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Bike Riding in Buenos Aires

 

 

 

The thick black tires of the 10-speed Beach Cruiser roll down the wide dirt path, kicking back pebbles and spraying sand dust into the air. The sunlight bounces off the pavement, its power reflecting onto your face. Tears of salty sweat roll down your cheeks, flowing  across your skin, reviving the scent of the coconut sun lotion you smeared on earlier in efforts to protect yourself from that deep South American sun.  

 

 

For $25, you assumed the four-hour jaunt with Lan and Krammer Bike tours would simply be a pleasant day trip around Buenos Aires. When you strapped on the helmet and put the rubber to the road you thought you were just a tourist, but you didn’t know that you would be privy to secrets only known to locals; that you would become porteño for a day.

 

 

As your feet pedal in a two-beat rhythm, that long-buried carefree child-like spirit rises up from within and memories of childhood bike rides flash across your mind.

 

 

When you met the bilingual guides and fellow bikers at the Monument in Plaza San MartĂ­n, you were feeling a little nervous, especially when you didn’t see any bicycles. You considered the possibility of fraud, but as the group walked together to the nearby parking garage, you were happy to find the fleet of 10-speed Beach Cruisers, bottles of water and helmets that awaited you, and like a child going on a bike journey with older siblings or parents, you felt taken care of.   

 

 

You squeeze the brakes in efforts to come to a halt, and not collide with the other members of your bike tour. You count the parties accompanying you: two twenty-somethings from Brazil, a couple from Germany and three solo travelers from the States.   

 

 

In the portside barrio of La Boca, you were told of the city’s most loved soccer team, Club AtlĂ©tico Boca Juniors (CABJ).  As you looked around Estadio Doctor Camilo Cichero, or La Bombonera, it seemed oddly quiet. As you rode by, a handful of porteños sat on doorstep talking and looking fatigued. You felt as if you were disturbing a daily ritual of some sort, but you learned that despite the fanatical soccer lust and colorful homes, this barrio is home to tired, working-class porteños, and the ritual you disturbed was locals de-stressing from the workday and regaining gusto for the next.

 

 

Unlike the La Boca you heard about, as you continued to ride, in the distance you could hear tango music and people on the Caminito, a cobblestone walkway, once an old railway stop but now an area that holds a weekend art walk and live music.

 

 

As you continue to pedal along the perimeter of Buenos Aires, you realize she offers more than you’ll ever possibly be able to see during a week or two vacation.

 

 

In San Telmo, the romantic renaissance sector of Buenos Aires, you passed antique stores, ice cream parlors, outdoor cafes and a number of inviting restaurants that you filed away in your brain for dinner later that night. You felt as if you belonged, and were just lofting around on a lazy Saturday with the rest of the city.

 

 

Looking behind in the distance you see the Buenos Aires you’ve come to explore, to understand, and be inspired by. Once nervous to ride in the city, you chuckle at how silly that thought was. You had no idea how large this city was, and that it is not all busy streets.

 

 

At Puerto Madero you saw wealthy porteños sipping wine and dining on steak at many of the outdoor restaurants. As you rode past, you were told that this sector was the modern seaport. Your guides explained that Puerto Madero, in recent history, was a well-used but run-down canal. From 1976 to 1983, during the military dictatorship, the entire port was off-limits. In the early 2000s, the city planned a facelift, which dramatically changed the area, and as you scanned the number of fancy restaurants and upscale clubs that lined the waterway, and the people strolling around watching the yachts rock back and forth, you understood what a clever idea this was.  

 

 

The waters of the Río de la Plata crash gently against the tall grassy shores. Relaxed for a moment, your eyes close and for a second you forget you are in one of the world’s largest metropolises.

 

 

Not far from barrio Puerto Madero, you rode through a series of dirt trails. You were amazed to be only blocks from the city center and in a quiet, peaceful nature reserve. When you rode into the Reserva EcolĂłgica, which cut along the RĂ­o de la Plata, you watched carefully as the landscape changed from woods to fields to beach—all untouched. Oddly enough, this area was built over a landfill, but biology prevailed, and species of flora and fauna thrived, making it home to more than 400 species of birds and a place for porteños to play.   

 

 

You navigate through the hidden roads, streets and parks watching porteños in action—sleeping in the park, drinking coffee, sipping wine, playing the guitar in city squares, jogging, and biking through the reserve, just like you.



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