Church hits the road in this Cuban cycling club

Teo Escobar and Jorge Guillen contribute to The New Tropic through the the Cuban Journalism Fellowship, an initiative of the International Center for Journalists with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The fellowship seeks to strengthen ties between Cuban independent journalists and their counterparts in the United States.  

Dozens of teenagers get together every week in the small town of Placetas, in central Cuba, to ride through the streets and form a community inspired to practice their Catholic faith.

Founded by a French priest, Juan Ivo, the Parochial Cycling Club gives Cuban youth in the countryside, who have few recreational options, a new opportunity to socialize with friends. Club members also have the chance to travel to other parts of the country, as seen in this video of the team riding through Soroa, in the province of Pinar del Rio.

About 60 percent of all Cubans are baptized in the Catholic Church, making it the principal religious institution in the country. In recent years, the Church, in spite of serious challenges, has had more opportunities to provide educational and cultural programs to Cubans on the island.