Part of Daily Life:
Belize conjures up images of sand, sea, rainforests, and Maya pyramids. While this is true, have you ever stopped to contemplate how we get around or what sports we enjoy? What about cars and other modes of transport? The bicycle has been a staple in the daily life of Belizeans since colonial times. Many years ago, they were used because they were cheaper than cars and distances were short. Even children used to ride to school, as adults rode to work. Today, the bicycle is a vital aspect of our lives, and has different meanings and uses to everyone.
The Bicycle’s Four Main Uses
For many, the bicycle is their only vehicle and mode of transport; relied upon to go everywhere. Whether child or adult, policeman, librarian or student—the bike is the way to go! Parents use the bike to carry their children. They have developed a special skill in doing this. Children, seemingly perfectly balanced, straddle the crossbar on their comings and goings, artfully maneuvered by Mom or Dad. The roads are not the smoothest, but they manage.
It is impressive to see how much people can carry on a bicycle. Everything imaginable, from bulging bags to boxes, and all sorts of other tools or equipment, balancing effortlessly front, back, and on handlebars. There are no trailers or Hook-Ups, so people have become very creative. There’s nothing that cannot be moved from racks to TV’s, small pieces of furniture and plants.
Nowadays there are tricycles used to sell any number of wares. They are equipped with umbrellas to protect from sun and rain. One could say, they are peddlers pedaling on main streets, near schools and neighborhoods. You can conveniently and quickly buy meat pies and juice, or donuts, freshly cut fruit and candy, and the famous Sno-Cone, tingly, fresh flavored shaved ice.
Road cycling is a huge sport in Belize and taken very seriously. The Belize Cycling Association is steeped in the promotion and support of this important discipline. There are races throughout the year, and cyclists get up at dawn and can be seen gliding along like so many bugs in their goggles and helmets. Some races are open only to Belizeans, such as the National Championship. However, the most popular, the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic is open to all. Cyclists from around the world participate in this 140-mile road race. Since it is on Easter weekend, everyone in the country pays keen attention and all kinds of careers and professionals take part with enthusiasm. The result is that some top-notch riders have arisen from this effort.
Whether you are a cyclist or not, participant or spectator; come and see what you are missing. Or rent a bicycle while you are here just to ride around and see the sights and interesting people.
Written by Nelita Castillo