What’s more fitting for the World’s Most Dangerous Road than a skull and bike damask with a few bike chains tossed in? A little morbid, I realize, but…. oh well.
While in La Paz, we took a day trip out of the city to bike the “death road” of Bolivia. Not too long ago, before a safe, alternate highway was opened, almost 300 people were dying on this road per year.
Note: We didn’t take any of these pictures! The biking company we went with (Altitude) had guides that also took pictures along the way.
We got up super early and bused it for an hour or two until we were ready to gear up. IT WAS SO COLD OMG. It started to snow as we were standing there, and I was woefully underdressed. The ride starts at an elevation of around 15,400 ft, and ends at 3,900 ft. We put on a layer of pants / jacket / gloves on top of everything, and a big clunky mountain biking helmet. I then realized that I had never actually been “mountain biking” – biking, yes, mountain hiking yes, but not combined.
We started on pavement, going (what I thought was) super fast. And my hands were ready to get frostbite at any moment. Tears from the cold and wind were streaming down my face.
After a while, we stopped, loaded our bikes onto the vans, and drove uphill to where the pavement ended (start of the Old Road). They gave us a quick talk over what not to do. For instance, don’t take pictures while biking – a girl sadly was killed a while back from doing this and fell off a cliff. The Old Road is the only road in Bolivia where motorists drive on the left side, to prevent cars from falling off the sides, so we had to do the same. That meant riding closer to the edge… 🙁
Obligatory “whoa look at us we’re so extreme” pictures. Honestly, I’d say that it wasn’t nearly as scary as we thought it would be. I have a fear of heights, but luckily I was so distracted by the bumpiness of the gravel and avoiding big rocks or holes, that I never really had a chance to look over the edge very often. The really scary experience would be driving on it – and luckily the road has been closed to thru traffic and is only open to the few locals that live in the small town at the end. There’s a big, safe highway that opened up a few years ago that provides the same route.
Somehow, they were still doing construction projects on it, and we had to cross some slightly perilous sites along the way.
It’s really sad and sobering to think of all the people that lost their lives driving this road through the years.
Success! And – they gave out Red Bull energy drinks at the end. You know, just to drill in the smarty-flavored extreme-ness of it all.