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Travelling 02/02/10-02/08/10 Round the world in 182 days

The World's Most Dangerous Road

BOLIVIA | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 | Views [661] | Comments [4]

So...as some people may know by now, a couple of days ago we took part in the main activity to do in La Paz...cyclying the entire 67km length of The World's Most Dangerous Road on mountain bikes.

This is a well renowned thing to do whilst in La Paz, and we couldn't possibly miss out.  The road was built in the 1930s, and ever since has been established as the World's Most Dangerous Road due to the fact that, until 3 years ago, there was no other main road that could be taken from La Paz to the rainforest area of Bolivia. The main reason that it is classified as so dangerous is because it is very narrow (no wider than a couple of meters at most points), and whilst one side of it is constantly next to a cliff wall, the other side falls sharply off into sheer mountain drops.  BUT, the reason that so many people have died on the raod is because prior to 1996, before a new dual-lane highway was built, all 2-way traffic heading along this route had to drive along this road.  And considering the fact that it is largely a loose-rubble, foggy, windy, narrow road, barely wide enough for one car at some points, let alone 2, there were on average 600 deaths per year.  But, now that the new highway has been built, there are much fewer cars on the road, and it is mainly used by mountain biking companies for thrill-seeking tourists (which we inevitably became)

So, now that I've probably petrified all family members, I would just like to clarify that we all came back alive and unhurt!

We went with a company called Vertigo (again, for reassurance purposes, they were incredibly well organised and professional, and between 23 tourists, we had 5 guides, most of whom are professional mountain bike racers, and 4 support vehicles.  So all was good!).  We started at the very top of the road, which is at about 4,700m altitude, early in the morning, and were given a thorough safety briefing.  The first bit of the ride was along fairly well-paved roads, but in the freezing cold as it was so high/early.  As we rode, we descended through the clouds which was amazing.  I can't quite describe the views we saw as we cycled down the road (well, at the points when you weren't desperately trying to concentrate on not falling off the edge).  The road literally drops off hundreds of feet right next to you, and all you can see for miles is this windy road in the midst of lush mountains.

Initially, we stopped every 20 minutes or so, in order to give people a brief break and for the guides to describe what the next bit of the road would be like.  After about an hour, we moved from paved road onto dusty, rock, dirt track - hardly a road at all.  This is where the hydralics on the mountain bikes came into use, and you had to pay particular attention to the many pot-holes.  I would certainly not have liked to have been on the road in a car, and cycling definitely felt like the best method of traversing it.  The road is about 90% downhill, but navigating the rocky terrain was not easy.  It was particularly interesting when a vehicle was passing! But I never really felt in fear of falling off the road, even when it began to rain and the road became covered in mud.  The whole thing was absolutely amazing, and was almost certainly my favourite thing we have done so far.  And after about four and a half hours of cycling, the last few hours of which were in the blazing sun, we got to the bottom where we went for a well-deserved break by a local swimming pool.  We loved the entire day, especially when we got to the bottom unhurt! 

 

Comments

1

Thanks for telling us about the ride after the event! xxx

  Cary/Abi Mar 31, 2010 6:05 PM

2

Sounds absolutely brilliant...and nightmarish!
lots of love

  Andre Zitcer Apr 2, 2010 5:16 AM

3

Had lunch with my Bolivian friend, Marcella, widow of Fernando, the painter whose large paintings of the Incas dominate my flat. I told her abut you being in Bolivia and your bicycle experience, she of course knew all about that tour and about the salt plane .-I love your humorous desciption of it all. How's your spanish coming along? Till the next section of your travels..... Love GMH

  GMHelga Apr 9, 2010 12:52 AM

4



got all goosepimply when reading about your bike trip, but admire your courage,you have convinced us all that you are very adventurous, but don't push the boat out too far.I have replied to your various blogs, but am not sure wether i pushed the right keys so as to send my comments to you.Am so glad that your trip is so successful and that you are with nice people. More stories please. All my love GMH

GMHelga Apr 1, 2010 3:37 AM

  GMHelga Apr 25, 2010 7:50 PM

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