All It Takes Is Two, Two Dreyers
Finishing the Absa Cape Epic requires a world-class fitness level, the alignment of any number of lucky stars and, most importantly, a partner with whom you can travel the journey of highs and lows that only the Untamed African MTB Race can throw at you.
For most teams, the choice is one of friendship: Riding buddies, training partners, business connections… There is no hard and fast rule where you must find somebody brave enough to share this with. For some, though, the selection process happens a whole lot closer to home, if not actually in it.
The Virgin Active Mixed category is littered with same-surname teams, spearheaded by German-Capetonians Sebastian and Laura Stark. They lead the fourteen teams who admitted in the entry process that they were married (to each other), as well as the Virgin Active Mixed category overall. Relative newcomers to the blissfully-wed thing, the pair are veteran stage racers, having met on one in 2012 before finally tying the knot in 2018.
“It has been great so far, we are riding well,” says Laura at the end of Stage 2. “We never really fight about anything on the ride; I think you need to just be really aware of the other person, and how they are feeling. We communicate a lot.”
For Sebastian, as the stronger half, that means making sure he doesn’t get carried away. “Especially on this race, the trails are so much fun, so I must always keep in the back of my mind what Laura’s needs are. The only time we did actually fight, was on the Tankwa Trek Prologue, where I wasn’t concentrating and kept riding five metres ahead. I didn’t realise Laura was struggling; I lost concentration. I learnt from that.”
Jeannie and Martin Dreyer are no strangers to the extremes of mountain biking, and beyond. As a husband-and-wife super-team, they own both records for the Freedom Challenge, which traverses South Africa east to west, via every mountain imaginable, and they won the mixed K2 at the Duzi Canoe Marathon in February, a race Martin has won a record seven times in the solo category.
“We left the kids locked in a room, with some food. They are Dreyers, they should cope,” jokes Jeannie. In reality, eight-year-old Callum and five-year-old Ruby are back home with granny – so maybe the Epic is a bit of a holiday too for mom and dad? “A little, I guess”, says Jeannie. “They come to some events with us, but the Absa Cape Epic is so intense, on and off the bike, that it is a relief not to have to manage them, too.”
Martin looks on and nods.
“We have done so many adventure races together, and other endurance events, that Mart knows when I get a little jumpy, I am getting tired and he needs to back off a little,”
Martin then added, “there is always one weaker and one stronger, one struggling when the other is comfortable. I just try to remind myself – at the Absa Cape Epic, and any team event – that I am only there because of my partner, and that I need to nurture that relationship for us both to finish.”
Is the experiment working, is the Absa Cape Epic a place for a husband and wife to strengthen their relationship? “I think we are still in the test phase,” grins Jeannie. Martin nods his crooked-helmet nod, and they tuck back into their kid-free lunch.