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Published: March 4th 2012
We had read about it, seen it on the TV, and heard about it from fellow travellers and friends back home, but today was the day we were to cycle down the World’s most dangerous road. A road having a name like this suggests you should go with a company with a good reputation no matter what the cost, as saving a few quid is pointless if you don’t live to see another day. So Donna, Helen, Troy and I booked the trip with Gravity who are the original, and possibly the best company that offer the tour. We felt in good hands.
This was until we actually went to the office to book the tour….
Once in the office, although we were greeted with a very professional and reliable Irish lady to book the tour with, a Kiwi guy turned up that gave us some minor concerns. This guy was a guide for Gravity, and he currently had a huge scar on his forehead along with a sling to support the arm he had recently broken. When we asked how this happened, he replied ‘I fell asleep whilst riding the WMDR’….not the sort of thing you wanted to
hear from a ‘professional’ guide! Anyway, after we all had a bit of banter and a chat with this guy, we came to the conclusion that we would be fine, and carried on filling in the forms. Whilst this was happening, a second Kiwi walks in (also another Gravity guide) and starts to explain why he wasn’t currently working. It was because he had fallen 25 metres down a cliff face whilst riding his bike…. We all felt this was a far cry from good advertising, however upon completion of the tour, we maintain that this was a fantastic company to go with.
Anyway, back to the day…..
I’m in the shower singing a cracking rendition of Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing on the ceiling’ when Donna bursts in and says ‘Mike, its 7 O’clock’. The fact that it was 7 O’clock was an issue as we had to meet at the Café for today’s trip at 7:30am, and we were neither ready, packed nor even that close to said café…what happened? Turns out we didn’t put the clocks forward to Bolivia time on the alarm that we set, and only by pure chance did Donna check our watch that
had the correct time….. Panic stations, code RED.
After a lot of rushing about like loons, somehow, we managed to dry off, change, pack, wait and ride a taxi all in 15 minutes in order to reach the café on time and get ourselves checked in….. Phew, that was a close one!
After about a 40 minute bus journey, we finally made it to the start of the bike ride which was 4700 metres above sea level and a little difficult to breathe up there. We were all kitted out with our bike attire and then eventually our double cool twin suspension bikes with super sensitive hydraulic brakes…it was awesome! The bike ride itself consisted of about 20km downhill on a tarmac road, followed by another 40km or so down a dirt road which is the actual WMDR.
So, after a briefing from our guide Paddy, and an offering to Pacha Mama (mother earth) we were ready to start our downhill madness, beginning on the tarmacked road. From the very start of the ride it was difficult to breathe even though you were going downhill and didn’t require much effort, but due to the altitude we were
at, it was tough going. However, after the initial getting used to the breathing and the bike, it really started to become fun! The hill was just so steep, and you just flew down it at crazy speeds. All the while we were gunning down this road with the wind in our face, we were also privileged to fantastic scenery around us, when you were brave enough to look up and enjoy it!
When the initial fun of the downhill section was over, there was an inevitable uphill part, although this was optional. Feeling like we were fit enough, we opted to go for it, and so started the long and difficult 8km climb. To be honest, most of the climb wasn’t too bad, although there were parts where you actually felt like you were drowning due to the lack of oxygen and the immense effort that was required. Once we had reached the end of the climb though, we were all delighted mainly because the uphill section was over, but more so because we had now reached the start of the WMDR..!
Before we started the dirt track that was the WMDR, we were again briefed about
the do’s and don’ts of the road, as well as being told to obey the 4 main rules.
1 – Enjoy yourself and have fun
2 – Look cool at all times
3 – Stick to the rules
4 – Don’t be a f*cking Dickhead
These were the official rules of the road, and we all felt they made perfect sense in keeping us safe and on the road. So, once these rules were drummed in, we were off down the 40km of road that has been officially named ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road’. The cycling down was unlike anything I had done before, and the rush and adrenaline that was running through me was incredible. I thought I would be really slow and weary, but after having warmed up on the other road, I felt confident, and was riding with little fear, and pure joy. Donna also took to the ride really well, and although a little weary, she really threw caution to the wind and enjoyed herself. This was the same for our fellow bikers Helen and Troy. Helen was cautious with ‘the thought of death constantly in her mind’ (Helen’s words), and
Troy felt it was ‘f*cking awesome and exhilarating’, which was apparent as I was constantly in his dust despite trying to keep up with him!!
All the way through the ride we would stop, pull over and get a heads up on the next section as well as getting more safety tips from Paddy. At each stop there seemed to be another story of someone going over the edge for one reason or other, but rather than scare you, I think it just made you more aware of the dangers and how to avoid becoming another statistic…. As rule 4 states, ‘Don’t be a f*cking Dickhead!
So, after a good 4-5 hours amazing riding, we were finally at the bottom where we received a well-deserved beer and lunch at an animal sanctuary which was at the end of the road. Here after our food and showers, we were able to walk around the sanctuary admiring, and at some points holding some of the animals that had been rescued from horrendous circumstances throughout Bolivia. Here I managed to befriend a Parakeet and a anteater type creature that was as friendly as a pet dog! They also housed monkeys here
too, however we was told that the alpha male had escaped from his area just that morning, and therefore we were unable to see him as A) he would potentially be aggressive and B) they actually didn’t know where he had escaped to yet!!
After the fun of the sanctuary, we ordered a cab to Coroico where we were due to spend the next couple of nights. We were told however that there was a cab strike on, but if we went to this ladies local B&B we could try getting a lift there. So, after a beer and a game of pool and some money had been spent, a cab miraculously appeared and so the 5 of us (we had now picked up another Brit, Adrian from the trip) made the ridiculously dangerous 25 minute journey to Coroico with a driver that seemed more interested in his blaring music than the road with a 500ft drop!!
As I am writing this, it’s clear that we survived the cab ride, but to be honest, this was 10 times more scary than the awesome bike ride we had completed earlier in the day!
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