This Friday at 6:00 am, one of the world’s great participatory active travel experiences, La Vuelta, will begin anew. The start and finish lines are in Old San Juan. In-between, riders enjoy, or endure as the case may be, a 375-mile cycling trek around the entire circumference of Puerto Rico. Longtime readers of Uncommon Caribbean may remember the Saturday Video post we published on the event back in October, but with the race kicking off this week, let’s take a look at three lesser-known Caribbean cycling adventures…
John T. Memorial Cycling Race, Anguilla
With its posh resorts, tiny size (35 square miles) and amazing sun-kissed beaches, Anguilla is one of the last places you might expect to find a cycling race in the Caribbean. Surprisingly, though, the sport is growing in popularity here, with this race serving as the centerpiece of the island’s annual racing calendar.
Actually, as far as we know, it’s the only event on the annual race calendar. Oh there’s a local cycling club, but its members number less than the island’s square miles.
It’s just this type of small scale that makes the John T. Memorial Cycling Race sound ideal to me. No pomp, no circumstance, just racing and camaraderie amidst some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the Caribbean. In other words, perfect!
The 2011 edition of the John T. Memorial Cycling Race is slated for July 16-17, 2011. The event attracts competitors from neighboring islands who compete along a challenging course that winds across the island. The race begins in Anguilla’s capital, The Valley, before going east to Sandy Hill roundabout, continuing to the West End, then back through Sandy Ground, before returning to the east and the finish back at The Valley (I did mention that Anguilla is small, right?). Male cyclists perform three laps and female participants complete two, with time trials held on the first day and the actual race going down on day two.
For more info, contact The Links Cycling Club of Anguilla (LCCA) at email: [email protected].
Xtreme Duo MTB Race, Bonaire
Best known for its undersea treasures, Bonaire actually has quite a lot to offer active travelers more keen on land-based pursuits as well. One of the main attractions for such terrestrial adventures is the Washington Slagbaai National Park. Established in 1969, the 14-acre seaside nature sanctuary is a haven for bird watching, hiking, kayaking, and of course, SCUBA diving and snorkeling. It also, in recent years, has become a hot spot for mountain biking. So much so, in fact, that last October it hosted the first Xtreme Mountain Bike Duo Race.
Organized by Bonaire Wellness Connexions, a local fitness, sports and health company, the race covers 75 kilometers (46.6-miles) directly through the National Park. The first race drew a diverse field of more than 100 riders from Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela and Canada… Wouldn’t it be cool to be the first entrant from the U.S.?
This year’s Xtreme Duo MTB is slated for October 16th. For more info, Email: [email protected].
La Belle Martinique Amateur Cycle Race
Held each year in November, La Belle Martinique is the cycling race for those of us who prefer to move at our own pace. More of a cycling tour of the island than an actual race, the one-day event starts in Fort-de-France, winds its way through the mountainous northern section of the island, before returning to the capital city. The scenery along the way is breathtaking, as you pedal along coast roads, past endless sugarcane fields, seascapes and urban centers.
Laid-back La Belle sounds like a great way to see and experience Martinique’s charms, while also getting a nice workout.
For more info, click here for the event Website.