Day 4: M3 to M13

Fri. 17th August 2012

It was an earlyish start – being checked out and on the road by 8:30 so it is a good job we are not yet over our jet lag.  After a hour or s0 we stopped for our “bike fitting”. This involved getting on our allocated bike (we had previously provided details of our height) and riding it around a cul de sac to check how the gears worked and if the saddle was OK. My bike is identified as M13 – the only similarity with the M3 I was used to is that you have the wind in your hair!! We then set off and turned right along the coast road for 17km. I know it is a long time since my A level Physics but I am sure the coast road following the sea was uphill! Maybe it was because we were cycling in temperatures above 30 degree and the mid day sun! The locals must have thought we were mad.

A swim in the sink hole was a great way to prepare for lunchI was definitely ready for the much needed swim in the shady sink hole at the end of our warm up cycle. Others swam in the sea but said it was very salty. Also the cold beer and three course lunch went down well.

After lunch, it was back into the coach for the transfer to Cienfuegos, via the Bay of Pigs. We had a brief halt in Giron where there is an interesting museum on the American/Cuban mercenary invasion of 1961. I would give more of a history lesson but the mojitos are calling.Cuban airforce plane outside the museum

The local modes of transport were standing or sitting in a local bus with windows open for air conditioning or on the back of a open topped lorry, again standing or sitting if space permitted. Away from Havana and towards the Bay of Pigs horse drawn carts became prevalent. It made us feel guilty in our spacious air conditioned coach, with a quarter of the seats removed to accommodate our fourteen bikes.

Statue of Jose Marti in Cienfuegos main squareA short drive brought us to Cienfuegos town which is quite a contrast to the miles of green pasture being grazed on by thin looking cattle and goats, as well as sugar cane fields. Also the single storey quite basic dwellings with shutters for windows were replaced firstly by huge run down tower blocks of flats and then the potholed road opened up into a large plaza surrounded by ornate buildings. Definitely a place to return to later in our stay and explore at a more leisurely pace.

The hotel is supposed to be more basic than the one in Havana but we did not agree.View from our balcony of the palace in Cienfuegos The rooms were more spacious and had a balcony with fantastic views over the bay. The only problems we encountered were the phones ringing randomly in the night – soon sorted by disconnecting from the wall and Eric, one of our group, being stuck in his room requiring the maintenance man to be called with a sledgehammer to open the door – he was moved to another room with a door that worked.

After cocktails in the roof bar of the adjacent ex palace we settled to chat with our fellow cyclists over dinner (more about the food  later).

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2 Responses to Day 4: M3 to M13

  1. Bunty & Ken Mike Hudsons parents. says:

    Following you with great interest. Barry Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton must be getting worried! Ken cycled many miles in his youth but it was not Buntys first love! Looking forward to your next entries.

  2. Rob Quickenden says:

    Great first day cycling guys! 30 degree heat on a bike! No wonder you needed those cocktails

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