Come to Cuba on cycling holiday over the Christmas holidays. A fully supported tour with guides, mechanic and a following bus.It is well known that planning is the key to success and the sooner we make plans, the better. This is not about starting Christmas early. This is about planning to give ourselves the best possible start to a Magical Christmas in 2018.
So let’s start making plans together, setting up a group of like minded people looking for a relaxed Mountain Bike Adventure in the west of Cuba. Once we have a group of people that indicate a genuine interest in doing this as part of a Christmas Group. We can then book all hotels and air travel involved.
We need to set up parties with Cuban cycling groups and set up a social calendar that will leave you with the best memories Cuba has to offer.
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.
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Fly to Havana and transfer to the Vedado area on the Malecon. Settle into a local Hotel 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
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.
Tonight we stay iin a very small country hotel. In the stables area, just west of Havana.
You will love the rustic aspect and the fact that are righ in the middle of the Cuban countryside. Dinner it and breakfast at the hotel
The photograph below 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 and breakfast at the park beside the swimming hole.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.However this will be monitered by a travel agent in Florida and the best option will be arranged for your group.
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.