Wey hey! I've done it. I'm all booked up and I've parted with money so I'm definitely going (subject to all the small printy malarkey).
So who else is going? I'd love to compare notes on what to take / training levels / padding for the posterior / trepidation levels and so on before we go.
Delighted to see that this trip is now 'Guaranteed' which means that someone else is going on it as well as me (unless they're sending me there on my own . . . perhaps I should change my deodorant). So if you're one of the others, come on and let me know what you're thinking about, panicking about or looking forward to. I can't wait for this holiday and I quiver with gleeful anticipation as every development takes place.
I'm on the trip after you but definately share your excitement! I can't wait to go, booked today and still dancing across the ceiling! :-) (Now just need to find some padded shorts!)
Aw shame. There are posts on here from people doing this trip just before me and now you just after me. Am I being avoided? Perhaps I should change my deodorant ;)
I've been counting down the weeks for ages now and boring my friends with constant questions and thoughts about padding. It's the fitness I'm concerned about really though. I'm fitter now than I have been for years but I won't know if I'm fit enough until I get there. Have you done much training?
Not exactly... I got quite keen on my bike in the summer but now? No thanks, too cold! Here's hoping February and early March are quite mild :-)
I'm hoping swimming will help with a general level of fitness and then maybe some more running in the new year but I know that biking is where I need to get sooner rather than later. Go on put me to shame, are you doing miles and miles already?!
. . . no!
I'm swimming and gymming a fair bit but the autumn weather was enough to put me off cycling, let alone the really parky stuff we've had just lately. I've been doing some really long walks with the Ramblers Association too which, as well as being a bit of good exercise on a regular basis, is a sort of training for spending long periods of time with people I've never met before.
I can't see the weather in this part of the world reaching temperatures of tropical proportions so I've sort of abandoned the bike and decided to just be fit as fit as I can be and hope for the best with the saddle soreness.
So have you done anything like this before?
....Fair weather cyclists! :-)
Not done one of these holidays before, blew my budget booking it but definately looking forward to it and looking through the brochures for the next one! Did do some voluntary work in Tanzania many moons ago with a group of random strangers, and had an amazing time, so hoping this is similar if on a smaller scale!
How about you? Are you an Exodus regular?
You can't call me a fair weather cyclist. I'm more of an excellent weather cyclist, preferring to put bum to saddle only when the sun is blazing down and the route includes a nice little thatched pub on a river bank.
I had been cycling in the murk until recently but the murk turned to ice so I gave up and went to the gym (not pub . . . please note).
Never done anything like this before but the whole thing excites me like Billyo. I spend long cold winter evenings trawling through the pages of the Exodus website wondering what I can do next. The other week I took the plunge and booked up a trip to go to Iran next October. A bit soon after Cuba but I thought if I book it I'll do it, no matter what. It also means that I'll get 5% off the cost of any further holidays I book with Exodus. I hope they're good because I plan on spending a lot of the rest of my life with them. Actually I know people who have travelled with them before and they have told me that they are excellent.
The only problem I have at the mo is the waiting. On Christmas Day it will be exactly ten weeks to go to the day I set off for Gatwick and then Havana. Once I've got my sprouts on I might start packing.
Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's not a 'pro' cyclist!! I can't wait for the trip, but I confess I've been worried about not being a master pedlar... I booked this as motivation to find another great exercise, after being eternally banned from running back in Summer (foot fracture)... my New Year's present to myself is a bike, so now I have to start racking up the miles.
My mate bought me a padded saddle for a Christmas present, as encouragement!
Is anyone staying on in Havana at the end of the trip?
I have a whole other week to spend in Cuba at the end of my trip - destination unknown as of yet but Havana a definate maybe but I'm go a different date to Terry as I go on the 20 March - which trip are you on?
Nope, I can fall off my bike with the best of them - and just had to bite the bullet and join the gym in an attempt to get cycle fit... I'm hoping the scenery in Cuba is wayyyyyy better though!!! :-)
Well I was feeling fairly fit and then Christmas came along and turned me into an ugly blob of lard. My plan is . . . Friday morning . . . back to the gym (poor scenery or no poor scenery) . . . Lance Armstrong beware!
I don't trust our public transport system to get me anywhere in Britain so I'm leaving home at 3.45 pm on Saturday 5th March to catch a coach to Gatwick where I will be staying overnight in a modestly priced hotel to ensure that I'm at the Havana check in desk bright and early on Sunday morning.
This means that, according to my calculations, I shall be setting off in 8 weeks, 2 days, 15 hours, 23 minutes and 34 seconds.
Excited or what?
Hi there Sara, Terry & fellow cylists!
