Monday, October 18, 2010

I Survived the Death Road

I just did one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most amazingly stupid things I’ve ever done. I biked down the Camino del Muerte (Death Road). The Death Road begins in La Cumbre and ends in Coroico, Bolivia, about three hours from La Paz. It runs downhill for 63 kilometers. That is 63 km of unpaved, windy mountainous roads overlooking a sheer drop of 5,000 meters. The Death Road is also known as “The Most Dangerous Road in the World” because of the number of people killed driving down in. In addition to the odd car that goes over the edge every so often, there was the truck that toppled killing 100 people. The Death Road has become a popular location for bike tours offered to adrenaline junkie gringos. Since the bicycle tours began in 1998, 18 people have died from England, Ireland, Holland, etc. In fact, the agency I went with, though reliable, had a picture of an English boy taken 5 minutes before he went tumbling over a cliff. Maybe it was an effort to fit in with other gringos or it was because I like challenges or it was the fact that I’m an idiot, but when I heard about the Death Road bike tours I thought, “Sign me up!”

Now you’ve heard about my adventures biking in Paraguay and you know how my bike and I didn’t exactly get along. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like going at full speed because I’m afraid of losing control. In fact, I’d often hurtle down hills in my Paraguayan village screaming “Sai Ram” and hoping not to die. So why would I willingly subject myself to that feeling for 63 km?

In the end it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We had several guides riding with us throughout the journey. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared shitless. I even flipped over my bike, although I survived with hardly a scratch thanks to my helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads (safety is cool kids!). I never had that type of safety gear in Paraguay.

So what now? “Pooja, you just survived the Death Road. What are you going to do next?” I’m going to run a triathlon!

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