There was racing at the Palo Seco Track Meet, but first... It was Martha and the Vandellas who sang about, "Dancin' in the Street" - it happens for real in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. 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'm in Trinidad & Tobago, but in Fort William, which could be somewhere I saw in a movie; once you're in the Tropics it seems to affect your perceptions of time and place, is 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.
Much of the Trinidad & Tobago '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.
We race at the Dwight Yorke Stadium today. "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 here in Trinidad & Tobago? All will be revealed.
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.
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.
All night drive-in pharmacies here in Trinidad & Tobago 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 more. They didn't have any, but it was another one for my 'experiences' file.
I felt like one of those football reporters at the racing here in Trinidad & Tobago at the Arima Velodrome, 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.
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.
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. And today is the circuit race at Queens Park.
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 for the Beacon Cycling Festival 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.
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 Beacon Cycling Festival.
‘Sorry, I fell asleep, I need my afternoon nap after one of Flavio’s training sessions – a 90 minute chain gang then six laps of a circuit with a steep ‘kicker’ in it.’ That was Hamish Strachan explaining to us why he’d missed our call – good to hear that the young man is back in the groove after a difficult start to his year.
It was 2019 when we last spoke to Iain Macleod - he was with Aberdeen Wheelers then but is now with Kelpie Racing - he’d just won the SC 50 mile championships and the man is making the headlines again; a couple of weeks ago he took the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial title and before that recorded the fastest 100 mile time trial ever ridden on Scottish roads.
It was ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
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