Cycling is enjoying its busiest season for years and that was reflected at the Cost-U-Less Circuit race from Governor’s Harbour on Sunday.
As well as the regulars, more women, youngsters and Filipino riders are competing in events thanks to the efforts of cycling association president Craig Merren and his supportive board.
Although the numbers are still modest, the sport is growing significantly in Grand Cayman after years of small participation.
Despite the new faces, it was a relative veteran in Steve Abbott who won comfortably, breaking away midway through and maintaining a huge lead for the rest of the race, lapping many in the process on the 1.4 mile loop.
Abbott won in 40 minutes, 24.08 seconds, which was 1 minute 26.34 seconds ahead of second finisher Marius Deysel, who was in his final race before returning with his family to his South Africa homeland. Abbott was the pre-race favorite, mainly because Michele “Mitch” Smith was absent and so was Jerome Ameline.
Pedro Lopez Ramos (41:51:66) was third and Patrick Loughnane (41:52:78) fourth, with Daniel “Sparrow” Stewart (41:57:66) fifth.
Risa Golberg is normally the fastest female but she was racing in Jamaica and in her absence, the female winner was Rachel Gooden (41:58:44), a Jamaican visitor, finishing sixth overall.
Smith and David Cooke were racing in Jamaica with Golberg, in Negril. Local rider Ceretta Harvey (42:06:86) had another good race.
Regular junior Josh Weaver was there again with dad Chris and there was a surprise appearance by rugby player Stephen Chin.
Some triathletes entered too, partly in preparation for the Cayman Islands Triathlon on Nov. 2. They included coach William Balderamos (41:58:89) and Jordan “JJ” McLean (41:54:93).
Abbott is competing in the Cayman Triathlon too, in a team, and tried some strategies in this race to prepare. He has teamed up with swimmer Elaine Gomez and runner Lauretta Bennett.
“I wanted to try taking off and riding by myself,” Abbott said. “I got a good high speed and low cadence on my new wheels. It’s pleasing because I’ve struggled this year with bad back pain and other injuries, including a pulled stomach muscle last week.”
He dedicated the race to his baby daughter Jessica and also Karen Woodham-Henry, a fellow cyclist who had a horrific accident in May and is still recovering.
“We had a really great turnout this morning,” Merren said in congratulating Abbott. He also praised the women riders, the Weavers and the Filipino contingent for making the effort.
Merren added, “This goes to show that circuit racing is the future for Cayman riders and also criterium (inner city) racing.” He mentioned that there is another race, this Sunday, from 4 p.m. It is in Heroes Square, central George Town, and is a criterium, the season’s finale.
“This has been a busy season of around 16 races and we’re looking forward to a very exciting 2015,” Merren said. “We’re also looking to work with the UCI (the sport’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale) and the Central American Olympic Pan American Organization to develop our junior program.”
Merren said added that he’s had a fulfilling year and wants to see Cayman riders not just competing around the Caribbean but at a higher level and he wants to start a BMX program to broaden the interest in cycling.