Death Road, La Paz, Bolivia

Another early morning start - up at 5.30am to have a briefing, pick up our bikes and gear and then off in the bus from La Paz up to our starting point of 4700m at La Cumbre.  It was pretty cold so we were wearing lots of layers but fortunately the sun was up and the sky was blue - a perfect start to the day.  There were 17 of us in the group with 3 instructor/guides, two buses to take us and the bikes.  We had our briefing and a quick lesson on safety and the best way to tackle the bends etc.  Then we were ready for the off!

       Matt ready for the off                                   The group ready to go                      Jean ready for the off

The first few kilometers were on the new tarmac road which also had a steady stream of other traffic - so I was keen to keep my speed at a controlled level and watch those bends!  But euphoria took over and I'm pleased to say that I kept up with the fast group - albeit at the back of that group.  I was having a ball!

    The tarmac road winding downhill               Bus overtaking the cyclists                             Police check point

The first stop was at the police check point - checking for drugs (not on us but on the rest of the traffic).  At one point we came to a tunnel which we had to cycle around - with just a steep drop off to the valley below - this was our first taste of what the gravel road would be like!  At Chusipata the old road crosses the new road and it was at this point we boarded the bus and were driven 8km uphill to a safe starting point on the gravel road.

        Bikes being checked                            Part of the gravel road track                   Matt & Jean at the gravel road start

Once the bikes had been checked over thoroughly, we were ready for the off again - this time with a little more caution (to start with!) 

As we descended the scenery changed and the temperature got up so we had to keep stopping to take off layers of clothing! The bus followed us down and the driver took the photos and videos of us as we cycled past and through waterfalls.

The new tarmac road took 17 years to complete and was opened 3 years ago.  The old road then closed to traffic but all along the road we saw crosses and dedications to people who had died in accidents there - it's not called 'Death Road' for nothing!

We did have a few 'uphills' to go which were murder on the legs!  However we stopped often for snacks and a picnic lunch until, after 64km of downhill, through waterfalls and streams, along narrow tracks and steep drop-offs, we finally made it down to the finish at Yolosa at 1200m and a very welcome beer!   The day was topped off with a buffet lunch and a swim at a hotel before boarding the bus for the 3 hour drive back to La Paz.  We survived Death Road - and we have the t-shirts to prove it!





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