As can be the case at home, being on the road in Cuba may present a few issues with regard to the availability of food, especially for those with particular tastes or who suffer from food allergies. Normally, there are few issues when it comes to breakfast, the most important meal of your day. For the most part, you will have this meal in a hotel. Typically, hotel breakfasts are buffet style with eggs and vegetables aplenty, cheese, bread and sometimes prepared meats. Quite often, I will make a sandwich for the road or I will take shortbread biscuits where they are available. Both are easy to carry in the back pocket of your jersey to be eaten later. For those who are gluten-intolerant and cannot eat bread, there are usually hard-boiled eggs and fruit that can also easily be carried with you on the ride.
As for finding something to eat while cycling, it is possible but cannot be guaranteed, especially in the countryside where the best riding and most spectacular scenery is to be found. For this reason, we advise riders to bring with them the power bars and gels that you consume on long rides at home. These are not readily available here in Cuba and can be a godsend to a hungry rider venturing across this beautiful island.
Due to the difficulty of assessing their cleanliness and food-storage protocols, road-side food vendors are not recommended. In addition, the uncertain source of the water used in their products means that it is also advisable to avoid roadside juice vendors. This includes vendors of guarapo, a popular and delicious Cuban drink made from squeezed sugar cane. For the same reason, helado (ice cream) should also be avoided. It is often sold in soft form in cones, but again, using untreated water. Helado tastes great, but, as with the roadside juices and guarapo, could quite possibly send you to the bottle of imodium you were advised to bring along.
Should you need to use imodium, be careful not to over-medicate yourself as it may result in severe constipation. It has been known to happen. Cuba has some great doctors, but why bother them with this embarrassing issue?
The most basic and important rule of the road when it comes to hydration is to drink only the bottled water from the bus while en route! Do not waste this water. While not impossible, it is nonetheless difficult to find on the road, especially in the large bottles and overall quantities needed for our rides. With this in mind, please DO NOT remove these bottles from the bus and take them to your room in the hotel. There will be water in the hotels. The ride water should be saved for the ride. As a final point, prior to coming on your ride you may wish to visit your local bike shop and buy a couple of new water bottles that you can put your name on. Nothing tastes better on a long ride in Cuba than fresh water in a new, clean bottle.