If there is any truth in the saying that bad things happen in threes, Philip Buys (Scott Factory Racing) might just have a chance to win the African Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Rwanda on Sunday. Actually Buys should not be riding as he has torn some shoulder ligaments during his last bad luck experience but to quit is not an option for him. The Tuks/HPC rider says: ‘I need the UCI ranking points that are on offer to try and qualify for next year’s Olympic Games so riding through pain for an hour or two is a small price to pay. I will just strap my shoulder with duct tape before the race so as to try and lessen the pain.’
Ever since he finished fifth overall in the Absa Cape Epic and won a stage as well, Buys has been beleaguered by bad luck. In the South African Mountain Bike Cup race in Pretoria he lost valuable time because of mechanical problems but, luckily, still managed a third place finish. In Pietermaritzburg he got sick and could only finish 10th.
The worst of his bad luck happened during the SA Cup race at Mankele outside Nelspruit. According to the Tuks/HPC-sponsored cyclist, while he was in the lead during the first lap of the race, his bike’s handlebars got ensnared by a small tree branch. This caused a domino effect which ended with him riding into a bigger tree.
He says: ‘For a moment I thought I might have broken my shoulder, but the doctor established that I have only torn some ligaments. I had to take things slightly easier during the past two weeks but I think I have recovered sufficiently to race. I am still in pain when riding.’ Buys is quite philosophical about his run of bad luck. He says: ‘Of course I would have preferred if none of it had happened, but it did and perhaps it was just as well. If I could get all of my bad-luck experiences out of the way this year it would be very helpful because it would mean that I could focus only on being at my best for the Olympic Games in Rio next year. There is one positive that I can take from all my bad luck. It had nothing to do with my abilities as a mountain biker. I really feel strong at the moment and I know that, if bad luck does not strike again, I will be capable of getting good results in races.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott