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You Are Viewing Random Ramblings

Cuba’s Bicycle Culture In Photos

Posted March 25th, 2013

One of the great things about touring in Cuba is seeing all the ways bicycles are used in daily life, and how much is done with so little. 

Bicycles are a key method of transport for the average Cuban, whether they’re taking their kids to school or selling produce at a street market. Here are just some of the photos we snapped of Cubans and their bikes…

This carrot seller was spotted in the central city of Cienfuegos.

Carrots For Sale By Bicycle

He wasn’t the only one selling food by bike. We encountered this man near Viñales, taking bok choy and spring onions to market on a bicycle that wouldn’t look out of place back home in the Netherlands.

Bok Choy seller and his delivery bicycle

This man was selling apples in Santa Clara.

Bicycle apple seller in Santa Clara

Even cakes were being transported by bicycle!

Trinidad cake seller

Also in the streets of Santa Clara, we saw this lady taking her daughter across town.

Cyclists in Santa Clara, Cuba

She was using a bike seat like this. We saw thousands of these wooden children’s seats on bikes across Cuba.

Bike with a child's seat (very popular in Cuba)

Wood was also used to create make-do pedals.

Wooden pedals!

Such repairs were probably done by a road-side bike mechanic, like this one in Trinidad.

Bike Mechanic in Trinidad, Cuba

Or possibly by one of these guys, who were selling bike parts at a market.

Bike parts stall at a market in Trinidad, Cuba

They didn’t have anything fancy to sell, but they did have a basic selection of parts including gear cables, bearings and pedals.

Bike parts stall at a market in Trinidad, Cuba

Back to people selling (and carrying) things by bike, we were impressed by this very large box on the back rack of a bike in Santa Clara. We don’t think the bike was actually carrying a washing machine – probably the box was filled with something lighter. We often saw such boxes being used to carry multiple loaves of bread, for example.

Cuban cargo bike

We also took note of this fellow, who had his hands full as he cycled through Trinidad!

Cyclist in Trinidad

And finally, this Bici Taxi driver showed us how hard he worked for his fare in Havana. We hired him for a ride to a local restaurant and marvelled as he propelled all of us – plus his heavy bicycle – through the traffic.

Bici Taxi

Kudos to the cyclists of Cuba!

Love On A Bike (And A Kickstarter Campaign Worth Supporting)

Posted November 1st, 2012

Last week an email dropped into our box from fellow adventurer Tom Allen.

“Would you be up for doing a review of ‘Janapar’?” he asked. We didn’t have to think long. Absolutely we would! Ever since we saw the trailer a few months back, we’ve been waiting anxiously for the film to be released.

It didn’t disappoint.

We’re not film critics so we won’t launch into a detailed review. We’ll simply say that this is the stuff of bike touring dreams and hard reality all rolled into one. It pairs breathtaking landscapes with moments of intense self reflection, and then there’s an unexpected romance with a charming woman…

The film is just barely out of the starting gates (it’s been shown at some film festivals and will soon be released on DVD and as a digital download). You’d think Tom might be ready for a break but instead he’s launched straight into the mammoth task of producing a book as well.

To do this, Tom is asking for your help to finish it via a Kickstarter campaign so if your interest is piqued, take a look. We’ll be pledging our support. Here’s Tom to tell you about it in his own words:

The World’s Only Suspended Bicycle Roundabout

Posted October 7th, 2012

This blog mostly focuses on bike touring but occasionally we get a bit carried away with the bicycle bliss in the Netherlands and feel compelled to share it with you.

On that note, here’s a short video that shows what we did today: travelled to the world’s only suspended bicycle roundabout. It’s the Hovenring in Eindhoven!

And just in case you were wondering, it takes about 50 seconds to bike around it on a Brompton folding bike, while towing 25kg of baby + trailer.

The Joy Of Riding Vs. Equipment

Posted September 30th, 2012

A while back, we posted about how the gear you carry on a bike tour doesn’t really matter.

It was a reaction to the idea that we can create a ‘perfect’ experience if only we carry the ‘perfect’ equipment. It was also a call to just get out there and ride – without spending too much time agonizing over what to pack.

We were reminded of this idea again, when we spotted this graph in a mountain bike magazine.

gear vs excitement

The Eureka moment typically occurs the first time you fail to keep up with a guy on a battered old singlespeed, struggling behind on your pristine pride and joy with tyres handpicked for the conditions, and shocks tuned to the terrain.

We updated the post with a picture of this graph. It’s a fitting summary of how we feel about bike touring equipment: nice to have, but not nearly as important as getting out the door in the first place.

Unexpected Winter Cycling

Posted December 17th, 2010

We are supposed to be in Spain but mother nature has intervened.

Just as we were putting our bikes on the luggage belt, all the computer screens went blank. Then the word we didn’t want to see flashed across the check-in screen.

Cancelled.

A little snow (well, little by Canadian standards) and most of the flights in the Netherlands had ground to a halt. All around us people stomped their feet and got upset. We considered having a tantrum but decided there was little point.

Instead, we rebooked our flight for Sunday and went cycling and photographing. Under a white blanket of snow, Holland is a beautiful place.

smiling and cycling in the snow

Some people had to push…

pushing the bike

These kids were having a blast, with the paths entirely to themselves.

Kids On Bike Paths

Bikes were a pretty good indicator of how much snow had fallen.

snow covered bikes Flowers Covered In Snow

Some cyclists looked like ghosts in the snow.

snowy, ghost-like cyclist

We spent about an hour taking pictures and then headed home. We’ll try this vacation thing again on Sunday.

Heading home on a snowy day