Clarke times bike-a-thon perfectly

The Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman ran its annual bike-a-thon and it was another tight finish among the serious riders.

Gary Clarke won his second race in three weeks on Saturday with a superb ride over the 20 mile course from Blow Holes to Smith Cove. This charity ride has been going for 26 years and is still as popular as ever with dozens of riders of all ages and ability participating.

More than 3,000 riders have taken part in the bike-a-thon since its inception, raising nearly $400,000 for charitable causes. Veteran rider Ottmar Weber rode for the twenty-third time. He has raised nearly $60,000 over the years. Participants raised funds by collecting pledges. A minimum pledge of $25 was required.

Kiwanis International includes 8,400 clubs with more than 270,000 members in 96 countries. Last year, Kiwanis clubs donated more than $100 million and almost six million volunteer hours for community service projects.

Clarke rode a tactically perfect race in just over 37 minutes so he averaged around 27 miles per hour. ‘Amongst my buddies it’s good to win another social race,’ he said. ‘It was a matter of opportunity. The strategy from early was to make some jumps in order to wear the legs of some of the guys. Did that a couple of times but I realised that the pace was too fast for it to work. So I just sat on the wheels of the guys and waited for the right opportunity to make an effort. ‘Dave Walker made the effort about a mile out, just after the rugby club. He hammered it and created a gap between the peloton (leading group). I closed the gap to catch him and when I looked around there wasn’t anybody behind us. We were riding side by side and he looked a little bit tired. I looked back to see if the peloton had closed up but they hadn’t so I just went for it in the last 200 metres.’ Clarke, 31, pulled away to win by a comfortable 10 metres and even had time to ease up at the end to raise a hand in triumph.

‘This was more satisfying than my club social run victory two weeks ago because Kiwanis always has a good turn out of cyclists. Although it’s a bike-a-thon, for us faster riders we always look for the opportunity for a social ride. Dennis Brooks won it the last two years but I thought to myself: ‘Boy, let me see if I can put another in the bag.’

Many thanks to the Kiwanis for their continuing effort. From the cycling association’s point of view it’s always good to see so many riders on the road.’ Walker was second, Jerome Ameline third and Brooks fourth.

Ruud van der Pluym is the president of the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman. ‘Ottmar Weber has done it 23 times and another rider 12 times. We’re pleased with their support. Kiwanis club arranges it every year and the main focus is on charity for young children. We are planning to use the money we raise for a mobile library. Last year, because it was our twenty-fifth year we had a lot of big sponsors and raised $22,000 but I don’t think we’ll see that this year, also the weather didn’t help. We’re hoping for $10,000 to buy the trailer and books. We also give away books so we need money to keep it running.’

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