January 06, 2009 GMT
Do Mention The War.

17/12/08 Rio Grande, TDF, Argentina.

TDF Border sign.JPG

It's 175 miles from the petrol station ("gas outlet" if you prefer) in Rio Gallegos to the next one, just over the Chile/Argentina border in San Sebastian, Tierra Del Fuego. My petrol tank goes to reserve at 165 miles - if I haven't been too silly and childish with my throttle fingers. All well and good if the station actually has fuel in it; reserve should give me about another 35 miles.


On this occasion, the attendant informs me, having stumbled back to the pump from the tin outhouse, pulling up his overalls and trailing lavatory tissue like a horrible bride all the while, it does not. And the next one's in Rio Grande, an impossible 65 miles away.

I decide to pull the old hollow-laugh routine, intended to convey a sort of darkly amused, "so near and yet so far" vibe. His face - such as it is - softens, and, looking furtively towards the border police hut, he unlocks the pump - and squirts me out a full tank! I can't quite make out the reason for his initial refusal to provide, but I think the place is simply low on juice (come on - it's TDF) and he's been instructed to save it for the police.

It is with a modicum of reluctance, therefore, that, 100 yards up the road, I take the following picture in the full and certain knowledge that, one day soon, I will be affixing a comedy subtitle to it and putting it on the internet.


In reality of course, like everyone else in Britain in 1982, I thought the Falklands were somewhere near the Shetlands, and I wasn't 100% sure where the Shetlands were either. I didn't give a bat's bum about them then and I don't give a frog's fraenum about them now. Thatcher was a witch and only escaped a war crimes trial on a technicality in 2000; Galtieri was a git and a failure. A lot of people died, the whole thing was shit, end of story. Shall we move on?

Last night I stayed at La Frontera in San Sebastian where I met Tim and Marco who are - if you'll allow me - clinically mad enough to be cycling through Patagonia. I passed them today, and I imagine we'd have met up as planned at The Galway bar in Rio Grande had it not been turned into a travel agency at some point between now and the publication of the current LP South America guide.


The pillows at the hotel in San Sebastian have provided me with a stepping stone to enlightenment. Let me finish. Last night I lay in bed and thought - My stars! These are the finest pillows I have ever used! And they were. And then I thought - Bollocks! I bet tomorrow night's pillows will be rubbish in comparison. A cloud descended. And then the truth dawned! The possibility of Wednesday night's pillows being inferior to these, the finest on Earth, was ruining my enjoyment of The Finest Pillows On Earth! So I threw aside the possible and began to embrace the actual - The Finest Pillows On Earth!

TDF Lager News: Prices have escalated since 1981. In a quite-nice cafe-bar, a litre of local draught lager works out at about 1.98 GBP a pint, 2p less than Margate's cheapest pub. Fags, however are untaxed in TDF - huzzah! - so that 20 Camels come in at 1 USD. I'd love to report on the local cigs, but the Argentinian ones are pretty bloody grim.

Brilliant motorcycle products:
1. Rukka "Silver" jacket. Light, warm, subtley groovy.
2. HG "Tuareg" boots. Feel like a train could hit them without rendering the shins unto meat paste. Amazingly comfortable if you buy 1 size too big.
3. Giali armoured trou's. Comfortable, just feasible as a street trouser.
4. As always, the Shoei Syncrotec II. The king of flip-up helmets. Get it in black - the fastest colour. Silver ones cost you 5 mph.

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at January 06, 2009 06:28 PM GMT

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