Saturday, 20 November 2010

Bury me with my bike so I can be recycled - Cuba part 3

Cuba part 3 - The cycling

In case you missed them

Part 1 - A Cuban picture view

Part 2 -  From well travelled cake to Che Guevara - Cuba part 2

Like our cycling trip to India over three years ago (it takes me that long to forget how painful an experience a cycling trip can be) this is a fantastic way to see a country, if a little harsh on parts of your body. Face it, 650km in 2 weeks is going to take its toll. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that after just 4 days it felt like my bottom was being sandpapered by a thousand monkeys who, having lost their typewriters, had given up their attempts to try to write the complete works of Shakespeare and were hell bent on creating a bottom version of Mount Rushmore….In short it was damn painful.

It was for this reason I was determined to spend as little time as possible in the saddle. I used a couple of techniques for this, the side saddle approach, propping one cheek on the saddle at a time and the other being the sprint. Give me a flat bit of road and I was off and out of sight. A downward slope was no barrier but I fear I’m starting to develop a real problem with hills, which I think might be psychological. It started a few years ago when the muscles above my knees started to spasm when I put too much strain on them. All my hard work on the flat would be totally undone and I would appear to be going backwards. As soon as I met even the most mediocre of slopes, fellow riders would catch up and pass me. I’m sure having The Beast in my rucksack didn’t help with the hills, but it allowed me to get some (even if I do say so myself) pretty decent shots.

I had great fun speeding off into the distance, jumping off the bike, whipping out The Beast and snapping shots as the group cycled pass. Then jumping back on the bike, off in hot pursuit, overtaking them and doing it all again. On a couple of occasions by the time I had packed The Beast away even the support bus had gone through. No problem on a straight road but a nightmare when you come across a junction with no one there with an nice big arrow showing you the direction to go.

Sat Nav Cuban style

 I cycled through one town and found almost the entire population screaming at me to turn around and take the previous turning. In the UK I would have taken this with a healthy dose of skepticism but I totally trusted my Cuban friends and they did not let me down. God only knows where I would have ended up if they had not helped me out as I had no contact number with me, let alone a phone.  Probably still cycling around Cuba in a futile attempt to catch myself up.....

Mrs. B had a couple of days where she was almost ready to jack it all in. First she came off her bike as we cycled through a forest. It had started to rain and huge puddles soon formed. While I was having fun going through the middle of the lakes, Mrs. B was attempting to tip-toe around the edges.

I seemed to have brought most of the
 mud  out of the forest with me....

This may have kept her cleaner to start off with but the inevitable soon happened and Mrs. B and her bike soon came a cropper. Fortunately her throat broke her fall, as it jammed into a discarded log (trees can be so untidy) leaving what looked like a vampire hicky emblazoned on her neck for a couple of weeks after.
Mrs B and minders (didn't stop her falling over though)
 The very next morning, just as we were starting out, Mrs. B got cut-up by another member of the group and came off the bike again*. Since this was followed by a day of riding on flat uninspiring countryside it made for a very dispirited Mrs. B. It took until the following day when she discovered that she could out perform her husband on even the most modest of slopes to perk her up again. I would like to say that I deliberately performed badly to make her feel better but in truth I was genuinely rubbish….

* Only one other member of our party of 18 had a crash that I am aware of.  Now I’m not saying that Andrea was competitive but after being crowned queen of the hills (the other contender for best climber on the tour, Tony, mysteriously came down with a stomach bug and had to ride in the support bus, just as we reached the hilliest part of the trip. Ummmm, was that really Andrea tampering with Tony’s water bottle…………..?) she was determined not to be beaten and when, just at the end of the last ride, she found out that Mrs. B was ahead of her in the fall count, she jumped right back on her bike, cycled 5 meters and promptly crashed to the ground.

If you go down to the Photo finish area there are some pictures of the cycling and a ditty created by a couple of members about the trip. I myself am finishing on the return flight

Coming home – A flight of fools
While the flight out had been unexciting, bordering on dull, the return flight became exciting before we had even taken our seats. Jesper and Andrea (see photos below if you want to see what they look like), had been allocated seats just behind us. As we approached our places we noticed a rather odd couple squatting in Jesper and Andrea’s seats.

