Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Leaving La Paz was exciting. Some guy with two beards at Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking (home to the most incompetent bike mechanics on the continent) told us that a Canadian cyclist was mugged three weeks ago leaving La Paz on the climb through El Alto to the 4700 meter La Cumbre pass. Apparently a couple homestars met him at the top and relieved him of his wallet and his life. We opted to take a cab.

At the top of La Cumbre it was rainy, misty, and cold - perfect weather for a high speed 10,000 foot descent. We passed lots of slow moving trucks, drug checkpoints, and mysterious dogs on the way down, all engulfed by the mist that caused us to blow alternately on our frozen fingers. The road was very wet, cut into the sides of steep green cliffsides, and it felt like we were descending into a Tolkien novel. After about an hour of pavement we found ourselves at the gravel turn off for the "World´s Most Dangerous Road." Everybody had a candy bar and we went for it.

As we descended the temperature slowly increased, causing us to stop regularly to shed layers and snap photos. It was amazing to see our environs change from harsh Altiplano desert to humid jungle over the course of an hour. Lots of Crucifixes and Stars of David as we descended - one side of the road is a sheer cliff the whole way to Coroico and occasionally a tourist from the regular mountain bike tours takes a plunge. Sobering.

About four hours after starting off from the top of La Cumbre we reached the bottom of the descent, taking a minute to rest in the practically soupy air of 3000 ft. Then a miserable 2000 ft climb up a cobblestone road to the town of Coroico where most of La Paz had already assembled to celebrate the Easter weekend by getting hammered in the town plaza. We ate Mexican food and worked out a sleeping deal at an already full hotel, though breakfast and pool use were not included. Everybody agreed biking is way easier when you don´t have to pedal.


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