Sports — 24 May 2005 — by Melvin Torres

As new classes of riders embark in pursuing their conquest, I am reminded to illustrate that our forefathers, the pioneers, raced under far more adverse conditions. Nowadays cyclists are not plagued by punctures and collisions due to roads smothered by dust in dry weather, creating a muddy skating rink when it rains. In those days it was impossible to ride in the slipstream of an adversary ? you would be covered in mud or dust, and would not see the next pothole coming ? meaning tactics were almost unheard of. A race was a trial of strength, pure and simple. The advent of tarmac changed all that. The risks were reduced, making it possible for riders to race in a compact bunch, relying on their fellows for shelter until they chose to make their effort according to their individual skill, be it in a final sprint or on a steep hill slope.

Sunday, 22ndMay, 2005 at 9:07 a.m., the first Annual Masters Non-Elite Cross Country Classic race started with some sixty-two participants. The distance, an estimated 63.32 miles, began in front of La Loma Luz medical clinic in Santa Elena, Cayo District (Western Highway) and finished in front of Leslie?s Enterprises (Mile 2 on the Western Highway outside of Belize City).

From the get-go, Leroy ?Lyrics? Trapp ? Hot Points jumped out on a suicidal break-away. By Mile 65 he had established a minute plus lead. In long road races, riders would allow early runners to go out and set the tone for the race, meaning that a particular team may send out a strong man, allowing their team leader or favorite to have an easy ride while other teams contend with chasing. At times, the opposing teams? favorites have to join in the chase, which lessens their opportunities for victory.

Lyrics, however, had victory on his mind all the way. He had George Abraham ? Santino?s, his amalgamated teammate, chasing him for some twenty-six miles. Abraham managed to bridge the gap at Mile 39. From there on they cooperated in the pacemaking.

Running away that early in a race means that the rider doing the running must have a different mind set – his feeding and re-hydration methods have to be precise. Then the managing of the advantage (time) has to be monitored closely. His rest periods must coincide with the peloton lulls, or and with the breakdown of communication and cooperation of the chasers. The mood of the peloton must be conveyed to him, when the chasers surge or if there is no intent.

Lyrics and Abraham had very good time trialing techniques, but it seems that one did not trust the other. Sometimes waiting for the other is a vital part of strategy. Lyrics failed to observe these vital elements, weakening his stamina and energy levels.

At the Mile 6 Burdon Canal Bridge, the lead that Abraham and Lyrics enjoyed for some fifty-seven miles in the lead was made up by the peloton. The chase group was led by M&M Engineering squad – Roque Matus, Gilroy Robinson, Brian Jones and Angel Espat. They were supported by several riders, namely Delmar Sutherland ? Guinness Seahawks, Edwin Martinez, Maurice Kelly, Sheldon Graham and Hartman King ? unattached.

At this time the peloton ballooned to thirty-seven. In the sprint, attention was focused on the top gunner, M&M Engineering?s Roque Matus. In the end ? the sprint was initiated by Matus: no one had the power to circle around. Santino ?The Chief? Castillo placed second and Chris Peyrefitte took third claiming the podium prizes.

The remaining top-ten finishers are 4thFitzgerald ?Palas? Joseph ? unattached (correction), 5thKenneth Butler ? unattached, 6thJonathan Garbutt ? Belmopan Ursa, 7thEdwin ?Dr? Martinez ? unattached, 8thJohn Burns ? BTL Fusion, 9thAdrian Faux ? Hot Points and 10thDelmar Sutherland – Belmopan Ursa.

Lyrics ? Hot Points, Abraham ? Santino?s and in the later miles after Mile 5, James ?Cactus? Welch ? Santino?s had to settle with the station prizes for their exploits. The distance was completed in 2h ? 58m ? 40s, averaging 20.6 mile per hour.

I want to make some reference here to the 1993 Annual Cross Country Classic, which finished in an electrifying sprint between nine riders shooting for the coveted title. The top gunners, two teammates I might add, had a head-to-head duel on the Barracks. That year the race finished in front of the Pickwick Tennis Club.

It was a general election year, so the street was demarked identifying where the political parties? canvassers were allowed to be. As a result there were several lines before the finishing line. If my memory serves me right ? two other lines were less than 500 yards apart, then another 50 yards or so ? the finishing banner and the line just underneath it.

When a rider sees a line, he rises. This was at the end of our biggest national cycling event, and for the garland. No one (riders) can justify ?why not wait for the checkered flag and a finish banner? ? the situation calls for reaction. Now imagine every rider is in that mode: sprint first ? ask questions afterwards.

This confusing course resulted in one of the biggest controversies that the Belize Cycling Association ever had to face. The two big questions were: firstly, why the other line was not removed at least 0.6 mile away from the finishing line as is the requirement and secondly, the rule of the front wheel breaking the imaginary line perpendicular to the finishing line versus the front wheel touching the finishing line.

The decision that was reached, was against Roque Matus, and to this day he feels that he won, that he is the 1993 champion. Some thirteen years later he can rightfully claim some resemblance of his sense of worth. It is certainly not the same, but he will be remembered for winning the inaugural ride.

The race organizers and the race structure need to be revamped, bringing it from personal subjectivity into the international standards that this class of riders deserves. All in all, it was a success. Keep up the efforts.

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