The tour guides were all qualified through the Cuban education system in the areas relevant to tourism and tour guiding, but they had only their own experiences in cycling prior to this course.
The first morning, I awoke to a superb sunrise over, somewhat interestingly, the highly imposing Russian Embassy building. No matter where we seemed to be around Havana, the Embassy building appeared to be looking at us. There's some history there obviously and the developments and money that the USSR poured into the Cuban state during the 20th Century has had a widespread impact.
That said, there is a much longer history to the island with much of the initial money for developing Cuba coming from its key position as a trading and refilling post between Europe (mostly the Spanish) and the new Americas.
One of the most impressive impacts the country has, other than the Revolutionary history, culture and widespread friendliness of the inhabitants, was the mix of origins and cultures. Clearly Cuba's location as a trading post, its geographical proximity to the Caribbean and its history of slave trading, and its influence by the Mediterranean and South American countries provides the source to the broadest range of integrated cultures I had ever seen. Not only that, but these cultures integrated well, and there seemed to be no issues between them. People see each other as 'Cuban' no matter whether of African, South American, Hispanic, or European origin.
With a wide range of cycling experience from members of the Cuba National Cycling Team to people who rode for their work, but didn't get chance to do much cycling outside of this, all the course delegates were Cuban nationals, with excellent English and really positive attitudes.
We applied our specialist educational principles and shaped the course to suit everyone attending.
Based in the capital Havana, we got to see some utterly fantastic places like Revolution Square with its building high sculptures of Guevara and Camero. We ate out where Buena Vista Social Club was filmed, looked at the plethora of old American classic 50's cars, drank a mojito in the bar that invented mojitos and walked around freely and without concern.
But of course, it wasn't just about sightseeing!
Three days of intense training on the Bike Tour Leader Award , was followed with a further day looking at the International Cultural module , not because the delegates needed to appreciate the areas they were working in (they were Cuban) but for them to appreciate what their customers would be feeling and thinking. After all, it might not sound it but heading from UK to 35 degrees and intense humidity can be tough for some people used to cycling all the time.
Feedback from the course delegates
"The best knowledge of the teacher and how they gave us the best advice for each moment. From now on, I will now manage my groups in a safer and better way. I now have a procedure to organise my work."
"For me the best thing about this course was the leader position, how to manage the group like a leader, improve the communication with clients and the how to procedure in case of an accident."