He had given his word not to miss his wife’s birthday. And so Martin Dreyer, seven-time Dusi canoe marathon winner, slept only two hours a night while cycling from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl to finish the Freedom Challenge mountain bike race in record time.
“I finished on Jeanie’s birthday, just before midnight. I had promised her I wouldn’t miss her birthday, which was a huge motivation! I didn’t want to get into trouble!” Dreyer said of Friday’s victory.
The race, which stretched over 2 300km, demanded 200 hours of peddling for Dreyer to be able to complete it in just under 11 days – breaking the previous record by 1 day, 23 hours and 50 minutes.
While all 48 competitors were fed and accommodated at support stations, they carried their own clothing and equipment and were responsible for the maintenance of their bikes and navigation.
Dreyer also had to overcome a knee injury.
“In the hard times, I thought of my family – Jeanie and my two children, Callum and Ruby. I didn’t want to disappoint them!” he said yesterday. “I also thought of my competitors a lot.”
“I finished close to midnight, with a whole bunch of friends and my family to welcome me in. And then I ate a piece of steak! I finished on a high, so I didn’t go straight to bed.”
Dreyer said on Sunday that although he felt “good” it took four days to adjust to normal sleep patterns.
“I keep waking up! I averaged two hours sleep per night – one night I slept on the side of the road.”
Asked if he had kept his eyes glued to the dirt roads and cattle tracks, Dreyer said “no”, he had the scenery to help him along.
“I used the views from mountain passes or river crossings to stimulate me when I was tired. The views were the ideal inspiration or distraction, whichever was needed.”
Speaking on how the Freedom Challenge compared with the Dusi, Dreyer said they were similar in that they pushed the body to its limit.
“You have to be finely tuned to your body and its energy systems. Look after yourself and pace yourself; the same rules apply to eating correctly. But it’s easier to do that in the Dusi.
“During the challenge, I had a 25-hour cycle and I just went into survivor mode.” - The Mercury