By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Sunday’s BVI Mountain Bike race on Beef Island, saw 10 youngsters from the Youth Empowerment Project or Yeppies as they’re called including two women, participating in their first cycling race, while veteran Phillippe Leroy was continuing his dominance of local cycling as he has over the last decade.
While Leroy was outdistancing his rivals, two Yeppies came down to the wire before Mervin LaTouche narrowly edged Shicorey Bertie in the last 75m of their two laps circuit.
“It was hard but I got through it easy because I had faith,” LaTouche told Island Sun Sports. “It was complicated because both of us were striving for the first place. I passed him close to the line and I was happy. I was glad.”
With all the corners, bumps, up and down hills, Bertie said it was hard.
“It was a new experience for me,” Bertie who had the lead before relinquishing it told Island Sun Sports. “I started getting tired then Mervin caught up to me. I tried to keep the pace to pass him, but I couldn’t pass him.”
Bertie said it was a close finish and he’s motivated to get LaTouche in the next race. He has to tune up his bike and do some training.
Both riders said it was also good having their fellow Yeppies riding during the two laps race, after they did a one lap familiarization tour.
Meanwhile, Leroy covered his four circuits in 59 minutes and 57 seconds—the only rider under an hour. He said it was very hot and he didn’t like the sandy segment of the course that took him by Long Bay Beach, Beef Island.
“I had to get off the bike and run every single lap,” he noted. “The sand is really too soft and too deep, so you had to come off and run and that was something else.”
He said the course is one that has been done in the past and he was happy that the club reinstated it. Leroy said the first race on Tortola had a great turnout and he was impressed with the turnout of YEP youngsters.
“I think it’s good for them because it gives them something to do,” he said. “It’s their first time and they were just messing around. Hopefully, they’ll get a bit more serious and train a little and get into the sport, which will be much better than hanging around a corner somewhere. It’s good for them.”
Despite COVID-19 cancelling the Iron Man Triathlon in Puerto Rico and the subsequent lockdown, Leroy said he had been training despite running and swimming less.
“I’ve been cycling a lot indoors so I’m still staying fit and ready for when things open, maybe in a year or two,” said Leroy, who told Island Sun Sports he has ridden up to 17 hrs indoors. “There’s a virtual race you can do online, similar to what I do on Tortola, you go up hills and come down. You do it until you reach 10,000 meters. I did 11,000m and was going to do 24 hours, but I gave up after 17. Two weeks before, I did a 15-hour ride. Maybe, I should have waited a bit longer to recover from that ride.”