Jim Cullimore’s Effort to Keep Tour De Tortola Alive


Laurens Blok, left, Jim Cullimore, Dennis Veroza and Phillippe Leroy, crossing the bridge from Beef Island, during Sunday’s Tour de Tortola

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Even if he had to do it alone, cyclist Jim Cullimore was ensuing that the territory’s premier race, the 44 miles Tour de Tortola would live on. On Sunday, he was joined by Philippe Leroy, Laurens Block and Dennis Veroza, in circumnavigating the island, starting on Beef Island.

While there has been no BVI Cycling Federation organized events in the last few years, Cullimore said one major race he can’t miss doing was the tour.

“It’s an annual race,” noted Cullimore who has done it 20 times. “We missed a year because of the storm. Most other events have continued and they’ve tried to put their programs together to continue. Cycling has been difficult because people have been repairing houses, people lost bikes, the roads haven’t been that good so I thought it was good to make a more and the tour was a good start.”

While Cullimore acknowledged that people weren’t fit but if they had done the tour before they could have done it again.

Why was it important for him to be able to continue doing the Tour de Tortola?

“Because I’m going to be the first 80-year old to complete it,” Cullimore said. “I’m 70 next year and who says I have to stop?”

Cullimore, a former BVI Cycling Federation president said it’s his passion for the sport that keeps him going adding that it’s very demanding.

“But it’s fit absorbing,” he said. “You’re not just exercising legs but your whole body on a bike without the stress of pounding on pavements and roads.”

When asked where he’d like to see cycling which in its heyday had monthly races and hosted the 2006 Caribbean Cycling Championships, Cullimore said like other sporting organizations the executives are volunteers, but most people feel that cycling is too much effort.

“They don’t see where we can take our cycling,” he said. “In the past, we have been to Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke and we can take cycling to all the different destinations, so, it not like rugby, cricket of football that has to be played in one place with a team of people, here, you’re just an individual.”

With several stops along the route, the quartet completed Sunday’s tour in 4 hours in 23 minutes, though Cullimore whose best is 3 hours and 07 minutes wanted to break four hours.

“However, the reception was great as several people asked us if cycling was back,” he noted. “Without the many stops, we would have been under four hours, but getting the response we did from people, was well worth it.”