I’m not sure Jesper and Andrea even said anything but just looked at their tickets for seats 45D and 45E.

This was met with a torrent of abuse from the squatting duo…

For five minutes they impressively managed to put up a one-sided fight screaming abuse at Andrea and Jesper. Some of the choice phrases included:

"Are you stupid or what? These are clearly seats 'F' and 'G'"
(The seat letters being marked on the lockers overhead, so you could not  fault their logic,  until you looked at the adjacent seats across the aisle which were labeled 'A', 'B' and 'C')

“Are you calling us liars? We have already told you that we are in the correct seats”
Hmm. Just telling everyone something very loudly and in your face does not necessarily make it true……………..

Well done to the cabin staff who did a magnificent job of vanishing just as the pairs verbal assault reached fever pitch…. Leaving the floor open to me...

I managed to calm them down by infuriating them even more with my statement:

“Wow, you guys clearly had a nice and relaxing holiday”

They seemed  genuienly shocked that someone had spoken  to them and inturupted the one sided argument they were ensconced..  All they managed was a rather weak and unconvincing: -

"We had been having a great time till we met rude f*ckers like you….”

They eventually quietened down a bit and shortly afterwards leant over to Andrea and said:

“Sorry, I think we might be in your seats…” and then proceeded to try and strike up a nice friendly "how was your  holiday?" conversation with Andrea….  Jesper had already put in ear plugs and turned his back on the quarrelsome pair….

We heard nothing from them for a couple of hours and as it was a night flight Mrs B put her seat into the recline position and managed to fall asleep. (To be honest Mrs B can fall asleep on the head of a pin.) She was rudely awaked by the pair kicking the back of her seat and screaming abuse because they wanted a drink and objected to Mrs B’s seat being in the recline position….So if you shouldn’t use the recline feature during a night flight when can you use it?

They were last seen arguing with people (or was it with themselves?) as they fought for their bags at Gatwick airport.  To put things into context he was wearing what looked like pyjamas and she looked like she had finished off all the cakes that had ever been carried around Cuba. Rather impressively they managed to display a combined I.Q less than their row number.

It didn’t finish there; the woman next to Mrs. B started to get all fidgety and kept leering across at me. Having spent two weeks avoiding such unwanted attention** I was more than capable of ignoring her disdainful glares. After about an hour of this fidgeting, the demented woman managed to wake the dead (sorry, I mean Mrs B) for the second time in the flight and asked her if her husband (that would be me, the one avoiding all eye and ear contact with her) would mind if she angled the light at him. A bleary-eyed Mrs B looked across at her and said “Why don’t you just switch it off?”

Demented woman – “Oh it’s not my light, it’s your husband’s.”

Mrs B – “Have you tried your switch?”

Demented woman - tried switch and plunged herself into darkness, muttering something that might have been an apology or possibly a curse under her breath

Mrs B sank back into another deep slumber – no doubt dreaming of the day when we can sit up front with Jack Nicholson and not in the back of the plane amongst the extras from “One Flew Over a Cuckoos Nest”

While I tried hard (and failed) not to piss myself laughing….

** The Beast seems to attract the local Cuban tramp population by the bucket load. They would sidle up to me and just stand there, waiting for cash I guess. Since Mrs. B was holding the purse most of the time they were very much out of luck.

A Record of the week

Bicycle Race by Queen

[I Wanna Start A Fight] by  Pink

I'm Not Calling You A Liar by Florence The Machine

Strange Ones - by Supergrass

Photo finish
As a little treat for you this week, to accompany some of the photos I've hired, at no expense whatsoever, a couple of cycling poets - Ian Gray and Roger “Dr Death” Black (or should that be Dr Black Death).

While I was cycling around taking pictures, Ian and Roger were creating this little ditty about our cycling group (The Beast is a little disappointed that it did not get a proper mention as the unofficial 19th member of the group but I’m sure he will get over it). Ian performed it on the last night and kindly gave me permission to include it in the BlackLOG. So take it away Ian and Roger

(With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
as written and performed by Ian
Co-written and directed by Roger
Lighting held by Jenny
We all came to Cuba to enjoy this Caribbean Isle
Not for us the all-inclusive food/drink/beach party style.
No we're travelling around the island the way we do all like
Donned in shorts helmets, pedalling on our bike.

