A bike riding tour through Cuba, written by Antonia


MARIA LA GORDA – In the beautiful place in the west of Cuba, 34 students and two teachers of a German school project disembark their sailing ship and set foot on Cuban soil together with their bikes, because they want to start a cycle tour from Maria la Gorda (English: Maria the fat) to Pinar del Rio. On the lawn of the big hotel area the big setting up of the bicycles begins.

The students from Germany are going to visit Cuba for nearly three weeks. At the beginning of their journey they will ride for two days through the west of Cuba to the 200.000 inhabitant city Pinar del Rio in the equally named region. There they are going to visit the Cuban school Federico-Engels. But before reaching their aim they have to do 160 kilometers in two days. In order to be able to start the tour the bikes have to be set up, because they had been taken apart, since there’s a lack of space on the sailing vessel. We interviewed one of the 34 students about their expectations for the following two days:

*R: “Hello Karen! Nice to meet you. Now I’m asking you some questions about the bike tour to come. I’ve heard you want to reach Pinar del Rio in two days. I think that are about 160 kilometers, right? Do you think you’ll manage it well?

Karen: “Yeah, I think together we’ll make it, although some of us have never done 70 km by bike a day. Maybe I am a little excited.“
R: “And what about Cuba? Have you ever been here before?“
Karen: “No, it is my first time here and I’m glad to ride a bike, because you can experience the area much more intensively than in a bus for example.“
R: “Oh that’s a good point. Isn’t there a bus, which accompanies the whole group during your bike ride?“
Karen: “Yes I heard about that, too. I think if there are problems with a bike that would stop the whole group from continuing their ride or if somebody hasn’t enough strength he will be able to go by bus.“
R: “Sounds as if everything is perfectly planned. Is your bike already set up?“
Karen: “No, unfortunately not. I miss the right bicycle pump for my bike. But that’s a problem, which is pretty easy compared to some problems others have. For example someone has a problem with managing his handlebars, which are too small to ride so many kilometers. But I know, that we, the KUSis will make it somehow.“
R: “Oh I think so, too. Thank you very much, Karen. I’m looking forward to seeing you again in Pinar del Rio and hear about your experience. We wish you an easy start tomorrow.“
Karen: “Thank you very much, too.“


PINAR DEL RIO – The 34 students and two teachers of the German school project arrived at the city hotel today. They have done 140km by bike. They’re staying in the hotel the next three days to visit the school Federico-Engels of Pinar del Rio.

The whole group entered the hotel area in the afternoon in two-person rows, which looked very impressive. They have been accompanied by a big bus driving behind them and two policemen on their motorcycles. Most of them look very good, some others a little bit tired. They’re going to check in in the hotel and stay a few days before going on to Viñales, a beautiful valley 35km away from here. We have asked Karen again about her exciting experiences during their tour:

R: “Hey Karen! Nice to meet you again. Tell us about your exciting time riding through the west of Cuba. Looks like you’ve managed the long distance very well, don’t you?“
Karen: “Yes we have. But we had some problems, of course. The first day we started riding along the sea, where we had to stop because several items weren’t fixed safely enough on the bikes. Some minutes later one of us broke her pedals, but that was pretty funny, because the ‚biological pedal‘ was created. Actually it only consisted of a piece of wood, which was somehow fixed, but it looked very interesting. Another problem were the potholes in the street, because there are many of them. Sometimes a good communication was missing, so it was a little bit uncomfortable for some of us…
R: “Oh okay I think I understand. Besides the holes in the street. What was the route like? Were there a lot of hills?“
Karen: “No, the main part of the street was plain and straight. I think that’s also the reason why it was quite simple to manage the long way.“
R: “Do you like what you’ve seen from Cuba until now?“
Karen: “Yes, I did. We’ve passed a lot of little villages on our way and in the countryside. It was interesting to see the people living there and the horses and cows, which were everywhere around us. I think we got some unexpected, but nice first impressions. As I had thought it was great to experience the world around us by bike.“
R: “Where did you stay the first night?“
Karen: “In a place called ‚Sandino‘. There we were welcomed by the Cuban TV and some people of the ministry. We stayed in a Cuban hotel and in the morning we got up early to watch a little political event. After that we started the second part of our bike tour to this place. And now we’re here.“
R: “Yes we’re happy to see you all again. Now the most difficult part of your tour is done, right?“
Karen: “Oh I don’t think so. In a few days we’ll continue our journey by bike to the valley of Viñales. There will be a lot of hills. Especially one of them will be a big challenge. And when we’ll return we have to make the whole way of 35 kilometers again.“
R: “Oh and why do you come back to Pinar del Rio?“
Karen: “In the evening we return, there will be a Gala-evening from the school Federico-Engels, where we’re going to participate. In addition to that we’ll donate our bikes to the students of this school.“
R: “Okay. So it will be the end of the journey by bike. Very nice. Thank you very much for your cooperation, it was very interesting to know about your stay here. We wish you a successful following trip through Cuba.“
Karen: “Bye and thank you, too. I hope it will be fun.“

*R = Reporter