Oops! So, after cycling 400km across Kenya, I have now been press ganged into cycling 400km across Cuba!
This is going to be a harder challenge for me, as I can't really raise funds in the same way as last year. I really don't want to lose all my friends ;) And I have to raise a minimum of £3000.00 to qualify to do the cycle.
So! I am looking for venues, and people to help me. Message me here or in Facebook if you can help? Thanks!
Or, if you prefer, please donate here - the smallest amount really does help. Thank you.
Cuba itinerary – 3rd to 11th October, 2013
See here for a map of the Cuba cycle.
Flight : London to Havana [Jose Marti International Airport]
9 hours and 30 minutes – see customs regs here
Met by a local guide, transferred to a hotel in the Miramar District.
Event briefing and buffet dinner.
Warm Up Ride [approximately 30km]
Early start – 6.00 [not too bad!], bike fitting after brekkie [taking my trusty saddle!], then a tour of Havana on our bikes! 1st Avenue to La Puntilla where we will stop to regroup, then continue toward Bosque Metropolitano which follows the banks of the Almendares River. Then a sharp uphill to Nuevo Vidado, to Revolution Square with the iconic images of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and José Martí. I can't wait to see those!
From here we cycle down Pseo toward the sea, then cut back up into Central Havana, then directly to the Capitolio building and Parque Central.
Salón de Pasos Perdidos, El Capitolio, Havana
Then we take the long route round past the main railway station to the Harbour, to have lunch at the waterfront El Patio restaurant. Looks great but we will probably be half dead by then!
Transfer to Varadero for dinner and overnight. [lots of snoring on the bus]
Varadero to Baños de Elguea (approximately 94km)
An early start [ugh] setting off for Baños de Elguea - cycling through the resort and then passing through Cardenas and then heading East. Through farming communities providing us with an insight into how the Cuban rural heartland works. A relatively flat and well paved route, but plenty of kilometres to pedal! Stop for a quick lunch along the way, and check into the Spa Hotel at Baños de Elguea. Basic but clean accommodation, built around thermal springs – yay! We can chill there and recover from the days ride.
Dinner at the hotel. [plus speeches and random encouraging stuff]
Baños de Elguea to Santa Clara (109km)
This is the longest days ride, setting off early in the morning to hopefully achieve a ride of 109km [whaaa! – although that is only 67 miles…]. Continuing along the Curcuito Norte road, we head for Sierra Morena where we take a lesser road due South and cut across country toward Santa Clara, famed for being the location of the most decisive battle between Batista and the Revolutionary Forces when Che Guevara and his men ambushed a train full of soldiers loyal to Batista. Che's successful ambush effectively defeated Batista's forces and resulted in the dictator fleeing Cuba the following day. A spectacular mausoleum commemorates Che's outstanding contribution to Cuba's revolution.
After visiting the Che Guevara Memorial, we will set off East along the Carretera Central which was once the main road connecting Cuba's capital city to Santiago. The road is now a secondary route and although busy by Cuban standards, it remains remarkably free of fast moving traffic. [Oh good – so we won't be hit by speeding juggernauts at any rate…]
The undulating road takes us through farming communities and we share the road with horse drawn carts, vintage American cars and farm vehicles.
It's a relatively easy cycle today and we should reach Sancti Spíritus in time to enjoy the pool before dinner at our hotel .
Sancti Spíritus to Trinidad (about 70km)
Today is sugar cane country. We cycle toward Trinidad [woohoo – tobacco country!], one of Cuba's most charming Colonial cities. The road undulates past fields of cane, once Cuba's most important crop. Trinidad and the surrounding area was extremely wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to sugar production. However, once slavery was abolished, sugar production dropped and Trinidad's importance declined. It is now a sleepy provincial town full of live music and beautiful Colonial architecture.
We stop for lunch at Manacas Iznaga [one of the sugar plantation hamlets in the valley above Trinidad de Cuba] and arrive in Trinidad mid afternoon. In time to celebrate our achievements with a Mojito [or two!] before dinner. And we have a chance to investigate the nightlife too!
Return to Havana
This morning we have time for a bit of sightseeing in Trinidad before we depart for Havana at about 11.00 – we stop for lunch in Cienfuegos, then we continue on to Havana – arriving late afternoon. This evening we celebrate in style with a dinner in the centre of Havana's Old Town.
Return to London.
This morning is 'free' [lots of packing and running about!] then we check out of the hotel at around midday before leaving for the airport and flying home to the UK.
From experience in Kenya, this will also be a very emotional day – many friendships are created on the cycle and it seems awful to part – but we don't really! We keep in touch – and these friendships are the kind to last a lifetime.