Tuesday 19 June 2007

Cubans and Cycling

At the Cuban Carnival the other day I was very impressed at how Cubans had turned up for the event dressed to the nines all ready to do some serious salsa dancing. And they weren't short of partners ! Cubans take their dancing seriously.
Being at the carnival took me back to when I was in Cuba almost 10 years ago.

I have great memories of the place - strolling down Havana's Malecon in the hot afternoon sun and contemplating the calm sea; sipping Mojito to the sound of Ruben Gonzalez in Old Havana; travelling in an ox and cart with the locals through the dusty streets of Santa Clara, and cycling through the countryside around the World Heritage site of Trinidad.

Cycling is another activity that Cubans take seriously. Fuel shortages and a lack of spare parts means that motorised vehicles gives way to widespread bicycle transport - almost as much as in China. In fact many bicycles are from there since 2 million of them were imported from China in the early nineties. People ride with such skill as they carry almost anything on a bike. Including their families !

Their elite riders are pretty adept as well - especially the women track cyclists. At the World Track Cycling Championships this year Yumari Gonzalez took gold in the scratch race, and Lisandra Guerra (left) took silver in the 500m time trial. Yoanka Gonzalez (right) is currently the UCI world number 1 points race track rider.

So, it's not just about salsa - it's also about the bike !

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