Danger? I Laugh in the Face of Danger!

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, November 2, 2006

After having our bike ride last week being rudely cancelled we decided to book through another recommended company, Xtreme Downhill. True to their word the ride went ahead as planned. Arriving early we piled into the van and settled in for the hour drive to the top of the Death Road. It was freezing cold when we arrived and you could only see about one meter in front of you. After a quick breakfast we jumped onto our bikes for a quick test ride and to remember how to ride (just like getting back on a horse). The road is called the death road because this narrow, bumpy dirt road, the only way to get from La Paz to Corico, averages about one car or truck a week off the edge. The edge is a vertical drop of at least 100 meters, more in some places, so the chances of survival are slim at best. Last year in one month there were at least a thousand death with most around Christmas time when the drunks are out.

Once comfortable off we rode down the first part of the road; downhill bitumen. It was amazing fun flying down the hill at speeds of up to 80kph. Looking to the right all you could see were clouds and you knew that beyond that was a vertical drop off of a few hundred meters. Going so fast you had to have faith in the bike.

After an hour and a half of flying downhill the hard part began. They never mentioned we had to actually ride up hill for a little bit. Let's just say when you live at sea level then take you body up a few thousand meters, jump on a bike and try to ride up even the smallest incline your body rebels. Rick with his strong legs powered ahead and ended up at the rest break 20 minutes before Megan, who with her stick legs ended up having to walk the bike up hill, coming in last.

From that point on it was all downhill but in a good way. The second part of the ride is the dangerous part. You couldn't get up speeds as fast as on the bitumen as it is a dirt road, one car wide in parts. Couple this with the fact that there are heaps of trucks and buses whizzing up and down and again a very steep vertical drop off. Along the way down we would know if a dangerous corner was coming up by looking for the crosses and shrines in remembrance of the people who had unfortunately gone off the edge. We found out later that a number of tourists using other biking companies have died by either going over the edge or being hit by cars. Thankfully our company had a great safety record and very safety conscious guides. Our guide, Wenceslao, was fantastic! They had one guide for every five riders and two pace cars tagging the pack of riders. Each guide had a walkie-talkie so they could radio about on coming trucks. At some of the dangerous parts of the road there were also locals with red and green flags, signaling to each other if there was a problem or traffic on the road.

Thankfully no one fell off their bike or over the edge but Rick did test his breaks when he ran into the back of another girl as she stopped suddenly for no reason. Opps! The ride ended at a local hostel where we had a buffet lunch and a shower, thankfully, as we were covered from head to toe in dust. The other thing to remember is that after riding down the World's Most Dangerous Road ........the only way to get back up is to drive.
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