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Riding the Wave in Downtown Buenos Aires

There is a phenomenon here in Buenos Aires that I have alluded to in a previous post but I feel that it deserves a little more attention now that I have become a surfing junkie on the streets of BsAs. A lot of people here in BsAs think that I am a little crazy for riding a $2000 bicycle around the streets of a town with roads the width of our highways back home, all one way, intersected with small veins of cobblestone streets, and filled with thousands of taxis and hissing buses that will send a shiver down the spine of the bravest individual when they breath down your back waiting to pick up their constituents and spit you out along the way. Although I save on transportation costs (buses and the subte cost $0.30 and taxis are no more than $5 for a half hour ride), transportation time, and I get some exercise, here is the main reason I love riding around here.

Everyday I leave class and inject myself and my bike into one of the main arteries of BsAs called Cordoba. This road will take you from one side of the city to the other and if you time it right you can make it there faster than any gas powered vehicle and only a helicopter or a coked out cartenero could beat you. My atire of sandals, shorts, no helmet, and a lock wrapped around my waist is likely not the most appropriate, but satisfactory none the less.

The lights here in Buenos Aires are all timed, especially on the main roads and I would guess they used a small fiat car with a 0.4 liter engine, as many people here have, to judge how long it takes for the cars to reach the next light. This works out perfectly for a bike. Cordoba is approximately 5 – 8 lanes wide depending on where you are and the right two lanes are reserved for buses and taxis. Taxis float around the city in the thousands driving slowly along the sides of the streets while the buses driving at supersonic speed with air shocks that hiss and spit as they jump the many pot holes and dying dogs in the road.

I pick my gear and will take a lead at the light to get a head of the traffic. I can hear the couple dozen motorcycles in between the cars gassing their engines wishing they could run the lights like I can. Then the terrible noise will start. At first faint but I can hear it growing and it seems to be focused on me to enact its revenge since it knows that I am taking advantage of what it has to offer. I will approach the first few lights ahead of the timed green light and will take chances to run the lights if I do not hear the perpendicular horns coming my way. The noise behind me will subside but only temporarily and again it will be down my gullet. This time it will engulf me and several dozen motos surround me with a few brave cars that think they can keep up with this high speed game. The next red light we all are in the boat together, and we pick our line between the waiting cars and gun it through gaps no wider than my shoulders hoping that the timed green light didn’t decide to change its mind this one time. Eventually I will tire and be taken by the wave and before I know it I am in the middle of the street avoiding slow taxis, and holding on to the backs of trucks trying to gather my breath. Without one red light I can make it home several miles in 5 minutes.

Me and the motos have a love hate relationship with eachother. They respect my speed but are weary of my maneuverability. I could not care less about them and consider them a rock in the wave that I am riding. The larger rocks like potholes and construction points prove to be a lot more difficult but you handle them as they come.

This ride deserves a head mounted video which I will provide soon I hope.

Published inBikesLuke