Risa Golberg is one of the few women regularly seen on the flourishing local cycling scene and from her example she hopes more will join in.
Grand Cayman’s flat and generally good quality roads lends itself to pursuing cycling, even if it is only recreational.
A keen cyclist since childhood, after a long hiatus, Golberg has been on the bike consistently for the past three years.
“It’s a great way to keep fit and clear the mind,” she said. “Cycling is also a great way to travel through other countries.
“A person on a bicycle is usually less threatening and it allows you to really experience the people, sights and smells in a different way. I have experienced a few different counties by bicycle and loved it.”
She will be competing in the first of the four race series Cayman Classics from the first Sunday in May.
Training is going well, Golberg says. “There are different levels of riders now so there is always a challenge. It’s a great feeling of camaraderie to ride with the Daybreakers group at 4:30 a.m. It’s not always easy to get up at 3.45 a.m.”
The Daybreakers group train every morning at that time from the Rubis gas station in Savannah for around 90 minutes. Novices and total beginners are welcome because more experienced riders like Orrett “OC” Connor ride with them at a slower pace and shorter distances.
Cycling can be time consuming and exhausting, but American Golberg manages her time well before going to work as a BCQS property manager organizing their rentals. “I make it a priority,” she said. “I also make an effort to go to sleep early at night so as to not be tired the next day after an early morning ride. It definitely takes some sacrifice.”
She grew up snow skiing and riding her bike and remembers her parents allowing her to go on a solo 5-mile ride aged 10. “At the time, I thought that was a huge distance and felt very empowered. In college at San Diego State University is when I really got into cycling and mountain biking. I raced in a few collegiate races. I was also an avid water skier.”
Cycling is a tough sport at competitive level, but that should not deter anyone considering taking it up. Cayman has a long and proud history of cyclists competing in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. In fact, Michele “Mitch” Smith, aged 44, is heading for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland this summer.
Golberg would love to see more cyclists attending local events. Under cycling association president Craig Merren, himself a former top cyclist, many more are getting involved.
She has a few tips. “I would say get a bicycle that fits properly, always wear a good helmet, follow traffic laws as if you were driving a car and start on less busy streets until you are very comfortable on the bike.
“Most important, wear proper cycling shorts and don’t buy the cheapest ones. Spending the money on shorts is worth it!
“If you’re not comfortable in the saddle, cycling will be no fun. Stay consistent and it will become easier and more enjoyable.”