Helping hand: Peter Dunne, right, puts a youngster through his paces during his last trip to Cuba. *Photo supplied
Helping hand: Peter Dunne, right, puts a youngster through his paces during his last trip to Cuba. *Photo supplied
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FRIDAY, DEC. 21: Forget – for one minute – its famously-radical politics and penchant for Havana cigars, because Cuba needs your attention for another reason: cycling kit.

Peter Dunne, president of the Bermuda Bicycle Association, returns to the country for the third time in January for the quadrennial congress of COPACI, the region’s continental cycling association.

And as well as representing our island’s cyclists during his visit, he plans to help out the many budding pedal fanatics there with some second-hand cycling jerseys and shorts.

The seed of this idea was sown in Mr Dunne’s mind when he last visited Cuba — the most populous Caribbean island and well known for its years of Communist rule — two years ago. While there he attended a coaching programme and worked with junior cyclists who, despite their commitment and enthusiasm, didn’t have access to the type of equipment those in Bermuda are luckily accustomed to.

So when he flies back, this time he will be carrying as many bags of cycling gear as possible, which will be handed over to the country’s cycling federation.

Mr Dunne said: “It’s an interesting place and I’m quite intrigued by it because I’m an American citizen, so it’s always been this mystery place you weren’t allowed to go.

“One of the things that is similar, both here and in the States, is the things that we have, and this is only a little place. The people there have nothing.

When you go on the plane one of the things I first noticed was the amount of bags and suitcases. Families went out with 14,000 pieces of luggage but came back with a purse!

“It’s clear that in Bermuda we have so much more possessions than we actually use.”

Therefore, in our own small way, Bermuda can help boost the chances of young cyclists in Cuba by kitting them out. And be assured, there is some serious talent out there.

Mr Dunne said: “The National Velodrome is by our standards derelict. They still have Olympic champions and world champions. There are amazing athletes and it’s amazing what they achieve with so little. I’ve got  30-40 tops or bottoms from just two people. I’ll take as much as I can manage. Everything gets used, nothing will be wasted.

“It’s not for me to be Santa Claus. It’s more about people in sport supporting each other… and if we can help each other, more the better.”

Anyone with kit, ideally small to medium size, they would be able to donate, email dunne@logic.bm.