Photo Essay: Cycling Through Cuba

Search and State’s Daniel Golden's biking adventure across the gorgeous and fast-changing country

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by Daniel Golden

Cycling across Cuba is an incredible and worthwhile adventure, but is a trip that requires good planning and the understanding that the countryside is still undeveloped and resources are quite scarce. It’s a beautiful place with amazingly curious, welcoming, spirited people. Music and smiles are everywhere. It is place of mystery and discovery and truly an unforgettable experience. We rode though places that have not seen tourists yet and we were greeted with kindness and support the whole way. The people are spectacular and extremely vibrant. The roads we travelled were of mixed terrain and often beautiful. The backroads can be challenging but worth every ounce of the effort. Bikes of all kind are everywhere in Cuba and to us it still remains the best way to travel, discover, and commute.

On the way to Sancti di Spiritus

Most of the art we saw had to do with the revolution and Fidel, so this piece was interesting. My rig was a standard Cross Bike loaded with front and rear bags and my tent poles and stakes strapped to my top-tube.

Cake Man of San Antonio

This guy had so much character. He showed up with these great looking cakes on his shoulder and walked a long distance to a neighbor’s house like that. It was oddly common to see people in Cuba walking with pastries on trays like this on their shoulders. We saw it multiple times every day.

Local Family in Baragua

We arrived in town with no food or water and could not find any and they came out and pretty much refused to let us leave without a meal. This family was kind and extremely generous and refused to let us pay them anything.

San Antonio Shelter

This was by far the most interesting night we had. This shelter was the performance center of San Antonio, in the center of town. A local guy had the key to the gate and let us in to sleep there. The locals were very curious about us and watched everything we did. When we went to sleep, a nearby party turned into a full on raging fiesta all around us until about 3:00am. It was one of the loudest, most spirited street parties I’ve ever heard. Locals sang on the PA System and were really good. But it was so loud: we could not see anything but just hear this madness all night long. People yelling, horses galloping, music cranking, it was kind of crazy. When the music finally stopped, an infinite number of roosters screamed until day break. They were everywhere around us. I had never heard anything like it. We got zero sleep and came out of our tents laughing. The entire scene was ridiculous. It was all great to be honest. Quotes from Fidel like the one on the wall behind us were everywhere across Cuba.

Images courtesy of Daniel Golden of Search and State