Forbes shines on international cycling stage

Nathaniel Forbes, shown in the light blue jersey with red sleeves, waits with the rest of the field to start the race.

Nathaniel Forbes is still riding a wave of adrenaline from his international cycling debut.

Forbes, the Cayman national junior cycling champion, raced at the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships last month in Guyana and distinguished himself against tough competition. Forbes, 16, finished in eighth place in both the 52‑mile road race and the individual time trial.

“The race was an experience I will never forget, and I will use that experience to develop and improve my cycling skills,” he said on Tuesday. “I finished with the main pack which is an excellent start, having no experience racing internationally. The challenge was real racing against the region’s top juniors.”

Forbes, the cousin of Cayman Olympian Ronald Forbes, has been working with former Olympian Mitch Smith and Ken Gokool, a Trinidadian cyclist who now resides in Cayman. Before the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships, Forbes and Smith entered a race in Atlanta to prepare for the competition.

After the Atlanta race, Forbes and Gokool engaged in a four-day crash course of preparation designed to help the youngster cope with racing uphill and with holding off sprints from trailing riders.

Then, Forbes let it rip against the best young cyclists that the region has to offer.

“Giving up was so easy [when] pushing your body to its absolute limit, but I had to fight the pain and think of why I came to the event,” said Forbes of the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships.

Nathaniel Forbes, right, with his coach Ken Gokool, during his trip to Guyana for the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships.

“Even though I was in a foreign country, I still felt at home with my three mentors checking up on me … past Olympian Craig Merren, well-known cyclist Jerome Ameline and Ken Gokool.”

Merren, the president of the Cayman Islands Cycling Association, said that Forbes did exceptionally well despite his lack of experience and limited training for the event. Forbes will have one more opportunity to race in the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships, in 2020.

“By participating in this event, I was able to get that exposure, which is so important,” he said. “The race was not only a trip, but it was an adventure seeing a new place and new people. Now it’s base training for me and practicing and developing my strength in the sport, now that I see what I’m up against.”