- 3 mature touring cyclists (choose cuts with 2+ years on the road for a lower fat version)
- 5kg of mixed food per cyclist (opt for quantity over quality, use pasta and porridge as a base)
- As much Argentine red wine as you can carry
- Copious quantities of coffee (if desperate, even the terrible Argentine stuff will suffice)
- One national park with a view and free camping (Parque Leoncito recommended)
- Two observatories for star gazing
- To decorate, a sprinkling of Christmas cheer


In preparation, pre-heat your grill to “Northern Argentine desert” setting. Once at 40 degrees, take your cyclists and grill slowly but continuously for two months, rotating occasionally to ensure even sunburn. Keep them mildly dehydrated, and marinate in sweat and factor 60 sun cream at least twice a day. Maintain a safe distance from showers or other washing facilities at all times.

A couple of days before Christmas, fill cyclists’ panniers with food and drink until expletives begin to flow continuously. Pedal mixture vigorously to your chosen camp spot, ideally into a vicious headwind. Pour mixed food into cyclists and allow them to rest in the shade until stomachs begin to rise slightly, and ribs become less pronounced. At this point, feed again, and continue this routine for the following 3 days. It may seem obscene, but for best results at least every 30 minutes is recommended.

When necessary, loosen mixture from time to time with a little coffee (especially early mornings) and red wine (afternoon and evenings). On at least one occasion, try to douse your cyclists thoroughly in water with a little added soap. They will complain, but can often be lured into water with leftover scraps. Throughout, keep your cyclists covered under a blanket of cloud. Then, on the evening before serving, remove clouds and bathe your cyclists in perfect starlight.

Finally, your stuffed cyclists are ready to be served – top with a healthy sprinkling of Christmas cheer. However, by this point, I guarantee you will be so repulsed by their smell and habits that the prospect of actually presenting them to your guests will be appalling. It’s probably best just to let them and their strange ways be. Release your cyclists back into the wild for another year – and next Christmas, I’d recommend you just stick to the turkey.


Cyclists food stash in Calingasta, Argentina

Christmas food stash safely secured…

Anna cycles into a headwind, leaving Barreal, Argentina

…we head out from Calingasta: Anna versus headwind.

View from Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

Our cool oasis in the desert: Parque Nacional Leoncito, with views across towards Aconcagua and Mercedario.

Crepes made on an alcohol stove

A Christmas day breakfast…

Crepes cooked on an alcohol stove

crêpes bretonnes (merci bien Jérôme et Margaux!) topped with honey…

Cracking walnuts bought in northern Argentina

…and sprinkled with walnuts – a local staple. Not a stupid nutcracker in sight.

Cyclists shower from a tree

Christmas stocking fillers: a bag full of sun-warmed water strung up from a tree means a treat for everyone in sniffing vicinity…

Stickbread made over charcoal

…then it’s onto lunch. We build a fire and whittle sticks…

Stickbread made over charcoal

…to bake South African stickbread – a Rhiannon favourite.

CASLEO Observatory, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

Perched above the park, CASLEO Observatory makes the perfect James Bond villain’s lair…

CASLEO Observatory, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

…and the perfect place from which to reach out into the unknown.

Telescope inside CASLEO, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

Inside, the 1980s telescope…

Guided tour at CASLEO, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

…calls for some stylish hats, and some serious beard stroking.

Rails for telescope at CASLEO, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

At night, the roof slides open, and the ‘scope pivots on its rails.

TV screen at CASLEO, Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

It’s a fascinating step back into an analogue world.

Cloud formations over Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

Every evening…

Cloud formations over Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

…dramatic clouds pile up…

Cloud formations over Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina

…and stargazing is thwarted – until a magical final night. The sky clears, and we are treated to an unforgettable view of Jupiter and its moons.

Cycling from Leoncito to Uspallata, Argentina

Then it’s back onto the road – towards Uspallata…

Holiday car roof, Argentina

…with Argentine holidays in full swing.

Cycling with view of Aconcagua behind from Barreal to Uspallata

Aconcagua looms behind, the highest peak in the Americas.

Eating lomitos in Uspallata, Argentina

“Eat lomito!” I’ve scribbled on my map above Uspallata – so we do. Thanks Pikes – your one stop shop for peaks, passes…and the best steak sandwich recommendations.

A friendly dog while climbing out of Uspallata to Mendoza

Picking up a campsite friend who refuses to leave…

Climbing from Uspallata to Mendoza via Termas de Villavicencio

…we take the back road to Mendoza, past the Termas de Villavicencio.

Cyclists veggie lunch

A mid-climb lunch – veggies keep the troops happy.

Cycling the descent from Termas Villavicencio to Mendoza

Then it’s across the travesía

Cycling the descent from Termas Villavicencio to Mendoza

and down through the switchbacks – returning to the hot plains for a New Year’s reunion with friends in Mendoza. 


One Response to “Stuffed Cyclist: a Christmas recipe”

  1. Emma Mehmed Says:

    A great read! As somebody with a high metabolism and big appetite who is also breastfeeding, I think I have some understanding of your plight. Although I think feeding every 30 minutes might be conservative!


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