Off-roader Reid is riding in pursuit of his Rio dream | SASCOC - SASCOC

Off-roader Reid is riding in pursuit of his Rio dream


Looking forward to a possible first appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio later this year, mountain-biker James Reid admits it has always been the dream.
‘As a child I think you look up to the Olympics as the ultimate sporting event – it’s cemented itself as the pinnacle of sporting prowess in the world and I’d be honoured to be there and give it my all.’
Lea van der Merwe writes that Reid started cycling at a young age to provide his older brother with some competition. ‘He was talented at riding but gave up after school days. I started younger and decided I wanted to give it a bash after school, so I kept at it.’
At 16 he started earning extra money from cycling, and Reid decided this was an excellent opportunity to let his competitive streak run wild.
Competing mostly in cross country events, Reid says the ‘problem’ with marathons in South Africa is that they are too long for the young guys to be competitive. ‘You have to start out with the cross country stuff at school level because it teaches you essential skill at an age where crashing has less of a consequence than later in life.
‘Cross country is where it is happening internationally, but somehow we seem to live in one of the most ultra-distance crazy countries there is, with the Cape Epic, Comrades, Two Oceans etc. leading the charge,’ he says.
However, he has recently competed in a number of marathons, believing he’s now capable of handling both cross country and marathon. ‘The human body is an amazing thing – it can adapt if you give it the right stimulus and recovery time.’
On how he feels about qualifying for the Olympics, Reid says the question alone gives him goosebumps. ‘I almost don’t want to believe it and [I’m taking] nothing for granted until I’m actually in Rio.’
In the final build up to the Olympics, Reid plans to change his training strategy. ‘You can train as hard as you like but if you don’t create the space in your life to recover properly you will end up over-trained and burnt out. Popular culture glorifies the ‘training hard’ side of improvement as opposed to the ‘essential recovery side’ when in truth they are two sides of the same coin – you can only train as hard as you recover.’
It’s not just about the physical training either, says Reid. ‘My entire lifestyle is geared around performance. I live in an athlete digs, and we frequently have a choice of three salads for dinner. The house alarm is normally on by 9.30pm and everybody gets going around 5.30am. It’s all about peak performance.’
Although his current goal and focus is geared at achieving at the Rio Olympics, Reid says he’s also thinking long term about improvement for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Having finished his degree part-time last year in investment management, Reid says that if he weren’t cycling he would probably be working somewhere in the corporate world, and that perhaps he’ll ‘continue down that road sometime in the future.’

Picture of Reid courtesy of Craig Kolesky