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Cuba Tour 2011

A link to my write up of our Cuba Tour of 2011 on the Crazy Guy on a Bike website.

Pedal Castro: Tour of Cuba


A Bridge (not quite) Too Far


Brig John Hackett

Brig John Hackett

Just back from a very enjoyable 5 day tour of Holland, to Arnhem and back. Arnhem was of course the “Bridge Too Far”. In September 1944 the 1st Airborne Division landed just west of Arnhem with the mission objectives to capture an important Bridge over the Rhine that would aid the advancing allies. Unfortunately the advancing land forces did not get there in time and as the paratroopers ran out of ammo and equipment they had to withdraw back south over the river. Only 2000 from about 10,000 successfully withdrew, the rest were either killed, wounded and captured by the Germans, or went into hiding.

Although I can’t remember the film I do have a copy of “I Was a Stranger” by General Sir John Hackett. Hackett at the time was a brigadier commanding the 4th Parachute Brigade. I took the book with me to re-read on the ferry over. His book tells the story of how after being wounded the day before the withdrawal he escaped from a lightly guarded hospital and was hidden in a Dutch family home in Ede. In February 1945 he rode a ramshackle old bike to Sliedrecht where he was ferried across the Waal by canoe to the allied held side. I had forgotten that he “rode” to freedom, otherwise I would have planned our routes the other way round to match more closely his ride.

A tally of Germans shot written on wallpaper in a house in Oosterbeek.

A tally of Germans shot written on wallpaper in a house in Oosterbeek.


In the basement of the Airborne museum was the “Arnhem Experience”.


Review of 2013

Crossing the Plover Cove dam/causeway in the New Territories, Hong Kong.

Crossing the Plover Cove dam/causeway in the New Territories, Hong Kong.

I started the year with a few cycling themed targets, how did I do?

Cycling targets for 2013:

1. Average 10 mile per day, which will result in 3650 miles for the year, my previous best was 3144 in 1990.
2. Ride up Mont Ventoux, will have to lose at least another 2 stone before that though so a third target is;
3. Get weight down to below 12 st
4. Ride at least one metric century each month (100 km = 62.1 miles).
5. Ride a 200km audax
6. Complete a Randonneur 500 (i.e. completing a 50, 100, 150 and 200km audax ride in one season)
7. Complete a Brevet 500 (i.e. complete 5 x 100km audax BP rides)


1. HIT: Reached target on October 26 and ended year with 4832 miles. With 868 miles being ridden in December, that was my biggest month every recorded, beating the previous best of 815 miles in July 1979.

2. MISS: See #3 below

3. MISS: Expected to lose weight simply by cycling a lot and not counting calories. It didn’t work, I ended up the year at exactly the same weight I started!

4. MISS: After a good start riding 65 miles on 1st January, a combination of illness, business trips abroad and poor weather resulted in only another 2 rides and 65 miles in the first three months of the year.

5. HIT: Rode four 200km audacia – two on fixed, one in Snowdonia (not fixed!) gaining 2.75 Audax Altitude Award (AAA) points in the process.

6. HIT: Once I had done the 200 this was easy to achieve but I did the 150 on fixed too so I could claim an (unofficial) “Fixed Wheel” Randonneur 500.

7. HIT: In fact I achieved the Brevet 1000 award by riding ten 100km events this season, finishing with the Oundle 114.


I cycled more miles this year than ever before since I started in 1978, 36 years ago. I rode on 112 days averaging 43 miles on those days. Of the 4832 miles this year, 1407 were done of fixed, and 924 on my commute which means I rode to work and back 16.5 times.

I rode more than 100 miles on six of those days, with my longest being 136 miles. I had not done a century ride since 1981.

I rode two tours, Lands End to Oundle (B&B), and Normandy (camping). I also managed to cycle in 3 other countries I had not cycled in before, Hong Kong, Spain and China.

Strava Heat Map

Strava Heat Map

From the Strava Heat Map above, it appears the roads I have most often cycled is the Pitsford to Brigstock portion of my commute and the Glapthorn to Oundle road. (Click map for larger version)