So who's been in this group of 18 on our bus?
Here's our view in no particular order, without prejudice or fuss
 Please note that this was the backup bus for
 12 of the bikes not for 18 people ....

Now Andrea our Green Goddess Fitness Queen does train & train & train
The only problem she pedals so hard she keeps pulling off her chain !!

Andrea - Queen of the hills and winner with
two falls but no submission
Louise.Maid Marion forever on time, so organised in every way
No wonder her suitcase weighs a whacking 23.2 K !
Numerous changes of clothing,glossy lipstick, two alarm clocks,energy bars galore
She' prepared for EVERYTHING on this Grand Cuban Cycling Tour!

Poor Barry & Sally...had to dilly-dally
When ill & take to the bus
Thankfully they're both well recovered
And cycling without any fuss! 
Barry & Sally

So to Graham & Libby..Tis TweedleDum & TweedleDee !
They wear identical clothing
Didn't you see? Didn't you see? Didn't you see??? 
Graham & Libby - the one time I saw
them apart I was worried that they 
had got a quickie divorce 

Now Orla The Virgin Frequent Flyer has a case that seems to weigh half a ton
Goodness knows what's in it
Certainly enough for EVERYONE! 

I've found a secret about Roger the crafty so and so
That he will be surprised to know
So I will tell you what I've just heard
That from childhood he has been an anorak car nerd!! 
Dr Roger Black-Death

And so to Jen..My Mother Hen
She keeps her eye on me
She's pestering me to join her to climb Kili
But first it's Italy
Jen - so hungry she was
prepared to eat wood....
(Philip, Christian stop
 sniggering at the back)

Straight out of Dad's Army Stores supply
With special brim to keep sand out the eye
Were fancy helmets for Niel & Nicky.
Whose gloves were smelly & most sticky.
Why was this, we wondered why?
Til we saw the glint in Niel's eye
With telescopic sights all set to go
Who do you think you're kidding Mr Castro?
Mrs B with her cycle helmet.

 looks like it was another
  muddy day at the office for me....

I did arrive clean at the end of
a couple of rides.....honest....

Has the Dagenham dustbin been laid to rest?
Have you not seen Phil's manly chest?
No Escort required. No Ford Orion
He focussed his sights onto the horizon
The rest of us could only marvel
At the speed & power of the dashing Blue Oval !

Tony The Dubliner did the boot camp lots & lots
But was oh so unlucky to fall ill with the trots !
He went to his hotel room to recover from the heat
To find a brand new toilet but ALAS no toilet seat!!
Tony - before Andrea got to his water bottle
- I think he has got some of my mud.

 Our friend from North America was on an adventure
Was this however a case of dementia?
Unable to name a famous Canadian
From that great & mighty Nation
What about anything a countryman had invented?
Could Jeanette perhaps be getting demented?
A vegetarian vegan.......Whatever next?
The famous item was her green cycling vest !
 Jeanette, I was only this
far behind, on a 1 Inch = 1 Mile scale


Hans Christian Jesper is a transport buff
Pedalling so fast on terrain so rough
Full of guff on the reddish stuff
Made of bananas known as ketchup!
Jesper - tried to convince Ian & Roger
that Cuban Ketchup's main ingredient
was banana....

And so to me "failed pop-star" OAP
This is what Roger penned about me!!

Ian was our thinnest member
Novice cyclist but serious contender.
Pedalling frantically but talking faster
Showing his comrades who was faster.
His slim profile was enhanced
By his camera stuffed down his pants!
Thus he excited every local
Who all became extremely vocal.
It fell into a foetid crack
Did the unfortunate Kodak !
Alas the sweat of his crotch
Proved for the camera just too much !!
 Ian, where did I stuff my camera?

