Tag Archive for ‘Caribbean Racing’
It was Martha and the Vandellas who sang about, “Dancin’ in the Street” – it happens for real in Port of Spain.
Outside the Coco Lounge the guys go into clinches with their girls on the pavement, one even has his black beauty do a couple of twirls.
“I did OK there, man?” he asks me as he looks up to where I’m leaning over the balcony.
I give him the thumbs up.
Pete takes it further, he goes down to dance with one of the TV’s who are cruising the strip.
Fort William could be somewhere I saw in a movie; once you’re in the Tropics it seems to affect your perceptions of time and place.
But it’s where the Scottish 10 mile time trial championship is taking place, today – under the shadow of mighty Ben Nevis.
Martin, our editor and web-guy is riding it and – strange though it may seem – I’d like to have been there.
Despite the total absence of non-cycling fraternity spectators and the fact that a high percentage of the field will be veterans, it’s a Scottish Championship and deserves a little bit of attention…
Meanwhile, just off the coast of Venezuela, the sun splits the sky and it’s only that glorious wind from the ocean that makes life bearable.
‘Mad man’s rant’ is blasting from the Colt’s stereo, we have the windows down to let the cool air rush in, Pete’s at the wheel and Andreas Muller sits smiling contentedly in the back – all’s well in Tobago.
Much of the T & T ‘Soca’ music is topical, dealing with social issues like drugs and gang violence; political, blaming the politicians for high prices and squandering public funds or be-rating certain ethnic groups – I’m not sure a lot of it would get played in the UK.
Our morning mission was to take Leif to the supermarket and pick up his bikes ready for them to go on the ferry to Trinidad.
“Abraham takes on the world,” said the headline in Thursday’s paper; USA, Canada, Jamaica, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Switzerland – that’s not a bad cross section.
But did he beat the world? All will be revealed.
“Stop playin’ de ass hole an’ listen!’ Dem Trini shop manager girls don’t put up with no nonsense from their staff.
Tobago is hot, real hot, damn hot – it’s just the strong breeze which is preventing certain parts of me from spontaneously combusting.
We’re staying in Viola’s at Lowland, which is the flat coastal strip between the capital of Scarborough and where we are now – Pigeon Point at the south west tip of the island.
This is one of the top ten beaches in the world, albeit that a lot of it is covered with seaweed, which dilutes the ‘paradise’ vision, just a little.
If you want to escape from politics, Trinidad & Tobago ain’t the place to come.
In Rituals coffee shop they have the novel idea of screening the News channel, where politicians pontificate endlessly about the upcoming election (sound familiar, folks in the UK?) whilst ‘New country’ wails from the PA.
There’s one song that reckons that if you play a Country song backwards; ‘you get your wife back, you get your house back, you get your dog back…’ and so on, down to the washing machine, stereo, etc. It’s a good sound track for the rants up on the screen.
All night drive-in pharmacies aren’t really the place cyclists should be seen at gone midnight, but Leif liked the ‘skin powder’ the Red Cross guys used on his abrasions so much that we had to pop in and see if we could get some.
They didn’t have any, but it was another one for my ‘experiences’ file.
Like Pete said; ‘if Leif hadn’t crashed and Roberto hadn’t gone home, it would have been a good night!’
I felt like one of those football reporters who has the copy all neatly spell checked; then the 2-1 down losing side bangs in two in the last 90 seconds.
Roberto Chiappa was going to win the sprint final 2-0 against Home Boy, Sellier.Lots of applause, nice ‘personality’ pics, run the 40 lapper and go for a Carib. But Sellier hadn’t read my copy and came back late in the second match, when he was one ride down, after Chiappa out jumped him.To all the observers – and both riders, it looked like Sellier hadn’t quite made it and Chiappa had won 2-0.
If you believe in God, you have to believe in the Devil.
And I’ve seen him – and one of his neebz – down at Skinner Park Velodrome in San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago.
But that was in the dark of a Saturday night – it was daylight when Pan Am keirin champ, Giddeon Massie; six day stars Donadio, Lampater, Marvulli and Muller; Olympic madison champion, Perez; Swiss amateur, Dominique Stark; Dutch Rabobank girl, Carola Groenenveld; Peter and me clambered into Main Man Arnold’s wheels.
I took in excess of 200 shots at the race on Wednesday night, that takes a bit of editing; and the minute folks see you with a camera, they want pics too – still, if it means you get Olympic madison champion Walter Perez’s email address, then it’s not so bad.
As well as VeloVeritas, Walter Perez and the race organiser, pix had to go to Franco, Leif Lampater, Sebastian Donadio and Roberto Chiappa – it all takes time, so does the copy and it was early afternoon before I shut the lid on the laptop.
The trouble with getting up before 06:00 and not getting to bed ’til 01:45 is that by the time the next day – that’s today, comes around, it seems like last year.
The morning disappeared pretty quickly – pics, words, chat.
Pete suggested that we head up to the Saint James area of Port of Spain for a look.
We did the thumb out thing and got a lift in an old brown US sedan – it’s hard to know who’s a passenger and who’s in with the bricks but it always seems to work out.
It’s always good to wake up at 05:50 to an ear-nipping message on the BlackBerry – but that’s life, I’m in Paradise but life goes on back in the ‘real world.’
Where, I’ve just been made aware, all of the airports are closed due to the hazard of ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland – they’re hiring at Burger King down town Port of Spain and I have my application in.
It’s appropriate that the local coffee shop is named ‘Rituals’ – it’s part of my ritual, now.
The original plot for late March and early April was to ‘embed’ with the Kingsnorth guys near Gent and cover Wevelgem, De Panne and Flanders.
But then up popped Peter Jacques and Erin Hartwell, the movers and shakers who put together the teams for the Trinidad & Tobago Cycling Festival.
Two weeks in a tropical paradise reporting on criteriums and track meetings – as my buddy Dave would say; “I didn’t have the manners to refuse!”