Cyclists burst out the gates following recent COVID-19 lockdown

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Biff Smith leads Phillippe Leroy as they turn from the bridge to Thomas Land

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Phillippe Leroy led senior and junior cyclists out the gate in Sunday’s BVI Mountain Bike Prison Break Race, in the first sporting action on Tortola, since sports were paused for a month from mid August, because of a COVID-19 spike and spread within the territory. 

Leroy covered the course from Trellis Bay, through Little Mountain, out past the Prison, over to Little Dix Hill and down to HLSCC and return in 46 minutes in 33 seconds. 

“The race was fun. I waited for people in Little Mountain because I didn’t want to cycle all on my own,” Leroy told Island Sun Sports. “On the Prison Hill, I didn’t go too hard but harder than the others. I didn’t want to kill myself on the hill and then went hard on the flat instead. It was fun. It was quick. It was easy.”

As the course was being used for the first time, Leroy said he had no idea how long it would take him to complete the 22.5 km circuit and thought it might probably take 55 mins to an hour. 

“I felt fine. I didn’t go too hard on the prison hill, but you have to go hard on the part by the prison itself because it’s very steep, otherwise I went medium hard because I didn’t want to go in the red, so that I couldn’t push myself on the flat,” Leroy explained. “But it was a lot of fun.”

During the lockdown, Leroy planned a 24 hrs virtual ride but missed it and did 17 and did over 10,000m of climbing as well. 

“I’m training less now. The most I’m going now is 5, 5½ hrs,” he said after his 46 minutes ride. “I try to do that almost every Sunday. I’m going home when I finish here. I’m supposed to do five hours today.”

Second place finisher Gareth Thomas, said it was the club’s third race since Hurricane Irma in 2017 and it was a tough race with about 15 participants including juniors who did a shorter course. Typically, the race would have two circuits up to the Balsam Ghut Prison. 

“We felt that it was too early in the season, considering that people had not been racing aggressively so we decided to put Little Mountain in and then the prison as opposed to two prison circuits,” Thomas noted. “The thing is, you go hard. Little Mountain is no joke. You walk around there is hard, you ride around there is tough. I think it surprises people how steep it can be and there’s a few fast turns you have to be careful on, so those juniors, they wouldn’t be calling it little today, I’m sure.”

The race marked the first time Chris Graham was riding hills. 

“And they were horrible,” Graham who was sixth told Island Sun Sports. “It’s worse than I thought but I was ok on the flat, so I caught up there.”

Graham said he liked the course, though windy on the ride back to Trellis Bay.

“The first time I ever raced with these guys as well—though I wasn’t racing,” he said. “It shows how good these guys at the front are. They’re elite.” 

Shicorey Bertie led the Yeppies from the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), on the junior course. 

“Today’s race was kinda tough and hard on the second lap, but I made it through without walking too much up the hills,” Bertie who was second in the first race said. “I really caught myself coming back. The course was pretty tough but a little better than the last course.”

Bertie, who lives in the Sage Mountain area and had been practicing and playing basketball ahead of the race, said Little Mountain was tougher than many hills he ever drove on.   

“I used a different bike and it felt different,” he said. “I learned that you have to try and keep your stamina and pace and it doesn’t matter which place you come.”

Final results. Men: Phillipe Leroy, 46 minutes and 33 seconds. 2. Gareth Thomas, 52:40. 3. Biff Smith, 52:56. 4. Mark Stephenson, 52:58. 5. Shane Donovan, 58:55. 6. Chris Graham, 59:30. 7. Adrian Dale, 1: 10.00. 8. Kay Reddy, 1:12. 9. Jim Cullimore, 1:17. 10. Kem Ketchem, 11. Michael Fay. 

Juniors: 1. Shicorey Bertie, 55:13, (2-laps). Other participants; Zavia Golding, Jaroy Daley, Sherwood Gaymes, Tyreke Bertie, Kijana Callwood, Nathaniel Piontowsaki and Kimon Lewis. 

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