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3rd April, 2014

Helen’s Cuban Bike Ride

Helen's Cuban Bike Ride May 2014

Partner and head of the employment team, Helen Watson, took on the immense challenge of cycling 400km across Cuba from Havana to Trinidad in aid of Women v Cancer.

We followed Helen’s progress as she cycles across Cuba’s tough terrain with 40 other women in May. Below is her diary of the trip.

Day 1 – Depart London to Havana

Only I can arrive at the airport in 34 degrees of heat …
But absolutely pouring with rain and thunder storm going on! Could be a
nightmare for the cycle tomorrow!

Cuba in the rain, 1 May 2014

The end of day 1! Finally going to bed. It is 9.30 pm here but 2.30am your time … It’s been a very long day. Dreadful food on arrival covered in flies! Worse still I have really swollen ankles from the flight. 7 am start for the bike fitting.

Day 2 – Warm up ride of 30km

I’ve arrived to pick up my bike – Bikes are very rusty with bald tyres and squeaky brakes… and it’s all very interesting!

Very humid and 34 degrees. 2 pairs of padded shorts and gel seat at the ready!! Good to go…..

Everyone is very tired so it’s just as well today is the shortest day!

Leave Havana and head along the coastline to La Puntilla where the cyclists have a brief stop before continuing to Bosque Metropolitano. Then a short sharp uphill cycle to Neuvo Vedado and on to Revolution Square before finishing at the harbour.
Lunch is on the waterfront then eveyone climbs aboard a bus to transfer to Varadero for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 3
Varadero to Banos de Elguea, 94km
An early start to this challenging cycle. The route travels through small farming communities, giving an insight into Cuba’s rural heartlands.

Had a police escort into a school for the last lap of today’s cycling. So we were cycling through the streets following police sirens! It was like an old episode of CHiPs! It is very tough, very hot and very humid with very little shade. Lots of illness in the group already, with a broken wrist and a broken elbow (not for Helen thankfully)

Day 4
Banos de Elguea to Santa Clara, 109km
The longest ride of the challenge!
Cycling across plains and agricultural land to Santa Clara.

Had a really low day, today. Only day 2 of 5 on the bike properly so I feel there is so much more to do and the heat makes cycling unbearable! Eat lunch at a little square, where the lunch consisted of a meat roll, a samosa and a unknown brand of cola. I have hurt my hand and my bum is sore!! Need to break the back on day 3 tomorrow which is hilly once again…

Day 5
Santa Clara to Sancti Spiritus, 86km
The undulating road will take the cyclists through farming communities as they share the road with horse-drawn carts, vintage American cars and farm vehicles.

The sun is strong already this morning and I’m praying we don’t have another monsoon to cycle through because I don’t know that I could do it!! We’ll finish late today. Hills & rough terain. On a countdown for the last day of cycling tomorrow.

Day 6
Sancti Spiritus to Trinidad, 70km
The trail goes past field after field of Cuba’s most important crop – sugar cane – before ending in one of the most colonial cities on the island. where the finish line awaits.

I have just got here…Trinidad! It has not stopped pouring down all day and we’ve arrived to sunshine and the beach….and a 50s motel. But it’s got running water so that makes a change 🙂

Lots of hospital trips and broken bits & bobs and a heart attack on the way but I am okay. So far so good! Let’s see what they try and feed me tonight!

Day 7
Trindad to Havana
Following more than 400km of cycling, the incredible team of women will enjoy sightseeing in Trinidad before departing for Havana and a celebration dinner in the cnetre of its old town

Day 8
Havana to London
Some 40 ladies will have taken on this challenge, so the feeling of success and pride will be felt by all as they begin their journey home!

To support Helen and her incredible challenge please…

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