“Dude, you’re stealing my bandwidth!”
This tech-savvy day in age, that’s the ambiguous and frequent expression when more than one person is on a wireless network. Turns out that 97.3% of cyclists have no idea what that means on a technological level. Superficially though, it turns out to be quite true – when you take a team of six riders at a South American race hotel with already poor internet, and then supplement the hotel’s capacity with another dozen cycling teams, plus cycling press, and their corresponding need for internet, the result is flickering hopes and shimmering seconds of working wifi followed by mind-numbingly futile hours of hitting Connect. Again and again and again all for not. That goes to explain why I became internet-quiet as soon as the race started.
Now that I’m back in the arctic tundra that is Europe, let’s quickly rehash some things and then move on to the present. Aaaand GO!
The team presentation for the Tour of San Luis was the most entertaining such event we’ve ever experienced. You see, a typical presentation in Europe lasts 30 seconds in the time leading up to a race, right on stage where we sign-on; line up as a team, shoulder to shoulder, they announce your name, you wave, smile (or frown and look badass) at the camera, step off, done. Meanwhile in America, it’s generally the night before a race in a ballroom with the race/town/state/city’s VIPs wearing their Sunday finest.
Definitely a different scene here: in stifling heat in the center of main street in downtown San Luis, we arrived at the tender hour of 8pm where it was still light out, and proceeded to wait protected by metal barricades from the ebullient and growing crowd.
Team after team are being called while we wait. We learn later that each team is standing under deafening speakers and in front of a roaring crowd, so we’re actually winning this situation since we can sit in relative quiet peace. After a good long while, we’re called up, and in this photo are waiting behind an enormous TV monitor:
And to the booming delight of the crowd, dodging a canon shooting glittery paper, a smoke and light show, cheerleaders, we walked on stage. Smile, wave, move right… and join the other 150 cyclists standing on another stage.
The point being, these San Luis’ians know how to have a good time. The entire town, and I do mean the entire town, came out to this rock star team presentation. It set the tone for what was going to be a unique week of bike racing.
And since I don’t write race reports more than once ever seven years, let’s say simply the following, in no particular order:
-We interrupted the Saxo-QuickStep show by taking an impressive victory with Elia Viviani. Yup, I called it that morning.
-The weather all week leading to the race and the entire race itself was roughly 38-45 degrees Celsius (100-113F). Except the first day which featured hail, sleet, wind, and three turn over the course of 170km. That day was bitter in every sense of the word.
-The TT featured a variety of set-ups. I had a skinsuit and shoe covers, which shaved 0.8 seconds off my time. I’d guess 1/2 the field had TT bikes. I just used it as a sweet fitness test and sat at a million watts for a bit shy of a half-hour.
-Courtesy: Bettini Photo
-And you can see the entire race on yonder Strava website. (Hark friends! Use the code tedking2012 and knock $10 your annual paid membership. And as always, you can still use the basic account for free.)
And then it was time to make a sufficiently long trip to Europe. I started to take photos of all the modes of transportation I used to get from our hotel in San Luis, Argentina to my apartment in Lucca, Italy but after the first three successful photos, I found myself sprinting between terminals and airports and vehicles so it became impractical to snap a photo in lieu of missing my connection. So for a quick summary: San Luis hotel, 20 minute bus to San Luis airport, 3 hour delay, 1 hour flight to Buenos Aires, 3 hours checking in/security/passport control, 13 hour flight to Rome, 2.33 minutes in Italian security and passport control,… ooooh, mind you it’s now day two of my travel which means it’s my birthday, everyone’s favorite day January 31. So with 32,000 of my best friends in the Rome airport, I bought a celebratory glass of Brunello and a mixed app’ plate. T’was excellent and since I like to photograph food, it looked like this.
And for the record, that short red cylinder on the left is beef tartar and the one on the right that looks like a red, disembodied finger is a stuffed red pepper.
Continuing on, I passed through Roman customs in a matter of seconds – opposed to America’s 2-3 hour wait to protect our borders – and then took another hour long flight to Lucca where I had our friendly soigneur Michelli pick me up and drive me the half hour to Lucca. I noticed upon landing that the ground was damp and the arrival staff was wearing lots of clothing. Clearly this was a far cry from the stifling heat of Argentina. Moreover, on the drive to Lucca it started misting, then sleeting, then a full fledged blizzard. (Sigh.)
With internet coverage deader than a doornail in hotel-Argentina, I didn’t know what sort of weather to which I’d be arriving on The Continent. Wet precipitation isn’t fun, cold isn’t so bad, but the combination is heinous. As Michelli said as he graciously chauffeured me from the airport, “Merry Christmas! Welcome to white Italy.” How thoughtful.
The biggest shock to the system hasn’t been the culture shock nor time zone shock. It’s the 47 degrees Celsius at the start of day seven San Luis (116F) as compared to -1C here (30F)
Thankfully I’m here to help out those of you trying to stay warm this winter and have created this gem. (Yes, sold out, but check back in daily as inventory is about to be back up to stock.)
An Italian winter wonderland, complete with blanketed vineyards, craggy snowed-in mountain roads, and all of town/school/banks shut down.
And if you’re still after more Argentinian stories, give this a minute of your time. Time to bundle up and go for a bike ride.