Sounds like you're both feeling exactly the same way I am... intrepid, wishing I was a bit fitter... but very, very excited!
Sara, I'm going on the 6th March trip - so if you're off on the 20th, we'll miss one another; that's a pity. I'm in Havana for 3 days at the end of the trip - seemed a shame to head straight home! Where are you from, by the way?
Terry - hey, good luck back at the gym on Friday. I haven't even thought about getting to Gatwick on the Sunday as yet - probably will start worrying about that about 3 days before we leave! For the time being, it's a case of getting used to the bikes in the gym, and the intention is to hire a bike on Saturday to pedal furiously around my local forest. My mate even bought me a gel saddle for Chistmas... how nice is that?! Think he just wants shot of me for 2 weeks!
So is this the first Exodus trip either of you have done?
Hi there Sara, Helen & fellow cylists!
Sara - why don't you switch to the 6th March trip then you can be in our gang . . . and when we get back we won't be jealous of you because you're just setting off? I've looked forward to this holiday so much I'm dreading coming home already.
Helen - Love your Havana Ball comment, though I did groan a bit the first time I saw it. I never thought to spend a bit longer in Havana at the end of the trip. You've got me all envious now. I'll just have to save up my pennies and go back there again sometime. I've got a gel seat cover and a bike already but using them at this time of the year isn't easy. Even now the snow's gone it's no fun pedalling around in the murk and damp. The gym's the only answer until the sun comes out. I reckon I'll be almost fit enough but I'm not sure that almost will be sufficient. The thought of that 85km long fifth day scares me . . . I can hear my nether regions shouting "Help!" already.
This certainly is the first Exodus trip I've done but I've met other people who've been with them before and a tour guide who works for them in Nepal and they've all given me glowing reports. Consequently Exodus is the most hit website on my PC as I compile my list of future trips. Oh for more money and free time.
Nice to hear from other people with the same travellers' tastes and fears. I'm sure there'll be many more messages on here before we go . . . what to pack and all that malarkey.
Terry the Intrepid
Hi there guys and gals :-) ,
My name is Pip and it looks as tho' there's at least 3 of us on the March 6th trip! This technology thing is great isn't it - takes a few of the shivers out of that airport moment!
Yes I'm excited and planning to get training too; mind you we've 3" fresh snow this morning (Yes! I love it!) so my trusty (30 year) old xc skis will be getting exercised too.
I'm not one for numbers so haven't done a countdown, thus you've just scared me somewhat with yours above.... better get planning how to get down to Gatwick from the Highlands...
I was glad to see your chats about saddles etc, I'd like to bring mine along too and was wondering whether others do that / it might get nicked etc. Are you guys going to take your gel seat covers / saddles, or pedals??
looking forward to meeting you & the rest of our troupe! Glad to have you with us.
Don't think you need to worry too much about the trip - seems like we're all novices so far; unless the other 10 or so peops who've not yet started blogging are Triathlon medalists!! I've definitely gonna take my new gel saddle... ah, it'll fit fine in my luggage. And gloves - an essential! Gel shorts too, if I can get my hands on any (I'm a bony little bugger!) I'm actually going to really bite the bullet properly before we set out, and buy a bike for real. No ideal what yet - I'm at the mercy of my local bike store!
This is going to be such, such fun. Hurrah!
Hello again everyone. Glad to see we're turning into quite a posse now. Welcome Pip!
Well, I'm pleased to say that my training's got back on track this weekend. An hour at the gym yesterday morning (in spite of my desperate need for a lie in) and about ten miles out on my bike this afty (in spite of the nasty iced up roads). Not a bad effort, in my opinion, after a month long lay off. I could have cycled a bit further but the sun disappeared and I didn't have my Davey Lamp with me.
I can't make my mind up about taking a gel saddle. Are they any good? Do they make much difference? I've got a gel saddle cover which is nice and comfy but I haven't put it through anywhere near as many miles as we're going to have to do some days in Cuba.
Luggage is something I've been wondering about too. What do we take all our stuff in? I'm torn between kitbag / rucksack / Tesco brand suitcase / Tesco carrier bags / spotted red and white hanky on the end of a stick. I think I'm probably going to invest in a good quality rucksack as in my little mind I have some big plans for big trips in the future. What's everybody else packing their kit into?
I went to the doctor's last week to talk about vaccinations. She said that, although Exodus say that none of them are compulsory, the WHO (i.e. the World Health Organisation, not the rock band) reckon that they are strongly recommended. So I'm booked up to go back in February for some serious jabbing.
Oh I just can't stop thinking about all this. Eight weeks from now we'll be there. But who's going to feed my cat? Have I even got a cat?
