Steve Abbott was in a thrilling time trial race with Jerome Ameline on Sunday, losing by a mere second, but at least Abbott has the satisfaction of holding on to the Cayman Islands record.
Ameline finished the 10-mile trial from Paradise Seaside Grill on South Church Street in 21 minutes, 6 seconds, but Abbott’s record of 20:30 will take a lot to beat.
“I am happy for Jerome,” Abbott said. “Although the winning margin was small, in racing terms it’s still quite a gap at 28 miles per hour.
“As it is the ‘off-season’ for me, I was very satisfied with my ride and know I did my best and couldn’t ride any faster on the day.”
Abbott was also thankful his course record was not under threat either. “It’s definitely reachable by Jerome, the only full-time cyclist on the island.”
Now Abbott wants to put the time trial record firmly out of reach, but admits he needs to return to intensive training as opposed to just recreational workouts to achieve that.
He has been racing here since 2008. He went from an also-ran then to winning his first ever race a year later.
Cycling for him is social and “provides me with time to myself to think and relax after a long day at work.”
He loves riding on some of the most demanding roads in the world.
“It’s great fitness and a great way to stay healthy too.”
Any other sport? “Is chasing, lifting and playing with an 18-month-old daughter considered a sport?”
He competed in the usual sports as a child growing up in England, including racing his bike competitively from ages 15 to 17.
Abbott took a break from sports to enjoy life at university, drinking and eating badly and piling on the weight.
After living in Cayman for four years, he ran a few of the celebrated 5K races and then bought a secondhand mountain bike.
“I was hooked on cycling from then on, initially losing 35 pounds in the process.”
The 38-year-old from Bedford, Bedfordshire is a chartered surveyor and grew up considering his grandfathers as his only heroes, not athletes.
With wife Pam, who is an accomplished triathlete, they thoroughly enjoy the Cayman sporting landscape.
“It’s a fun social scene where you get to meet lots of new friends,” said Abbott. “There is a lot of enthusiasm to be successful. However, it is difficult to train and race at the higher level needed to compete overseas as we are restricted by the waters that surround us.”
He would love to see an outdoor velodrome or a set of paths specific for recreational cyclists and kids to learn to ride on or enjoy with their family.
“How about landscaping ‘Mount Trashmore’ into a local park with pathways for kids to enjoy?”
Abbott would appreciate international cycling events here but realizes the difficulty as Cayman is not a cheap destination to get to nor to stay on.
The added cost of bringing over bikes and equipment, or hiring, if necessary, makes it extremely expensive and impractical, although professional riders who visit extol the convenience of Cayman’s flatness and perfect climate.
“With a limited number of hotel rooms too, it all makes Cayman a difficult place to attract a large sporting event. I hope this can change as the economy improves over the coming years. Fingers crossed.”
In the meantime, Abbott will concentrate on local races and triathlons, doing the bike legs only as part of a team.
He claims to be too old to dream of becoming a world or Olympic cycling champ, “though I look forward to passing any enthusiasm I have onto our little girl with anything she wants to achieve.”
He is getting in shape for the next cycling race, the Cost-U-Less ride, on Oct. 4.