The first evening that Lewis the Lion arrived in Bariloche, the first thing that struck him was the change in temperature! It was much colder than what it had been in Buenos Aires and the wind chill factor definitely seemed to suggest that winter was on its way. It was time to wrap up in warm clothes: the sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro seemed to be a distant memory as Helen dug out her gloves and buff (a type of scarf/hat) from her rucksack.
The next morning however, Lewis was happy as it was a sunny day, albeit a bit chilly.
Lewis the Lion and Helen set off with two friends which they had met in the hostel the night before: Ofer from Israel and Aurelio from Spain. Both of these people had travelled a long way from their homes also to be here in South America. However, the thing that all of these people had in common (apart from trying to speak Spanish together!) was that they wanted to explore the beautiful town of Barlioche on a bicycle! As Bariloche is an ideal location for outdoor sports and adventures, there were plenty of places where you could hire bikes and the one that Lewis the Lion and his friends chose was a one which offered a special cycle route called “il Circuito Chico” – “the Small Circuit.”
However, as Lewis the Lion discovered, the title was a little bit deceptive as it certainly didn’t seem “little” in places when Helen had to peddle hard up steep, steep hills!
However, all the effort would be worth it, as Lewis the Lion marvelled at some of the most beautiful mountains and lakes he had ever seen in his life.
As he had noticed on his coach journey from Neuquén to Bariloche, the season had turned and he thought that he must have been the luckiest lion alive to witness the autumn colours in this idyllic setting.
At the bike hire shop, the owner made sure that the bikes were just the right size and even gave Helen a bike with a special pouch for Lewis the Lion to sit in so that he could enjoy the ride too!
There was a puncture repair kit, a lock and chain and they were also given a helmet to wear.
As they cycled off, down the first stretch of road, it felt simply exhilarating with the wind whipping through Lewis the Lion’s mane. However, with every downhill comes an uphill and Helen wasn’t so confident at using the gears on her bike to start off with. She could certainly feel the muscles in her thighs as she pounded the peddles to drive the bike uphill. At their first short stop-off, it was just as well that she had her friends around her to help as they taught her how to use the gears properly!
She learnt that when she wanted the bike to grip the road more when it was speeding up, to use a higher gear, which created a greater resistance to slow the bike down. Alternatively, when you wanted the bike to do most of the work, e.g. when peddling uphill, it was best to use a lower gear. Most of the time, this worked just fabulously but at some of the steeper inclines there was nothing else for it: Helen just had to get off her bike and push! It was hard when you weren’t used to doing something but the important thing was that she kept on going, no matter how hard it was! It was certainly worth it in the end.
The first “wow” viewpoint for Lewis the Lion was when they arrived at the Saint Edward Chapel. Lewis the Lion thought that it was quite simply charming with its triangular shaped, wooden roof.
He noticed that about quite a lot of the buildings in Bariloche and they weren’t made like this just because they looked pretty. They were triangular in shape because that would help the snow to fall off during times of heavy snowfall. Lewis the Lion thought this was both functional and beautiful!
From here was another short ride up a very steep hill to an exclusive resort: the luxury Hotel Llau-Llau which sits on the Llau-Llau peninsular. Lewis the Lion and his friends managed to charm the guards to get an exclusive photo with a wonderful view of the Lake Nahuel Huapi, all whilst they stood on the grass! Here it is:
From here, they headed along the road which took them past an enchanted wood: if Lewis the Lion had had more time, he would have liked to have explored this further as he wondered why it was called by such a name? He’d heard rumours that there was a magical force surrounding it…for now he could only imagine what secrets this wood held?!
They then came to a track which was very, very bumpy and you could feel the vibrations juddering up your arms as the bike careered downhill towards a stunning location where they stopped for a bit of lunch. At times, Helen felt that the bike might accidentally hit a rock and fall over so she cycled down this path extremely cautiously.
When they arrived at Villa Tacul, there was a scenic lake set against a backdrop of mountains on a shale beach. Quite breath-taking! Click here to see the 360 degrees that Lewis the Lion saw around him.
