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A month in Cuba isn’t really enough to see everything that the country has to offer by bike. I could have got a visa extension, but there was something more important that meant I couldn’t stay – my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I’d promised them more than a year earlier that I’d be home for it, but I organised the flights without anyone knowing and so it was a lovely surprise for them when I turned up. The only one who knew I was coming back was my Dad, and that was because I didn’t have a house key the idea of sitting around in the cold (it had snowed only a couple of days earlier) for a few hours waiting for them to come home didn’t appeal. My surprise visit could have turned quite bad, as it turned out that my parents had been considering going on a trip during the Easter break, be that to Morocco, or to Mexico to visit me. I think I’d have found it difficult to organise a surprise visit ever again if I’d turned up and it turned out they were trying to find me in Cancun!

Even though it would have only taken a couple of hours to ride home from the airport, my flight was arriving early enough that my Dad could pick me up before work. Considering how bitterly cold and grey it felt being back in England after months in tropical sun, I was really happy to not have to ride back.

Seeing friends and family having been away for 2 years was great. C and I rode the 100km or so from our house to see our grandparents. It was strange being layered up and the recent snow meant at times we were riding past two-metre-tall drifts, a stark contrast to the palm trees, Mayan ruins, sugar cane and beaches that had made up the vista for most of the last couple of months.

I took my bike home as I had some work I wanted to get done on it. I had decided to get S&S couplings installed. It involves them cutting the frame in half and then installing the couplings, meaning that now my bike can be separated into two pieces. It makes transporting the bike much easier; the two pieces can fit in the back of most regular cars instead of needing a pick-up truck. Theoretically, it also allows the bike to be packed in a box that is small enough to be classed as baggage and so avoiding bike fees, although we didn’t quite work out how to do that.

As well as the couplings, I wanted to take the bike back to Thorn. I’d done next to nothing by the way of maintenance in the almost two years, and so there were some parts that were looking a bit worse for wear. On top of that, I wanted to get a Son 28 dynohub put on. This new hub allows me to generate electricity while I ride, meaning that my GPS, iPod, Kindle, lights and camera can all be charged. There’s also a way to have it charge my laptop, but I’ve not got that worked out yet. While in the US, the hub would have served almost no purpose. I was staying with hosts frequently and so my devices could be charged while I slept. In Mexico, I had to think a little more about my usage, but it would still not have helped that much. Heading south, and especially when I get into more remote parts of South America, I’ll be having fewer opportunities to charge devices and while it’s nice to take breaks, I like having the ability to chose a place based on something other than if they have outlets or not.

Another great thing about being at home was the food. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Mexican food and had a blast eating ridiculously cheap food in Cuba but there’s something so much better about your Mum’s cooking. As I was home during the Easter holidays, my Mum was at home and so there was delicious food on demand. The perk of infrequent visits, being spoilt when you do turn up.

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