Cycling on the Avenue returns after 4-year hiatus

Cycling promoter Michael Phillips speaks during the launch of the 2023 Cycling on the Avenue, held at Mike’s Bikes, Ariapita Avenue, on Thursday. - ROGER JACOB
Cycling promoter Michael Phillips speaks during the launch of the 2023 Cycling on the Avenue, held at Mike’s Bikes, Ariapita Avenue, on Thursday. - ROGER JACOB

CYCLING promoter Michael Phillips is intent on keeping TT’s sporting calendar busy to allow athletes to express themselves and develop their skills despite the challenges of hosting events.

Phillips’s popular Cycling on the Avenue event will return on Wednesday for the first time since 2019 because of the covid19 pandemic. Spectators line the street on Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook cheering on the cyclists during the event, while some residents sit outside their homes to watch the races.

The event will have eight races, starting and ending in front of Mike’s Bikes at the western end of Ariapita Avenue. Primary and secondary school students will participate and the main race will be a 30-lap race featuring international, elite and invitational cyclists. The first race will start at 7.10 pm and the main event will close off the night’s proceedings at 9 pm.

The winner of the main race will win $4,000, second place will earn $3,000 and third place will cop $2,000.

Phillips, a former national cyclist, spoke about the ninth edition of the event at a media conference on Thursday at Mike’s Bikes.

“It’s been a while, last time I would have had the media here would have been 2019,” Phillips said.

He said people were asking if the race would return. “A lot of parents and a lot of cyclists, even fans of the event were asking – are you bringing Cycling on the Avenue back? And the answer to that is ‘that’s why we are here today.’ “

Cycling has been a part of Phillips’s life for decades as the former national cyclist used to compete at the cycling track in the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair.

“It’s a labour of love. I have to say that the team of people that I have working with me...I really asked of them a lot in terms of the time frame that we are putting this together.”

He thanked his family, friends and fellow cycling promoter Jeffrey Charles, who is the chief organiser of the Tobago International Cycling Classic which started on Thursday. The classic is usually held the week before Cycling on the Avenue.

“Without the events, there is no focal point, there is nothing to train for. Otherwise, we then slip into the wellness, exercise and fitness industry...we have more seating capacity than interest in the country because it is seldom that those facilities are full and we need to come up with a strategy in terms of how we are going to get people in those seats.”

Asked what keeps him motivated to host cycling events which can be a tedious and challenging task, Phillips said, “I had a relative ask me that very question yesterday in quite a stern manner...for me this is art. It is about bringing people together. It’s about creating good news because that is what we have the opportunity to do is something I am passionate about.”

Phillips said he has seen the difference his events have made. For the past 15 years, Phillips has been hosting the Keep Moving Family and Fitness Sundays which gives youngsters and their guardians a space on the Diego Martin Highway to exercise.

“I have seen women come there. Maybe a year later they have a little belly bump and some months later they are pushing a stroller and then a couple years later that child is learning to ride a bike and some of those kids have (now) gone to the Carifta Games.”

The sponsors of the event are Lifestyle Motors, Tourism Trinidad Ltd, Subway, Blue Waters, Cimco TT, Computer Power and Supplies Ltd, Phillips Construction, Salon Essentials – a Division of MecalFab Ltd and Newsday.


"Cycling on the Avenue returns after 4-year hiatus"

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