Man! Let me tell you about the eight hours I spent on the world's most dangerous road (WMDR). The road runs along the absolute edge of a portion of the Andean mountains connecting the Altiplano terrain of La Paz to the Amazon basin near the city of Coroico. The road starts at 4650 meters of elevation and quickly drops to 1200 meters over the course of 38 miles. It's ability to boast an average of 200 deaths per year since it's creation in the 1930s earned it the official title of "The World's Most Dangerous Road" in 1995 by the Inter-American Development Bank. Most of the two-way road is no wider than 10 feet and the only guard from falling over the edge are the crosses and memorial shrines that can be noticed along every corner and dangerous mile!
In my defense, I didn't know too much about the history of the road before signing up for the popular attraction. I figured it was more of a tourist trap and likely not all that dangerous...I did however take care to go with only the most respected agency that is known for it's quality bikes, experienced guides and general respect for the danger of the road. A lot of people make the mistake of going through a cheaper agency to save a few Bolivianos...big mistake! Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking (the group I went with) is the only agency with top of the line bikes, carefully thought out system of keeping tabs on the riders and guides who are trained in rope rescue (which can mean the difference between life and death, come to find out).
(This is Ariel almost getting hit by a crazy bus coming back from a picture...so freaking scary at the time but hysterical after).
The worst part of all...and the part that made me realize for certain that I do not want to be a guide or ever go on this road again...was when we passed a smashed bus that had JUST been involved in an accident on the road killing 13 and injuring 27 (I found out the details on the news that night). It was big news in La Paz and my "Bolivian Mom" and friends back in La Paz had been so worried that I might have been involved. Never again...I can't say that I wouldn't recommended it to others but I, personally, could not risk it again knowing what I do now.
Overall, my day on the World's Most Dangerous Road was one of the most memorable days of my life...I don't think I'll ever top the thrill. I learned so much about mountain biking too! Watch out Muddy Buddy 2011!
(this is a point of the ride back when the road was blocked with big rocks and we had to get out and throw them all off the edge so we could drive by)!