THE Titan Desert 2021 is a hugely demanding cycle race taking place in the mountains of Morocco from May 23 to 28.
Covering a distance of more than 640 kilometres over six days, and with a gradient of nearly 8,000 metres, the tough desert trial is known as the ‘Bicycle Dakar’ for a reason.
Javier Vaquero is a totally blind sports enthusiast from Xativa (inland Valencia Province), who plans to enter this year’s race on a tandem bicycle piloted by his nephew Jose Manuel in the front seat.
Javier, 46, is a former professional swimmer who reached the finals of the Paralympic Games in Barcelona 1992, as well as winning the British championships and the Spanish national tournament on several occasions, among other feats.
He has yet another connection to Britain, as his 15-year-old son is a student at the British School Xativa.
But one day he decided to switch the pool for the saddle, after he became ‘burnt out with swimming, and cycling has always been my favourite sport’, Javier told the Olive Press.
And now, after years of amateur training, he faces his greatest challenge yet on two wheels.
Despite the hardships inherent in the Titan Desert race, including extreme weather and terrain conditions, uncle and nephew – who is also a keen cyclist – are raring to go.
“We are very excited about the race, but we are realistic and have a great respect for the trial; it is an extremely trying event, and you never know what might happen,” says Javier.
He states that his aim is to complete the race, irrespective of position, as well as proving that where there is a will, there is a way.
“Everyday life for people with disabilities becomes a trial as soon as you leave the front door,” Javier told the Olive Press.
“Architectural and social barriers, crossing a busy road… I have given talks in schools and public institutions, and it is very inspiring for people to see how motivated and joyful you are despite your disability.”
However, Javier and Jose Manuel are facing a tricky obstacle even before they get to Morocco.
They need €11,000 in funding to cover all the various costs involved in enrolment, such as inscriptions, transport, accommodation, and materials including two tandems and one support bike.
He has already secured the backing of several businesses and local authorities such as the British School – which also has centres in Alzira and Gandia – Xativa council and the provincial government of his native Zamora (Castilla y León), as well as firms such as SoloPizza Xativa, Mister Biker, Opticas ClaraVision, Moralejo Seleccion, IGP Ternera de Aliste and Totum Sport.
Although he is partly there, having secured €5,000 of the necessary €11,000, Javier needs more help to realise his dream. He has set up several sponsorship deals offering advertising and visibility for companies.
For more information on sponsorship, you can contact Javier Vaquero directly on 656 330 121, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow his progress, check out javier.vaquero74 (Instagram) or Javier Vaquero (Facebook).