The Cayman Islands cycling scene, which is experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts, is having its busiest season in recent years, holding a mixed bag of races.
Most importantly, is that the races are being held over the traditional courses, which most competitors had become accustomed to. Meanwhile, there has been an influx of new riders of differing abilities, including newcomers to the sport.
“We are pleased to see so many new local riders, both male and female, young and mature, coming to the sport. It shows that our sport is moving in the right direction – growing,” said Craig Merren, Cayman Islands Cycling Association president.
“We have the youngest competitor to date in 11-year-old Josh Weaver. We have also our first female junior cyclist compete this year.”
The cycling association has taken steps to re-establish itself as a functional association, moving away from the perception that it is a closed club, he said.
Earlier in the year, a delegation – including Merren and vice president Barry Jones – attended the Pan-American conference in Havana, Cuba where Cayman did its part in selecting officers for the next four-year period to govern the sport in the Western Hemisphere.
This allowed Cayman to hold discussions with regional partners and to rub shoulders with the likes of current Union Cycliste Internationale President Pat McQuaid, in an effort to develop the sport locally.
Insight from the conference confirmed to the current administration that it is moving in the right direction with trying to develop BMX cycling, which has been growing from strength to strength since inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and had phenomenal success at the 2012 London Olympics.
Regionally, BMX is where most associations are putting their focus. Locally, BMX is growing and the cycling association is trying to harness its potential with the development of dirt tracks.
The Cayman Islands Cycling Association is also working on developing plans to enable a feasibility study to be done on the construction of a velodrome, which is a long term goal that will make it easy to coach junior cyclists.
Continuing in the same theme of rejuvenation, races have also been revamped. The recently-concluded Subway Cycling Classic Series was the most exciting classics in recent memory, with riders battling for the title well into the last race.
Jones, who has been responsible for creating the racing calendar, said, “The races had to be changed and race format had to be changed.
“Previous administrations kept repeating the same limited calendar with races over the same courses, which initially were OK, but with races becoming more competitive we had to develop a calendar to suit the changing landscape of the local cycling scene.”
The races are also geared toward giving riders sufficient local racing to enable them to be competitive overseas at tournaments such as the upcoming Natwest Island Games in Bermuda from 13 to 19 July. The cycling association is sending a delegation of three to the games. Cyclists Michele Smith and Barry Jones will be accompanied by team manager Andrew McLaughlin on this trip.
Smith and Jones will be competing in the road race and criterium with Smith and Johan Heath, who will be competing in the triathlon, while also contesting the time trial.
As a build up to these games, the cycling association is holding its championships in road racing and time trialing in the coming weeks.
There are also many other cycling related events on Island to keep local cyclist busy and cycling association committee members also lend assistance to many of these events.
For more information, email [email protected]