When you think about the sport of cycling, Tour de France is usually less than one mental pedal stroke away. That it is an annual men’s multiple stage event, perhaps confirms that there is still a lot of difficult terrain to cover before consumer preferences for marquee sports achieve gender equity. But that is a complicated conversation for another day.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago, on May 29th 2022, the day before the Indian Arrival Day public holiday, 121 cyclists of both genders, varying ages, skill and fitness levels; saddled on varying types of road-worthy bicycles, participated in the first annual Tour de Toco cycling event. This leisure event was organized by Peddlers Cycling Club. The route of this epic endurance ride was from the carpark of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope to the lighthouse at Galera Point, Toco.
The University of the Southern Caribbean was happy to join the list of corporate sponsors for Tour de Toco 2022. Our university found common ground with the core values and raison d’être of the Peddlers Cycling Club which according to its president, USC alumnus Mr. Brian Scotland, centres around the pursuit of wellness trough the enjoyment of the outdoors and the benefits of non-competitive exercise.
Formed in April of 2020 early in the throes of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Trinidad and Tobago, the club that was some time in planning had to abandon great plans for an official launch in Tobago opting instead – without fanfare to begin a weekly schedule of Sunday morning rides. With most other cycling clubs on the country favouring Saturday morning rides, Scotland, a Seventh-day Adventist, found it difficult to pursue his hobby with existing clubs. He and a few other like-minded cyclists – many of whom had some connection to the University of the Southern Caribbean as alumni, current and former faculty or staff – founded Peddlers Cycling Club.
As a leisure and fitness oriented organization, the club continues to attract a diverse membership, committed to non-competitive self-improvement and achieving health and fitness goals in a morally uplifting environment. The growth of in the influence of the club in the local cycling fraternity is evidenced by the growth in subscription to its events. The first major tour event of the club, a Mount Hope to Mayaro Ride was held in November of 2021. It attracted 53 participants. Tour de Toco, held just over a week ago attracted 121 participants – a growth of almost 130 percent. The club is now a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation and the President of the federation, Ms. Rowena Williams, was on hand on May 29th to bring greetings and declare the start of the first annual Tour de Toco.
In its short life to date, the club has also impacted the national and regional community through it charity work which has included offering material relief to victims of natural disasters including floods in Trinidad and Tobago and catastrophic volcanic ash falls in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are future plans for more and greater proactive community involvement.
Cyclists can look forward to the 2022 edition of the Mount Hope to Mayaro Ride later this year and a ‘Ridecation’ in Dominica in 2023. The itinerary of the latter will include two rides around the nature island of the Caribbean and targeted community activities aimed at improving the quality of life of disadvantaged children and the elderly.
Peddlers Cycling Club can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.