Bolivia: Mountainbiking/ Bolivien: Mountainbiking
On Tuesday I mountainbiked what is called the "Death Road" - although to me the name is mainly marketing. The road connects La Paz to the North which drops around 3400m over 64km. Most of it is a windy dirt road which some steep cliffs and while buses, trucks and cars plowed this road it was indeed one of the most dangerous roads in the world. But in 2006 it was replaced by a new paved road and since mountainbikers have the road mostly to themselves.
You start with a bus ride to a La Cumbre Pass at 4650m outside La Paz where you get fully kitted out (I decided to go for Barracuda Biking who were recommended to me and seemed to offer good value for money) and an intro to your bike and its brakes and then you are off. The first section of the road is paved, so you get become quite fast as you are flying down the mountain. However, for all the speed it is also worth appreciating the amazing panorama. There is a part in the middle where the road goes uphill, so everyone jumps back on the bus and 20 minutes or so later you are on the old road. As I said, it's a gravel road - and for historic reasons it has left hand side traffic. Some parts of it are in better shape than others and it varies between easily wide enough for two vehicles and some very narrow passages but all in all it is not a very hard road to ride (although there were two girls in our group who did the trip because their boyfriends really wanted to and they ended up riding at least parts of the trip on the bus).
The scenery changes completely from the high alpine at the top of the road to jungle as you come down. It also gets warmer and warmer. For the last two sectors we actually took off our overalls as we slowly re-entered civilization. Towards the end we passed a village, where we could already see groups from other companies having a late lunch - but Barracuda actually serves lunch at a place with a private pool. The only drawback: we had to do one final uphill cycle to get there. But jumping in the pool afterwards and washing off all the dust and dirt was completely worth it! At around 4.30 we headed back to town and at 9 we were back at our hostels.
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