Killer Bike Ride by:Wendy Stenberg-Tendys
Starting high in the Bolivian Alps, is the world's deadliest road, called the Road of Death (El Camino de la Muerta). It was built in the 1930's. The locals residents say, "It's not the condition of your vehicle that counts, prayer is the only way to travel the road in safety".
Plunging around 3.600 metres, the narrow 64 kilometre trail, has no protection, no guard rails and steep walls that drop away hundreds of metres to the Coroico River far below. Fatal accidents every two weeks is common, with around 200 - 300 deaths every year. You see find both drivers and passengers feeding the dogs that live at the base of the mountain, so as to satisfy the earth deity Pachama. Drivers are frequently heard praying as they negotiate the deadly bends and narrow pathway, that is given the doubtful title of a roadway.
At a cool 4,700 metres, lies the bleak and windswept La Cumbre, one of the globe's highest cities, enclosed by glaciated peaks, the beginning of the world's deadliest gravity-fed bike ride.
As the group of bikers ready themselves to take up the rest of the challenge of the most treacherous road in the world, after having flown down the short introduction at tear streaming speeds of 80 km per hour, the guide tells them firmly, "Give way to anything bigger than yourself."
It is not unheard of for one of the would-be tourist cyclists to prefer to back out and return to La Paz in one of the minibuses. Because of the density of the bush, you can't hear vehicles horns blowing around the corner. Drivers stop to pour beer libations onto the ground. Chewing coca leaves so they will keep awake, the drivers take off at break-neck speeds, in vehicles that are not fit to be used on any road. Clapped out and grossly overloaded buses complete the traffic bedlam.
Not everybody who is brave enough to travel the road, makes it successfully. Signs of previous accidents are easily seen. There are no emergency services available on this remote road.
Having dropped 3,600 death defying metres, the cyclists sit in a bar sipping on their margaritas. It's not the legs or arms that hurt from the effort, but the hands, from so much braking, during the white-knuckle gravity-fed journey down the mountain.
A much safer road that will substitute the current death trap, has been twenty years in the making and is nowhere near completion yet.
About the author
Dr Wendy Stenberg-Tendys and her husband are CEO's of YouMe Support Foundation (http://youmesupport.org) providing high school education grants for children who are without hope. You can help Take a few minutes to check it all out at Win A Resort (http://winareosrt.com). It is GUARANTEED TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Feel free to contact Wendy on firstname.lastname@example.org