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This is a 50km downhill (all the way) challenge starting in the Andes and ending in the Bolivian jungle floor.
You start at the top of La Cumbre Pass (4.640m), which is the highest point of the route. From there it's a 50km long 'downhill madness' to the villages Yolosa and Coroico, some 3.500m below. The start of the route is on a new tar road (hardly used) and then branches to a single track gravel road.
The views are amazing.
If wet, very slippery
Hazards and warnings
In 1995, after some disastrous accidents the Inter American Development Bank christened this route "The Most Dangerous Road in the World". This was based on the macabre ratio of death per mile. On an average, 26 vehicles plummet over the edge each year, claiming more than 100 lives.
Watch out for trucks trying to use this single lane track.
The most practical way to do this route is to arrive in La Paz, Bolivia, and sign up with one of the more reputable mountain bike companies that do guided runs of the route.
www.gravitybolivia.com is one of the larger and better companies that guide the route. They have decent bikes, helmets and experienced guides, both recommended for this dangerous mountain bike run. They also offer other interesting one-day and multi-day routes.
The day starts with a bus trip from La Paz to the snow-capped summit with the bikes strapped to the roof. The same bus continues down the mountain to pick you up and bring you back to La Paz at the end of the day. I found the bus trip back up the route more scarey than the actual bike trip down. This is partly due to the fact that the road is only wide enough for one vehicle with seriously deadly cliffs within a meter of the road. At least on a bike, one has some leaway. The other part is due to the fact that I prefer to be in control of my own destiny!
The first half of the cycle is on a tarred road. The road is in good condition, wide and empty. Cyclists catch each other's slipstream and get good speed racing down the mountain. A short distance into the trip, you come across a drug control checkpoint. There is also an opportunity to get some refreshments and food at this point. From here there is a short, but gruelling uphill section. It is only about 500m long, but the altitude makes it a real challenge.
The road forks after this and this is where the real challenge starts....
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