The journey begins high up on the mountains of La Paz. At 4,650 meters and a cool -4 degrees celsius, we were getting ready to mountain bike down a 64 kilometre stretch of rough and rocky road to conquer the famous ‘Death Road’.
Along with the many layers of clothing we are already wearing to keep us warm, we are suited up with some intense mountain biking gear including, to my relief, shin and elbow pads and some rather solid bike helmets.When the team is suited up and ready to go, we are suddenly filled with both excitement and fear.
The ‘test run’ to get a feel for the bikes is on a winding, flat road where you whiz by at great speed. Its cold, but it feels good to just fly down these hills at such speed, and the scenery is just beautiful – I had to remind myself to look at the road at some points.
Reaching the top of Death Road is an eye opener. You realise how rocky and how long this ride is going to be.Approximately 200 – 300 people used to die on this road each year – largely due to buses rolling over the edge. But about 20 cyclists have died since 1998.
Remind me… why am I doing this?
The road is only about 3 meters wide, and with Bolivians driving on the left hand side of the road, this means the same for cyclists. Yes, that means riding extremely close to the cliff as vans, cars and trucks brush past you. I guess they don’t call it Death Road for nothing!
With the idea of plunging to your death put aside, you have to appreciate the scenery on the road – it is stunning. This road links the Amazon rainforest to Northern Bolivia so as you descend into the rainforest, the temperature rises.
If you get a moment, stop and look up at some of the gorgeous waterfalls which you are able to ride through – gladly welcomed as the temperature rises! And in some spots its best not to look down, the road has sheer drops of approximately 600 meters!
The road finishes at 1,200 meters and at a temperature of about 30 degrees celsius. Your hands and backside may be sore from the bumpy road, but who cares – you did it! You conquered Death Road!