Death Road

Trip Start Nov 25, 2008
Trip End Jan 20, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, January 15, 2009

After cancelling our trip to the jungle, we decided to mountain bike the Death Road.  We took a bus up to 4,800 meters.  The total trip is 65 km and drops 3,400 meters.  The first part is on a paved highway where you pass all kinds of slow cars, trucks, buses, etc.  The second part is on the official Death Road, which is similar to a logging road.  There are shear cliffs on the sides that drop up to 800 meters to a river.  Dad and I were the fastest in our group right up to the point where Dad wrecked.

I turned a sharp corner with a lot of loose gravel.  I heard someone wreck behind me.  By the time I stopped and looked back, Dad was sitting on the edge of a 500 meter drop off looking down.  I rushed back and he said his bike was down there.  He cut his lip, forehead, dislocated his left thumb.  He said he dove off the bike and watched it bounce about 10 times down the cliff.  The guide had to repell down the cliff on ropes to retrieve the bike.  It was mesed up pretty bad.  Dad asked for another bike, but thank goodness they refused.  He rode the rest of the way in the bus.  Right before he wrecked, the guide told us that he watched someone die on the next section last year.  Only 15 mountain bikers have died on the Death Road since 2001, about 2 per year.  8 of the 15 were Israeli.  When we got back, Dad had to pay 300 bolivianos or $45 for the damage to the bike.

I finished the trail and had a blast.  It was very exciting and beautiful.  There were dramatic views and tons of waterfalls that came right on the road.  We stopped at a hostel for lunch.  I went swimming in the river.  On the way back, the guide told us that the government of Bolivia used to push people off a certain cliff.  The Paraguayan prisoners who built the road would be pushed off if they were too weak to continue building.  The famous guerilla fighter Che Guevara was executed here.  Che Guevara was the Argentinian freedom fighter that helped Castro take over Cuba.  His face is used for a bunch of counterculture movements.  He was named one of the most influential people of the 20th century.  He was killed after trying to start a revolution in Bolivia in the late 60s.
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