Meeting our Amigos!
Another day in Paradise

April 28, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: GI Joe used to always saying, “Knowing is half the battle.” In some ways I feel like I lost the battle today, and it was lost before we even left this morning. We had an early breakfast and were on the road by 8am, and we wrapped it all up when we pulled into the La Mula Campismo, 11 and a half hours later. Time flies when you’re having fun though, right!?!

Climbing out of Pilon, about 10km down the road we came across a couple of hotels that I might have preferred to the Casa in Pilon. Of course, I was up most of the night unable to sleep at the Casa because the room was next to the kitchen, and it seemed like there was someone in it banging pots until late, and then again starting at 0430hrs. This combined with the air conditioning that didn’t work for poop made for a crap night for me.

Ok, so we’re riding NE for most of the day, and the wind was coming out of the opposite direction. Most of the time this meant extra effort was required, but there were other times where we really appreciated the breeze. One of my favourite times today was when we got onto the coast road, and were maybe 20km away from Pilon, when fed up with the heat, and a huge uphill ahead of us, we pulled over into some shade.

I had a nap, Amanda went for a swim, I went for a swim, I got out our surf-mat and did some surf-matting while Amanda read her book in the sun. It was really nice. We had stocked up on food before we left Pilon so we had some sandwiches and apricots, and stayed hydrated. Sometimes I bitch about carrying 15L of water, but today we drank every drop.

Around 2pm, after perhaps a 2hr break, we felt re-energized. This is where I just wasn’t prepared for the ride today. For instance, yesterday we knew that we had a big climb up the Sierra Maestra, and were mentally ready for it. I was not ready for a succession of 150-200m climbs, in the heat, with the headwind. Even on the downhills, quite often our speed was in the single digits. The day seemed to just drag on forever.

At one point Amanda snuck an electrolyte tab into my water bottle and this really gave me what I needed to finish the day. I think at that point we weren’t even halfway yet, but the minerals and whatnot did wonders for me. Later on, we found the village of La Plata, and there was a restaurant where we ordered Pan w/Pasta. Unfortunately, the pasta was like a smearing of beef gravy on a bun. Still, it was salty and that gave me another boost.

Amanda kept badgering me to camp on the beach, but I’ve become spoiled. After a day of riding in 35+ heat, I really look forward to a cold shower and a beer at the end of the day. We finally pulled into the Campismo in La Mula at 7:15, and it is quite a different experience. The room has a fan…and several windows without screens in them. There are lots of bugs. On the plus side, there were some German cyclists who are riding the opposite way as us who we talked to for awhile, and dinner was $6 and included fish, lobster, a big cabbage salad, and huge helping of rice and veg.

I think tomorrow we do not have as far to ride, so I don’t think that we will be in a rush to get out of here.

Amanda writes:
As I reflect on this day I’m left thinking that Andrew and I might be adrenaline junkies. Every day that is difficult and/or long I seem to enjoy the most. Don’t get me wrong the climbing was hard as was the heat and endless headwind, but it was a challenge. Again I’d take this over a straight flat highway with cars anyway.

I’ve learned that in our experience, if you have a coastline it will include climbs. The East coastline of Cuba is no different. Beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea and an ever changing landscape on our left. I felt like we went through the dessert and then into a lush rain forest. And the road was spectacular! Not like anything I’ve ever ridden before. The roadside was washed away and practically melted away by the Sea in places. It was fascinating to see and I was left wondering how much of that was from hurricanes. Due to the poor road conditions I can count the number of cars on one hand. In addition because there were many hills there were few horse drawn carts. The only thing we saw consistently were the remains of crab that birds had dropped on the road.

As Andrew mentioned the hills were a bit of a surprise and the heat and humidity were hard. The break we took was very welcome. I too did not sleep well. The casa we stayed in the night before is not one I’d recommend. Constant traffic of people into the kitchen all hours of the night and it doesn’t matter what language you speak; you can recognize an argument between husband and wife that culminates in the banging of pots and pans in the kitchen. Combined with the poorly functioning air conditioning and our hosts returning to the kitchen at 4:30 a.m., I was tired. The afternoon nap was a rare thing for me and I loved it.

After the nap we continued to enjoy the scenery through sweat dripping down our faces. What a fabulous day.

Today’s Photographs

Meeting our Amigos!
Another day in Paradise