front of you when you are doing trail rides.  One buck had already run past me and I could see the other on my right. I didn't realize how fast it was running at me and that we would end up colliding." 

 Did you see the buck coming straight at you? What was your first reaction?

"I saw it when it was about a meter or two away and started to brake, but at that point there was nothing I could do."

Has this experience changed your views on trail riding? Will you be more cautious when riding in the bush? 

"There is nothing I could've done to prepare for it. So it hasn't changed my views on trail riding. I will be back on my bike in a couple of weeks." 

 Looking back on it, what are the first thoughts to come to your mind?  

“I’m overwhelmed! When I got to school this morning I didn’t realize there would be that much hype around it."


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Video: This video of Evan van der Spuy, taken by his teammate Travis Walker, went viral with more than 5.7 million views after it was uploaded on YouTube on Monday. Credit: Travis Walker / YouTube