Gringo Viejo

  • Destination:
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Arrives: 11/03/2017
  • Departs: 11/12/2017

Welcome to Cuba with our friend Jim, on his Gringo Viejo ride. Although Jim is exactly that, an old American, we named the ride not for him, but rather after a restaurant owned by a friend who has a striking resemblance to Gregory Peck and has named his establishment after the movie Gringo Viejo. The […]

Welcome to Cuba with our friend Jim, on his Gringo Viejo ride. Although Jim is exactly that, an old American, we named the ride not for him, but rather after a restaurant owned by a friend who has a striking resemblance to Gregory Peck and has named his establishment after the movie Gringo Viejo. The staff are kind, friendly and experienced. The food is very good. This ride ends  at Restaurant  “Gringo Viejo”.

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 easy going. The Topes climb is rigorous but there’s always the bus for weaker riders. The road surface is not perfect but it is rideable. We recommend using a hybrid bike.


This tour classifies as a People to People Educational tour for Americans.

This Trip is a Photographic Dream

The Cycling

Overall info about the tour

  • Usual Daily distances: 30 km to 100 km (with flexible options)
  • Days of cycling: 7
  • Terrain:  There are hills and rolling countryside on this tour so a reasonable basic level of fitness is recommended.
  • Support vehicle: 100%
  • Tour staff: 1 tour leader, 1 driver, 1 mechanic, 1 cultural guide

Contact us to find out more and reserve your spot

Contact Us

Day 1 – Arrival

November 3rd, 2017

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.

  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner

*We will have a recommended time frame 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.

Day 2

November 4th, 2017  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 Fiesta 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.

  • Cycling: 70k
  • Accommodation:  Russian designed resort
  • Meals Included:  All inclusive

Day 3

November 5th, 2017  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.

  • Cycling: 85k
  • Accommodation: Hotel Pascaballos
  • Meals Included: Breakfast and dinner

Day 4

November 6th, 2017 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.

  • Cycling: 37k
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Breakfast and dinner

Day 5

November 7th, 2017 Ride 23 km of rolling hills into the well preserved colonial town of Trinidad, a wonderland city steeped in history. The town’s brightly colored building make for great photographs. 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.

In the evening, let’s hit the Cafe de la Musica and have a great time: Salsa dancing, live music, mojitos.

  • Cycling: 23k
  • Accommodation: Hotel by the beach
  • Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6

November 8th, 2017 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.

  • Cycling: Rest day or optional hard 14 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7

November 9th, 2017 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

  • Cycling: 64k downhill ride
  • Accommodation: Hotel Hanabanilla
  • Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8

November 10th, 2017 After breakfast, ride to Comandante Che Monument, 56 K from Hanabanilla, and then adjourn to the hotel by bus. After the check-in drive to the railway location, where Camilo and Che tore up the line and brought about the end of the Revolution and the march into Havana.

  • Cycling: an easy 56k ride
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Breakfast and dinner

Day 9

November 11th, 2017 After breakfast in Santa Clara drive to Havana and visit the Hemingway mansion in San Francisco de Paula, then on to the hotel. Tonight a farewell dinner at the Gringo Viejo restaurant.

  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Breakfast and dinner

Day 10

November 12th, 2017 This is our departure day. We will take the group to Jose Marti airport. We have done our best to show you some wonderful sights here in our home country. We hope you have become enchanted with Cuba and her people and that we see you back soon.

Tour Leader – Jim Michler

Jim is a founding partner of the 2 largest bike race series in North America: the Tour Of Americas Dairyland and the Intelligentsia Cup/Prairie State Cycling Series. As a national senior Olympian cyclist, he has competed nationally and won numerous races in his home The state of Wisconsin Jim was also a founding participant in the Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW). In addition to cycling, Jim is an avid cross country ski racer and competed in his 1st American Birkebeiner ski
marathon in 1978. He currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cost

 

Double Occupancy

This price is per rider based on double room occupancy: US$2,800.

 

Single Occupancy

This price is per rider based on single room occupancy US$3,125.

*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.

Accommodation & Food

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

Cycle Rental

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.

 

Passports’ & Visas

Visitors from the UK & Ireland A passport with a Cuban tourist card is required for entry into Cuba, by UK & Irish citizens. The tourist card is obtained by sending copies of travel documents and a fee of £15 to the Cuban Embassy in London. The turnaround is very quick–usually, the tourist card is sent back to you within 1 or 2 days. You can also get tourist cards issued by visiting the Embassy in person. These visas are good for 30 days Visitors from Canada A current passport is required and your Cuban visa will be issued on the airplane, this visa cost is included in your air ticket. The visa is good for 30 days but as a Canadian, it is possible to extend to 90 days. Visitors from the USA  A current passport is required. If travelling in an official OFAC group you will be put in contact with a qualified travel agent within the USA. This agent will both issue air tickets and visas.

Flight Options

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 Many US airports  and the tour leader will determine which will be the point of departure, once the group is formed into a main body.

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.

Donations

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 around, 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.

 Taken from an article by New York journalist   Lauren Matison February 29, 2016

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.