Hans’ latest Adventure Team trip to Cuba
Viva La Revolución
Photos by Stefan Eisend ([email protected])
As you read this 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 Fro/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 Pico Turquino (2005m). We were the first to attempt this cruel hike/bike on mountain bikes. This was the first time I opted for hard core freeride bike on one of my Adventure Team trips (GT i-drive Ruckus and a Rocky Mountain RM7).
The 11 hour hike up the mountains 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, hidden in the jungle. It was amazing to see the infrastructure they had set up in the middle of nowhere to plan the Cuban revolution. Old black and white photographs of Fidel and Che Guevara reminded of those days. Not much has changed in Cuba since, the people here live very controlled lives – often it feels like you are still in the fifties.
People are unspoiled, friendly but not highly motivated for anything. Weird laws and regulations make the most simple things nearly impossible; it took us more than 2 days to find fish somewhere along the coast, we finally had to bribe the major 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 for 7 hours with a few short descents off some of the lower peaks along the way. It was the most challenging hike & biking up very steep and technical trails with many roots and steps – impossible to ride any part of it.
We stayed the first night at some simple shelter where we were fed – we didn’t see anybody all day long.
Day two started with another 4 hours of climbing before we reached Cuba’s highest point – totally exhausted. I have done many gnarly hikes with my bikes in the past, but this one was by far the hardest, especially considering the humidity, heat and steepness. Not to mention we were the first persons ever to bring their bikes to the top, no wonder the locals called us “loco’s”. The downhill was great but not less challenging or exhausting. Endless steps, stairways and even ladders had to be negotiated. The views and scenery were incredible beautiful.
After 4 hours of “muchas” technical downhilling we arrived at the second night campsite with the Caribbean Sea in sight. Today was our last day on the mountain, it 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 ridable.
Cuba is rad, it offers a lot of virgin biking. We had done several cool day trips prior to our main adventure. We got some incredible footage and photos in outrageous beautiful locations. We still have several days left before we head back home – Cuba Libre, Cigars, Che Guevara – Viva Cuba.
April 7th 2002 somewhere on a Cuban beach.
Hans & Tarek
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