MARIGOT—As one of the two most active cycling clubs on the French side, Velo Club de Sandy Ground (VCSG) focuses most of its effort and resources on training the new generation of up and coming cyclists, from the very youngest up to the talented teens, many of whom will go on to become champions in their own right.
It’s a serious commitment for the club and its 40 or so young members and its thanks to the willingness and dedication of the coaches, and cooperation of parents, to take on the task that ensures the island is well represented at races here and abroad.
VCSG holds team practice twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Uniformed riders on the road in the Lowlands, Baie Nettle, Sandy Ground area with their coaches is a familiar sight. They also join the training rides on Tuesday on the airport road and the hill training on Thursdays in Lowlands. The importance of this regular training cannot be overstated.
With narrow roads not in the best of conditions and motorists not always very tolerant of cyclists sharing the road, it’s a challenge for coaches to also keep their riders safe. But VCSG Vice-President and Coach Patricio “Blade” Carty sees an improvement in the attitude on the road.
“We do appreciate the car drivers for not blowing their horns and getting angry. That gives the riders confidence to focus on their riding and not feel that they are in danger,” says Blade.
Its also thanks to subventions granted by the Collectivité and the State to associations that permits VCSG to take riders to Guadeloupe or Martinique for races where they gain experience and get used to racing at a higher level than in St. Martin. VCSG has frequently participated in these regional races, the latest being on August 8-9 for two races in Guadeloupe.
Three Cadets (15-16 age group) Alexander Brooks, Rolandio Lake and Garcia Sanchez Yerlin, found they were in a very competitive, tough field, and did not finish the race, but it’s the experience that counts. Jahkim Carty raced in the Minime (13-14 years) category on the first day with 30 riders, finishing ninth in the sprint.
“Overall, the training is progressing very well,” adds Carty. “But at a certain point you are no longer making any gains by riding against the same people here. That’s why it’s important to expose our riders to a higher level, to ride against stronger riders and gain the experience of riding in a larger peloton. This is how we have to build our future to get to a higher level.”