Mountain Biking in Bolivia
05.12.2008 - 06.12.2008 15 °C
360 people died in one year on the worlds most dangerous road, 65 so far this year. There are some truly horrifying stories about this road. After some thorough contemplation of the safety records, the equipment used, the guided support provided for the mountain bike ride, we decided to go with Gravity, a company originated from another Kiwi bloke with a passion for extreme sports. After 44 000 gringos on the ride, only one fatality but we were told there are regular hospital visits. But don´t worry we survived with only a few bruises and a memory to last a life time.
The trip begins at 4700m, with a steep tarsealed road about 10k long, you have a chance to get used to the bikes and their fancy but very powerful disk brakes. Most people reach above 50km/hr in this stretch. Not being a regular bike rider Tanya was pressured to keep up to the rest of the group,she was a little scared of picking up the speed. You also go through a narcotics check(all clear) and then the Worlds most dangerous road begins.
Our group was made up of 5 blokes and 6 girls, plus two experienced guides, Mat a Scots man and Gus a world downhill champion. Plus a support vehicle following behind with a local driver. If people are feeling extra nervous, anxious, unwell or are overly cocky on the road they get put on the bus for time out. We proud to say that no one in our group got to ride the bus for time out. The trip is divided up into 17 sections with a stop at each so that everyone can re-group. The total distance is 63km and takes about 5 hours.
Gravel, steep, windy and with a straight drop of anywhere from 50m to 400m down. It really is scary and truly dangerous, its not just a ploy. But luckily the altitude provided the cloud and mist cover to conceal the sheer drops from the crazy gringo cyclists. Catching a glimpse of the cliff drop sends shivers down your spine, but its a test of concentration on the road ahead. Plus the guides warn you about other possible distractions like butterflies and birds fling out in front. In some places we had to go through waterfalls, refreshing but add another edge to the whole ride.
The scenery is spectacular but we had no time to appreciate it, and taking our camera on the ride would have guaranteed its ruin. But the guides takes photos along the way and even a few short film clips of the hairiest parts (posted here soon) A NZ road comparison would be somewhere like the old Authors pass before the new bridge road.
Well I wish I could say that the day had no crashes but that would be a lie. An Aussie girl slid and came close to the edge, making her slow down for the rest of the day. Also a receptionist from the company, who has done the ride before, had a spectacular slide out grassing her chin and scraping her legs. Howerever, the guides favorite crash was Tatyana. Towards the end of the road there are two river crossings both have to be taken at speed, one was a shallow creek. The second was a knee deep, here the guide demonstrated his best speed pick up into a turn with a superman finish through the water. One by one we crossed, as the rest of the group watched. With more confidence Tanya peddled into good speed but was going to fast. This resulted in her flying round the corner, hitting the water and carrering straight into the bus parked to stop people taking the shallow path. There was no major injuries but a few bruises and a drenching. She laughed it off and was content to have the softest crash landing on the Words Most Dangerous Road.
The ride seems to disappear from memory as the sense of achievement of getting down in one piece sets in. The ride ends and we all proceeded for a shower and lunch in a private animal rescue park, surrounded by monkeys macaws, dogs and a boa constricter.