Sunday, 8 March 2015

Death Road Biking & La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia. I wonder how many people loved the city for its amazing weirdness and just how much more left without even spending 24 hours there due to its dirtiness. My first feel of La Paz when the bus came round the corner at the very top edge of the city was that the city sat on a huge bowl and that Bolivia is crazy. Why would someone build a city in this manner with a steep 45 degrees uphill 360 all around from its centre?
The sight from above was magnificent I must say with all the tattered house build with good solid red bricks but no money to plaster it or put any kind of good finishing on the outer surface. In the focal point of the bowl tall buildings could be seen jutting out to reach the skies yet nowhere close to the height the houses on the outer edge of the bowl.
La Paz - Bolivia

Getting off the bus and the noise, dirt and grime came into presence. I love a good rustic city, horns a blazing, rumbles of cranky old cars and the smell of good hard 3rd world industrial pollution. The latter I could do without. I immediately realized at 4000m above sea level, fumes and dust flying around and a city that forces you to walk uphill eventually, La Paz was a challenging city to live in. I considered if one has a car he/she could live in this crazy city with the bloody steep terrain but looking at the horrendous traffic and the level of sanity one must abstain from having during driving it was actually faster and safer to walk.

La Paz thou beautiful from afar it is very ugly up close. I actually liked this city …. but will never live here for a smoker lifespan if already short would be shorter in La Paz.
Death Road Biking

I was shopping around a lot for a mountainbike tour down the infamous Death Road of Bolivia and ended up paying the standard 450 Bol for the tour. Good bikes with front and back suspension. I was a bit worried at first for the safety and weather I would get through this unharmed since I had no insurance but then again I was in Bolivia ….. these people look at danger and yawn at it.
The morning pick up and round around the crazy city of La Paz picking up the rest of the bikers. We finally started getting out of the city and up into the mountains.

Start Point ... Warming up
Is that snow ???
Shit it was so high up for the first leg of the biking that the mountain was covered in snow. Stepping out of the van I started shivering immediately. The first part was on the tarmac road which was fine and easy going if you could ignore the cold.
Start riding and all safety mind-set went out the window. I was riding No Hands style most of the time and downhill all the way meaning I just had to relax and follow the winding road. Pretty nice actually thou bloody cold.

Finally starting point of the actual Death Road. Dirt road so narrow without any guardrail and a valley that falls perpetually 80 degrees all the way to the bottom and it was a long way down as well. Looking at the van that was going to follow us bikers behind I had no doubt the real death road rider was the driver of the van. Riding a bicycle is easy when you have road barely wide enough to fit a van.  
Started slowly like everyone else and eventually most of us got crazy going as fast as we could. I even tried No Hands on dirt road and it worked. Always skidding in the corners it was exhilarating as hell and then there was the waterfalls that we had to ride through, 1 feet deep rivers to balance through, narrower roads that one could possibly imagine and more drops. All this while the van followed us behind us tyres inches away from the edge of the cliff. If you fall and injure your ankle, wrist, knee or whatsoever during the ride, I would think it was safer to cycle downhill with the pain then to sit in that van.

End of the road and a few shacks and huts were there to greet us with cold beer. It was the best downhill bicycle I had ever done …. Was glad I spend the money …
Death Road - Bolivia

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