For more than thirty years I’ve peddled my way along Chicago’s glorious paths alongside Lake Michigan, so it seemed about time that I took to two wheels in Buenos Aires during my 2011 stay there. It is an adventure to cycle in the city proper, especially if you do it solo. Better to take a cycling tour with one of the bike rental agencies, like La Bicicleta Naranja, which has locations in 2-3 different neighborhoods in the city. Even so, with all the street traffic, it can be very dangerous, unless you ride along one of the many new bicycle paths that are being created throughout the city. As this was the first year these paths have started to be created, I am hopeful that the network of paths will grow extensively during 2011, so I can ride again in 2012.
The Parque Natural y Zona de Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur seemed like a good place for my first bicycling adventure in Buenos Aires! The reserve, north of the Puerto Madero and San Telmo neighborhoods, encompasses four lakes, foxtail pampas grass, willows and shrubs where more than 200 species of birds live, so the guidebooks say. I only saw two species, though–some colorful parrots that flew off before I could retrieve my camera to take their pictures, and the Teru-teru bird, whose song sounds like its name.
I rented a bike from La Bicicleta Naranja about a mile south of the reserve. It was a single speed model with fat tires, a front basket to hold my things, and came with a map, helmet, lock and key–for $12 pesos ($3 US) per hour. A deal! The map took me first to one of the growing number of bicicendas (bicycle paths) being laid out throughout Buenos Aires, then led me to the reserve. No motorized vehicles of any kind are allowed in the reserve, so the only ways to see it are by bike or on foot, assuring me of a peaceful ride, I hoped. And it was. I passed some joggers, hikers and a cheery young class of middle school kids and their teachers, but also the inevitable mix of noisy teenagers who made it impossible for me to get any really good photos of the Rio de la Plata, which seems as big as Lake Michigan, though it has a murky brown color unlike the beautiful blue of Lake
Michigan. Nonetheless, stopping along the Rio for some cold water and a snack was a refreshing pause on the sunny, 82 degree
afternoon I went there last February, a spot much more desirable than the blizzard snowing under my family and friends in Chicago at the time! Benches line some of the paths along the way, though more seemed positioned in the sun rather than in shady spots. At a few spots I was able to see some of the tall skyscrapers of nearby Puerto Madero, and I enjoyed the peaceful solitude of a bicycle ride on a lovely summer day.
Leaving the reserve I paused along the route to take a photo of the growing number of yachts anchored in the dock areas. The city traffic in this area was intense–cars, taxis, and trucks rushed past me, causing me to cut short my afternoon on the bike after 2-1/2 hours. I had planned to bike all the way to my neighborhood, Recoleta, before heading back to the bike shop, but I couldn’t
locate the yellow bicicenda markings to show me the way. Rather than trying to ride in such chaotic and dangerous afternoon rush hour (hora pico) traffic, I wound my way slowly back to my starting point. I decided to save the bicicenda paths for another
day, or for my next trip to Buenos Aires.