Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

On the afternoon of Dec. 22, in line at Pearson Airport, three hours before their flight to Cuba, Jacqueline and Ralf Winter will be carrying with them some very special sporting goods luggage. On their way to their Cuban holiday on the beach of Guardalavaca, Jacqueline and Ralf, who live in Barrie, will be transporting a used racing bike, destined for a high school cycling racing program in Banes, Cuba.

This particular bike is special because it is "Nueva bicicleta #100," the hundredth refurbished racing bike that Jackson’s Point resident — and former Canadian national cycling team member — Jeff Reid has supplied as humanitarian aid to Cuban high school cycling racing programs in Banes, Varadero, Moa and Jaguay Grande, in just two years.

Jeff first donated his own bike, while cycling around on holiday in Cuba in December 2009. Since that time, his personal ‘Bikes for Cuba’ vision has grown. In 2010, helpful Canadian tourists brought 30 bikes down for him. This December, with the help of Jacqueline and Ralf, Jeff’s dream of one hundred racing bikes delivered to four Cuban communities will be realized.

“One of the most heart-warming aspects of this project, is the ongoing generosity of the cyclists who donate the bikes, the parts, the helmets, shirts and shoes,” says Jeff, “and the willingness of so many Canadian tourists to help out. ‘I couldn’t have done it without them’ would be a huge understatement!”

“Jeff has made this so easy,” says Jacqueline Winter of her special 100th Bikes for Cuba cargo. “It’s the least we can do in return for the great hospitality Cubans show almost a million Canadian tourists every year now. And all the young people who will ride these bikes, will get to see that a bicycle really is a wonderful way to get around, especially in a place as beautiful and safe as Cuba.”

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