Monday March 23, 2015 (Bolivia, South America, Video)
After arriving in La Paz, one of our first orders of business was to descend “THE DEATH ROAD” (capitals for strong emphasis). We’d heard it recommended by various parties along the way, and the fact that it combined cycling and higher-than-normal risk of injury appealed to both Sandra and myself.
We went with a company called Altitude Biking, who have a reputation for using quality equipment. This is an important consideration, as the path does sometimes feel like it’s living up to its name as the “World’s Most Dangerous Road”. A 2006 estimate stated that somewhere between 200 and 300 people died each year traversing the 64km route.
The journey began when a van came to our hotel to pick us up, after which point we did the typical milk run driving around the city picking up other people in the group. Eventually we started out of the city in the direction of Coroico, which is where the Death Road (known locally as the Yungas Road) resides.
The weather seemed fine as we departed the city. It was decidedly not fine as we reached the starting area. A snowy/sleety mix was falling and the temperature was near freezing. Our guide Thomas (France) told us he’d “never seen weather this bad”. Then he added that he’d only been working there for two weeks. Two strikes.
We climbed into our very aromatic safety gear and prepared to ride on asphalt for a bit to get used to the setup and make sure everything was operating according to plan. Everything was OK, and we began!
The trip is basically just a 3500m drop. We were forced to pedal for a grand total of about 5 minutes throughout the day trip. Otherwise, the task was mainly to brake to keep your speed within “reasonable yet adequately dangerous” thresholds.
You’ll see a little tire kickout that I had in the video, but overall no injuries whatsoever on the ride. Hooray!