By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
After competing in the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico, the BVI Olympic Committee dropped cyclist Darel Christopher Jr., from the Commonwealth Games squad later that year. He wasn’t on the radar for last year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland either and won’t be in the Pan Am Games now in progress in Toronto, Canada.
Christopher hasn’t dwell on the negatives but instead, has been using them as positives and moved to Georgia just over two years ago, but still wonders why he has been overlooked.
“I’ve just been training and trying to make it as a pro cyclist, seeing that I’m the only pro cyclist for the BVI, I’m doing my part,” said Christopher who’s now based in North Georgia and rides with Prima Tappa Cycling. “I’m at the pro level, but don’t have a pro contract. I’m racing with the pros, but don’t have a pro team as yet. But, that’s the aim. Whether its Europe or America, it doesn’t matter because once you’re in the big ring, you’re there. There’s a lot of competition because everyone has the same goal in mind and everyone want to get on a pro team.”
Since relocating to Georgia where he once spent a summer training as a teenage cyclist, he has steadily worked from being a Category 5 to Category 2 cyclist on the US circuit. “It’s just like the pros—pro one and pro two—just that you don’t have a contract, that’s it,” he said. “You’re racing with the pros. You’re either on a low team or racing by yourself.”
Without his Georgia teammates, he completed a stage race in Wisconsin. He placed 19th in his first race and then had a best finish of before several crashes. His life is eating, sleeping and training. “It’s tough, knowing I don’t have the support of the BVI Olympic Committee or any organization, it’s just me on my own trying to sacrifice everything just to try and make it at the pro level,” he explained. “You have to look at nutrition, massages and everything else. The pro guys have sponsor, get bikes and everything. It’s a long process but I’m willing to do it. I’m going to take my time and God’s going to help me. I’m competing against guys who have the support of their country. Not having the BVI Olympic Committee supporting me, it’s very tough knowing that I’m out here on my own—the only professional cyclist for the BVI—and everyone pretty much turned their back on me. Am I a BVIsander? What is it?”
The 24 year old said if he had the required support along the way, he would have been on a pro team touring. He noted many of the pros have a track cycling background then transferred to the road. They have a lot of power and a lot of speed. “They stared from nine years old and had coaches bringing them up step by step, but, I’m doing it the hard way pretty much, I’m stating from the bottom,” he explained. “Everyone I’ve worked with coach wise said that I do have it, but it’s a long process and if I had the support back then, I’d be a lot further than where I’m at right now, but, that’s a sacrifice in life,” he noted. “You just have to keep fighting even though your own people are pulling you down like crabs in a bucket—it’s kind of sad and people talk about you—but I just turn all the negative energy into something positive and the downfall into something great. I know one day I’ll make it—I will. I’m determined to do what I have to do. I’m focused and I’m not going to let anyone deter me from anything.”
Last year he trained in Spain, an experience called awesome as he did 3-4 hour rides just climbing. Over the last two months, he has been averaging 450 mile per week riding, putting in 7 hours on the bike. “You pretty much eat, sleep, watch TV on your bike,” he said. “But, I’m focused and I’m determined.”