Terry the Incredibly Anxious.
Doesn't seem to be anyone else on my trip... was it something I said? Ah well more mohitos for me :-) (So I'm going to remain gate crashing your blog if thats ok!)
Already jealous of you guys for going the fortnight before me! Thanks for the tip off about jabs Terry, I shall be seeing my doc to see what he says next week, and preparing myself for being a bit of a pin cushion (god I hate needles, such a coward!)
Got a rucksack come wheely rucksack for when it gets to heavy so hopefully everything'll fit in that. Not sure what to do about money though, don't like to carry too much cash (as if I have a choice!!!) as I'm sure I have 'mug me' written across my forehead when I do - what are you guys planning on doing?
Think its 67 days for me - less for you!!! :-)
Aw poor lonely Sara. There are quite a lot of people who live in Cuba so, even if no one goes on your trip with you, I'm sure you'll find someone to talk to. That Mr Castro has always seemed like a nice chap to me :-)
I've heard all sorts of rumours about what we have to do about money in Cuba but I think there's something definite in the trip notes. My job for this weekend is to read everything Exodus have ever sent me and make a list of what I need to do and get before I go. I cope so much better with life if I have a list.
Apparently your money goes further in Cuba if you have western consumer goods to give away. People like you more if you give them pens, shampoo, etc. from the UK, and therefore they look after you more and make sure you're not ripped off. And I've been told not to buy cigars if they don't have the official paper band on them because if you do you've got to pay hard earned cash at the airport to be allowed to take them out of the country. Not worried myself as I'm more of a rum kinda bloke than a cigar kinda bloke.
I hadn't been doing counting in days as for so long it's been so far too many, but you've put the idea in my head now Sara and I'm pleased to say . . . 45 days.
Terry the Timepiece.
sadly I can't get to Bristol this week... bummer; would love to meet you all!
The jabs is good advice. I'll talk to my doc & find out.
Bags... hmmm.... well, given that the truck is basically going to be carting them around for us, I figured I'd just take my trusty huge squashy grey Antler bag on wheels. It's like a half-way house between a giant rucksack and a suitcase; can be squashed etc but pulls along real easily. Then I'll take a little backpack for the cycling days, for the camera/sunnies etc.
Top tip from my mate: wraparound sunnies will be essential; especially as they'll keep any marauding flies out of our eyes!
get my new bike this weekend... oooooh!!
Ok, well, just cycled 15 miles on my bike - utterly knackered! - and that's just one of the three or four huge rides we'll be doing every day.
Man oh man, lots of training to do.... uhhhh!!
Well I know I said a bit back that we had 45 days to go but I've only just discovered that there are 7 days in a week and not 6. So I apologise for the shocking standard of my maths and grin with gleeful anticipation at the thought of there only being 49 days to go.
I did 10 miles last Sunday which was difficult because the country roads were all so icy . . . I certainly hope that's not going to be the case in Cuba!! Just done 20 miles today in the wind, rain and mud. Feeling a bit achy but pleased with what I've done but terrified because it's nowhere near as far as the 58 miles we have to do on Day 5 of the trip but happy because soon I'll be getting away from this murky miz weather for a couple of weeks.
Lots of training to do indeed. I reckon that if I do 20 miles on each of those 49 days I might just be fit enough . . . or dead.
Hi I thought I'd introduce myself and look forward to meeting you all. I've only been cycling since last summer as going to be doing a charity ride in May so this is a way to combine a holiday with some training. I've got a road bike so not sure how I'll get on with a mountain bike but I'm sure it can't be that different. This will be my 5th Exodus trip and done some with Explore as well who are a very similar company.
I've enjoyed all those trips so I'm sure this will be just as good.
Hi, I've never been on holiday with a monster but i'm sure it'll be ok! The ride is in aid of Cancer Research and is from Aldburgh on the Suffolk coast to Aberystwyth Wales, 400 miles in 4 days scary just even writing it...
Look forward to meeting you Helen and see you soon....
And then there were four . . . our gang is getting bigger every day.
Hello Mark. Glad to hear from another fellow Cuba-tripper. I'm quite awestruck by the fact that you're using the holiday as training for something even more strenuous. So good luck with your Aberystwyth trip . . . you'll probably never sit down again.
So which other trips have you been on with Exodus? I've fallen in love with a holiday company and I want to go on all of their trips.
Hi Terry, I've done 3 walking trips, the Mont Blanc circuit (Camping), The Amalfi Coast and The Sinai Desert. I've just spent New Year in Finland doing an activity week which was great especially the dog sledding with the huskies- trip code CFA. I'm hoping it'll be a bit hotter in Cuba, it got down to -30 at times!
