By Mark Etheridge
Olympian and Commonwealth mountain-biker Phillip Buys is a man you’d expect to have an excellent sense of balance.
But after the ups and downs of 2014, the versatile athlete is looking for another sort of balance.. that between higher training load and the risk of coming down with illness as he looks further down the line to the 2016 Olympic Games.
Buys raced the MTB category at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland two months ago and was also in action at World Championships in Norway last week where he ended 42nd in the cross-country.
Neither event saw him fulfilling his potential, something he puts down to experimenting with different training programmes etc.
‘It’s just the high training load and me getting unlucky by bumping into some untimely viruses,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. At his most recent event, the World Championships he was hoping to do well in the XCE (cross-country eliminator) but ended up being pushed out of contention by two French riders. ‘XCE is usually a technical sprint race of about two minutes. First run is individual qualifying and then first 32 riders go through to heats of four – a 1/8 final, 1/4 final, semis and then final and small finals… the racing is quite exciting to watch and the whole event takes place within about four hours.’
Buys is also learning from the legend… the legend that is Nino Schurter, one of the world’s all-time MTB greats. ‘I had a training camp with Nino just before Cape Epic this year and it was just interesting to see what the best rider in the world does and even to see that we do some of the things in the same way too.
‘Mentally he is just so motivated to win and to push himself hard in training. A few things that I have incorporated into my training from his side are a bit more power and stability work in the gym and also a running session once or twice a week.
‘Then as far as nutrition goes, to basically just approach hard sessions as I would approach a race. When to eat what for the most energy and simulating a race build-up.’
‘Of course, adding the extra training load now and then makes me a lot more vulnerable to getting sick, so the next thing I have to get balanced is my recovery. Hard training requires harder recovery. I’m sure i’ll manage it as soon as my body gets use to the higher training load. Its stepping it up a notch that takes a while to get use to,
‘It’s just very inspiring to ride and race with Nino!’
An idea of just how far Buys is progressing on his balanced outlook may come over the next few days as he tackles the gruelling Swiss Epic event in Europe. ‘I’m racing with my 2013 Cape Epic partner Matthys Beukes then one more stage race back home in October (Bridge Pioneer Trek).
‘Then I’m done for the year and I will take a six-week end of season break. The goal for 2015/2016 is to gather as much as possible UCI points to get a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Next year I’ll do Cape Epic again and then 2016 I will skip it to keep my speed up for Rio. Cape Epic is also quite important though, because we get a lot of UCI points there.’
Picture: Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS