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Final statistical summary of Cuba biking trip

My Cuba biking trip is finished. I was away, with my 1983 Schwinn bike (bought in Hanoi on my last bike trip), from the UK for 32 days and spent 27 of them in the saddle. I covered 1463 miles (2340km) with a total vertical ascent, according to Strava of 39,231 feet (well over 7 miles or nearly 12,000 metres). The accommodation cost $878  (£584) excluding most meals & drinks.

Here is my spreadsheet, clicking on the link in Places should take you to the days pictures on Picasa, clicking the Strava link will take you to the full Strava profile for the day eg route, elevation profile, speed etc etc:

Geoff’s Cuba trip 5th November to 7th December
Day Date Place (link to pics) Distance (Miles) Km Ascent (feet) Night Price Brekkie Dinner Strava link  
Thursday 5. Nov. 2015 Havana 0.00 Aeroporte Hostal
Friday 6. Nov. 2015 Havana 43.30 69 758 Aeroporte Hostal $85.00 429863996
Saturday 7. Nov. 2015 Bayamo (From Haiguin) 39.40 63 170 Hotel Royalton $47.00 429861117
Sunday 8. Nov. 2015 Manzanillo 42.60 68 432 Hotel Guacanyobo $22.00 429860465
Monday 9. Nov. 2015 Marea delPortillo 66.00 106 1739 Club Amiga $38.00 429997236
Tuesday 10. Nov. 2015 Uvero 50.70 81 3229 Homestay $20.00 431731192
Wednesday 11. Nov. 2015 Buey Cabon 51.30 82 1517 Homestay $20.00 431729960
Thursday 12. Nov. 2015 Guatanamo 67.40 108 2627 Hotel Marti $41.00 431729961
Friday 13. Nov. 2015 Yacobe Campsite 47.50 76 1559 Campsite $12.00 6 433401483
Saturday 14. Nov. 2015 Baracoa 48.60 78 5612 Homestay $30.00 /433403262
Sunday 15. Nov. 2015 Baracoa 0.00 0 0 Homestay $30.00
Monday 16. Nov. 2015 Moa 53.70 86 3398 Homestay $22.50 435277461
Tuesday 17. Nov. 2015 Mayari 61.70 99 3384 Villa Elin $20.00 8 435277459
Wednesday 18. Nov. 2015 Holguin 55.30 88 1867 Homestay $25.00 ace brekkie 435277462
Thursday 19. Nov. 2015 Las Tunas 49.70 80 839 Homestay $20.00 awful 436915332
Friday 20. Nov. 2015 Camaguey 79.20 127 913 Hostal Yane $25.00 4 good 436915339
Saturday 21. Nov. 2015 Ciego de Avila 69.20 111 429 Homestay $20.00 3 good /436915329
Sunday 22. Nov. 2015 Sancti Spiritus 47.80 76 693 Hostal Calle Real $25.00 5 437686177
Monday 23. Nov. 2015 Trinidad 44.20 71 1346 Hostal Mireyd & Eliecer $25.00 13 Dinner 8 in 438491877
Tuesday 24. Nov. 2015 Trinidad 0 0 0 Hostal Mireyd & Eliecer $25.00 0
Wednesday 25. Nov. 2015 Playa Giron 100.00 160 1745 Homestay $25.00 4 10 440461990
Thursday 26. Nov. 2015 Jaguey Grande 44.50 71 170 Homestay $25.00 5 10 440461984
Friday 27. Nov. 2015 Matanza 58.30 93 576 Hostel Vanessa $25.00 5 440461980
Saturday 28. Nov. 2015 Havana 74.30 119 2565 Aeroporte Hostal $45.00 inc 442150347
Sunday 29. Nov. 2015 Saroa 53.10 85 1004 Homestay $25.00 5 12 442150341
Monday 30. Nov. 2015 Pinar del Rio 55.00 88 633 Hostal El Moro $25.00 5 /442149451
Tuesday 1. Dec. 2015 La Bajada 82.00 131 699 Homestay $20.00 4 15 443644989 443645454
Wednesday 2. Dec. 2015 Vinales 60.40 97 1327 Homestay $20.00 4 443644336 443644002
Thursday 3. Dec. 2015 Vinales 0.00 0 Homestay $20.00 4
Friday 4. Dec. 2015 Havana bus station 5.00 8 Hostal Marilus $25.00 5
Saturday 5. Dec. 2015 Havana central 0.00 0 Hostal Marilus $25.00 5
Sunday 6. Dec. 2015 Havana airport 12.50 20 Aeroporte Hostal $45.00 inc
Monday 7. Dec. 2015 Walk& Flight Home (8pm)
Tuesday 8. Dec. 2015 Arrive (5am)
Totals 1463 2340 39231 878

