QUOTE(starlagurl @ Apr 24 2008, 03:35 PM)
An American biker plunged down the side of a cliff in Bolivia and has been pronounced dead. He was 56 years old and on a tour with a guide.
Have you been on the "Highway of Death"? What was it like?Link to the article at Newsday
Hi Louise, I just replied on the other Death Road entry as well and then noticed this one. I'd say that yes, it is dangerous, but I found that if you listened to the guide and followed the instructions, you shouldn't be at risk. They stop regularly (well, I'm speaking for 'Downhill Madness' here, as that's who I did it with), to give you safety briefings and describe the twists and turns you should expect in the next part of the road. They also check your brakes at every stop, and the bikes my group were on were in excellent condition. The guide is always at the front, and the combi van is always behind the last person (if you really get scared, you can get in the combi). The stops on the way down ensure that the group is never too spread out, and allows the vital safety checks and briefings. It is a gravel road, so it is slippy, but the sheer drop is only on one side. I stuck to the inside, away from the cliff edge, and went at my own pace, which is what they tell you to do, and although I had a couple of heart crunching moments when my wheel slipped on a stone, I was far enough away from the edge and at a speed I could control. In the worst situation if you were following all these rules, you'd have time to chuck yourself off the bike, even if it meant the bike flying over the edge!!
You do hear loads of rumours on the gringo trail about people having gone off the edge etc. When I was in Peru, I heard about an Israeli guy who went over last March - we asked the guide about this, and it happened with another company, but he said the guy and his friend had been riding too close together (they tell you not to do this) - the one behind didn't have enough braking distance, and when the one in front slipped, he crashed the back of his bike, which sent him flying over the edge. The guide also told us about a French girl who had stood to the side to let a bus pass - she chose the cliff side and accidentally stepped back too far! (so she wasn't even on the bike!) Not sure what happened to the American man, but rest assured, I found the road to be as safe as I made it myself by listening to the advice and experience of the guide, and going at my own pace.