Biking in Bariloche
If there was any chance of me getting tired of the mountains in Argentina, it vanished when I reached Bariloche. The pretty city sits on the side of a lake, overlooking snowy peaks that separated blue sky from even bluer water. The city itself is a picturesque collection of stone buildings, innumerable chocolate shops, and St Bernard dogs posing for photographs. Happy to take it slowly after my few days of trekking, I spent my first couple of days here wandering around the city, sampling the tasty chocolate, and enjoying craft beer at Manush with a nice crowd from my hostel; Drew and Elena (UK), Mayan (Israeel) and Alex (USA). But by the third day, the mountains were tempting me, and I was itching to get going again.
The others had recommended Circuito Chico, a road north of the city that looped around by the water, taking four to six hours by bike. I set off nice and early to discover I hadn’t a clue where I was going. I was directed to the bus stop, where I was told I needed a bus pass and directed to a shop, and then I waited half an hour at the bus stop, before getting on the bus, only to get off too soon and have to walk the rest of the way. So my nice and early start had turned to midday by the time I sat on my bike and set off from the rental shop, dolled up in my helmet and luminous yellow vest. Given that the trip was estimated at four hours minimum, and given my slow cycling speed, I decided not to do any of the side trips, and just try to complete the main circuit. It was tough going. After an initial, excited, wind-in-my-hair downhill, the road started to slope upwards. I forced myself to push on, but the hill was steep and the sun on my back was not making it any easier. I was soon rewarded, however, with a stunning view. The colours here seemed amplified, the snow on the mountains contrasted with the bluest sky I have ever seen, above impossible swirls of blue and green in the water.
The road continued around in a loop, taking in beautiful scenery, cooling forest, and pretty beaches. I quickly gave up on the uphill struggles, choosing instead to push my bike, then hop on for the downhills, freewheeling so fast my eyes watered and the scenery was a blur.
A was tempted to stop for a bit at a craft beer garden, where others were enjoying the sunshine. But given my late start, slow speed and my complete refusal to pedal uphill, I decided to press on. After one particularly long uphill trek, I came to an unexpected fork in the road. Confused as to why I would come across this in a circular road, I looked to my left and saw the bike rental where I had started. The four-hour minimum journey had somehow only taken me three. My muscles had started to ache, so I was glad to get off the bike, but I felt a bit cheated at missing the side trips, hurrying through the viewpoints, and, most importantly, skipping the craft beer garden. But I perked up on my return to the hostel, where I found eager drinking buddies ready for another night at Manush.