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Mountain biking on rise

Mountain biking on rise ON THE MOVE: Randy ‘Ells Man’ Licorish is one of the island’s top mountain bike riders. (GP)

By Randy Bennett | Sun, May 05, 2013 - 12:03 AM

It is one of the most exciting, exhilarating and enthralling sports known to man.

And with an increasing following in recent months, mountain bike racing is on the rise here in Barbados.

Commonly seen as a sport reserved for “select individuals”, more and more Barbadians are now opting to hop onto their bikes to enjoy the fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping sport.

Derrick Fredrick, one of the main catalysts behind the revival of mountain bike racing in Barbados, is excited about the speedy growth which the sport has undergone in recent times.

Frederick, who is the director of 4X Four Cross Mountain Bike Racing, revealed that at a recent event, children as young as age four and people up to 50 had participated.

He said that this showed a wide cross-section of Barbadians were now looking to mountain bike racing for enjoyment and exercise.

“Let me first begin by saying that mountain bike racing is a sport for everyone,” Frederick pointed out.

“What I have found, though, is that most people who tend to be interested in mountain bike racing are adventure-seekers.

“They tend to be persons who are associated with activities such as hiking, surfing and karate because they tend to like thrills.”

The sport was given a huge boost in 2011 when Royal Westmoreland donated a spot of land in Lancaster, St James, which has since been transformed into a circuit.

And since hosting their first mountain bike meet in Barbados last June, there has been no shortage of avid thrill-seekers.

According to Frederick: “The interest shown has been tremendous, to say the least. When you look at the number of bikers who competed in March and compare them to the numbers from our inaugural event last year, those numbers have more than tripled.

“The sport has not only grown in terms of . . . bikers who are coming out to compete, but also in the number of people who attend these events to lend their support.

“This shows me that mountain biking is a sport that has the potential to grow and become a very popular sport here in Barbados,” Frederick maintained.

Randy “Ells Man” Licorish’s name has become synonymous with the sport here in Barbados, having become one of the island’s elite riders.

Not only has he dominated the local scene, he has also taken his talent throughout the Caribbean, most notably to Trinidad where he has had tremendous success.

With over 25 years’ experience under his belt, Licorish revealed that it has been a long and challenging road.

“I’ve travelled throughout the Caribbean partaking in mountain bike races.

“Obviously without . . . any sponsorship, it has been very costly on my pocket and very time-consuming, but it was a sacrifice that I had to make to get to the highest level.”

With mountain biking being an Olympic sport, Licorish believes that the possibility of a Barbadian making the Olympics to compete was very real.

“For sure, we have a good chance of producing a biker who can make it to the Olympics.

“That is one of the main reasons I have been training and pushing myself so hard as well, because it is one of my goals to represent Barbados at the Olympics,” he outlined.

For this to be possible, Frederick said, the private sector needed to show more interest in the sport.

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