Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

Vinales surprise & downtown Havana

I spent Thursday meandering around Vinales, just about every house offers accommodation so if you are told the town is full take it with a bucket of salt! The town is popular with walkers going up the hills and around the tobacco farms.

Jimmy, Rick & Rich from Crested Butte CO
Jimmy, Rick & Rich from Crested Butte CO

In the evening I was wandering around wondering where to eat when I spied three very expensive looking carbon bikes tucked away in a corner 🙂 I went to inspect and discovered their owners were from the USA (of cause with bikes like that) and even more amazingly one is the neighbour of my friend Tony Martin, who a few weeks ago Sally and I went walking in Snowdonia with 🙂 They all reside in Crested Butte, Colorado so are here looking for hills 🙂 I guess it now means that a trip boarding in Colorado at 3,000 metres is on the cards… One of them is a veggie so we returned to my favourite veggie restaurant 🙂

Friday was very wet and I was pleased to be taking the bus to Havana with the bike, 12CUC inc. You only have to remove the front wheel, lower the saddle and take any bags from it so easy really. The bus ended up with around 8 bikes and full of folks.

Right lads push! starting a car in Havana
Right lads push! starting a car in Havana

In Havana bus station whilst re-assembing the bike I got chatting to a group of German girls who had also done 2000km in 30 days, except they had used a Canadian company and a local guide, Enrique. Since they had finished their riding Enrique said follow him and I could stay with his sister in downtown Havana for a couple of nights 🙂 So once again I struck lucky although the area was very seedy full of working girls in the evenings and rubbish strewn streets every where. 🙁

Lobster at The FenixLamar from LA in the USA ended up staying in the house too, so in the evening we all went around to The Fenix restaurant for lobster it was OK but hideously expensive at 103CUC for the three of us 🙁 🙁

The end of my biking road in Cuba

Written early Thursday 3 December

Farmer going for a ride
Farmer going for a ride

On Tuesday I left Pinar del Rio and managed to bike the 82 miles to La Bajada on the western tip of the island overlooking Cancun in Mexico. So I now have biked the length of the island from the South eastern corner at Baracoa to the North Western corner. For the pedants I know Baracoa is about 20 miles down an unmade track from the actual tip and that La Bajada is a similar distance down a track from the North Western corner.

I left Pinar del Rio Hostal with a business card from it’s owner for the Mercedes Motel in Manuel Lazo. The road was mainly quite good although in the tobacco fields it was planting season so probably not the best time of the year to appreciate tobacco plantations 🙁 although interesting to see the various way that oxen are used in tilling the land.

I arrived in Manuel Lazo to find the so called ‘Motel’ was down a dusty track of an equally bad track. The building was a shack with my proposed room been a windowless bedroom of another bedroom. I drank a beer, mulled it over, and then made my excuses and departed with all haste.

It was another 20 miles down a deserted road through a National Forest a bird watchers paradise, before it suddenly opened up to the sea and beach. A group of ladies nabbed me and took me to a homestay, at least this room had a window, all be it with cardboard shutters and a shower which was a pipe hanging out of the wall.

Sunset at La Bajada
Sunset at La Bajada

I pretty well had no choice but to stay, having biked 82 miles 🙁 apparently the area was devastated in the 2005 hurricane although probably it wasn’t much even then! To make up for the lack of amenities the sunset over the ocean was excellent though 🙂

Dinner was served in a neighbouring shack after the generator came on so we had light! (it turned of at 4am). The neighbour said a bus left at 6.20 in the morning. So I arranged brekkie for 5.30am in the pitch black, thank goodness for the bike light 🙂

There was much confusion in the morning about the bus so I just pedalled of in the dark! 3 hours and 41 miles later no bus ever came past me! In Isabel Rubio I found a 1950’s vintage taxi to share with a young Cuban couple. A fare of 8CUC was agreed for me and the bike to do the high speed 36 mile dash to Pinar 🙂 thus saving a good 4 hours of pedalling.

In Pinar I decided to pedal to the cigar and tourist capital of Vinales there was a lovely 400 foot real climb to get into The Vinales Valley with fantastic views to make a great ending to the day. To make it even better I discovered the La Berenjena vegetarian restaurant superb food and smoothies 🙂

After dinner and a Cuba Libre or 2 I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure for 10CUC . 🙂

Today is going to be a relaxing day before I get the bus to Havana in the morning for a weekend exploring the delights of the Capital City. My flight home is on Monday afternoon.

Threadbare cycling shorts
Threadbare cycling shorts

I’ve now biked 1,445 miles (2312Km) in the 28 days I’ve been away so far with 25 days in the saddle that’s about 58 miles per day 🙂 As you can see from the pic it’s just as well I’m stopping as my bike shorts are totally threadbare. The bike has held up well apart from the headstock clamping nut breaking and the rear brake pads wearing out.

Hopefully, once home I will get the pics up and geotagged.