Pleasures of the finish line

2017-12-12 10:28
Jeannie Dreyer and her husband Martin after riding to the top of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — one of many extreme achievements.

Jeannie Dreyer and her husband Martin after riding to the top of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — one of many extreme achievements. (GamePlan)

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Mountain biker and super athlete Jeannie Dreyer believes the sport has grown quickly since she started taking part in it many years ago, but the fact that it’s expensive to keep up doesn’t make it easy for some enthusiasts to get their wheels turning.

The Pietermaritzburg-based endurance athlete is one of the most respected MTB personalities in the country because of her achievements in the sport.

On Saturday, Dreyer rode for 340 km in the Ubhejane Xtreme MTB from Hillcrest to Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve, which was to help the fight against rhino poaching.

And that came just a week after she took part in a gruelling race called The Munga, which is  “a 1 000-kilometre rush from Bloemfontein to Wellington in the middle of the South African summer”.

She is married to the seven-time winner of the Dusi Canoe Marathon Martin Dreyer, who is also regarded the country’s most successful ultra-endurance athlete.

Dreyer says mountain biking has become more popular these days, but a few things are still holding it back from being counted as one of the top sports in the country.

“It’s definitely growing from when I started riding. Like my husband said, if someone hadn’t developed a tubeless tyre there wouldn’t be so many people riding, because now if you get a puncture you don’t have to change the tube because that’s not fun,” said Dreyer.  “There has been an increase in riding but I would say it is still an expensive sport; the cost of equipment, the maintenance of your bicycle and the cost of race entries are quite expensive.

“I think at this stage and, with the way the economy is, there is a bit of a low in terms of participation. But having said that, I think that people, instead of entering races, are looking for adventure riding where there is no expensive entry fee,” she said.

Dreyer holds the women’s record for the Freedom Challenge, a 2 300-km mountain bike race from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl.

Last year, she finished second overall in The Munga, which she described as the best moment of her career.

In this year’s edition last week, she was again comfortably the first woman home and sixth overall in a quick race where she improved her time considerably.

“It’s not easy to prepare for such distances, there is no way that you can put in that kind of mileage when you train. I think it just accumulates over the years of what I have been doing,” she said.

“I just love being active, I love the outdoors, and love where the bicycle can take you. There is a saying that ‘Imagination is your only limitation when it comes to your bike.’

“The distance you get to cover with the bike is such an empowering feeling. My husband and I just love to be active.”

According to Dreyer, there’s nothing more pleasing than reaching the finish line, and that’s what keeps her going when things get tough on the way.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mountain biking

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