Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category

i’m baaaaaack…

Posted: 03/11/2002 in cuba, cycling, grad school

got in about 1 a.m., after about a 14-hour day of travel, including layovers. i will be ever so glad when i can directly fly to cuba. yesterday started at 9 a.m., with the driver leaving me at the wrong gate at jose marti, and i had to walk (30-pound backpack and all) about a mile on the side of the road to the other terminal. i love that. in the states, they’d insist on you taking a shuttle or something. instead, i was just trundling along like anyone else there. no one bugged me.

anywho, the trip was really good. i have many stories to tell, but they will gradually be dispensed through the journal.

the highlights:
* running into pedro, my cycling guide from the past two trips. he doesn’t even live in havana. stephanie and i were outside this apartment bldg., trying to fix our bikes, and we hear this familiar voice: there was pedro with these two guys. he was leading them on a self-supported trip to trinidad, santa clara etc. (which is the one stephanie and i took two years ago). we told him we were going to matanzas (about 65 miles away) to find him…how weird is that? they were riding to matanzas the next day, so we rode with them! we had to carry all of our gear on our bikes, so i really pared down my stuff so i could carry it. how liberating and serendipitous! i swear, my mother was looking out for me.

* stephanie and tom were not as strong of riders as me and bob, so on the first day, bob and i headed on, while pedro waited with them to flag down a ride. the headwinds were hellish and there was a cold, lashing rain. we made it about 5 or 6 miles more, and this bus stopped, pedro popped out and asked if we wanted to ride. i conceded.

pedro mentioned that this would be part of our “cuban experience” and said that one of the women on the bus was a dancer with the cabaret for the tropical club (very famous). i’m all wet, muddy and disheveled and sit down next to this guy. i look around the bus and notice that everyone has this understated elegance about them. they had that artsy, lithe look of dancers and musicians. turns out, it was the tour bus for the cabaret! can you imagine? it was a riot. i hope my photos turn out well. i have one of me with the group…

*the guys went on to trinidad after we were all in matanzas for a couple of nights. (which was fun to have the company) stephanie and i set out for playa jibacoa, this incredible, unspoiled beach about 35 miles outside of matanzas. i carried all of our gear, because she was having trouble. we stayed at this really cool place where the cubans stay. we had a little cottage with a veranda, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room — for $19 apiece. we hung our laundry out on the porch, supported by a bungee cord, as it dried in the ocean breeze. how lovely.

* on saturday, stephanie was not up for much riding, so we hitchhiked. she stood on the side of the road, with a fan of dollar bills in her hand. we immediately got lucky. a flatbed truck pulled over, already with a family and a few others on board. quickly, we tossed our packs to someone on the truck, and picked up the bikes and handed them up and got in…what a cool experience. soon, we were joined by about 15 others. what an experience.

you get the idea…it was very liberating and exciting in that unpredictable, wonderful way that traveling by your wits and whims will provide.
what a good feeling.

it makes me sad for people who live with too much fear to try something outside their comfort zone. i saw all these people (ok, couples) going to and returning from cancun. the women all had those stupid braids and were sunburned and the guys wore Senor Frog’s T-shirts or whatever. i kept thinking, there is more to life than some pre-fab notion of fun.

stephanie, who is more cynical than i am, wryly remarked as we rode the shuttle past all the hideously garish hotels and resorts in cancun, “what an abomination this place is.” i loved it.

i admit, i have an addiction to traveling like this. i always come back stronger and more self-assured.

spring break

Posted: 03/02/2002 in cuba, cycling, grad school

it’s such a riot to be my age and a student and saying, “i’m on spring break.”

i’m off to c-u-b-a by way of cancun. it looks to be a regular sun-sentinel reunion in havana, as angel, maya and nolin are all there…as well as v. i just hope no one takes over any more embassies. i’m bringing a shitty point-n-shoot camera for simplicity and weight. can you imagine me whipping out my imac-blue $35 kodak advantix in the middle of some unrest? i don’t even think the cubans would take me seriously.

all right…off to the shower…see you in eight or nine days.

mixed bag

Posted: 03/01/2002 in cuba, cycling, grad school

i have so much shit to do before i leave tomorrow for cuba…i keep procrastinating about what to do about taking my bike. i think i’ve settled upon the notion that i will find a used, decent one, take it over there and leave it behind for someone who could use it. two reasons: it’s a good deed, and secondly, it’s pragmatic: i hate dragging my bike around in a box through airports…plus, it costs me more money to take it on board. i may as well cut the loss and do something good.

of course, i’m nervously eyeing the news about a bunch of cubans who rammed a truck through the mexican embassy gates yesterday. they were seeking asylum. this is how mariel started, and the balsero exodus of 1994…it would be my luck if all hell breaks loose when i’m there.

