MOUNTAIN BIKE CHRISTMAS

  • Destination: ,
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Arrives: 12/19/2016
  • Departs: 12/28/2016

Come to Cuba on cycling holiday over the Christmas holidays. A fully supported tour with guides, mechanic and a following bus.

Want something very different to do next Christmas?  This could just be what you are looking for. A low skill level, high fun level, bicycle holiday on a tropical island

 

Ed Phelps 24          Ed Phelps 21-1          Ed Phelps 17-1

The Cycling

This is Cuba in the raw. Come with us to a land of cigars and rum. Experience the vibrations of Havana and the quiet of rural western Cuba.

The quiet back roads of western Cuba are a great way to spend a Tropical Christmas. From 3 star hotels to mountain shacks, this ride covers some great riding in the Sierra del Rosario biosphere and the Valle Vinales.

This is not extreme MTB cycling, only moderate off road skills are required. Old broken roads and some dirt trails are our preferred paths.

Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be spent in Vinales. A hillside dinner overlooking the town on Dec. 24th  and fine dining on Christmas Day.

 

  • Usual daily distances:30km to 55km (with flexible options)
  • Days of cycling: 7
  • Terrain:Quiet backroads with some options to cycle on dirt tracks and easy trails. There are hills and rolling countryside on this tour so a reasonable basic level of fitness is recommended.
  • Support vehicle:100%
  • Tour staff: 2 cycle guides, 1 driver, 1 mechanic

Contact us to find out more and reserve your spot

Contact Us

 

Day 1 – Arrival

Fly to Havana and transfer to the Vedado area on the Malecon. Settle into a local Casa and set up the bikes in front of the CAFE RUEDA.

Our evening meal at a local restaurant will give us an opportunity chat and introduce ourselves.

An evening stroll in “Old Havana” is always a popular way to spend the rest of the evening

  • Cycling: 0km
  • Accommodation:  Casa
  • Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2

Depart Havana by bus to Punta Brava, here we visit a local children’s cycling club, before riding along a country back road into the Las Terrazas national park.

The photograph on the left does not look like a hotel, take my word for it, you will love the rustic aspect and the fact that we are right by a natural swimming hole. Dinner in a restaurant and breakfast by the swimming hole.

  • Cycling: 33km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 3

Getting up in the morning beside a swimming hole tempts many to take a dip in the river. On top of that, there are some great trails in the park, so we will delay our departure J

The afternoon will be spent mountain biking into the huts at Milcumbres. A ride into the hillbilly outback of western Cuba.

This area of Cuba offers a simple way of life that many travelers envy. The food is simple and the accommodation rustic, hospitality is wonderful

  • Cycling: 28km
  • Accommodation: Mountain hut
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 4

A trip through the mountains on a coffee trail ends at a group of cabins by the Cueva De Los Portales. This is the place where Ernesto (Che) Guevara set up military headquarters during the “missile crisis” of October 1962.

The ride is long for an MTB ride (50k) and we do have shorter 23k ride if you feel you would be more comfortable

  • Cycling: 50km or 25k
  • Accommodation: Chalet
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 5

31k or 14k will get us to the quiet village of San Diego De Los Baños and an old American hotel built before the revolution.

In this time forgotten village we will get a cigar rolling lesson from a retired old man who spent his life at this trade

All of today’s riding is done o the road, not great paving but we are on MTB’s so all will be well J

  • Cycling: 31km or 14k
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 6

A dirt road trip, through farms and hamlets, this is one of my favourite rides.  A camera day of the highest order, with lots of time to stop and take it all in.

Today we end our ride in the town of Vinales, beauty spot renowned for its fertile soil and magnificent magotes.

Tonight we dine at a hillside eco restaurant, overlooking Valle Vinales.

  • Cycling: 28km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 7

Today is Christmas and all will be well.

A short visit to a tobacco plantation and then on for a picnic lunch in the Valle Ancon.

This evening we will try a little fine dining at a restaurant in the middle of town.

  • Cycling: 30km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 8

Boxing Day Beach ride (weather permitting). Rough road for 25k, then out along a causeway to Cayo Jutias. Here is a wonderful beach with restaurant and dive centre. Spend the afternoon at the beach then bus back to town.

Should the weather be a little cool for the beach we will reschedule and ride the Valle Vinales out 17k to Gran Caverna Santo Tomas, one of the largest caves in the Americas.

  • Cycling: 35km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 9

The final ride will take us up to Los Jasmines and a great lookout point, then onto the City of Pinar Del Rio to visit the tobacco factory and a sit down lunch in the Vueltabjo Hotel.

From Pinar we will bus to Havana and a night out in the “Old City”

  • Cycling: 27km
  • Accommodation: Casa
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 10

It is time for home and going forward into the “New Year”.

During the past 10 days of holiday, you have experienced many things and met many people here on our island. You will need time for it all to sink in. Make sure you have taken lots of photos, they will help you realize just how Cuba is and how much different city and country life can be.

We are a nation of proud people going through a period of transition. We hope that you return to further explore and discover the beauties of this land we call home, CUBA.

  • Cycling: 0km
  • Meals Included: /breakfast

 

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Tour Leader

This ride will be lead by Cuban-American  cyclist and multi CanBiCuba tour leader,  Pedro Curbelo,  from Tampa, Florida,  Pedro is a biologist and originally from Havana. He runs his own business in Tampa. To reach Kerry you can call his cell @ (813) 900 5668

 or by email  pedrocurbelo37@yahoo.es

Cost

US$1800
Extra US$250. Should you register looking to share with an another and we are not able to find an acceptable companion, you will need to pay the Single Supplement charge.

FURTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION

Will My U.S. Mobile Phone Work In Cuba?

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 unlock your mobile phone.

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 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 colorful 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.

Geography & Climate

Cuba is a tropical island in the Northern hemisphere. It is 1350km long and covered with a variety of mountains, forests, rich farmland and golden beaches. There are some desert-like areas in the Guantanamo area but this MTB event is far away from this, in Havana and Vinales. Cuba has a warm and dry season from November to April, with average daily temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees. This is the time of year we choose to conduct our tours.  May to October is the rainy season, which is hotter and also prone to hurricanes.

Cycling Terrain

This tour explores Cuban back roads. There is one day of city cycling but this is rather short. Surfaces are from OK to bad, the worst being a four km stretch on the morning of the first day. All is doable on a road bike and people generally use road touring to hybrid bikes. Those fast people can definitely get away with a road bike and many do so.

 Accommodation & Food

We use a combination of 3-star hotels with en-suite rooms, and one night at a historic farmstead. 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 daysVisitors from Canada A current passport is required and your Cuban visa will be issued on the airplane, this visa cost is included in you 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 traveling 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 direct 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 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.