Cuba cycling some trip notes


Ride to Havana airport after 1463 miles of Cuba biking
Ride to Havana airport after 1463 miles of Cuba biking

Well the Canadian cyclists like coming here because it’s a lot safer than countries like Mexico for their winter training and I suspect the Americans will be in the same boat personally I never felt threatened once, you tell folks to sod of and they do!

Yep Cuba offers good cycling I never got bumped into once although I had to quickly go onto a verge when a car was tailgating another one overtaking 🙁 and another time was cut up at a motorway intersection. The worst problem by a long way is the thick black smoke belching from vehicles when you are climbing up the hills.

I didn’t do any real off roading – although a couple of roads like Baracoa to Moa and a section to Uvero on the South coast were very rough & quite a fewother cyclists had given them a miss by using taxis!

iPhone Apps

What happens after a month of no or little internet!
What happens after a month of no or little internet!

Before you come make sure your phone has a VPN (I use Onavo) otherwise you cannot access the app store.

The best navigation app by a long long way is just download the Cuba map before you leave home and you are good to go when you arrive.

Gaia GPS is good for storing tracks and seeing where you have been. However, you can’t download the whole island into it 🙁

I must give a huge thanks to Steve Coast who set up Open Street Map which both Gaia and use. I met him at Re-boot the year he set it up – who would think it has come so far so quickly.

For video chat download (and your friends) the Imo app its the only video talk channel that seems to work here.

Of cause what you quickly find out is that most Apps are not really apps they are just browsers to a particular website! Totally reliant on a an always on 3G connection. Its ridiculous that Facebook and others don’t allow auto download of all the items in your chosen streams for like the past day/week and then re-sync when you have internet again?

Internet in Cuba

Here in Cuba (Dec 2015) there is NO internet on the cellular system at all anywhere and to make it worse texts will set you back 50p and calls £3 a minute. However ETECSA, the state telephone monopoly offer a card for 2 CUC for one hour which gives you access to WiFi in the larger town squares (easily spotted by groups of folk with smart phones hanging about). You have to queue at the local ETECSA store (Dark/Pale Blue building also search for ETECSA on whilst your passport details and the cards 12 digit number are very slooowly entered into their ancient computer. There is always a queue 🙁 It has been known for lads to offer you them at 3 CUCs in the street but of cause I’m sure that is totally illegal, I also think the grander hotels offer them for sale at the desk.


I always found a Casa for the night, hugely variable quality but all the same price either 20 or 25 CUC plus between 3 & 5 CUC for breakfast and a very variable amount (8-15) for evening dinner. If you are stuck when you arrive, just wander around the main square someone will be onto to you by the second circuit 🙂 also the all inclusive hotels on the South Coast offer amazing deals if you just turn up, some cheaper than casa’s! e.g. Club Amiga was 38 CUC for 24 hours of unlimited food & drink with good accommodation.


Clothing I wore was totally minimal cycle shorts/cycle shirt/sandals all day and sandals, normal shorts /T shirt in the evenings. When it rains here it REALLY rains so a swimming costumewould be best! Forget gortex jackets etc etc Even when the infamous cold front sweeps in, like now, it still hotter than an English summers day. You tend to get a bit of notice by looking at the sky.


