Ever since quitting my job in Hawaii and making the decision I would travel around South America, I’ve tried to live my life fearlessly. I am definitely not a fearless person by nature, but I believe that you shouldn’t allow fear to hold you back from what you want to do.
Biking Death Road was one of those things that sounded so scary, but also really exciting and when we made the decision to go to Bolivia I knew it had to be on our list of things to do.
Nicknamed the deadliest road in the world in 1995, the dirt gravel road that connects Coroico to La Paz in Bolivia is notoriously dangerous. Because, or despite it’s infamous reputation it’s become a huge tourist attraction to bike down the roughly 40 mile road.
Before arriving in La Paz we booked our trip with a company called
. The morning of our ride I was feeling ready and pumped up to get going. I didn’t feel nervous or afraid, but figured that would kick in once I was on the bike staring down the twisty road ahead. I’ve only gone trail biking twice in my life and never downhill on a road like this for this long! We rode a bus to the starting point, put on our gear and got a briefing. The first part of the ride was downhill on paved road. I hadn’t ridden a bike in months and I was a little self conscious about being the first person to fly over the handle bars. My two friends I was traveling with did mountain biking and motocross. I think I was more nervous about embarrassing myself than the actual ride! Luckily once I hopped on the bike and started peddling, I felt very comfortable. Not once did I fly over the handle bars, or even fall for that matter, but I also never felt afraid. While riding down the tarmac going faster than I’ve ever gone on a bike, I felt free and alive!
The ride on the actual rose was broken up with stops to discuss what was ahead and how to best ride through it. It was incredibly beautiful starting out above the clouds and slowly descending through them as we dropped in elevation to the Amazonian Jungle. The cliffs and greenery was breathtaking and I constantly stole quick glances around while trying to focus on the road.
The ride overall was the most physically intense thing I’ve ever done and one of the funnest. We celebrated the ride with a few beers and dinner at a La Senda Verde Animal Refuge and then rode the bus back up the same road we went down.
As we rose in elevation and were back above the clouds, the full moon shone brightly and lit the clouds up, making them look like the sea. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and an incredible way to end an epic day!
Note: People do die on this road every year. Both on bicycle and by car. It seems that a lot of these accidents can be avoided by riding to your own ability (it’s not a race!), following the instruction of your guide, and making sure you go with a reputable company. Gravity was recommended to me by a friend who biked down Death Road a few months before I went. She had a great experience with them and I trusted her opinion. Gravity is probably one of the more expensive companies to go with, but if you’re biking down a road nicknamed the “Deadliest Road in the World” it’s really not a time to skimp. By the time we actually got to the start of the road I felt really confident in the journey we were about to take thanks to the detailed and through instruction from our guide. He made the ride really fun but also took it very seriously. You could tell the difference between the people in our group and the people in the other groups. Long story short - go with
What is something you’re afraid of that you’d like to try?
Pictures courtesy Gravity & my dear friend William Wade