It was merely a matter of time before the ferocious Argentine temperatures got the better of my overall well-being and something had to be done. That is to say, despite being on a style-centric Italian cycling team, I don’t feel like sweating profusely exclusively for the sake of high fashion. Thankfully my teammates have traveling hair clippers in the event that in our travels to the nether reaches of the globe a barber shop does not exist.
In a surprising turn of events, Argentina does in fact have both hair salons and barbershops. However, free was a better price than any number of pesos I would have had to spend and I’m quite pleased with my end result handiwork.
With temperatures again in the 40+ Celsius range, we’ve put together a few consecutive days of excellent San Luis’ian training (this is the Tour of San Luis, after all – basically a tour of the central, western province of San Luis that looks like a mirrored image of the state of Vermont). The first day was curious because it started out with a horrifically boring 30km out and 30km back along a dead straight road with nary a turn nor geographic aberration in sight, but eventually it turned into one of the best days of training I’ve ever had with the team. With a fairly dramatic sky overhead, those boring as heck first 60km looked something like this:
Absent turns nor virtually anything even mildly interesting for miles on end I nearly passed out from boredom. Just before that fateful, sleepy moment thankfully there was one, umm… I don’t even know what to call it. Let’s dub it, Yee Highway 7 Shrine to Plastic Bottles. In this photo, Timmy considers adding one of our team bottles for posterity’s sake, but thought better of it since our bottles claim to be biodegradable as opposed to the mountain of plastic that will perhaps someday cease to exists nine billion years from now.
We also returned home that day to witness a massive tour bus being removed from the roof of a nearby building. It was precariously parked 1/2 on and 1/2 danging precariously over the edge. The rear portion was painted black (no, it was not burned) and the front, which by this time has been sawed off and removed already, was painted white. In a stunning show of coincidence, we noticed the bus fully intact and perched happily up there the previous day, and then the next morning I read on the front news of the local newspaper that after nine years being parked up there in this position, city officials decided that it was simply too dangerous to remain up there. So one crane and a dozen workers later, KAPOOF, gonezo.
The following day we set out to scope a good portion of stage 3 of the Tour of San Luis. After a short stint along the same road we have ridden each of the past six days, we discovered the first climb of this particular stage. Someone mentioned that it was 12km give or take a few. Additionally, given that the area in which we’re staying is relatively flat with a few rolling mountains in the distance, surely nothing could be terribly long nor difficult. Some went as far as to say that this climb was facile… easy.
More than 25 arduous kilometers later, we reached the top. This shot below is Vinny Nibali, our new Columbian ace climber Jose Sarmiento, and American all-star Timmy Duggan. I was pleased to summit with these whippersnappers considering I’m 6’2″ and as they admitted during a sweaty respite at the top, they were not going easy at all. Punks.
Roughly the shape of a giant D, the ride looked like this:
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After a tough day of training, it was high time to soak up some Argentinian urban culture. Not far from our fancy hotel we came upon this buggy of travel patiently waiting for a green light which left me amused. No, not the scooter, it’s the horse attached to the rear end of a pickup truck that left me needing a photo. H’yaaa horsey!
On this cultural excursion walk-a-bout – and similar trips trying to figure out a particular new society in which I’m traveling – I frequently find myself at grocery stores and local fresh markets. I have been surprised not to find any exotic fruits and vegetables here in San Luis since the produce section is often the most culturally enlightening section of the grocer. I was told seemingly correctly that Argentina is known for two things: beef and Malbec. After an amazing feast last night with some Liquigas VIPs, I can attest that both are excellent.
When it came time to shoveling through the frozen meat section on my grocery run, however, I was confounded with so many options. Do I want the simple Paty Express or should I be watching my waisteline and go for the Paty Light? And how do either of those stack up to the delicious sounding Barfy? Ooh, so many decisions…