Biking in Montevideo is an amazing way to see the city and enjoy some fresh Rambla air. It’s a fabulous way to get from point A to point B efficiently, especially during rush-hour traffic. There are numerous bike-rental places in the old town where visitors can go and enjoy the advantage of biking around the city. If you are here, especially during the warm months, I highly recommend doing this and going to Parque Rodo or Punta Gorda to see the life-changing sunsets. Bring a bottle of wine and some empanadas and make it a picnic event.
Ever since my road bike arrived from the states, my friends and I have been taking great advantage of this mode of transportation. We have ridden all over the coastline of Montevideo, watching sunsets illuminate the sky from various watch points. My bike is a Giant OCR1. This bike is about a $1500 bike, and I got it off craigslist for $350. I LOVE this bike. It allowed me to ride all over Nashville and it is my perfect fit. Hence the reason for paying thousands of dollars to send it half-way around the world. This bike is perfect for every biking city EXCEPT Montevideo. Here is why…
Yesterday, Katie and her friend Ena were going to Punta Gorda to see the sunset and enjoy a final night in Montevideo before we head to Buenos Aires. I decided to join to bike train. The Rambla is beautiful and convenient, but one thing it is not is smooth. There are holes in the tile everywhere and the seams between tiles are either massive craters or mountains. For the thin road-bike wheels, it is hell. Now, I’ve made these treks from one side to the other several times, but this specific trip was not in my favor. We started biking and no more than ten minutes into the ride my rear tire tube pops. So Katie and Ena continue on and I walk back to Av. Brazil to get my tire fixed. Despite the fact he was closing, the super nice man changed out my tube. Plus it only cost 200 pesos! Winning.
So off I pedaled to meet my friends. The sun had already made it’s decent, so I booked it to our meeting spot via the road this time. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. I also forgot how quickly my road bike accelerates on flat surfaces. I met my friends for dinner and we headed back down the Rambla. I was extra careful about potholes this time…or so I thought.
Pop! The back tire blew again! Only this time, I was farther than the 10 minute walk to the bike shop. I either had to catch a cab/uber or trek the 1.8 miles in the dark. Not a huge fan of walking alone in the dark anymore so by car was how it was going to have to be.
However, right around the corner from where we were was a bike gang. Literally, a gang of cyclers were sitting on the Rambla drinking Mate and enjoying each others’ company. I had my friend Katie ask for an air pump and we discovered that the tube was punctured again. So these amazing men gathered around and started the process of patching it. Literally, four guys – all talking at once – gathered to fix my tire. Two men gathered to flirt with Katie and Ena and one man practiced his English with me while discussing his job at Amazing Uruguay. When the glue didn’t hold on the patch as well as they wanted it to, one guy reached into his bag and pulled out a brand new tube. That was my third that day! I offered to pay for it, and in the typical Uruguayan fashion, he waved me off with an emphatic Por faVor! I thanked the men profusely, promised that we would check out the bike gang’s Facebook page at some point, and started to pedal away. Katie turned to Ena and exclaimed, “Well that is about the most Uruguayan experience that you are going to get.” So true. So true.