Loco for Cuba
- From: PL <pl.nospam@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 09:39:37 GMT
Loco for Cuba
Hans Rey & Tarek Rasouli
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
It's April and we are on a beach somewhere near the Sierra Maestra Mountains in the southern part of Cuba. Along with me on this Hans Rey Adventure Team trip is German Pro/Freerider Tarek Rasouli and Stefan Eisend, our photographer and cameraman in one.
We have just returned from a brutal three-day trip across the Sierra Maestra Mountain Range, climbing Cuba's highest peak, the 2005-meter Pico Turquino.
We were the first to attempt this cruel hike/bike on mountain bikes. This was the first time I opted for hard core freeride bikes on one of my Adventure Team trips (GT i-drive Ruckus and a Rocky Mountain RM7). The 11-hour hike up the mountain was brutal and the trail was so technical that the descent couldn't have been done on any other kind of bikes.
Our first stop was the Comandancia de la Plata, the old revolutionary headquarters of Fidel Castro, which was hidden in the jungle. It was amazing to see this infrastructure they had set up in the middle of nowhere to plan the Cuban revolution. Old black and white photographs of Castro and Che Guevara reminded us of those days.
Not much has changed in Cuba since; the people here live very controlled lives and often it feels like you are still in the '50s.
People are unspoiled, friendly but not highly motivated. Weird laws and regulations make the simplest of things nearly impossible; it took us more than two days to find fish somewhere along the coast and we finally had to bribe the mayor of a village to let us buy some Red Snapper.
Our main trip started in Santo Domingo... ..after a little detour on the way to the old Revolutionary Headquarters, we continued our way up over the mountains towards Pico Turquino. The first day was all uphill, seven hours with a few short descents off some of the lower peaks along the way.
It was the most challenging hike and biking I've done, up very steep and technical trails with many roots and steps. It was impossible to ride any part of it.
We stayed the first night at some simple shelter where we were fed and didn't see anybody all day long.
Day two started with another four hours of climbing before -- totally exhausted -- we reached Cuba's highest point.
I have done many gnarly hikes with my bikes in the past, but this one was by far the hardest, especially considering the heat, humidity, and steepness. Not to mention we were the first persons ever to bring bikes to the top. It was no wonder the locals called us "loco."
The downhill was great, but no less challenging or exhausting; endless steps, stairways and even ladders had to be negotiated. After four hours of "muchas" technical downhilling with incredibly beautiful views, we arrived at the second night campsite overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Our last day on the mountain was very rewarding. The trail turned out to be very fun and not too hard, which we didn't mind. Modern bicycle technology really made this trip possible, without a minimum of 5 inches suspension and hydraulic brakes, this trail wouldn't have been rideable.
Cuba is rad and it offers a lot of virgin biking. We did several cool day trips prior to our main adventure and got some incredible footage and photos in outrageously beautiful locations. And we still have several days left before we head back home -- Cuba Libre, Cigars, Che Guevara...
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