Cycling in the Cayman Islands used to be a huge sport, with local riders regularly competing at the Olympics and other major tournaments.
Then it tailed off, but under the association’s president Craig Merren, himself a former top rider, it is gradually increasing in popularity, and there is even a velodrome planned.
As interest grows, especially among youngsters like Pedro Lopez Ramos, Kevin Connolly, Marlon Crowe Jr. and 12-year-old Josh Weaver, demand for training groups has increased considerably, hence the recently formed Daybreakers group.
There are about 25 of them, and around 20 meet each weekday morning at 4:30 at the Rubis gas station in Savannah for a 30-mile ride, which lasts roughly 90 minutes. On Sundays they do a longer one of between 65 and 100 miles from the same spot from 5 a.m.
Total novices are welcome, even if they can manage a fraction of the normal distance because a more experienced rider will accompany them. Veteran cyclist Orrett “OC” Connor is a Daybreakers regular. Recently retired as a civil servant, which included being the chief immigration officer and First Cabinet Secretary, Connor has the luxury over other Daybreakers that he can return home and relax rather than having to prepare for work or school.
“I just ride for fitness, not bragging rights, so anyone new is welcome to come along and I’ll happily accompany them,” said Connor.
“We welcome young or old to come with us. We have a few females in our group and encourage more to come along.”
Daybreakers enter local races and organize international trips too. They recently went to Cuba. Seven of the eight in the party rode 250 miles in three days. In October they went to Jamaica and did the Negril to Kingston 158-mile route in one day. Connor is heading to North Carolina on a cycling trip soon.
“Our group is designed for fitness enthusiasts as well as those persons who want to ride with organized groups so that they can increase their fitness levels,” he said.
“We want to promote safe cycling in Cayman and be bike advocacies and encourage overall fitness.”
He added that Daybreakers welcomes people of all ages and abilities. “We know that it is pretty challenging for people to come out at 4:30 in the morning, but believe me, after you finish you feel great and it makes your day so much easier and more relaxing.”
Connor added that the Daybreakers have become a regular sight for pedestrians on George Town roads, especially South Sound, in the Batabano area of West Bay and on the bypass in Savannah.
“I don’t think that Cayman roads are any more safer than at 4:30 a.m,” he said. “There is very little traffic and those cars out there know who we are and, of course, we ensure that we’re in compliance with all the safety regulations with flashing lights in the back and bright headlights at the front. We are extremely safety conscious.”