i met a really interesting and inspiring guy yesterday. he’s a londoner with an aussie accent who left the uk when he was 16 and made a most amazing film,dark days about the lives of people who live under the subways in nyc.

i thought he was one of these bleeding-heart suburbanites who parachutes in for a week or two and gets his footage and goes home to leave them in their misery.

instead, it was quite the opposite. this guy, marc singer, became fascinated by how these people lived, so he ended up living there with them for quite a while. he wanted to do something to help them out of their plight. one night, someone suggested that somebody needed to make a film about them, and singer decided he would.

never mind the fact that this guy had no idea how to operate a camera or lights, much less afford to pay for stuff. but through a lot of luck and pluck, he did. he got the other homeless people there to be his crew. by the end, they were kicked out of the tunnel, and many of them ended up in section eight housing.

that’s a reader’s digest version of the story…it was inspiring to me, because this guy was actually one of them and didn’t set out to tell their story. it just sort of happened that way. he’s lucky to be blessed with some natural talent. plus, of course, he is gorgeous and quite charming. and he lives in nearby high springs now….hmmmmm….

finally, it is such a relief not to care anymore about things that once bothered me. i simply don’t care. and that is a welcome thing.

talk about studly

Posted: 02/23/2002 in cycling

damn, i just stood in a chilly rain, watching a few laps of a criterium race going on in downtown today. mike told me about it yesterday, and i planned to go watch it, but it was rainy and cold, so i figured no one would do it. wrong.

man, those guys were out there on rain-slicked cobblestone going around and around the 1K course, on skinny-tire road bikes…it was pretty inspiring, i have to say. unfortunately, i was cold and wet and didn’t stay very long. but, i’m glad i saw a little of it.

map pest

Posted: 12/30/2001 in cycling

damned mapquest. i used it to find the tallahassee-st. marks bike trail yesterday and it sent me to the st. marks geopark. wha?

and i was lucky to have found that b/c just as we’re getting to a crucial part of the directions, it simply says, “turn right.” the key piece of information about where to turn was omitted. brilliant.

anyway, after stopping a cop outside a famu frat house and a waitress at denny’s, i managed to find said trail. it was nice…but kinda flat. i wanted hills.

but, it was nice to see tally and take in the state capitol (which has lovely red and whote striped awnings). save for the redneck riviera, i have been to every major city in florida now…

today, i will get busy with attempting to start my new website… i bought a canon photo scanner for 89 bucks the other night, and decided it was a worthwhile investment. that way i don’t have to horse around with the ones at the university…

wow, one more week of this…the possibilities stretch out before me.

sunday, sunday, sunday!

Posted: 10/07/2001 in cycling

bigass hills…SUNday….bikers from all over…SUNday…rain…SUNday.

that pretty much sums up this morning’s ride. all i can say is, thank god, i had enough sense to not ride the 100…did 58, which was bad enough.

oy, hills make a huge difference in a long ride. marion county has some pretty good climbs. i was thinking about cuba and pedro’s “rolling hills.” but overall, it wasn’t bad.

stayed with a large paceline for the first half. i am the queen of the flats. i rock on flat roads…hills are another story.

it rained most of the ride, which wasn’t so bad. i opened my mouth and caught raindrops on my tongue, to amuse myself.

the worst part was, i got my new shoes yesterday afternoon, and attached new cleats to them last night. no time to break them in. i need some adjusting. everytime we would stop (and thankfully, this was minimal), i would have a devil of a time clipping back in.

met a coupla nice guys…luc, this french guy from orlando and drew, who lives in clearwater. i love meeting interesting people on rides.

i plan to do more of this…

sweaty betty

Posted: 04/14/2001 in cycling, life

got back from a good 20-mile ride with my group. we kicked ass on the way up…23 mph. of course, no headwind.

on the way back, chatted with debbie, one of the spin instructors/novice cyclists. she’s having her own personal crises, like me…must be something going around.

i dreamed about being infatuated with a younger guy last night. don’t know where that’s coming from. hope this doesn’t become a pattern.

i love the energy and enthusiasm of guys who are younger. they are sincere and sweet and try to be deep. sometimes they succeed. it’s cute. but then their young-guy ways kick in and there’s no way they can be ( or should be) ready for a relationship, and frustration sets in, despite my feigning otherwise. sigh.

guys my age and older can be so boring…there has to be a middle ground somewhere — someone mature but fun and adventurous and daring.
actually, don was like that. oh my. he was gorgeous and wonderful in the right ways. of course, he was going thru a divorce and that made for a rocky situation. plus, it didn’t help he lived in seattle….

all right…i’m damp with perspiration from the ride. need to hop in the shower and on to work.