When the annual duathlon is staged next week, there could well be a new champion because Pedro Lopez Ramos has been training obsessively to seize multiple champion Marius Acker’s crown.
Organized by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association and sponsored by Genesis Trust, the duathlon is a 2 mile run, followed by a 12 mile cycle, and then another 2 mile run.
It is on Apr. 27, starting 7 a.m. outside Hurley’s Supermarket in Grand Harbour.
Lopez wants that title before focusing on bigger prizes. “I’d like to become one of Cayman’s top cyclists and represent Cayman in races overseas such as the Caribbean championships, Island Games, Commonwealth Games and Tour of Dominican Republic,” he said.
“With my recent achievements in running and now in cycling, I’m confident in my ability and I’m looking to beat the 57 minutes Acker did last year.”
Lopez was third in the team event with elite runner Jason Saunders last year and this time he feels fit and fast enough to go for solo victory. He seems to be well placed, having built up his times on foot and bike gradually in recent months.
“I’ve been cycling close to two years now but only competitively since January when I started the new year with a 100 mile ride.
“Ever since, it’s been 4 a.m. 50-60 mile rides 5-6 days a week, sometimes twice a day, and up to 100 miles total,” he said.
He recently started motor-pacing on Sundays which has helped gain strength for high speeds.
Introduced to cycling by his good friend and co-worker Eddie Powell, vice-president of Daybreakers Cycling Club, Lopez was inspired by Powell’s cycling anecdotes and how good a workout it is.
“Through his enthusiasm, I bought a road bike and with his guidance I started cycling. After training for a few weeks on my own, I joined the Daybreakers on their 4.30 a.m. rides.”
All the commitment is paying off. His latest milestone was on Sunday in the 28-mile time trial from Bodden Town Police Station.
Ramos placed second behind veteran Mitch Smith in a respectable time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 28 seconds, at an average speed of 26.054 miles per hour. He was 37 seconds behind Smith who finished in 1:03.51 – but the gap is closing.
Born in Cuba, Lopez’s family moved here when he was a child. Always sporty, he took an interest in baseball and then bodybuilding for two years before starting to run in local 5 kilometer races. “And then I got into cycling and totally fell in love with it,” he said.
Triathlons are a natural progression but Lopez is not an avid swimmer. “Hmm, let’s do one sport at a time,” laughed the 24-year-old air conditioning worker.
A member of the Flashy Nation group, consisting of mainly Caymanians youngsters wanting to succeed in a variety of sports, Lopez enjoys the support system it provides.
“Flashy Nation is for everyone who wants to participate and challenge themselves in a physically active lifestyle through sports,” he said.
“There are roughly 15 members who strive to encourage others to participate in sports, health and fitness. We take part in running, swimming, cycling, boxing and, most recently, triathlons.
“We encourage people from all walks of life to join in. Age, weight, gender, fitness level … None of that matters once you have the right attitude towards your respective sport.”
Lopez added, “This has been an interesting year so far with lots of hard work, commitment, dedication and sacrifice that I’m now starting to see the fruits of. I encourage everyone to get out there and live your passion.”