12 January 2011


In the morning I rode back east to 51 from General Alvear. The sun was in my face and there was a slight breeze from the north. My right knee ached and was tight and my right shoulder was even worse than the day before. I stopped on the roadside and readjusted my handlebars. I hoped this would relieve the stress on my shoulder. I decided I would not ride far today in order to rest my body.

I rode slowly and spoke to some workers at the intersection with 51 before turning downwind and heading south. It was easy, wind-blown riding and I needed it. At noon I made Tapalqué and turned off 51 onto a pleasant street of white-washed homes and shops towards the center of town. I stopped at a panaderia and had a cafe con leche and 3 facturas (pastries). A man told me there was a balnearios (public campground) not far straight ahead through the town.

At the edge of town I crossed the Rio Tapalqué where there were children swimming and older men were doing laps between the dam and the bridge. There was a pleasant park alongside the river and I rode down to it. I stripped down to my cycling shorts and went for a swim and bathed in the water. It felt wonderful.

An old man came over and wanted to speak with me. His name was Juan-Carlos and he was 81 years old and lived in Buenos Aires but had been born in Tapalqué. He wanted to speak with me because he could see that I was a traveler and he had been afflicted too with the sickness of travel. He had been to all the big cities in the United States, and had traveled extensively across Europe as well as Africa and Asia. He was also a very big fan of old jazz and had seen Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club. But Bird was what did it for him, and I agreed.

Juan-Carlos then introduced me to his friend, the cousin of his second wife. He was very interested in the folding bicycle and we spoke awhile about it and where I was going and how I would get there. He recognized the Brooks saddle and remarked that it was the finest in the world. He knew his bicycles.

I said goodbye to the old men and headed back into town for supplies. I planned to camp along the river and needed food and water for the night. When I returned from the supermarket I set up my tent and just as I was readying to go to sleep, Juan-Carlos rode up on his bicycle. He wanted to wish me a final good luck on my trip. I thanked him and we said goodbye. When the sun went down I went to sleep.


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