If you’re in the UK right now, you’ll be finding it hard to get out onto icy rides. Hell, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere most of you will struggle (Floridians & Egyptians exempted). So our thoughts turn to riding up Alpine passes in Summer and through humid sun-dappled forests. My thoughts often turn to ArgentinaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
If you’re in the UK right now, you’ll be finding it hard to get out onto icy rides. Hell, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere most of you will struggle (Floridians & Egyptians exempted). So our thoughts turn to riding up Alpine passes in Summer and through humid sun-dappled forests. My thoughts often turn to Argentina…
Mendoza Dirt Road Through Malbec Vineyards
I love Argentina because it’s exotic, but with that Southern European flavour any cyclist adores. Argentina is polite, sexy, confident, humble and beautiful. But what is most unique and striking is the light. I often heard cinematographers and directors talk about it, as Argentina is a popular spot to shoot, because of the weather, European style locations and cheap quality film crews in Winter. The ambient light is purer, brighter, cleaner and more gently piercing than anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s actually a disadvantage if filming, as just like the English Summer sun is distinct from Autumn, Winter or Spring, so Argentine light is unique. Film has to be treated afterwards to look more ‘Euro’, but it always retains that certain ethereal quality.
Decent cycling in Argentina is particularly location dependent. Buenos Aires is not very green, fairly mad, and you hardly see any cyclists. Where there’s a will there’s a way…Fine if you’re a resident, but not fun as a tourist. Argentina is huge and varied, but we just covered the band from BA, West to Mendoza. The land inbetween in dead flat and deadly dull. But the Mendoza region is just East of the Andes (hop over for Santiago, Chile) and is the main wine region, producing superb and uniquely rich Malbecs. Mendoza is relatively affluent, the roads quiet and the views are gorgeous. A real foodie area (unless you’re a veggie) with great, cheap accommodation, this makes Mendoza a conveniently exotic location for road and offroad cycling.
Nobody does steak better than the Argies, and its presentation alone is an art form and ritual. You have to do some decent cycling just to consume the huge amounts of meat protein! Thankfully there is no such thing as battery farming of cattle here. Free-range is the only way to get great, unstressed beef, a point that is definitely proven against the flaccid pink filth British supermarkets give us.
I’ve read that the Southern Lake District of Argentina offers incredible singletrack, and for such a huge country covering everything from rainforest to glaciers, there must be myriad amazing riding opportunities to discover. There’s the added bonus that Spanish here is infinitely easier to understand than in Spain. The pronunciation is clear and broken, unlike the speeding lisping flow of words in Espana.
I’ve added some of photos, giving a flavour of Buenos Aires and Mendoza. If you have any questions, do post a reply or contact me via Twitter @vulpinecc. It truly is a beautiful, sensual and sexy country and one that’ll keep a cyclist and any non-cycling partners happy too.
Right, I have some Gotan Project on the iPod. I’m off to trudge through the snow to the gym, full of thoughts of lavender and hot stones by the roadside.