I survived Death Road!
Well I’m still alive, which I have to say feels pretty good! 😀 Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life but also one of the most exhilarating! I was right, I certainly would have regretted it if I hadn’t taken part in the bike ride down Death Road.
The company my group booked with were just fantastic, really enthusiastic and encouraging guys who made us all feel relatively safe(!). I was pleased to see that the mountain bikes they gave us were clearly fit for the terrain with super-sensitive brakes, which on the one hand made me feel a bit safer but on the other hand convinced me that I would go flying over the edge of a cliff if I hit the brakes. 😯
The first section was about 20km of tarmac, which “eased” us into the ride and gave us time to get used to the bikes, and of course to the afore-mentioned crazy Bolivian drivers we met along the way. As if riding downhill along the world’s most dangerous road wasn’t terrifying enough without a stream of cars hooting madly at you as they zoom past!
Just as I was starting to feel more comfortable with the ride, we got to the beginning of the 40km off-road section and one of our guides cheerfully informed us of the 600m drop just around the corner. I wanted to cry, I was so scared! We had been told at the start that we could stop at any time and ride in the support van if we didn’t want to continue, but that wasn’t an option for me; I was adamant that I could do this. I set off after everyone else, happy to plod along at the back at snail speed and concentrating with all my might on looking ahead, not at the hair-raising drops just feet away on my left! Our guide had told us that it was almost impossible to brake all the way down as our hands would cramp, but my brakes were firmly on most of the time anyway. My hands could shrivel to a pulp for all I cared, as long as I made it down to the end in one piece!
It was only in the last half an hour or so of the ride that I really started to appreciate the staggering beauty around me. Nearer the bottom of the insane drops, I felt a bit better looking around at the scenery, and I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. Exotic trees and unforgivingly high mountains stretching for miles around, unfamiliar birds soaring overhead and the occasional waterfall plunging down from a cliff. It was impossible for me not to feel inspired by nature, even as I continued to make my way down that terrifying road!
Needless to say we were all ecstatic at having completed the ride, and we were rewarded with a visit to a nearby animal refuge where a late buffet lunch had been prepared for us. I really enjoyed looking around the refuge, admiring all the monkeys, birds and even rabbits! When I had finished wandering around, I made my way back to the refuge entrance where there was a wooden bridge surrounded by trees and overlooking a tranquil stream. I sat down on the bridge and let my feet dangle over the edge, marvelling at the jungle scenery around me and listening to insects chirping and the calming sound of a nearby waterfall. It was honestly the most peaceful and content I’ve ever felt; I could have sat there forever. An ironic ending to the day, really!