The Beatman Ebanks Memorial Velo Festival returns to the local cycling calendar this weekend.
First held in 2011, the event comprises three races over two days starting this Saturday morning with a 10-mile individual time trial from Frank Sound, starting at 6:30 a.m. followed on the same day at 4:30 p.m. by a criterium in central George Town.
It culminates on Sunday with a 65-mile road race from West Shore Plaza to East End and back via South Sound, also starting at 6:30 a.m.
The late Phillip “Beatman” Ebanks was a well-known and loved businessman and cyclist/sportsman throughout the Cayman Islands. He assisted many of Cayman’s top cyclists, some of whom became Olympians.
He was a unique, funny, kind gregarious and generous man. Despite being physically fit, however, he was diagnosed and eventually died of heart disease exactly seven years ago.
This year’s race weekend coincides with the anniversary of his death at 58.
Heart and circulatory disease, aka cardiovascular disease, is the top health problem in the Cayman Islands and worldwide, causing early deaths, long-term disabilities and widespread suffering.
To help bring awareness to this disease, the cycling association has again teamed up with the Heart Health Centre, founded by Beatman’s son, also called Phillip, to put on this cycling event in his memory, which they aim to make into an annual event.
“It is really a pleasure to put on this event because Beatman was well known to me and was instrumental in my development as a cyclist and many of Cayman’s Olympic cyclists, including Cayman Islands Cycling Association president Craig Merren,” said event organizer Barry Jones.
“The first staging was highly successful. We are once again adding an international flair by inviting some of Jamaica’s top male and female cyclists, including Marloe Rodman who finished fourth in the road race at last weekend’s Caribbean Championship and who is respected on the international cycling scene. We expect to have three males and two females from Jamaica,” Jones said.
Phillip Ebanks said, “Seven years ago, my father died at a very young age due to heart disease, this despite being an avid cyclist and long-distance walker who exercised regularly, until his first heart attack.
“He was not a smoker or a drinker, either. This event in his memory, which The Heart Health Centre, and our sister companies, is pleased to support, is particularly fitting considering his long standing involvement in cycling over the years.
“I hope that, more than just an event in his memory, however, that it may also be a reminder for people to be proactive about their own heart health – by eating a healthy diet, exercising daily and being screened regularly for heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.”
Jacob Lutterman won the event two years ago and Brian Chin Yee won the road race.
The race format is time based and the top three for the series in each category, Open Men and Open Women, will get a trophy plus a prize (cash or voucher), depending on sponsorship.
Registration online can be done on Cayman Active which closes at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Cayman Heart Fund.