Food for me was mainly fish (Interestingly the locals are not allowed beef or lobsters). I got the runs twice, both quickly cleared up with one 200mg ciprofloxacin tablet (local pharmacists sell you 20 for 2 CUC).

The local ice cream and refresco drinks are stupidly cheap like 7 pence each from the small stands and no I didn’t get my bugs from them! The giant 1 pint Nestle tubs are just over £1 truly delicious and 819 instant calories! The challenge is to eat it before it becomes liquid 🙂

Electronics kit

The InReach tracker is a very nice bit of kit allowing the folks at home to see where I am wit my speed etc every 10minutes using a very neat arrangement of bluetooth to iPhone, Internal GPS and Iridium satellite communicator so you don’t need local cell services for text messages/GPS etc.

Its also very reassuring to have a big red button to press for emergency services when you are bombing down a hill in a remote area. Its just a bit disappointing that you can only set up the free messages on the internet 🙁 But obviously the next trip it will be all setup.

My homemade iPhone holder for the KlickFix bar bag system worked a dream in an ideal location and easy to read the map when navigating through towns. The iPhone fingerprint reader is a real pain with sweaty hands though and why isn’t it waterproof 🙁

The Anker A1209 20,800ma/Hr worked a dream keeping everything fully charged on the longest of days and is amazingly fast to charge up in the evenings.


Would I come again? maybe, but not soon I still have plenty of other places that I have never visited and for winter training etc in Europe we have The Canary and Balearic Islands.

Tourist day in Havana

Gaia map of my Havana Walking
Gaia map of my Havana Walking

Saturday I decided to make myself a walking tour of Havana, Lamar went off to explore the film festival since he is in TV production and with Gaia maps running I went of to try and never walk the same street twice 🙂

At the world famous, because of Hemingway, Ambos Mundos hotel I found a Taulk tour group having a tour with what sounded like a very interesting person. An architect who works at the Havana old town conservation project (Maybe habaguanex), who then took us into the Maqueta de la Havana, essentially a fully detailed model of the old town.

He then went into some details of the many problems they face. Apparently the project is unique in Cuba and probably the world in that most of their funds come from the tourist tax paid by the hotels and restaurants they own. In other Cuban cities the money goes to central government and then paid out if hey are lucky.

The biggest difficulty they face is that no one ‘owns’ the buildings! The government owns the physical land but after the revolution the state took over the apartments etc (If you didn’t flee you were allowed to keep one city apartment and one country building the rest of your property was taken and essentially given to other folks in exchange for a small amount of money – If you fled you lost the lot!) What this means is that in a block of apartments where upto 20 families are living no one owns the physical outer shell of the building, hence the very poor state of repair.

The project offer to renovate the building for free but they insist that only say 12 families can remain – the others are offered free apartments but not in the old town. So interesting squabbles occur 🙁

The most interesting statement he made which strongly agreed with the opinion I have been forming is that their government has been using the trade embargo as an excuse for the embargo of their mind! No original thinking has been taking place! Like winning the battle and losing the war 🙁

For instance I’ve noticed Nestle have a huge presence here with their freezers in virtually every cafe/store on the island also soft drinks/beer are all marketed in the latest all aluminium cans, which require huge upfront investment. Yet the banks don’t offer normal folks credit for building houses or starting small businesses but a foreigner can offer a slug of money for a special visa and be allowed to buy a building for business. Not good …

Havana Rail station
Havana Rail station

Anyway I got thrown off their ‘private’ tour so I continued my meanderings. The scale of renovation is vast eg The Central Station, Capitol building, National Theatre etc etc

GAES Titan bike race Havana
GAES Titan bike race Havana

Later I saw the end of the first stage of the Titan Tropic GAES Mountain Bike championships all on gleaming highly expensive bikes – but no backup kit! Just an ambulance and a few cars 🙂 They are off to Vinales now.

In the evening to go for a meal I had to run the gauntlet of prostitutes and managed to pick up a stomach bug again 🙁 Over 12 miles walked..

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 🙁 🙁