Staring Down Death [Road]

We were collected at an uncomfortable 6:30am from our hostel and then drove around to gather the rest of the crew.  Once equipped with our gear, we loaded up on the bus again and drove until we got to our 4400 meter starting point.

The guy gave us a crash course on bicicleta saftey, and just like that we were off.  The first hour of riding was spent on the new highway, cruising down at an impressive clip.  This portion of the journey was a whole lot of fun because of the of the speed, and especially the views.  There were some clouds swirling across the swooping lanes, and all the drops that would have involved plenty of air time.

After a bit we finished with the pavement part and transitioned to the gravel roads.  We loaded back on the bus to take us through an uphill portion first before starting the real adventure.  The guide reiterated his safety advice before we left.

Initially we were all drawn to the photogenic nature of the view, causing the photo people to fall behind.  Our leader would stop every so often to let these people catch up and also to take some photos of his own.  The guide snapped and filmed parts of our descent to give us each a compilation later.  I am Badass Bus, RWAR!!

The road is billed as ‘the most dangerous in the world’ and I would likely agree.  In my time at the hostel, I saw two broken arms and a broken foot.  These people were injured by falling off their bikes, as falling off the side of the road would spell certain death.  Here was a group shot of everyone that really shows the grade.

There was another beautiful section that included a sheer rock wall and a waterfall.  The guide filmed us going through, but mostly I had no interest in getting wet.

The jungle covered mountains were really great and always a temptation to look at, but my survival is testament to my ability to focus on the task at hand.  At high speed, it took full concentration to avoid the rocks and maintain balance around corners.  There was one instance where I was chasing after Parker and felt the wheels slide under me a bit.  Unlike the first section, this road was anything but smooth and mandated that I hover above the seat and take the brunt of the vibrations through my forearms.  I wasn’t doing any pedaling, but the pulverizing left me exhausted by the end.

Towards the end of the run we had to go through a small river, which Parker and I were able to enjoy at the expense of everyone else.  Almost no one managed to get through without soaking their shoes.  The highlight was this Croatian guy that not only got wet, but found a way to slowly and pitifully fall off the road and down some rocks.  The best part was how no one was paying any mind to his complete failure.

We boarded the bus and then drove off to some hotel to take showers, swim and eat.  Thanks to a storm that kicked up just as we arrived, we only showered and ate before soon making the 3 hour drive back to La Paz.

We all really enjoyed the ride because it managed to be the perfect amount of everything.  It had danger, difficulty, and all sorts of scenery.  When we arrived back to our starting point, we returned the equipment and were informed that our DVDs weren’t ready, and that they didn’t have our free shirts in stock either.  We would come back later to get these, giving us these incredible highlights: excitement on cue, constant ‘woo hoos’, and the floundering Croat.

Shortly after arriving back, we had to get right back on the move by heading to the south of the country via overnight bus.  It wasn’t going to be glamorous, but I was no stranger to bussing long distances.


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