Cuba is like no other place. That’s why we love it! The people are kind, friendly and curious. The countryside is littered with farms, ranches, sugarcane, tobacco fields and blue skies. There are mountains, valleys, national parks and spectacular beaches. Everyone shares the road which is why cycling is the best way to experience […]
Cuba is like no other place. That’s why we love it! The people are kind, friendly and curious. The countryside is littered with farms, ranches, sugarcane, tobacco fields and blue skies. There are mountains, valleys, national parks and spectacular beaches. Everyone shares the road which is why cycling is the best way to experience the real Cuba. You’ll see all kinds of transportation from horse and buggy to bikes to cars. Yes, those 50’s American cars are what define Cuba and while those old cars are intriguing and great photo ops those 50’s air conditioners and cracked tiles in your hotel room are not. All of our hotels are 3 or 4 stars but can still be in need of much repair work. The roads can be pot-holed and poorly paved but the drivers are courteous. The internet can be sporadic and the cards to access it may not be available. So while the amenities may be limited and changes to plans challenging, you can expect these in Cuba. If you take your flexible and adventurous spirit with you, your tour of Cuba will be a treasured experience.
This tour takes us through the central valley of Cuba from Havana to the colonial cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos. Beaches, lakes, mountain tops, waterfalls, national parks and the Bay of Pigs provide the spectacular scenery but the people are what make Cuba truly beautiful. They will wow you with their music, creativity, cuisine, and their kindness.
With the exception of the day we ride up to Topes de Collantes on day 6 (optional ride), the rides on this tour are mostly easy. The Topes climb is rigorous but there’s always the bus for weary riders. The road surface is not perfect but it’s ridable. We recommend using a hybrid bike.
This tour classifies as a People to People Educational tour for Americans.
This trip is a photographic dream.
Contact us to find out more and reserve your spotContact Us
Saturday, January 6th. Arrive at Jose Marti airport in Havana and be met by the bus. * We’ll gather at Café Rueda in Vedado for orientation, bike fits and a short shakedown ride. Tonight we dine together and after dinner, we will visit the “Castillo de la Fuerza” to experience the Cannon Ceremony, which celebrates the nightly closing of the city gate in the 16th century.
*We will have a recommended timeframe to arrive at Jose Marti for bus pickup. If you cannot arrive during that we can arrange for alternative transport to Café Rueda, our ride headquarters.
Sunday, January 7th. After breakfast, we will drive via the Velodromo to leave our donations to the youth cycling teams, and then, continuous to the sugar town called Australia, and we will have a lunch in Finca Fiestina before riding via Playa Larga, 70 K, to Playa Giron, along the shore of the Bay of Pigs. The hotel is an all-inclusive, Russian designed resort, with both a pool and a beach area. There is a dive shop nearby and plenty of snorkelling. A great place to begin our adventure and get to know each other over Mojitos and Cuba Libres.
Monday, January 8th. Today we leave the province of Matanzas behind and embark on the longest ride of the tour at 85k. The route is flat and takes us through small towns and farmlands. We end the ride at the mouth of the bay of Cienfuegos and enjoy a ferry boat ride to our hotel on the other side in Pascaballos. We’ll be able to relax poolside with well-deserved snacks and cocktails.
Tuesday, January 9th. After breakfast, bus to Cienfuegos city for a short city-walk. Cienfuegos is Cuba’s third largest port also known as La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South). The City became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 because of its elegant classical architecture. We will enjoy lunch before our departure to the Botanical Garden by bus. Then, we will ride down the coast, passing the statue of the famous Indian chief Guajimico to Yaguanabo Hotel, situated by the beach on a small bay.
Wednesday, January 10th. Ride 23 km of rolling hills into the well preserved colonial town of Trinidad, a wonderland city steeped in history. The town’s brightly coloured building make for great photographs. Here we stay in a cluster of Casas in the city centre, another UNESCO heritage site in 1988. We will have time to walk the cobbled streets of this old city and take in its magnificent buildings, absorb some history, and do a little shopping. Perhaps a party in this party town will be in order – Let’s hit the Cafe de la Musica and have a great time: Salsa dancing, live music, mojitos?
Thursday, January 11th. Today we have the opportunity to climb Topes de Collantes, 14 K hard climb. If you are a weaker rider, it is suggested you take the bus to the top and save your energy for a 7 K walk to Salto El Caburni, one of Cuba’s best waterfalls. This walk will be followed by lunch in the park. Tonight we sleep and have dinner in hotel Los Helechos, at the top of the mountain. You will want some good hiking shoes today. Sandals and running shoes will not be good enough, there will be muddy paths. A walking stick will be handy.
Friday, January 12th. This morning we ride down the other side of the mountain through farm country and on to Hanabanilla 64 km of very easy riding with the last 9 km an uphill journey to a wonderful location right on a lakefront. There are some great sunsets here by the pool and some spectacular views from the hotel balcony. Expect to see a beautiful dawn
Saturday, January 13th.
After breakfast, ride to Comandante Che Monument, 56 K from Hanabanilla. Then, bus to Havana, 290 K, approximately 3 hours drive. On the way to Havana, upon entering the city , visit the Finca Hemingway, in San Francisco de Paula. We will stay in a hotel in the city, and at night, a Fairwell dinner at a Gringo Viejo Paladar.
Sunday, January 14th. This is our departure day. We will take the group to Jose Marti airport.