Hi guys and gals,
Sorry - I've been Absent Without Laptop for a bit. Grand so there are 4 of us - welcome Mark! Where were we - saddles - thanks for the thoughts, I'm taking mine, and pedals. Dosh - hmm, what's anyone else doing? I think I read that cash is good - in the trips notes, I'm a wee bit reluctant to take loadsacash though, as for how much.....??? Ideas?
I've had some jabs, can't quite remember which but polio, tetanus, diptheria hepatitis spring to mind. 3 of them were all rolled into one for those of you needle freaks!! Fear-not-quite-so-much!! The only question for me, was rabies - opinion seems to vary but the fco website has Cuba as a red (high risk) area. It's very, very pricey - £126, but I've gone for it as that beats riding around the countryside fearing dog bites all the way. Been chased by a few dogs in this country, let alone over there. If you're considering that though you need a series of 3 jabs - days 0, 7 and 28 :-)) ! Speak soon,Pip
So now we really do only have 45 days to go.
Not sure how much cash to take, Pip. I'm going to read all the Exodus notes soon and have a bit of a divvy up. What do you reckon to these pre-loaded cash cards that Exodus can provide us with? Sounds a bit safer than having it all in loose change.
My doc said more or less the same about the vaccinations . . . several needed but combined into just a couple of jabs. As for rabies, if any dog bites me I'll just bite it back.
I've been having a bit of a natter with a couple of people who've already been to Cuba with Exodus. Go and have a look in the 'Arrivals' forum under the post called CYCLING CUBA 28TH FEB 2010. They've given us some very useful tips already but you might want to ask them something yourselves.
We're looking forward to joingin you all on the 5th. Trying to ge tbakc into the cycling 10 miles to work everyday and back, but pulled my hamstring last night running actross the raod to the pub, how lame! lol
We will be taking our Brookes saddles. I've ridden 70 miles in a day on mine and not even had any pain- the best 50 quid I ever spent.
See you soon
Andrew and Richard
Thanks for the info - I haven't heard about the preloaded cash cards from Exodus, I'll investigate 'cos that sounds pretty good to me - better than too much loose cash as you say. I'll also have a wee look at the Arrivals forum that you mentioned - thanks!
Enjoy your Sundays, all!!
Six weeks from now we'll be on the plane. Wooo Hooo!
Hello Andrew and Richard. Welcome to our gang and thanks for the saddle tip. I've been dithering a bit but I think you've pushed me into a decision now.
I did over 30 miles on Sunday and, apart from feeling a bit sleepy early in the evening, I was fine . . . but that happens most days anyway :-) Bought my comfy new saddle yesterday though, just to be on the safe side and I've been hammering the pedals at the gym.
Feeling quietly confident at the mo . . . I might pack tonight.
Yes I am still gatecrashing your blog - think I'm the only one on my trip! Anyway just been to get my jabs (only needed a Hep A booster, which was a result!) but nurse said that there was supposed to be a shortage of vaccines so you may want to get in quick if you haven't already!
Sara - with the slightly dead left arm!
Happy new saddle Terry! May you enjoy many comfy miles together!
Welcome to the gang Andrew and Richard..
Keep on peddling guys and gals..
Ta Helen, Sara and Pip.
I'm setting off for Gatwick on 5th March and staying overnight at the Ibis Hotel just down the road from the airport. Always was one for being well on time! But this means that my departure from home is only 5 weeks tomorrow. Anyone else staying over and fancy a pre-flight glass of shandy and a chinwag?
Did loads of miles on my bike on Sunday and, thanks to the new comfy saddle, not a blemish on my posterior. Done loads in the gym too on the exercise bike. Feeling quietly confident now.
So how's every one else getting on?
One day we'll all be sitting round supping mojitos and laughing at our pre-trip anxieties.
Yes I'm coming down on Sat 5th as well, I wouldn't quite make it otherwise! I'm staying at the Russ Hill hotel, nearby Gatwick - a pre hol drink and chinwag would be nice!
I'm doing a mix of running and cycling, getting there gradually!
Did you manage to find anything out about the cashcards? I tried to get into the website but couldn't.
Have a great w/e,
Delighted you'll be at Gatwick on the 5th. Sunday morning was leaving it too late for me but arriving Saturday evening will leave me at a bit of a loose end. My cavalcade (National Express) rolls into Gatwick at 8.10 pm and I'm staying at the nearby Ibis Hotel. I'll investigate how close that is to yours and perhaps we should swap mobile numbers nearer the time.
