23.05.2012 - 23.05.2012
From snowy peaks high above Bolivia´s crazy (fake) capital, La Paz, we braced ourselves for the challenge - 2 pairs of trousers, thermals, gloves, knee, shin and elbow pads, full face helmet and jacket. After 15 minutes of ´life or death instructions´, warnings and preparations (in Spanish) it was peddle time - though really no peddling was necessary... this was one long road DOWN! Four and a half hours of ´down´ from the barren altitude into Bolivia´s jungle lands over spot holes, bumps, corners and curves, pushing our bikes to max suspension (I picked up some technical lingo).
We rode through mountain landscape above the clouds and out again into lush vegetation with a 300m drop just a couple of feet away from the narrow track. The more metres we descended the more clothes we shed (the dramatic change in temperature a testament to the distance and speed at which we were travelling).
My life was pushed into an even more tight slice of perspective when the only thing between me and a free fall to a spectacular ending was my own ability to control a pair of rusty handlebars and a velocity on an equally dodgy gradient, for an entire day. While I can ride a bike(!) ´no soy profesional´, and it was all I could do to concentrate on breaking and steering to prevent the potential overshoot on one of the hundreds of ´death´corners, never mind take in the ´estupendo´ vistas laid out in front of me. Sadly there is no escaping the reality and reason behind the name of this epic day of adventure as we passed flowers, wreaths, crosses and words written in memory of the extremely unlucky few who did overshoot for whatever reason and lived their last day flying down this mountain (there are worse ways to go I´m sure but RIP my traveller friends).