Tristan’s Training Diary Day 2
2 Mar 2014
I was a little nervous when I first arrived at the military base, in case I didn’t follow decorum, it might reflect poorly on the good Almada name. But seeing how Tio was not only very senior here, but also extremely popular due to his temperament and thirst for team-building excursions to the nearby Andes, the soldiers and officials treated me with the upmost respect.
Today, I started road bike training with “El Zorro” (literally, “The Fox”), who is also called Gringo (translates to White Guy), and also called Lucho (short for Luis). They love nicknames here. I think they referred to me as Gringo as well or simply El Sobrino Del Coronel. El Zorro led me up a difficult, 50 km climb, climbing a famous pass to the top of El Manzano Historico.
Argentinian breakfast consists of Tea, and a little bread with Dulce de Leche. It is not a good breakfast if you are about to get onto a bike for 4 hours. Needless to say, at the top of El Manzano, I nearly feinted to lack of blood sugar. I took a short break at a restaurant for the only thing on the menu: Lomo (Steak). 6 flat steaks cost a total of AR$ 60 = £3.50… cheaper than coffee in London!
Then we cycled down the Manzano… it was the first time that I did a serious descent with another road cyclist. We were going 75 km/hr and I felt the massive change between riding very close to the cyclist in front of me and falling behind and getting battered by the wind. El Zorro ordered me: “Nunca pierdas la rueda!” (Never lose the wheel). Keeping up with El Zorro’s rear wheel wasn’t easy, and after the 100 km of the impossible task of riding in lockstep with a professional cyclist, I was feeling ill. We arrived back at the Barracks, and I went to my quarters and fell asleep for 3 hours, exhausted.
That night, the people of Villa de San Carlos (a nearby village) unveiled a new community center. Garros, my host at the Army, invited me to attend – it was big spectacle for the little town, perhaps the biggest of the year. I heard everything, including the National Anthem (Himno Nacional) and Our Lord’s Prayer in Spanish (El Padre Nuestro), and had a chance to meet the aspiring Queens-To-Be (Las Reinas de la Vendimia – a rural wine festival where all of the different villages send in their finest ladies) who were yielding their batons with gusto. It was the first time that I’ve traveled anywhere in Argentina that wasn’t Buenos Aires.