Cyclists ready to embrace course change
Bermuda's cyclists will embrace the change when St George's becomes the starting point for next year's Sinclair Packwood Memorial race, although with a different entry on to Front Street than the runners in the Appleby Bermuda Half Marathon Derby.
Officials of the Bermuda Bicycle Association are still working out the course, with the intention to retain the Front Street portion of the race heading into the finish on Cedar Avenue.
Organisers will look into turning left on to either King Street or Court Street and then right on to Front Street, adding a couple of tricky turns to the race similar to the Church Street/Burnaby Street turn, which is where Dominique Mayho had his hopes of defending his title dashed on Monday.
“We love the idea [of a course change], we think it will be exciting and is a very different course profile, the most notable being the length of the hills,” Peter Dunne, the BBA president, said.
“I think the runners will find that as well, that there is no getting away with a simple Burnt House Hill.
“Including Lane Hill in the course, which the runners will use, may make it too dangerous for the cyclists travelling at high speed.
“There will be a couple of long drags from Bailey's Bay to the top of Crawl, then Flatts Hill past Whitney and then from the old church in Devonshire right up to ZBM at Fort Hill.
“Those are really long drags; not steep, but the power guys could really decimate the field. They are the guys who can make that long grind, who can go really fast up short and steep hills.”
Shannon Lawrence will open the defence of his first Packwood title when the course is introduced next year, but the terrain certainly lends to something new and challenging.
“We haven't figured out the course details yet, but once we get past Montpelier we have to find a way to get down to Front Street,” Dunne said.
“But coming down Lane Hill, one of the riders suggested we talk to Works & Engineering about straightening that section out a bit.
“Coming from the east will be very exciting, I bet the race will be super-fast and it will be a new challenge. If we can work out going down Court Street, it's a nice wide road and swinging on to Front Street makes it very exciting with a technical thing right at the end.”
The race has become a popular feature of the day since the first was held in 1987. It was later named in memory of Packwood, a two-times winner of the race in 1992 and 1993. The finish of the race briefly switched to Frog Lane before moving back to Cedar Avenue in 2006.
Winners have ranged from teenagers Khamari Greaves and Ricky Sousa Jr to senior Jeff Payne, who defied age to win the 1997 race at 58, becoming the first person to win both the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby in 1980 and the cycle race.
“Some tactical races tend to be slower and we look less at the records,” Dunne said.
“I had a chat with Dr [Gina] Tucker the other day and they've got a course in their minds and we'll just piggyback on that, except for that little bit in Hamilton. When they finished at the National Stadium, it made the race different and exciting.”