The next generation of local cyclists is coming through, thanks to the sport’s increasing efforts to attract newcomers, and women like Ceretta Harvey are finding it a great way of being sporty and staying in shape at the same time.
Harvey’s next competition will be this weekend in the second of four May Classics.
She is new to cycling, on the saddle for just over a year, but finds it an ideal fitness regime.
“I always enjoyed working out but got tired of losing toenails from football and shin splints from running, so thought I would try cycling to maintain a healthy weight and life style,” she said.
“Even after engaging in a few self-inflicted hits, falls and faints, I somehow fell in love with cycling. I’ve always appreciated a challenge and, to date, this is the most challenging sport I have taken up, and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much.”
Harvey successfully completed the four May Classics series last year and placed third among the females, which was extremely motivating for a total newcomer.
The recently formed Daybreakers cycling group trains every weekday from the Rubis gas station in Savannah from 4:30 a.m. and a little later at weekends, but as Harvey lives in West Bay, she has to find another way of getting her mileage in.
“I do meet up with the Daybreakers a few days a week and really enjoy it, but there is a saying: ‘If you want to be strong, you have to learn how to fight on your own.’
“With that, some days it’s just me, the wind and the road.”
On Sundays, she rides with some West Bay friends to East End around Queens Highway, Frank Sound and back through South Sound to West Bay, totaling 65 miles.
“I am really not competitive against others. I am more so with myself,” she said. “So basically, I train for me. I hope us ladies are able to resume some Saturday morning rides again soon as I could use some female company out there.”
Cycling can be time consuming and exhausting, yet Harvey manages to juggle her job as a legal secretary, entrepreneur, part-time student and owner of four dogs.
Her typical day starts with cycling at 3:30 a.m., “but it’s OK when you love what you do.”
She said, “I love my job, my business, my studies, my dogs and my bike. So for me, it’s not much hassle at all, and it’s now a comfy routine.”
Cycling as well as working out is a great way to reflect and clear her mind, Harvey finds. “I honestly get my best ideas when I am on the saddle.”
Caymanian Harvey was always involved in sports from school days but never really committed to netball, volleyball, swimming and football. After leaving school and gaining a lot of weight, she returned to football for weight loss and ever since has been into fitness.
“Football is an amazing workout, but forget the hits and falls, I just hated losing my toenails every season,” she said. “If I wasn’t on the field, I could be found running on the road, a dyke course or somewhere along the Seven Mile Beach. I often do 5K runs as well.”
She said anyone taking up cycling should be prepared to be dropped and left behind, which still happens to her.
At least it does not happen as often now. That improvement showed in last week’s duathlon when Harvey teamed up with runner Tobias Muchene at short notice as Team Farasi by The Rack. They finished in the top 10.
She is really grateful to her mom Lillis, her cycling mates Katrina and Daniel Stewart and Kevin Connolly and Marlon Crowe for being so supportive and helping her prepare for the duathlon.
Cycling is pretty costly, but gear is so important that it is not worth skimping, she says. “You will pay for not buying quality. Your shoes, shorts and helmet are essential pieces. Consider them legitimate investments.”
As a former beauty pageant contestant and coach, Harvey is amused by the reaction she gets from most when they hear about her diverse sporting activities. But for her, good health and fitness “cannot be bought online or picked off the shelf.”