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Peter Berger – Johannesburg’s Cycling Scene’s amazing Flying Dutchman..

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I asked Peter for an interview and despite him not understanding why I would want an interview; he very politely agreed to meet me for lunch. 

 

Why did I want to interview Peter?

I am in awe of him, he is 74 (75 is very close) and he still does most of the MTB races in Gauteng, (he was the only person over 70, to do the Magalies Monster)  , he does 94.7 in tandem with a friend and attends most of the Sandton Critical Mass rides.  If you have ridden anywhere with Peter, you will know that you have.  He is the man with the big smile, piercing blue eyes and bright orange bike and clothes.

The bright orange clothes and bike are due to the fact that Peter is Dutch. 

 

So to start the interview:

First we have a long chat, Peter was basically interviewing me,  he wanted to understand about my blog, he has a little note book, he took it out and jotted down my blog address. 

Then he was trying to grasp why I thought it would be interesting to interview him.  I explained that he has become quite a personality in the cycling community and that he was the only person over 70,  to do Magalies Monster this year.  He proceeded to inform me that there are Grand Masters older than him who beat him in Mountain bike races all the time. 

 

Vivian:  When did you start cycling?

Peter:  I have always been cycling I am Dutch – everyone cycles.

 

Vivian:  When did you move to South Africa?

Peter:   I moved to SA in 1964  (this date may be wrong, my apologies lost my recording due to phone being repaired cannot contact Peter for same reason)

 

Vivian:  When was your first Mountain Bike race?

Peter:  I don’t remember but my first cycling race was a 94.7 I took it up as a hobby when I retired and something to do with my son.  I have done 12 consecutive 94.7 races.  I have it in my notes if you want me to look it up?  I keep a log of all the races I do.

 

Vivian:  I saw last year that you did the 94.7 with a lady, she also sometimes rides with you at the critical masses.

Peter:  Yes, we are friends, my wife does not cycle.

Vivian:  Tell me a bit about yourself, besides for the cycling, do you have any other hobbies, what keeps you busy?

Peter:  I have 9 grandchildren living in Johannesburg.  I spend a lot of time cycling with them we mostly go to Huddle Park.

Peter then shows me photos on his phone of himself and his grandchildren cycling and I am very interested because I have never been to Huddle Park before.

Peter is a very proud grandfather and he spends a lot of time taking his grandchildren out and riding with them.

 

Vivian:  What did you do before retirement?

Peter:  I was an accountant.

 

Vivian:  Did you do any other sport other than cycling?

Peter:  Yes, I did sky diving, I wanted to do more but they said I must stop, that I was becoming a danger to myself.  I was disappointed I wanted to do more I wanted to achieve more with freestyle jumping.

 

Vivian:  Wow, you are quite a dare devil, sky diving, mountain biking………….

Peter:  No not a dare devil at all I had a parachute, and I stopped jumping when they told me it was becoming too dangerous.

 

Vivian:  What was your favourite race, most exciting, most fun.

Peter:  It wasn’t actually the race, I had booked to do the Ezemvelo MTB  race but my car was in for repair so I cycled there did the race and cycled back.   It was a great experience.

Vivian:  Wow how far was that?

Peter:  I don’t really remember about 100km.

(I checked it is about 140km)

 

Vivian:  So you cycled there and did the race and cycled back?

Peter: Yes but I cycled there the day before but my best experience was cycling to Oppie Koppie.

 

Vivian:  Wow how far is that and how long did it take you?

Peter:    It took a few days,  I made a mistake, I packed too much, my bicycle was a bit overloaded,  I took my tandem bike alone and packed it full , if it had fallen over I would not have been able to pick it up.  I took my big tent instead of my small tent, that was silly of me, but it was still a lot of fun.  I am planning to do it again this year.  Some people want to join me.  Cycling to Oppie Koppie might become an annual thing.

( I checked 186km)

We then chatted about travelling by bicycle,   I told Peter that I dream of cycle touring one day and showed him the mtb route that I want to cycle from North South Africa, through Nambia, Botswana and finally ending in Zambia.

I also showed Peter the Sani pass and discussed possibly doing it as a group one day.

Then I discussed that we possibly want to do a race soon, that he was also keen on. 

Peter took out his note book. 

 

Peter:  I don’t have a fancy phone like yours I keep all my information in this notebook for races.

He looks up the date of the race I am talking about.

He shows me that he has it as a possible race in his notebook.  Peter has most of this year’s races written up in his little notebook.  Like me he prefers MTB to road but doing 94.7 is a thing he does annually, he also tries to the Argus as often as possible.

 

Vivian:  You went to do the Argus this year, you must have been so disappointed when they cancelled?

Peter:    Actually I was a little bit relieved.  I had surgery earlier this year and I was not fully recovered.  I did not feel 100% but I did feel very bad for everyone else.

Peter had surgery early this year, he usually does the half marathons at MTB races and earlier in the year he was rather embarrassed that he was doing the 20km races.   Most people would have stopped for months but not Peter, he carried on doing shorter races for a while.

 

 

Vivian:  I am in awe of you going so strong still mtbing quite hectic races.  I hope to be just like you and still be racing in my 70s.   How long do you want to continue for is there a plan?

Peter: As long as my health lets me.

 

Vivian:  My Mom is the same age as you she is still an active person but not near to what you do as she had a bad leg injury but what do you attribute to your good health.

Peter:   My health isn’t that great, I did have surgery this year.

 

Vivian:  Yes but you are far more active and capable than most people your age.

Peter:   I don’t really know, I just eat normally, I don’t drink very often, my friend who does the 94.7 with me, we have a tradition we go to a pub after the 94.7 and have a few beers.

 

Peter and I carried on chatting for ages he is such a great humble and friendly people’s person.  I hope that we still will meet at hundreds of races.  

 

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