I'm away for the weekend from tomorrow morning and a bit work weary tonight so no training for me until Monday. Oooooh . . . panic! I reckon I deserve a wee breather from it all though.
I didn't find out anymore about the cash cards . . . yet! I'm going to phone Exodus with two or three other questions on Monday morning so I'll ask them then.
Can't believe that Saturday the 5th is only four weeks tomorrow. Thirty days from now we'll all be smoking big fat cigars, stinking of rum and living our lives to a crazy samba beat.
I'm looking into helmet-mounted vidoecams... the Oregon Scientific looks awesome... anyone else thought of this?
Warm greetings to you, oh comrades of Senor Castro’s glorious revolution.
I’ve just been talking on the ‘phone to Karel Rogacki, our man at Exodus and he told me that as far as money is concerned we are best taking cash in Sterling which can be changed into Pesos at any of the hotels we stay at. I understand from several sources that travellers’ cheques and credit cards are a bit of a non starter, there are very few ATMs and, although the pre-loaded cash cards that can be obtained via a link from the Exodus website are very good in many other countries, there won’t be many places where we can use them in Cuba, and certainly not for cash advances.
So the question now is how to safely carry around our wad? Perhaps a suitcase full of used fivers might be best like in the black and white fillums.
Karel also told me that the hotel we stay at in Trinidad on days 5 and 6 will wash clothes for us which might help to keep down the amount of clothes we need to take.
Helen / Nancy – I saw a thing on breakfast telly last week about those video cameras fitted to cycle helmets. They look to me like a very good idea if you want to prosecute a loony white van driver who knocks you off your bike but I’m rather hoping that situation won’t arise in Cuba.
And as for eating like horses I hope we get something a bit more exciting than a bag of oats and a sugar lump at the end of each day J
How to carry our wads? Yes, I've been wondering that. I emailled Karel who assured me that the van is secure - either accompanied or locked at all times. That's all useful info Terry though, thanks.
Next game is trying to work out how much dosh to take!!
Re meeting up on the Sat night Terry, swapping mobile nos nearer the time is probably the best idea. My hotel is about 4 miles from the airport though I apparently, so may not be straightforward.. but would be nice!
I've just had a look on the AA site to see where our hotels are and they appear to be 4 miles apart. Yours is out in the sticks somewhere and mine is on the side of the Gatwick runway.
Ah well, I'm sure we can sort something out in the name of kicking off a jolly holiday. My hotel runs a frequent minibus service to the airport. Does yours? That might be the answer.
I don't fancy putting my mobile number on here for all the world to see so, if you fancy emailing me to swap details, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who wants to contact me that way. It would be nice if we could get a crowd together for a night-before-the-flight glass of summat or other.
Off to the gym now to recreate the conditions of the high peaks of the Sierra Maestra . . . not that easy when you're in Calne!
We will be coming to Gatwick overnight too, but haven't booked yet. We usually go to a nearby guesthouse. We have done no training since autumn and have no gel saddles...... yet! The weather is too cold but we do cycle to work so that helps - in snow and murk - which I don't suppose we will see much of in Cuba! We cycled Indochina a last year with Exodus and it was great. They really looked after us.
Looking forward to meeting you all.
Lucy and Mat
Hello Lucy & Mat and welcome to the great adventure.
Looking forward to meeting you two too, hopefully somewhere near to Gatwick Airport on Saturday night. It would be nice if we could all get to know each other and check in together on Sunday morning.
I'd be interested to hear your tales of the Indochina cycle ride. That's one that's on my want to do in the future list.
so only 2 weeks to go... how's everyone feeling? I wondered - is anyone taking their own helmet?
I'm sooooo excited!!
I have to say I just can't wait. Loads to do till then and trying to make sure I so cycle as much as possible till then.
I'm going to stack up on some cereal bars for the daytime. We tend to aviod meat- but we'll see what we can get.I'm quite envious of you guys meeting the night before, but as we only have to get the train to Gatwick it'll be fine. Maybe we'll see you at the check-in desk then we could go for a coffee.
Everybody - time's flying by but not flying by fast enough and I'm not sure if I'm experiencing excitement or anxiety. I could do with one of these Cuban travel guide chaps coming to my house to help me pack.
Helen - I may be wrong but I've a feeling that we are all expected to take our own helmets. I'm taking mine anyway. We might catch nits if we wear someone else's.
Andrew and Richard - embrace the Caribbean in all its glory - don't eat English cereal bars - eat Cuban fruit :) My email address is in a message further up this page if you want to swap mobile numbers and arrange to meet for a pre-flight coffee (or mojito) at Gatwick Aerodrome.
Fidel Castro - we'll see you a week on Sunday mate . . . get the kettle on ready!
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