Riding for Cuba: Yurguis Moreno's STP Marks a 10-Year Journey

Yurguis Moreno got his first road bike, a gift from his father, at age 16. It was a practical way to get around, but also provided an adrenaline boost that teens of that age find hard to refuse. In his home country of Cuba, Yurguis lived near the only velodrome on the island, which sparked an interest in cycling after some of his childhood friends and neighbors joined the national team. His affinity for bikes was timely—the 1990s delivered the biggest recession Cuba had ever seen post-revolution, and bicycles quickly became a necessary form of transportation.

After Yurguis moved to the US in 2005, he eventually settled in the Seattle area and continued to rely on his bike for recreation and transportation, though he was never one for paid organized riding; “I can do that on my own,” he recalls thinking. But after joining his neighbor and another friend on one of Cascade’s Free Group Rides, Yurguis was won over by the offer to ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) with them. “That was way back in 2010, and I have done it every year, ever since,” he now adds.

In 2019, the STP will mark its 40th anniversary. Yurguis plans to be there celebrating his own anniversary of sorts. “Unbeknownst to me, after the first few years I set myself a personal goal of 10 STPs in a row. So far I have kept it going, with 2019 being my 10th.” Yurguis is certain that he won’t stop at 10, adding that “sometimes we think we do it to improve our time; to run into people from previous years (that has happened twice now); to prove ourselves or just to help a friend. I came to the realization after the third one that I just love the camaraderie and look forward to being part of something bigger than I am, which is the best reason to do it.”

But there’s another important reason why Yurguis rides the STP. Every year, he proudly wears the colors of the Cuban flag on his 200-mile journey to Portland. “I feel it is important to represent the island because it allows me to share who I am and where I come from,” Yurguis says of his decision to represent his country on his jersey. 

He also shares that when he and other riders notice people wearing their own country’s colors on their jerseys, it’s become tradition to yell out the name of the country in solidarity as they pass by. Yurguis explains that people often use the opportunity to chat with him about their own experiences of visiting Cuba, which he embraces as an opportunity to talk with them about Cuba’s people and culture, as well as their own respective cultures. Yurguis concludes, “with so many riders from different parts of the world, it makes the ride even better.”

Yurguis best sums up the STP’s ability to unite people with a single notion that we hear often: “indescribable.” He explains that “the unity of cycling that brings in people, the fact we all feel that we belong, the thrill to make it to the end—whether in one or two days—the friendliness of all the participants, cyclists and volunteers alike; the whole experience is really intense and, without sounding cliché, really hard to explain unless you go through it yourself.”

And like many STP riders, Yurguis concludes that reaching the finish line and seeing his family and friends is always perhaps the most rewarding part of the ride. 

We’re looking forward to seeing Yurguis—and all the STP riders who ride for their cause—at the 40th anniversary finish line in July.

Registration for the 2019 Seattle to Portland opens January 8.   

Diana Bryant's picture
Diana Bryant