First in the pool First in the sea
I wonder who on earth that can be?
He removed his footwear so we could all inhale
A pungent aroma, exceedingly stale.
Even worse was the halitosis
Athlete's Foot was the diagnosis!
On the tarmac Gracita could be seen
Pedalling furiously to keep up with Mr Bean !
Yes David is a quirky guy. Doesn't do the norm.
Hardly wears his helmut.Hates having to conform.
Totally anti PC. Won't bother to put on the deet
Then takes his shoes off in the bus.
Oh God ,It's those smelly smelly feet !
David - Look no hands...


Thanks to Exodus,Jose Loius, Alexis.& of course our great guide Freddie
Who between them all ensured us well informed & ready.
So have we all enjoyed the trip? I CERTAINLY know we have.
Despite some of the group spending too much time "sat on the lav"
Some of us also suffered from a very sore bum
Soon remedied by a tot of white rum
Freddie - Tour Guide

Alexis - our driver


The country is so fascinating. There's been lots for us to see.
Just a pity we could never find drinkable milk or a decent cup of tea!
So all of us together stand .This is what we say
"Viva La Cuba! Viva La Cuba". OLE OLE OLE !!!!!!!


To finish off some final images of our  Cuba trip - Would we go with Exodus again - 100% yes 

Me and my Shadow - David was apperntly part
of the 1834 slave revolt......

Military precision as Libby and Graham
lead the 2010 bike revolution....

They had orderd matching black uniforms for
everyone but they were still in the post.... 

Mirror lake....

David - look no feet

I was not aware it had to be only one or the other.....

Tony speeding through in search of a toilet....

Another day another view

Only another 80km to go....

Trinidad - Old town square

Is that Oasis on the Cuban leg of their tour?

The Cuban Police seemed pretty relaxed

The world famous Cuban drag act..

Roger tries to explain one of his complex
life theories to Mrs B

Hope this gives you some idea of the scenery
that we got to cycle through.

I was so intent on getting ahead
taking pictures of everyone
and then trying to catch up
that I've only now started to
appreciate the landscape....

Mrs B and Mega Mini Beast were trying to take a
picture of the nice rock when this Lizard
walked into shot....How rude....
Roger could probably tell you
The make
The model
the year of make
the MPH
the engine size
The designer

While all I can tell you that it is green,
not very helpful unless you are colour blind.

For any colour blind people grateful for
 my assistance I will happily accept  
cash or cheques

Feeding time at the Zoo

The Cuban moon liked to come out during the day

Actually I'm not sure if I ever saw it out at night

I wonder if it is afraid of the dark?

You could  play Catchprase with this

Roy Walker - "Say what you see"

Contestent - "Is it a pool with rocks"

Roy Walker - "It's a good answer, but not what's on the card"
Under his breath "Where do they get these idiots from?"

The Peleton has yet another photo finish

One last look at that little puppy

And to balance the books for you cat lovers....

At last Freddie gets his spinach
 ration but still comes in last.

 Lou, never one to miss out on
 a quick photo opportunity.

 "Che" Guevara

A bit of info for you

Che was just a nickname, his real name
 was Ernesto. Che means somthing like mate  
and is an expression used by many Argentinians. 
So I guess Ernesto probably over used it when he first
 met  his Cuban revolutionary friends, who adopted it
 for him.

He's lucky he didn't call them somthing rude.
I'm not sure "Shit for brains" Guevara would have
 had the same gravitas .. 

Mrs B, happy to be almost there....

Mrs B salutes putting the end of
 her suffering behind her.

Hope you enjoyed the Cuba review - next week it's back into the daily grind of life in Bishop's Stortford. feel free to drop in and say hello.....


  1. Looks like a great time and thanks for the lovely photos.

  2. Mark Price said...
    Looks like a great time and thanks for the lovely photos.
    It was thanks, glad you enjoyed the pictures

  3. skipperthewonderhorse said...
    Tttthhhhhaaaaaannnnnnkkkkkk yyyyoooouuuu

  4. Yup ... Beast Groupie for sure!

    PS - maybe don't quit your day job for a poet's life.


  5. Danica-Dragonfly said...
    Yup ... Beast Groupie for sure!
    You made my day, I was feeling depressed following the lack of response to this particular blog

    PS - maybe don't quit your day job for a poet's life.
    Ouch, I’m just glad it was not my poetry….


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