Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Trinidad & Tobago – Day Nine, Back to School


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.

Tobago is hot
Paradise, or pretty close to it.
Tobago is hot
One of the best beaches in the world.
Tobago is hot
Thanks goodness for the cloud cover, lowering the temperature just a little.

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.

Tobago is hot
Franco, Pete and Ed prepare to cycle to Emile’s school.
Tobago is hot
Time to meet the kids, who get a huge kick out of the visit.

The island isn’t big, just 30 miles by 10 miles bit it’s hugely diverse – everything from flat coastal plain and glorious beaches to tropical rain forest which climb to 1800 feet.

That may not sound too high, but the roads are tough – elite riders on 39 x 27 tough.

Tobago is hot
Franco does a deal with the jet ski guy.

This morning was a different experience – the riders went to meet the kids at the local school; the one which Emile Abraham attended.

Emile did the honours, introducing the riders one by one and telling the kids that they have to be at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Tobago for tomorrow’s criterium – Emile is a natural MC.

Tobago is hot
Emile intro’s Andreas.

The two most popular riders were Giddeon Massie, tall, brown, rippling with muscle, winning shy smile and ‘outta New York City!‘ as Emile told his audience, : and Carola (unsurprisingly); pretty, blonde Dutch girls go down very well with school boys.

Tobago is hot
Giddeon enjoys the applause.
Tobago is hot
Carola and her new fans.

I scurried around to get the best shots I could – hectic but fun; and Seb sang the kids a song – naturally.

Franco had to get back to the digs for interviews; I prepped my Giant.

The tyres needed inflating and the seat was a tad high but those adjustments made, I was off.

Tobago is hot
Ed enjoys getting out on a bike whenever time permits.

Even though I’m fat and lazy and don’t get out on the bike too often, my body remembers what my position should be.

This is actually a bad thing because I can’t just jump on any old bicycle.

We had to stop to raise the saddle but I knew I was too far forward and the bars weren’t low enough – I felt like Carsten Podlesch, the big motors guy.

I need to lose weight, two Brothers gave me; ‘yoo need to work dat belly man!‘ from an old Nissan, cheers Bros.

On the subject of my self esteem, Emile didn’t help either; ‘dat ain’t Ed – dat’s a lobster!‘ and thanks to you Emile, too.

That old Caribbean sun is just so strong, the only time I had my shirt off was when I was in the water – but that was enough.

And I do indeed resemble a lobster, albeit a very large one.

Peter imparted a gem upon me on the subject of that very crustacean; ‘because there’s so much food on the reefs around Tobago, some of them have evolved without claws; they don’t need to fight to eat.’

Keirin racing, sprinting, local history, the best bars – and Darwinian Theory, we need to get the man on “Millionaire.”

Tobago is hot
The perfect spot to relax.

It’s 19:09 at the moment and I’m in recovery mode, sitting outside in the breeze, shirt off, sipping water – it can only be about five miles to the beach but the combination of too much sun, the wrong position and Emile following us back from the beach roaring out of the car window, Peter Post style; ‘come on Ed! You can do it! Pete, don’t let him get away, man!‘ means that I’m a tad subdued.

It’ll pass.

I’ve just been to the shop and bought ‘pineapple balm’ – I smell devine but feel like I’m in the deep fat frier at Billy Bonnar’s chip shop.

I should be too old for this nonsense.

Next up is a trip to Emile’s mum and dad’s for ‘crab and dumplings’ – I asked him about this delicacy the other day and was told that his mum makes; ‘the best crab on the island, man!

Tobago is hot
Dat’s de stuff we’s talking about.

Much as I would like to collapse on my bed, in front of the air con, I can’t let the man down.

Tobago is hot
Michael, Emile, Carola and Seb tuck in.

Thursday morning, 08:44 and that’s the longest I’ve slept in a long while; I was in bed for 11:00 but didn’t wake ’til I heard race series organiser, Michael Phillips hollering; ‘15 minutes! 15 minutes!’ at 08:00 am.

There’s another school photo op gig, today and Michael doesn’t want us to be late.

Tobago is hot
The “Rest of the World” riders head back to school.

I wouldn’t recommend savage sun burn as an aid to a good night’s sleep – but it certainly works.

Curried crab and dumplings – it’s messy, involving sucking, whacking, crunching, licking and large quantities of kitchen roll.

But it’s tasty, man!

You get your crabs, chop them up and cook them up in a big pot with curry sauce and flat ‘dumplings.’

The mix looks a little off putting on your plate, but that’s where you need an expert to keep you right.

The first thing you do is to suck the curry sauce off the pincer, leg or which ever chunk of warm crustacean you’re wrestling with.

If it’s a big piece, you then put it in the palm of your hand and whack it with your fork then tease the meat out.

If it’s a smaller piece, like a leg, then you have to do the needful with your teeth.

As Andreas Muller said; ‘I don’t think this will catch on as a take away food,‘ but it’s fun and tastes great.

Thanks Emile and Mum!

They’re big into their beer in T & T.
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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