" When you say accidents, you mean people falling off their bikes, cutting their legs, maybe breaking an ankle, right?" I asked hopefully
"No these I not consider accidents, accidents are deaths" was his reply.
It was then I really seriously began to question the sanity of riding the so called death road from La Paz to Coroico in Bolivia.
The road is 63 km long starting at 4700 metres above sea level and descending to 1100 metres in Coroico. It is considered to be the worlds longest downhill stretch and also goes by the grisly title of world´s most dangerous road. With much of the road just being 3.2 metres wide and bordered by cliffs more than a km high, the moniker is well deserved. An average of 26 vehicles per year dissapear over the edge. Not to mention the fact that 8 mountain bikers have died in the last 2 years, which brings me to the question what the hell was I thinking trying to mountain bike down the thing?
As with most stupid adventures it was a combination of ignorance, machismo, peer group pressure and stupidity which of course ended up in it being a whole load of fun. All over La Paz are agencies offering the trip and it seems to be the thing to do here. I was completely unaware tourists had been killed doing it. It was this fact I found out half way down
We started riding down in very cold weather a 4700 metres at about 8.00 in the morning and the first section was on an ashphalt paved road. Before we knew it we were screaming down at 67 km an hour for the ride of our lives. Luckily I had left Kate in La Paz. After that we hit section 2 which was a dirt road bordered by screaming 1000 meter abysses. All along the road are crosses suggesting that the entire road was unsafe not just parts of it. In the end I only came off once and have a small graze as a souvenir of my adrenalin fuelled adventure. We completed the ride in 4 hours and it´s something I definitely won´t be doing again. The unfortunate thing about the whole ride was that afterwards we had to drive back to La Paz on the same road... that was even scarier.
Of course prize for most craziest goes to the Bolivian truck drivers who every year organise a race to see who really is the world´s best driver. It starts at the bottom in Coroico with all the drivers downing about 8 pints of lager and then getting in their vehichles for a little bit of first to to the top. Needless to say this is the day where most deaths occur every year