Dot Dickerson retired from the world of School Wellness to teach bike safety for the City’s Safe Routes to School Program. An avid cyclist since 1979, Dot went from racing to riding for the health of it and now teaches kids ages 5 – 18 all about bikes, bike safety and how fun biking is. Dot is a League of American Bicyclist certified instructor who has fallen in love with Cuba and the youth programs CanBiCuba supports. To reach Dot you can call her cell @ (970) 443-1592 in Fort Collins, Colorado or by email: email@example.com
Maybe. Some U.S. carriers have or are beginning to make agreements with ETECSA (the Cuban national telecommunications company) to provide roaming services in Cuba. Sprint and Verizon, for example, currently offer roaming services in Cuba. If your carrier offers a roaming plan and your mobile phone is capable of roaming in Cuba, you should ask your carrier about any additional charges for voice calls, data, and outgoing text messages that you may incur during your trip. The telecommunications market in Cuba is changing rapidly, so before you travel, be sure to check with your wireless provider for the latest developments.
Another way you can use your U.S. mobile phone in Cuba is to rent a SIM card. If you have an unlocked GSM-capable mobile phone, you can rent a SIM card from Cubacel (ETECSA’s mobile phone arm) that will allow you to use your mobile phone in Cuba. Cubatel’s SIM cards come with pre-paid minutes in amounts of 10, 20, or 40 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC$) (US$10, $20, or $40), plus a daily rental fee for the SIM card of CUC$3 (US$3). The per-minute call charges and texting fees for renting a mobile phone (as listed below) also apply to renting a SIM card. Contact your wireless provider to check whether your mobile phone operates on the compatible standard and request that your carrier unlocks your mobile phone.
The CanBiCuba Cycling Club supports youth programs throughout Cuba. We are involved with both the national cycling federation and master racing in the Havana area.
There are no bike shops as we know them in the developed world and our youth groups depend on your much-needed support.
It is not mandatory but we do encourage all riders to bring a little something to help out.Your old 700c x 23 or 25c might be worn out to you but is like gold here. We need anything you can think of and have lying about, handlebars/stems/seats/gears/brakes and on and on. If sending clothing keep to small and medium sizes. Handlebar tape is an often forgotten and economic gift.
Quite often a rider will bring an old racing bike to leave with a club. If you’d like to bring a bike let me know because I may have one up in Canada awaiting transport.
On our last day, Peter Marshall, a Canadian-turned-Cuban and the owner of cycling tour group CanBiCuba, led the way as we biked out of Havana to meet the youth racing club in Punta Brava. We rode by fields of cows and waved back at drivers in classic cars. At a beach bar made of wood and palm fronds, we sipped a cold Tu Kola and watched perfect sets of waves go to waste without surfers. When we arrived at the club coach’s home, 10 beaming kids in their bike kits put heavy coconuts with colourful straws in our hands and showed us to a table filled with food: banana bread pudding, fried plantains, sandwiches with spicy tomato jam, and bowls of guava and papaya.
While cradling their new (our old) saddles, pedals, and shoes, the boys spoke of life on two wheels, how they train six days a week after school and aspire to become pro cyclists, regardless of the challenges they face. Listening to their stories as they held the recycled gear and grinned the widest grins, it occurred to me just how much this moment meant to the club. The donations and beat-up bicycles allowed them to escape everything else, if only for a little while. The kids hugged farewell and chased after our wheels, which kicked up mud on the fractured concrete alley. I was surprised by having to brush away tears, a salty mix of joy and guilt.
Back in Havana, I sat along the Malecón, washing down my Cuban sandwich from La Chucheria with a splash of Havana Club rum and pineapple and a whiff of exhaust from a pink ‘59 Buick Invicta. A fisherman in a makeshift Styrofoam boat floated through ripples of gold as the sun dipped below the sea. It was a perfect sendoff, but my mind had already left, drifting towards new plans to ship bike supplies to those kids with big dreams in Punta Brava.
We use a combination of 3-star hotels with en-suite rooms and casas. All places provide good food. We visit many local cafes, restaurants and bars so you get a full flavour of local culture and cuisine. All breakfasts and dinners are included .For meals not included (lunches), there are many places to eat with prices ranging from $3 to $6 for an on the way lunch in a roadside café. All ride drinking water is supplied from the support bus. We advise that if you normally use ride gels and energy bars or electrolyte powder, you will need to bring from home because these items are not commonly for sale in Cuba
CanBiCuba has bike rentals at great prices. For this tour, you will need an either a hybrid (my choice) a sport touring or a road bike. All will work. Should you prefer to bring your own that is fine with us, you will get the same mechanical assistance as the renters.
Check you travel company for costs of shipping your bike. Depending on your country of embarkation you may be better to rent.
Renting has other positive aspects. Your bike will not get lost in transit. It is far easier to travel without a bike box and spare bikes are on the bus for renters. The negative side is that this is not your favourite ride.
Should you register looking to share with another and we are not able to find an acceptable companion, you will need to pay the Single Supplement charge.
This trip is timed to fit with the most popular flights to Cuba – on Virgin Airlines, KLM out of Europe. Air Canada, Air Transat and Cubana Airlines all fly directly into Havana from Toronto and Montreal.
American groups with OFAC licenses are now able to fly directly from Miami but the prices seem very high at the time of publishing and it may prove cheaper to come via a third country, such as Mexico or Canada.
Flying to Varadero is an option, but you will need to get to Havana, this is around $80 for a taxi. This option is popular with riders going on for a beach holiday after or before a tour.