When I was in Bolivia back in 2012, I decided it would be a great experience to cycle “The Death Road”. I definitely didn’t know what to expect or what was in store, but I knew it was an adventure I wanted to have.
Here’s my experience cycling the world’s deadliest road in Bolivia!
First Things First
At 6am, my friend, Gareth, and I arrived at the Madness Biking office in La Paz, Bolivia. I still couldn’t wrap my head around what exactly the day had in store for us and the butterflies in my stomach had quickly become heavy rocks.
We had planned on taking the cycling tour even before I arrived in Bolivia and I was SO nervous!
The Death Road is known as The World’s Most Dangerous Road for claiming the lives of over 18 cyclists as well as hundreds of lives in automobile accidents each year. That was the only information I had before committing to the 64 km cycle tour.
What was I thinking?!
Cycling the Death Road
We changed into our cycle gear and got a quick rundown on the do’s and don’t’s of cycling down the Death Road before boarding a bus that would take us to our starting point at La Cumbre at 4,640 meters high up in the mountains. The starting point seemed innocent enough with paved roads and a somewhat mild downhill slope.
We cycled for about 20 minutes until we reached an absolutely breathtaking scenic lookout where you could see the road stretching out for an eternity. This is when reality began to sink in! I had a full day of unknown ahead of me and things hadn’t even gotten dangerous.
After cycling for almost an hour we reached the beginning of the actual Death Road and said goodbye to smooth paved roads and said hello to a dirt road with loose gravel and deadly drop offs.
The road was entirely downhill so you never let off the brakes because you felt like you were going too fast but also felt like hitting the brakes too hard would send you tumbling forward head first.
Between the intermittent rain, the loose gravel, and the cliff edge to my left, the danger was now very real.
At some points the road was so narrow only one bike could cross at a time and it seemed impossible that a bus, let alone a car, could ever consider driving the road.
All along the road there were crosses in remembrance of the lives lost along the road and, with the hazy mist surrounding us, it was unbelievably eerie.
The whole trip led us down 3,345 meters of vertical descent past dangerous turns and even straight through a waterfall!
By the end I was exhausted, had more than a few bug bites, and could hardly move my arms.
I had overcome a massive personal challenge and faced my fear of heights and conquered The World’s Most Dangerous Road!