Home Again, Finally

So there’s snow on the ground, but I’m happy to be home anyhow. The last three weeks, shooting in Cuba and travelling non-stop now seems like a crazy blur. I’m trying to make order of all of it, so I’ll talk on it a bit every day until it’s out of my system.

The racing in Cuba was hard and took a good toll on the riders. One Spanish team lost all but one of its riders to illness. There were 14 days of racing without a break, including two days with two stages. UCI rules state that a stage race over 10 days must have a rest day. Oh well, it’s not the only things about the race that bent the rules. There were supposed to be doping controls every day, but they didn’t show up until the last third of race, on the hardest stage. Coincidentally, two of the Venezuelan riders, who’d been stomping the hell out of the peloton the first week, failed to take the start for that stage. Clearly the number of racers doping in this race was high and there was open talking within the group of riders offering and asking for drugs during the racing.

The Cuban racers raced like mad men, with way more effort and guts than skill or intelligence. Because a lot of the riders only race againt each other and have little, if any experience, racing outside the country they have little knowledge of tactics or group etiquette. But they’re strong riders. Many had the strength of a good Cat 2 but the savvy of a clueless Cat 5. The Cubans also have to scrountge for equipment. A lot of the riders from the provincial teams were riding 20 year old frames with mismatched components. Only the national team guys had decent equipment, and even theirs was several years out of date. But it’s all relative, especially in Cuba.

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