Cuba is one of the greatest places to cycle. The roads are great, very little traffic, friendly people and it’s as safe. It’s not an expensive country and you can have a great time with less than CUC $40 a day, which equates to around UK £25 (March 2008)
Cuba by Cycle:
Cuba is one of the greatest places to cycle. The roads are great, very little traffic, friendly people and it’s as safe. It’s not an expensive country and you can have a great time with less than CUC $ 40 a day, which equates to around UK £25 (March 2008)
I had 18 days off and I planned to do 1000 KMS. I wanted to cover the east, centre and the west.
I wanted to do few dives and avoid the package tourists.
I wasn’t keen on going to Veradero, which has great white sandy beach but gated resorts where most Cubans are not allowed (until March 2008).
Many Cubans don’t speak English, however they have great patience. They can wait and listen to you while you search your phrase book for words. I speak no Spanish but I had good conversation with them through the Phrasebook. Now I can flirt a bit in Spanish!!
Casa Particulars (B&B) is really good in Cuba. Its run by Cuban families where they get an opportunity to earn CUC $. It usually cost around CUC $20 for accommodation, with breakfast for $3, and dinner for $7. The food is heaps better than in restaurant and I have always had to through food. For lunch you can go to a sandwich store and grab a sandwich, refresco, for less than a $1
What to pack for Cuba Cycling
Normal hybrid road bikes are good for Cuba. I took my hardtail with road tyres. Thin tyres might be a problem if you decide to take a detour, or visit some tobacco farms or beach.
I took two side waterproof panniers with around 7kgs each. I am a light packer and I think if you can carry your stuff for two hours without much of a problem then your packing is good.
Take the essentials such as few extra tubes; puncture repair kid, all purpose toolkit (No bigger than a Swiss knife), pump, spokes, extra brake cable, chain repair, chain lubricants and a good saddle. Take a spanner as you will have to remove the paddles to get your cycle on the plane. Extra tyres, sleeping bags, water filter, Swiss knife are all look cool but useless gadgets.
For shorts, I am not big on Lycira, I like those boardies, so I can dip in the water if it gets too hot and they dry quickly. It’s a good idea to get few good sports (running, cycling, tennis) T-Shirts. Its good to have one comfy sandals.
Also Bicycling Cuba by Wally and Barbara Smith is a great book.
How to take the cycle to Cuba
Most Airlines take your cycle for free. You will have to deflate your tyres and remove the paddles. Before you check-in remove the paddles, and put it in panniers. I also remove the saddle as its easier to steal one. You don’t want to cycle without one, do you? If you check in and remove the paddles, then you might have problems carrying those.
I took Cubana Airlines: London-Holguin, Havana-London, as I wanted to start my journey from Holguin. Don’t expect much service, or in-flight entertainment. My flight was delayed by 12 hours and by the time they got to the end they ran out of food.