Where the Trail begins – Bariloche, Patagonia

Patagonia – what a special place. Some call it “the end of the world”, for others, this far away land is home. In the new episode of iXS Trail Stories, we take a look at how this diamond in the rough is turning into a dream destination for mountain biking.

Pristine landscapes, amazing mountains, harsh weather. Some call it “the end of the world”. For others, Patagonia is home.

Almost every biker has heard about the iconic region of Patagonia, which is more than 2,000 kilometers long, extending from Argentina to Chile. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly equivalent to the distance that spans from Denmark to Portugal. Patagonia comprises the southern section of the Andes Mountains, and there is where you can find the city of Bariloche nestled on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The city is home to around 160,000 people, some of whom love riding bikes as much as we do.

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When iXS rider, Adrien Loron, visited Patagonia for the first time, he was amazed by the welcoming locals and strong community.

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But what impressed Adrian most was the potential that this area had for riding. It became clear that he would quickly return to help build and shape, ride, and have a great time with great company. 

Adrien Loron first came to Bariloche to participate in an iXS Downhill Cup race, when he first appreciated how he was received by the people and community, realizing how much this place had to offer.

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Stronger Together: The Community of Bikers in Patagonia

Bojan and Cepi are just two from a big group of locals who work hard to plot Patagonia on the map as a mountain biking destination. Both Bojan and Cepi believe that building and fostering a strong local community is the key to success for the sport within their country. And as Adrien learned when he joined in on the trail building, the community is extremely diverse. From pro riders to weekend warriors, family and friends, men and women- they are all united by the same passion.

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Teamwork makes the dream work!

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Locals Bojan Magister and Martin “Cepi” Raffo are pushing hard to develop the region around Bariloche into a real dream MTB destination.
Together as a team, they manage to tame the wildest of terrains. It varies from typical loose and dry soil that turns into dust during the summer months, to hard rocks which are incredibly difficult to break up. And especially unique to these mountains- slopes with a thick layer of ash from a recent volcanic eruption, local bamboo which is challenging to clear, and the superficial soil from the pine forests which is impossible to compact. Often, they get tested to the core, but sometimes the perfect combination of great soil, humidity, and teamwork, makes their day.

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We guess this is what hero dirt looks like.

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“I really like building and maintaining trails because I feel it's a great way of giving something back to the sport that I love and gives me so much happiness.” Florencia Pintos
In the middle of the pine tree plantations that cover the small hills to the south of Bariloche, some fathers have started to build a bike park called Kieferland. When Adrien teamed up with them, he was impressed with what they had already managed to build- a few flow trails and an amazing dual slalom course. Yet having Adrien on board allowed the team to take the dream to the next level. As Cepi shared, "Having Adrien Loron here is really great for us. Not many people have the chance to have a King of Crankworx and a guy with so much experience helping the community by building trails."

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In Kieferland, old and young are teaming up to build new trails.

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When Adrien is not racing, Adrien is trail building for Les2Alpes. There’s no doubt he knows how to handle an excavator.

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Nothing better than battling it out with a buddy on a dual slalom course.

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Here Adrien and Bojan testing the new track.

Teach Them Young
Bojan and Cepi have not only taken action with trail building, but they have also started an MTB school in order to encourage more kids to discover the sport. The school is not only meant to teach kids the fundamentals of biking, but also the guiding principle that to have trails, someone has to build them. On dig days, the kids go out and learn the importance of maintenance, the beauty of building new lines, and the satisfaction of riding the trails they build and maintain. All of this results in a deeper understanding of how trails are built and how to ride them properly.

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At bike school, Bojan and Cepi teaching the next generation the fundamentals. Every time Adrien is in town, he dedicates time to riding with kids and teaching them new skills.

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“To have trails, someone has to build them”. Bojan and Cepi teaching kids the principles of trail building and maintenance.

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The view could be worse.

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Where the Trail Begins
The mountain bike community in Bariloche has laid down a solid road map of how to build up this new dream MTB destination. And it’s clear that it wouldn't be possible without a dedicated community and the education of younger generations.
This blank canvas offers the chance to write the first chapter of mountain bike history in this remote corner of the world. Here is where the trail begins.
Chapeau too the entire community! It’s so inspiring to see what a group of passionate riders can achieve.

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