Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cycling in Central America

Here's James's first blog entry on one of his favorite topics of conversation - cycling: The Salvadoran equivalent of the Tour de France rolled through the country recently. This sporting event received more hype than any other since I arrived here last July. I have been a cyclist for years. (Last Fall I purchased a bike from a fellow teacher. I cycle in the neighborhood and, on weekends, I climb the Paseo, San Salvador's main drag, all the way from the Plaza Salvador del Mundo to Calle del Mirador. )

Needless to say, I followed the cycling event with great interest. The race had seven stages which took the riders through every department (or state) in El Salvador. There were 150 riders from 10 countries. Two of the stages were criteriums, 20 laps around a 5.1 kilometer closed course. The start/finish line was at the Multiplaza, the fanciest shopping mall in country (and near our campus). When I saw the route published in the newspapers, I was astonished to see that the riders would pass right by our house. I have never been that close to a professional "peloton" and couldn't believe how fast they went and how close together they were.

I found out, too, how difficult it is to photograph a bicycle race, especially with a digital camera that does not shoot in "real time." I had numerous exposures where I had missed my subject entirely! I had a great time riding my bike to numerous vantage points along the course. I spoke with several members of a Canadian team. (They were "too cool" to talk with me. I knew that when I saw their sunglasses.) The American team (all amateurs), and especially the team manager, were nice guys, though, and very happy to hear from a local "gringo." They had a good overall experience but had hydration problems.

The race occured during the hottest, most humid week of the year. One stage finished on "El Boqueron," the crater of the volcano overlooking San Salvador, and some of their guys had difficulty completing the climb. In the countryside, one American hit a cow crossing the road. (Here, cows have the right-of-way.) The final stage was a criterium. A young American led for 19 of the twenty laps and had a lead of more than a minute and a half. He was chased down on the last lap by three Colombians. They won the stage and were also one-two-three in the overall standings. I have never seen such a display of power and speed so "up close."

The Vuelta Ciclista de El Salvador was, on the whole, a great spectacle and a boon for the image of the country. Next year, I'm taking the day off to see the finish at the volcano. James


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi very good, I'm sorry that this is such a late comment, but it is just recently that I have been able to get on the computer. i enjoyed reading this and look forward to more in the future.

8:27 PM  

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