A heavy downpour would normally send me racing for cover, but after a day cycling west of Havana in temperatures around 30C, rain was a welcome relief. Sudden showers aside, Cuba is a great place to go cycling.
The landscape is generally flat and even if you hit a hill, there’s the lure of the downhill glide to keep your spirits from flagging, plus it’s always warm enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt.
The U.S. trade embargo against the country means there are few cars on the road, so many Cubans own bikes themselves, making it a great way of bonding with the locals.
After a few days sightseeing in Havana, I joined a group employing pedal power for a tour around old colonial towers, through tropical forests, past coffee plantations and tobacco fields.
Our average distance was 38 kilometres a day. After a leisurely breakfast, we’d set off past men driving donkey carts, and cycle for the morning (sometimes along car-free motorways), before stopping for a picnic lunch of moros y cristianos (rice and beans) and just-picked bananas. As well as visiting the Bay of Pigs, we stopped at Cienfuegos, a town founded by French immigrant farmers in the early 19th century. Trinidad was another highlight, with its cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and fantastic live music.
A few days cycling in Cuba will certainly make you fitter, but more importantly, get you closer to the fascinating country. All in all it’s as much a revelation as a revolution.