Lewis the Lion and his friends weren’t alone on the beach as there were some birds of prey that had got there before them and they were scavenging around for food. They were obviously waiting for picnickers to finish their lunch to see which bits they could steal!
They certainly came up very close indeed to Lewis the Lion and his friends whilst they ate their lunch: Lewis thought that they were as bold as brass! Click here to see how close Lewis the Lion got to the bird of prey.
After this short break, Lewis, Helen and their friends made sure that they had collected all of their rubbish and taken it with them. After all, Lewis knows that it’s always important to look after the environment by not littering.
They then had to cycle back up the dirt track. Again, Helen cycled with caution, trying to make sure that the front wheel avoided any big stones. Nonetheless, the ride was very, very bumpy and Lewis hid as deep in the front pouch as he could.
The cyclists then reached a fork in the road and debated whether or not they had time to climb the Llau-Llau Hill. In the end they decided that they would as it wasn’t every day that they would have the opportunity to be back in such a scenic location. So, they rode their bikes into the woods and chose a spot where they could hide the bikes away from the path and locked them together. They then started to climb the very steep hill. Over tree trunks and winding through the steep woods, the friends tried to climb as quickly as possible. Before they knew it, they were feeling rather breathless with the beating sun pounding down on them. Helen and Lewis were grateful that Ofer took their rucksack as the climb got increasingly steep. Up and up they ascended with the blue lake appearing on their left hand side.
Encouraging each other as they went, before they knew it the friends had reached the top and had a marvellous view over the lakes and mountains. They were pleased that they had diverted off the cycle path to witness this stunning view.
Click here to see a video clip of it too.
As they came down the hill, the descent seemed much quicker, especially when the friends sang songs along their way! Lewis the Lion just loved to hear singing. He also loved it as he stood near the hidden bikes and saw the sunlight streaming through the trees and shining off the white bamboo shoots. How pretty!
It was now time to get back on the bike and cycle as quickly as possible because the friends suddenly realised how the day seemed to be rushing by. It was time to dig in deep and press up more and more hills but Lewis the Lion was always grateful when Helen could pick up the pace by speeding downhill too. Click on this link here to see Helen and Lewis riding down a long stretch of road. Helen didn’t even have to peddle! Notice too the beautiful autumn colours of the trees around them.
The ride continued and Helen and Lewis the Lion were grateful that their friends, Aurelio and Ofer, made sure that they were always sandwiched between them, riding single-file along the road; even when they were cycling up hill on the lowest gear, at a snail’s pace! There were moments when Helen wondered if she could continue as it was very difficult riding or pushing the bike up so many steep hills but she knew that there was no going back and she kept repeating to herself rhythmically, ‘You can do it. You can do it. You can do it.’
Her perseverance paid off as Lewis the Lion was then able to witness some of the most spectacular, panoramic views he had seen since he had arrived in Argentina.
It was so beautiful that there were lots of other people enjoying the view too as the sun was starting to sink in the sky. Lewis the Lion couldn’t believe he was in such a beautiful spot: what a lucky, lucky lion! Click here to see what Lewis saw.
After a quick refreshment break, the cyclist peddled as fast as they could as the light started to fade and managed to return their bikes to the hire shop just in time before it closed. All their efforts seemed worth the while as not only had they enjoyed the exercise, but they had witnessed the wonderful beauty of Bariloche all from their bicycle seats.
To top it all off, the man in the bike hire shop also gave them some of the local chocolate to celebrate their achievement
and they even played a game of ping-pong before they left!
However, the fun didn’t stop there as to celebrate, Lewis the Lion and his friends went to eat some of the most mouth-watering steak they had ever eaten in their life. Indeed after all the exercise they had had during the day, they definitely felt like they had earned it!
Have you ever felt like something was really difficult but that you didn’t want to give up?
What was it?
What kept you going?
Were you glad that you persevered?
Why or why not?