Biking the World’s Most Dangerous Road (by Carmen)
I am not an adrenaline junkie. So when I first read about biking the “death road” I wrote it off as a sight I would definitely be skipping. But…in Potosí and Sucre everyone we met was talking about it. I started to be persuaded that it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
The reason it is called the death road is because of the statistics. In previous years an average of 26 vehicles a year fell off the 10 ft wide dirt road down the practically vertical cliff below. The traffic was two-way and cars passing each other would have to do so in the slightly wider than 10 ft sections. A more modern freeway was recently completed making the road obsolete, except for tourists on bikes and the occasional fool hardy vehicle.
The first part starts out relatively easy. It is an 8 km downhill stretch of the modern roadway. It was good practice going fast. But then it was time for the tough part (or for Nathan, the fun part) to begin. It was all downhill form here (literally, not figuratively).
Nathan is an excellent mountain biker, having actually grown up in the mountains. My childhood experiences of pedaling up and down my flat suburban street didn’t help me much here. As I made my way down the bumpy road I cursed my decision to only get front suspension instead of rear as well.
At least I felt in control enough that I wasn’t scared of the sheer drop I was riding next to. Even when we passed waterfalls that flow directly on the road. But I was definitely slower than the rest of the group.
Overall, it was a great experience. But after 3 1/2 hours, I had had enough. I hopped in the support van after the guide announced that the last bit was going to be more “technical”. I knew my butt couldn’t handle it.
We had started at 4650 m (15,260 ft) and ended the day at 1525 m (5,000 ft). Our sore muscles were rewarded with a dip in a pool and a buffet lunch. The jungle setting at the end of the trip felt a world away from La Paz, though it was only a 3 hour ride back (on the modern road, thankfully). So that’s how we survived the world’s most dangerous road!