MONTREAL — By day, Sylvan Adams, head of Iberville Developments Ltd., is a savvy, successful real estate developer.
Come evening, though, you’re just as likely to catch Adams, 49, manoeuvring his mega-expensive racing bike around a looping track, competing in a bike race on the Criterium circuit.
And as often as not, he’s a fair bet to win.
Adams said these days, he competes “two to four” times a week in the masters category in the sport he loves.
He loves cycling and racing so much, in fact, that he recently took up former Maccabi Canada president Roy Salomon’s offer to captain Canada’s first cycling team entry at the next Maccabiah Games in 2009.
Salomon told The CJN that cycling has received the go-ahead to be a competition sport at the next games, set for July 12 to 23, 2009.
“There should be 11 or 12 countries competing,” he said. “It’s got the potential to be very big.”
For Adams, who has been to Israel many times but never to the Games, the opportunity is more than welcome.
“I’ve known Roy and [his late brother] Dick my whole life,” Adams said in an interview. “I don’t take on many of these types of projects, but Roy tells me there’s a very, very special feeling when you’re there.”
Indeed, Adams believes that heading Canada’s first Jewish cycling team will be a fine way to mesh his abiding respect for the Maccabi cause with his own passion for the sport.
It was a passion that was rekindled for Adams about a decade ago. Always active in sports, Adams grew into adulthood on his bike. “I didn’t even own a car until I was 24.”
Although he always stayed active in one sport or another, he took up serious cycling in his late 30s, which he acknowledged was “relatively late.” He then got the racing bug after seeing a Criterium race in Laval. The person who urged him to go was Paulo Saldanha, a former top Canadian and two-time Canadian masters road cycling champion.
Adams confesses that before that moment, he didn’t even realize that there was an organized bike-racing circuit.
“I left there completely exhilarated,” he recalled, and at age 40, decided to try racing out for himself. He got the required licence to race, and he was off. One year into it, Adams had already won four races in his age group – 39 to 49. One of his more recent competitions was a Père Sablon race on the Criterium circuit.
Adams said in terms of recruiting members for the Maccabi Canada team, he would be “putting feelers out,” reaching out to Canadian Jewish cyclists who might be interested in competing at the Games, which are expected to see the participation of a record 8,000 Jewish athletes from around the world.
The overriding criteria for qualifying, Adams said, will be racing results. “No trials are necessary.” Adams himself plans to compete in the masters category.
Perhaps only cycling aficionados would truly understand the appeal of the sport, but for Adams, it’s a matter of the harmony it produces between the rider and the bike.
“I love the noises of the bicycle, the sound of the bicycle, the speed of the bicycle,” he said.
Sports like tennis and hockey are “all-skill sports,” Adams said. Cycling, of course, also takes talent and training, but it’s less technical in nature, and in that sense, more democratic, allowing all, regardless of age, to enjoy those qualities.
Individuals interested in competing in cycling at the 2009 Maccabiah Games can contact Adams by e-mail at email@example.com.