Death Ride: Asthma attacks, stacks and lucky we had brakes...

La Paz Travel Blog

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No Guts No Glory or... Dead

Howdy gang, what a glorious day it is too be alive cause yesterday could have been another story whislt high tailing down the most dangerous road in the world known to many as the Death Ride! Now having  a bit of a thirst for extreme activities especially those that get the adrenaline pumping and basically scare the shit out of you (you should do something that scares you each and every day even as simple as asking a girl out for a beer) the lads and I thought when in La Paz lets go and try too kill ourselves!!! Honestly with all the hype i was thinking it was not going to be all that bad, the horry stories are normally from people who have never ridden bikes in their live and decided that the best time to start is on the death road, makes sense! But what many neglect too inform you probably cause they have been so blown away by the secenery and sheen fear factor of the road is the uphill section of the ride, this my friends is what nearly killed me!!!!

So you get up early (dont go out the night before and get drunk with the irish bar staff like some of us did and if you do get home before 12, please!!!) and it is a short hike to the bike companies that take the tours! Now most people will go with Gravity assisted as they have been doing it for the longest but honestly the guides seemed like such twats, trying a bit too hard too be hardcore downhillers!!! We went with a new company B-Side which are alot cheaper than Gravity and actually have better bikes.

That ¨Invincible¨ feeling
The guides are also local and very informative and love making jokes about all nationalities which is refreshing!! So once meeting the group for the day and all the guides (another good thing about this company is that there are three guides riding with you instead of two like most the other companies) you drive up too the start point which is actually the paved section of the death road and is generally all downhill! The first corner of the ride you are shown a bus wreckage where the entire bus has gone off a 300 metre cliff, this I believe is too make it reality too those riders who think they are invincible (we may have fallen into this category... dont worry we got taught our lesson)!! Then from here it was a fast descent for approx 30 odd kilometers along the paved road.
Downhill Bandits
We could go at our own pace and their was a guide for the fast ones, medium and slow f%^kers. We stopped too enjoy and soak in the amazing views, walked through police checkpoints and had a quick stop at a little town before the freakin uphill section! So we had been riding for an hour or so after going through our last police checkpoint and as it so happened it was my turn up the front behind the lead guide who neglected to inform us that the uphill section was about too begin! So away he steams me in hot pursuit not wanting to look incapable and before i know it the rest of the group are suddenly 200-300 metres behind us and im like this is hard work thank god that hill is done, ohh look at the next 5 kilometers more hills! Now people we are talking about being 3500-4000 feet or more above sea level, the air is thin and here is a chronic asthmatic (me) trying too keep up with super lungs on a mountain bike (Arial is like the Kelly slater of surfing on a bike) seriously i was doomed before i began! I put in my best effort over the next 4 kilometers but slowly Arial pulled away and the other lads caught up then on the last ascent Wham Bam Brendo was off his bike having an asthma attack!!! Being a good asthmatic i carry my puffer with me but it did SHIT, the air was sooo thin i couldnt get oxygen and nearly blacked out! Still i pushed on and returned too the bike to finish what i started which probably wasnt the best idea cause once i got too the top i collapsed! Everyone, I mean everyone was struggling for air only four of the riders in the group rode the entire uphill section everyone else played lets push the bike rather than ride it haha looking back on the moment it was rather humourous and the guides had a good laugh!

So after we all recovered, had a quick bite and i dosed myself up on Bricanyl glad to still be alive we were away again and it wasnt long before we reached the actual death ride intself! Now we were extremely lucky cause we had a really clear day most other times the low lying clouds block the view or for some people shield them from the terror that awaits.

The Famous Death Drop
.. The road looks spectacular and it is hard to believe that it was a major highway in and out of La PAz, total madness! After another quick safety check and talking too we were split into the ¨fast and furious¨ and the ¨I want too survive today¨groups which I thought was awesome and throughout the ride you could chop and change!!! Finally it was pedal too the metal and we were away!

All the lads were in the front group except Mark as his split personally Kevin is rather dubious on a bike at the best of times let alone in a region with 500 feet drop offs so we encourgage him too take in the views which he positively agreed too haha!! Now in all seriousness it is a scary arse ride and the bikes brakes are ultra sensitive so on many occassions people stress including myself and overuse the brakes this is when most the accidents occur, i nearly went over the handle bars grabbing for the back brakes but grabbed the front Duhhhhhh but in the heat of the moment this stuff happens so be careful people! The ride was mind-blowing and we set a hot pace, soo many time you look to your left and it is nothingness just open space and your like 5 cm more and im in that emptiness, it is breath-taking!

We stopped on the road to have a lunch stop which was nice! While we were recharging our batteries i had the brillant idea to strap a camera to my helmet and film the ride, unbenown to us this would capture a once in a lifewtime incident! Straight after lunch camera on head we proceeded in a rather fast fashion! I was trying too capture the scenery and the many death drops into the abyss while the other boys (jim and duggo) showed off to the camera it front of me, wiggling their bums and stuff, it was all goinfg sweet even passing other riders from other companies! As we rounded this one bend duggo was in front of me and cut the corner and was returning to the right side when his front wheel lost control on the loose shale in the middle of the road! Travelling at about 35-40kms it was red rover ALL OVER!!! As far as stacks go he done very well, he roled for about six metres intop the cliff while his bike projected in the other direction off the cliff only too be caught by a tree! This was all caught on my helmet camera! After looking at the footage repeatedly it is amazing that i too didnt hit his flying bike and then him only millimeters but Simon who was behind me couldnt see with all the dust and heading for safety went towards the cliff and straight into Duggo who was mangled on the ground! Now friends and family he was fine cause he invested in safety gear like knee pads if anything his pride was dented and his last pair of prescription glasses totalled! So he walked away with some battle scars a sore wrist and shoulder but nothing broken, We Hope!

Well the rest of the ride was fine no more real dramas (Mark pulled out a Kevin moment going over the handles trying to do a skid, soo funny) and we all made it too the bottom alive for a celebartory beer (or 7) and then off to a hotel for a hot shower and a proper buffet dinner which is included with the tour! Overall it was agreat experience and i recommend everyone do it you dont have too be crazy fools like us and can go at your own pace, it makes the beer at the end sooo REWARDING!!!

So thats me for now, im off on my next adventure to Cusco and MachuPicchu which should be just as exciting till next time stay safe and keep having fun!!!!!

Eric says:
Wow this sounds insane, amazing photos!
Posted on: Jun 15, 2007
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No Guts No Glory or... Dead
No Guts No Glory or... Dead
That ¨Invincible¨ feeling
That ¨Invincible¨ feeling
Downhill Bandits
Downhill Bandits
The Famous Death Drop
The Famous Death Drop
Celebratory Beers
Celebratory Beers
At the start of the Death Road
At the start of the Death Road
Jim all thumbs up
Jim all thumbs up
Me and the Ross (irish bar staff) …
Me and the Ross (irish bar staff)…
Standing on the cliff of the Death…
Standing on the cliff of the Deat…
Me and Mark (Kevin was too come)
Me and Mark (Kevin was too come)
View of the Death Road from a far
View of the Death Road from a far
View of the Death Roead from above
View of the Death Roead from above
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009