All five of us, Sandra, Dominick, Frank , Merv and I had been staying in the same camp-site for a few days, doing repairs on our trucks, motor-bike and Merv visiting the dentist, so we decided it was time to have a day of fun and adventure on mountain bikes, and it did not disappoint. We started our descent at 3150m and by time we finished 29kms later we were at 1226m.
We hired our mountain bikes and gear from firstname.lastname@example.org and I would highly recommend them. All bikes were in good condition , great suspension front and back, and perhaps more importantly the brakes were excellent, take it from me I know as I used them a lot. They had helmets of all sizes, also clothes, not just like some places that have one size fits all. Even the T-Shirts that we got at the end were S,M,L, and X-L , makes a change to have a choice!
The gravel track is 3.2m wide, really just suitable for one vehicle at a time, with sheer 1000m drop-offs with some rocks overhanging the road as well as water-falls that spill across the track eroding it in places. Mind you these water-falls are a welcome relief when you cycle through them as they cool you down. Particularly when cycling this road you see some of Bolivia’s most rewarding fantastic vertical scenery. You can stop whenever and wherever you want for how long you want. It is breathtaking stuff, and you can have all climates in the one day. We started off with snow, then cold, then sun and as we descended more and more into the Yungas suddenly we were in a tropical climate.
Many crosses ‘Bolivian Caution Signs’ line the way to show the frequency of vehicular tragedies. The accidents along the way usually stem from disputes as to who has the right of way when passing oncoming traffic. Bolivian traffic normally keeps to the right, downhill traffic passes on the outside, whether that’s the right or the left side of the road. Therefore vehicles heading downhill must move into the ledges closest to the big drop and wait while the traffic squeezes past. This ensures that the risk is taken by the driver with the best possible view of their outside tyres. Just before we started our down-hill descent we saw many drivers blessing their vehicles tyres with alcohol ( known as a cha’lla) so as to keep them safe. We wondered should we have done the same with our bikes, but we all said positive thinking !
There is now a new road on the opposite side of the valley, this takes most of the traffic but it is consistently being maintained due to the effect of the rainy season, and in parts it is just as rough as Death Road itself. Mind you vehicles still drive the old road, and probably will continue to do for many years still, despite meeting crazy mountain bikers along it, I guess they are used to them by now, they know what to expect around each and every corner.
I guess the burning question you all want to know is ‘Would the Mog fit’, in Merv’s words….. length no problem, width probably okish (if we met no other vehicle or mountain bike) height not so sure…. Also not being able to stop and take photographs and enjoy the scenery would have been a big disadvantage of doing it in the truck, plus we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the cold beers when we reached the end .
And a video to really get a good look at it.
Thanks Sandra, Dominik and Frank for a brilliant day, looking forward to our next one!
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