Claiming an estimated 300 lives a year, it is no surprise that this road north of La Paz was once dubbed the most dangerous road in the world. If you are a thrill seeker, biking down the Death Road when visiting Bolivia has to be on your list of things to do.
The van picked us up at about 8.15am and we were driven to the top of a mountain about 4600m above sea level where we’d start cycling downhill from.
It was snowing quite heavily at the top as we got ready in our cycling gear. We were given supposedly water proof jackets and pants, gloves, helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, ponchos and of course the mountain bikes.
It was cold. I did extremely well. I followed Marcelo our guide right behind him (till I met my fatal accident). I loved going fast. I wasn’t scared at all. At times it was pretty scary I must admit, but I did just fine (till I didn’t).
We stopped twice for food. The first was at some check point where we had to pay 25 Bolivianos each to enter the national park (I think) where we had hot tea, oreo biscuits and yoghurt.
We continued cycling and had our next stop just before the waterfall where we had baguettes with chicken, cheese and chips. By then I had fallen once at a very muddy spot but I wasn’t injured – just very dirty and covered with mud on my whole left side.
After lunch was when I had my fatal accident. It was definitely because of my earlier fall which made me feel really scared, and so the reason I fell was because I pressed both brakes too hard.
I somehow just fell over and having forgotten my elbow pads when I took my layers off (it started getting hot in the humid Amazon jungle air), I bruised and cut my elbow and the right side of my waist quite badly. It was painful.
Everyone stopped for me. I didn’t move the first few moments just because of the shock and pain. Marcelo always looked back every now and then to check if I was behind him and when he realized I was no longer there, he swore silently and cycled back uphill to get me.
Another thing about the cycling trip was that your whole body constantly shakes especially your hands because of the dirt road and all the stones you cycle on. Not only that, my right knee was definitely worse especially since it got caught on my tights that morning after I showered (I had a big fall on the Inca Trail about a week before). Unfortunately I was in no condition of continuing to cycle downhill. Luckily, I only missed the last one hour of the trip.
The journey back to La Paz took about 3 and a half hours and it was a pretty scary one. I slept the first hour and a half. The van took the same road uphill which we took cycling downhill earlier during the day.
It was extremely dark without a single street light and very windy. It was raining which made the van swerve right and left many times and the driver was clearly driving as fast as he possibly could (not sure why). One of the girls later told me she was crying in the van because she was so scared.
Have you cycled down the Death Road in La Paz?
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