Peaks to Desert Day 12 - Death Road

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Flag of Bolivia  , Puno,
Friday, August 17, 2012

I don't think I have been as excited to write a blog as I am for this one. Mainly because I'm stilly alive to tell the tale. So I'll give a little bit of background to Death Road or the Worlds most dangerous road. The valley that it enters is the second largest cocoa growing region in Bolivia and in the 1930's after a war with Paraguay, Bolivia used its prisoners of war to build a road from the valley floor to the mountain top to join the current road network. After all the Paraguayans had died building the road the Bolivians finished it. With no machinery to speak of and the most ridiculous terrain it truly is an engineering feat. It was later labeled the worlds most dangerous road due to the high level of fatalities. So obviously we decided riding down it on mountain bikes was a fantastic idea. So myself, Batman, Dawn and Georgia headed off bright and early to meet up with the guys from gravity to make the 45min drive to the top of the range. We arrived at our starting point, 4750m above sea level, got our riding gear on and got to know our bikes for the day. Having not been on a bike for going on 8 years I was a little apprehensive but it all came back to me fairly quickly and before long we were ready to start our decent. Before we set off on our journey we needed to ask Pachu Mama for good luck. So our guide, Mark, pulls out a bottle of 96%25 alcohol pours a little bit on his front wheel and a little bit in his mouth and proceeds to hand it around the group. Far from the best thing at 8am but it did warm the belly. The first leg on the ride is a 24km downhill section of paved road split into 5 sections. There were two groups of 10 riders from gravity making the journey today. The other group led by Paddy had their first casualty about 4km into the ride with a young female rider going over the handle bars and breaking her jaw in two places and requiring multiple stitches across her chin. Luckily our group made it through the 24km and drug check point accident and injury free. The next section of road is a 8km uphill section which we did not ride as we were on bikes designed to go downhill not up so we drive this section where we arrive at the start of the worlds most dangerous road and the beginning of the 32km gravel section of the days ride. With heavy fog at the start of our journey we got a few more safety tips and instructions from Mark before starting the real test, Death Road. Now there have been 15 deaths on death road for cyclists but the more stories we heard the more we realised if you stuck to some simple rules, road to your abilities and showed some common sense then everything should be ok. We made it through the first 8km and the fog had cleared to reveal some amazing views of the valley below. We road through the tightest section, made famous by top gear and continued down the mountain taking in endless views ahead. The second half of the ride contained a number of flat sections which meant pedalling which wasn't so much fun but it also contained a couple of creek crossing which was fun. With one section left we stopped to see the Zipline across the valley and immediately decided it was a must for the afternoon also. We finished the last downhill section and creek crossing arriving at the base of Death Road, tired, sore but with an overwhelming feeling off achievement. With the adrenalin still pumping we got out of our riding gear and into our harnesses ready to throw ourselves off the mountain attached to the Zipline. The line is split into 3 sections and had a length of 1.5km overall. The first section is the highest from the valley floor, around 320m up. The second section is the shortest but the steepest getting up to speeds around 85km/h. The final section is the longest and provides some amazing views of the valley and river below. Having survived death road and now the Zipline we decided we probably deserved something to eat so we went to the nearby animal refuge for a feed and to see some of the rescued animals. With lunch down and biking stories swapped it was time for our last piece of danger for the day, driving back up death road in the bus. We grabbed some drinks for the road, figuring we deserved a few cold ones after the day we had just experienced. A few turned into many and our night turned into quite an adventure. It started with beers and pizza at marks place back in La Paz then we took out carton and headed to a Bolivian bowling alley with the gravity guys. The bowling alley consisted of 2 lanes, a bloke standing the pins back up and then bowling your ball back to you. But this wasn't the biggest surprise of the night as when we arrived at the alley we were greeted by Amanda and Carina our adopted mums and tour leaders. Turns out they knew the gravity guys also. We finished our beers, headed to a bar called Mongos and danced and drank the night away until around 330am before heading back to the hotel.

No photos but I have a DVD and Batman took a heap on his camera. I have also posted the link to gravity Bolivia on my facebook or simple google it.

With so many amazing experiences and days under my belt already in my 24.5 years it's hard to pick out individual ones but this day would be in the top 5 days of my life without a doubt. Adrenalin, adventure, achievement, amazing views, great people and dancing the YMCA in a Bolivian bar, it's was a truly awesome day.

A little girl goes shopping with her dad
After the shoe shop, and the cake shop, she goes into the barber shop with her father.
She stands next to the barber's chair, while her dad gets his hair cut, eating a snack cake.
The barber says to her, "Sweetheart, you're gonna get hair on your muffin."
She says, "Yes, I know, and I'm gonna get boobs too."

Lukey B
A Baker Abroad
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Tiffany on

Wowzers, that is absolutely ridiculous.
I saw that road on Top Gear and it scared me then haha.

Ps. That was a REA:LLLLLY long blog

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