¡Bienvenido y hola from Argentina!



We have one final stage today remaining here in San Luis – a circuit race up and down the main drag out to the lake. No stranger to this stretch of road, it’s somehow fitting to cap off the race with what will amount to a very fast parade along the same road we’ve ridden most this week.
As for racing in South America in the dog days of the summer, you can probably guess the talking points without deep extrapolation here. For example:
  • Yes, it’s very hot (typically 95-110F).
  • It’s often incredibly windy. The wind has woken me up on no fewer than three occasions in the middle of the night, and if you’ve been studying my Strava in any detail, you’ll see 40+kph averages at sub-average wattage. Yup, generally tailwinds.
  • Having traveled to many pockets of the globe, the landscape here reminds me of Tucson, Arizona. That is, very arid, similar to a desert, with a touch of green spotted here and there (but lacking Saguaro cactus, since they are characteristic of only the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Duh.).
  • This race features strong Argentine domestic and South American continental talent bumping elbows with some of the best riders on the planet. Pride, bragging rights, and the admiration of the incredibly ebullient crowd gives the locals an even greater boost of turbo when needed. Hence the dude leading the race ahead of the Van Garderens and Contadors of the world from right here in San Luis.

But what about the stuff you might not otherwise be even thinking about. Take the absurd abundance of escort motorcycle marshals and police cops, for example. Would you have guessed that they all have sirens blaring to the tune of the obnoxious, multi-toned, American car alarm?! Always. And more impressively, 97.5% of the time, the sirens are being used completely unnecessarily. Friendly cop-man, you’re passing in the left lane, with a median strip between you and us, there’s not a single person, car, animal, or any interference whatsoever in you lane… but you have 120 decibels of ear splitting alarm going… why?

Or how about the transfers and method of travel before and after races. Besides touring Las Vegas, I’m not aware of Americans being accustomed to double-decker buses. So in last year’s edition of this race, all riders were funneled into fairly plush (although kind of disgusting with big leather seats and nary working air conditioning) double-deckers and off we went. This being the modern times of 2013 though, each team is given a Sprinter van and chauffeur. Accustomed as we are to rock-star buses of Europe complete with massive chairs, showers, bathrooms, etc, it is here in Argentina with bikes in stowage in the back and packed away in petite chairs that we look like this – If you’re not asleep or playing Angry Birds, wave to the camera fellas!

photo

With the double-decker buses accommodating travel for all riders, one might accurately guess that there is a fair amount of waiting around since all riders must wait for all other riders before the bus gets rolling and we return to the hotel. Right? Right. You might therefore think that with each team having its own van and driver, we can finish a stage, clean up, pack up, and hit the road ASAP, which is invaluable since stages finish around 6pm, making for very late evenings of massage, shower, dinner, and rest. However, nay to that. Once loaded on board, we begin an unnecessarily slow caravan back to the hotel. With a police escort blaring that car alarm warning to everyone on the road (of which, there is virtually no one on the road), no matter how much or how often we pester our driver to floor it, he points to this stupid red sign reading “Limite de velocidad” that has the ability to flash and beep if he exceeds 90kph, which is well below 60mph. On the highway.

Driving through the baking desert for up to 2.5 hours on end, we were blessed with air conditioning… on the first day. Thankfully our seats are foam so they soak up our back sweat instead of pooling up like those plush, leather, double-decker bus seats.

That’s all she wrote for now. Tootleoo.



Comments

  1. Jen

    Happy Birthday, Ted! I hope it’s been a great day. I’m looking forward to hearing about the spacious, swanky buses in France this July…

    Reply

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