A Travellerspoint blog

La Paz - Day 34

Mountain biking down Death Road was Unboliviable!

21 °C

We got up at 7am, had a quick breakfast of jam and bread - getting bored of this as a breakfast option now! - and headed over to Vertigo Biking. Apparently we were late, as the woman last night had given us the wrong time (there was due to be a blockade so they needed to set off earlier), so we were ushered straight into the van and hit the road.

There were only two others on the trip, Joshua and Amy from Sydney, then the driver and the guide. It only took an hour to drive to the top of the mountain but as there was no blockade we stopped for snacks. I needed the toilet and it has to be the worst I have ever been to - no toilet seat, no flush and no door! We all just had to laugh and get on with it.

At the top of the mountain, 4600m, it was cold but fresh and the mountains were snow capped. The driver and guide got the equipment out, we dressed in shin and knee pads, thick trousers and jacket, elbow pads, gloves and our helmets, and tested the bikes on the flat. We looked great ;)
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The first 25km of the 63km downhill ride was on wide tarmac roads, that still have vehicles going up and down, but you have enough space not to worry about them. This part was exhilarating, a smooth downhill ride with the wind in your face, winding down through the top of the mountains. The scenery was beautiful. Andrew and Joshua were zooming down, Andrew copying the guide's aerodynamic riding position! Amy wasn't far behind and I was taking my time at the back!
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You stop every 20 minutes or so, so you never feel really tired, and it wasn't long before the tarmac ended and we jumped in the car to do the short uphill journey before starting Death Road.

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The next 38km section was a mixed bag for me! It was still fun and I got up to speed again on some parts, but the rocks and gravel made it so bumpy and I couldn't keep 'stood up' on my bike for that long! It was quite foggy up top so the heights didn't bother me and most of the way the road was actually quite wide, so there wasn't much of a few of falling off - my bike or the mountain! As we descended it got hotter and hotter in our jackets but the waterfalls running on to the road really helped keep you cool when they soaked us through. It was a long way down but thankfully all but 15 minutes (on the flat, much more tiring than you would expect!) was down hill, otherwise I don't think I could have coped with the 4 hour bike ride!

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Andrew loved the entire thing! He was going fast, which meant he did come off his bike at one point but luckily into the mountain rather than off it. I'm glad I was trailing behind and didn't see that!

At the bottom, I was sore and relieved, but happy to have ridden safely down Death Road! They really have done a fantastic PR job on that as we've met so many people who are terrified to do it, but I feel if I can do it, literally anyone can. The only thing I would say is that I was slow and steady all the way down, and so I imagine if you take the road quickly and don't concentrate the entire time I am sure it is easy to come off. But, of course, accidents happen all the time. Apparently 2 people a year still die on the road. I am glad I found this out afterwards, otherwise I probably wouldn't have done it.

We jumped in the van and celebrated with an ice cold beer, while the driver took us to a local hotel for a shower, a hot buffet and the opportunity to use their swimming pool. The journey back was 3 hours, which was filled mainly with talk of TV shows and films we all liked, except when the guide saw other Death Road biking company's vans and moonied them through the passenger side window as the driver overtook! He got up to seven on the journey and he was so proud!?

Back at Vertigo Biking, we got our tshirts, which say - Front: Unboliviable (our new fave saying now!) Back: I've got what it takes to cycle down the worlds most dangerous road - and made arrangements to meet Amy and Joshua for dinner tomorrow night. On the way out, we saw a newspaper clipping and memorial on the wall for an English boy who had died on Death Road only a few years ago. I definitely don't think I could have done it after reading that. It was so sad but he loved biking and his parents said he died doing what made him happy. I said to Andrew later that night, it was great and I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't do it again, it would feel a bit like tempting fate.

At 8pm that was the day done, we were already starting to ache a lot and were so tired, we didn't have dinner and just went to sleep.

Posted by staceywaugh 11:33 Archived in Bolivia Tagged waterfalls mountains mountain_biking death_road

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