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.
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.
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.
* 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
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
- I think he has got some of my mud.
that Cuban Ketchup's main ingredient