Apr 072012
 

La Paz, Bolivia.

200-300 people killed. Per year.

Why am I here?

They were very professional at the tour agency. ´You get breakfast, snacks, lunch. Your bike has full suspension. You´ll wear elbow and knee padding. You´ll be wearing safety pants and jacket.´

And in between nose and lips they mentioned: ´As long as you don´t fall off of the edge, you´ll be fine…´

Im now halfway through ´Death Road´.

Which at some point in it´s history killed 200-300 people. Per year.

The safety records have been improving ever since (mostly because all the trafic shifted to a newer and safer road). They weren´t very forthcoming with more recent statistics though. The grapevine however informs me that since the new road has opened, at least a handfull of mountainbikers have died here. And almost every trip someone gets more or less seriously hurt.

I´m thundering down a decline, at some points almost flat, at others 10% or more. My hands are getting tired from constantly pressing the breaks.

Bolivia is a great place to risk your life. The unofficial motto of the country is: Todo possible, nada seguro (everything is possible, nothing is safe).

So, the next trip: Climb Huayna Potosi, reaching up to slightly over 6000 meters. Altitude sickness, here I come!

Another curve comes up, gravel spatters everywhere. Knuckles go white with the effort of keeping my bike upright, not crashing into the rocks on my left and not going down the 800 meter fall on my right. I have exactly 3 meters of road to use… Veering a little bit too much off, the wall is getting awfully close. And breaking even more might mean losing all grip. Or making a tumble over my steer…

You´re reading this, so obviously I survived (I do need to go pick up my ´I survived the world´s most dangerous road´ T-shirt). Yet at times I wasn´t so sure I would make it…

Speeds are ridiculous. Safety gear is quite adequate, but if you´re going down a cliff wall no amount of padding is going to help you.

I survived. And after looking death in the eye (I wished I could say I smiled in his face, but at the time I couldn´t manage more than a squimish little smirk), you do truly feel alive!