One Piece at a Time

With such a small mountain bike scene in Cuba, there are very few built-up trails on the island. They do exist, however, such as this piece of bucolic doubletrack on one of the foothills surrounding the city of Holguín.

One Piece at a Time Cuba's Mountain Bike Revolution

Fifteen Cubans and one American shuffle about on a hillside above town, mounted on 15 pieced-together mountain bikes and one cutting edge trail rig.

The city of Holguín sprawls far below, a network of streets and parks hemmed in by forested mountains. While not visible from our perch, to the north is the Caribbean Sea and a coastline of white sand beaches—the same beaches on which Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492, declaring the island the “most beautiful country human eyes had ever seen.”

We, however, are not in Cuba for the beaches. We’re here for the posse of locals surrounding us. More accurately, the burgeoning and unlikely scene they represent—that, and the tallest peak in Cuba, Pico Turquino, located some 150 miles to the southwest.

The American on the trail rig is pro freerider Aaron Chase, and this trip began with a phone call from Chase a month before. In early January, he called me up with an idea: Travel to Cuba, ride Pico Turquino, and explore the surrounding area. Thanks to a U.S. imposed trade embargo, the communist country has been largely isolated since the 1960s, creating a sort of time capsule—and, we hoped, preserving some of the trails used by rebel leader Fidel Castro when he was hiding in the forests around Pico Turquino.

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