La Paz and the gravity assisted biking..........

Trip Start Feb 04, 2009
Trip End Jun 03, 2009

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Yet another freezing bus journey from P˘tosi (even after a Valiumm!) we arrived in La paz just in time for breaky at our hostel Loki. 
Hostel is great - own bar and restaurant and comfy, comfy beds. First impressions of la paz driving into the city are that it is one massive place!  Houses and businesses perched precariously to the edge of cliff faces.  Quite amazing.  It doesn'tt appeal to you in a charming, pretty way, too much pollution and grime, but it does have a sense of quirky appeal that we were happy to explore.

Knowing that one of the main adventures that we wanted to do here in la paz was the mountain biking down the worlds most dangerous road - or the ┤death road┤as it is often called we went in search of a biking company.  We walked around zona  central checking out the sights of the city.  We saw the Boliviann president surrounded with his body guards and armoured cars.. Found some companies offering the biking adventure ranging in price from 800 bs to 250Bolivianoss.  You get what you pay for so with the 250bs it was basically an old cast off bike with no guarantee of working brakes - we chose mid range, Vertigo biking.

Found a market and bought some food to make ourselves dinner and lunch.  Tuna casserole for tea and soup for lunch.  Yummo.

7.30 start for the bike tour - feeling a little bit nervous and wondering if I should have made my will before we left!  About 7 peps in our group. Left la Paz for an hours journey into the mountain to laCumbra.  Absolutely pouring with rain and foggy - not the best weather to be cruising down a death mountain, but beggars cant be choosers hey!

Kitted up with motorbike helmet, gloves, pants, jackets, elbow pads and knee pads.... feeling more nervous now.  Very basic instructions from our two guides - stay on the mountain side of the road. duh! and watch the gravel on the corners because you will lose it and go over the edge WTF!!

As I thought the boys in the group took off full pelt, with the few girls in the group bringing up the rear...Absolutely freezing with the rain stinging your face as you race down the road, so glad my brakes work!
Total of 64kms of riding, thankfully most of it down hill.  Couple of stops for pics and snacks.  One stop at the memorial site of a young Israelii girl who was on a biking tour like ours and came round a corner and flew off the side of the cliff... this freaked me out for the rest of the ride. 

The gravel part of the death road is def the worse for accidents.  Its only 3metres wide with hairpin turns and a 3600m vertical drop waiting for you if you get the wobbles up in the gravel.  Which most of us did at some stage but no one fell off their bikes.  We got to ride past many crosses and memorial sites and I even saw the remains of a red truck over the side of the cliff.... adds to the danger and excitement of the whole ride. 

The road is not used as often now as they  have finished a wider, safer alternative, however its still the quickest route and trucks and cars still use it when they want.   No cars on it today.

Got to the bottom of the road  at Coroico safely after a few heart stopping moments to remember my biking adventure with.  One of the girls with me had her brakes fail.... she had to use her feet to stop herself.  We also rode past another girl in a group who had stacked it into the side of the mountain.... girls and bikes just don't seem to mix on a death road. 

Beers at the bottoms in Coroico and swapped our ┤death road┤stories - had an awesome lunch at a nearby hotel and then a 3 hours journey back up to la paz (funnily not on the death road!).  We have our death road survivor tshirts now to remind us of our adventure... my new bedshirt.

Caught up in the bar with some other guys from the bike tour and planned to hit the clubs.... now Im blaming the combination of the altitude and my near death experience but when happy hour introduced double vodka┤s in stein mugs I probably over indulged a wee bit.... lesson to everyone double vodka┤s are BAD BAD news!  After 5 or so I passed out in bed - no clubs for us that night.

Internet and chill out day checking out the witches marketss of la paz... dried llama fetusess anyone??? Got our shoes shined by a guy called felix, ripped us off completely but our shoes look great! Another big night in la paz, actually made it out this time to a club called mongo┤s.... staggered home at 8:30 in the morning... and spent the day in bed.... Cant wait to leave la paz tomorrow!!!

chau amigos
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