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Old 01-25-2013, 11:13 PM   #931
Ed Zachtamundo
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This 2 week span is the one I was looking forward to riding most. Ride hard and stay safe, man- I'm so jealous my beard might fall out!

All is well on the home front; today I managed to get up an down some stairs with my crutches. Going home in 1 week. I look like I've just escaped from a game of Jumanji.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:50 AM   #932
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Originally Posted by Ed Zachtamundo View Post
This 2 week span is the one I was looking forward to riding most. Ride hard and stay safe, man- I'm so jealous my beard might fall out!

All is well on the home front; today I managed to get up an down some stairs with my crutches. Going home in 1 week. I look like I've just escaped from a game of Jumanji.
Jumanji!

Man, I'm glad you're about to get out of there and head home. Did my brother come by and see you?
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:05 PM   #933
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Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
Jumanji!

Man, I'm glad you're about to get out of there and head home. Did my brother come by and see you?
I have a hard time getting a hold of him!
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:56 PM   #934
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The Death Road

Day 103 (January 26, 2013)
La Paz, Bolivia to El Camino de la Muerte
Day's Ride: 149 Miles



I went down to the hostel lobby this morning to check my email and found the night clerks hard at work:




After breakfast, Mike and I hit the road for Coroico and the famous Death Road, or "Camino de la Muerte" as the locals call it. The Death Road was listed as the most dangerous road in the world for quite some time. I can't remember the exact numbers, but they used to have something like 20-30 fatalities a year on this road. You can look up youtube videos of busses falling off of cliffs while trying to negotiate the Death Road's treacherous corners. However, within the last few years the government went through and built another, safer road across the canyon so that Bolivianos can now drive between La Paz and Coroico without having to roll the dice for their survival.

The Death Road is now primarily a tourist attraction, though people sometimes still use it to transit to and from La Paz. The majority of the traffic on the route now consists of tourists on mountain bikes looking for some cheap thrills.

We left La Paz around 10:00 AM and headed east. The road climbs high up into the Andes before crossing a dizzying pass and descending down the other side.



As you can see from the picture below, my GPS was showing over 15,000 feet of elevation near the top. That's significantly higher than any point in the lower 48 states.



After cresting out and beginning the decent, the weather turned cold and cloudy.



After asking a few locals for directions, we finally found the entrance to the Death Road. There aren't any signs saying "Death Road Here!", but they do have this nifty little sign explaining the rules of the road: drive on the left hand side of the road, keep your lights on day and night, uphill traffic has the right of way, and
honk your horn before going around a corner.


After snapping our pictures, we set off into the fog on the beginning of the Death Road.



Before long we started coming across mountain bikers.



The road is cut into the side of the mountain; the drop off is extremely severe and is anywhere from a few hundred feet to thousands of feet of nearly straight vertical plunge.





About a quarter of the way down the road, we stopped so that Mike could air up his tire and we were suddenly surrounded by mountain biking tourists! Eventually we had to ask them to get out of the way so that we could leave.



Back on the road, we had the joy of riding through a few small waterfalls. Unfortunately, I had taken off my water proof shell and was soon soaked.




It's hard to get an idea of just how shear of a drop off it is on the side of this road. The pictures don't really do it justice. When you are riding down this thing, you are just inches away from a thousand foot plunge down the side of the mountain. Hopefully this picture will help add a small amount of perspective:



The vegetation gets in the way a little bit, but you can see just how steep of a drop off awaits the unwary traveler or the foolish rider....

Just after the last picture was taken, I dropped my bike. It's a heavy son of a gun with all of that luggage, and after laughing at me and snapping a few photos, Mike came over and helped me out.



We continued on down the road and eventually left the mountain bikers and steep drop-off's behind. We were soon rewarded with a few fun water crossings.



All in all, the Death Road wasn't as epic as I thought it would be. Sure, if it were still being used as the main route between Coroico and La Paz, it would probably be insane. The Bolivians are pretty crazy drivers. Seeing a Bolivian trying to take a bus down that road would have been an experience. However, since there isn't any serious traffic on the road, it's really not that scary. There are some beautiful views though, and it provides a good excuse to get off the pavement.

We eventually made it into the town of Coroico where we stopped for lunch in the main plaza.





After eating, we jumped on the new road and rode back to La Paz for the night. Tomorrow we are going to start heading south again, making our way towards Potosi and the Salar de Uny.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:51 PM   #935
Spud Rider
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Thanks for taking us along for the ride down the "Death Road," Bryce.

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Old 01-27-2013, 08:32 AM   #936
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Oregon

Am enjoying your ride report. Became interested when I read Grants Pass, Oregon. Raised in Central Point myself. The start of pg 43 through me for a loop with the date.

[QUOTE=Ulyses;20432105]Day 85 (January 8, 2012)
ambo Grande, Peru to Huanchaco, Peru
Day's Ride: 310 Miles



Live in the Boise area now. We just went through the coldest January in 29 years.
Keep up with the pics, really enjoying the adventure.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:09 PM   #937
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Ha ha who would have thought there would be a Montreal Canadiens hockey fan in Bolivia. Wonder where he got the hat
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Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
I went down to the hostel lobby this morning to check my email and found the night clerks hard at work:

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Old 01-27-2013, 01:33 PM   #938
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Road of Death

You're right...the Road of Death has lost its reputation since they opened the new road. I was there in 2000 and watched the truck in front of me lose its breaks and roll over...tossing 30-40 people over the cliff. It was the most horrific thing I've ever witnessed. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to rescue the few that were still hanging onto the bushes and didn't get tossed over the edge. The ones who didn't get tossed over got crushed by the truck with severe injuries including near decapitations. The sorry part was the people driving up the road towards La Paz wouldn't take the injured to the hospital because they were just Indian peasants...what fuckers! I remember wondering around La Paz that night in a daze. It's probably a good thing that this road is losing its reputation.

Ride Safe!

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Old 01-27-2013, 05:59 PM   #939
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[QUOTE=tvbh40a;20585602]Am enjoying your ride report. Became interested when I read Grants Pass, Oregon. Raised in Central Point myself. The start of pg 43 through me for a loop with the date.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
Day 85 (January 8, 2012)
ambo Grande, Peru to Huanchaco, Peru
Day's Ride: 310 Miles



Live in the Boise area now. We just went through the coldest January in 29 years.
Keep up with the pics, really enjoying the adventure.

Oops! I meant 2013......

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:03 PM   #940
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Originally Posted by Johnnydarock View Post
You're right...the Road of Death has lost its reputation since they opened the new road. I was there in 2000 and watched the truck in front of me lose its breaks and roll over...tossing 30-40 people over the cliff. It was the most horrific thing I've ever witnessed. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to rescue the few that were still hanging onto the bushes and didn't get tossed over the edge. The ones who didn't get tossed over got crushed by the truck with severe injuries including near decapitations. The sorry part was the people driving up the road towards La Paz wouldn't take the injured to the hospital because they were just Indian peasants...what fuckers! I remember wondering around La Paz that night in a daze. It's probably a good thing that this road is losing its reputation.

Ride Safe!

Johnnydarock
Man, that's really, really intense! I'm sorry you had to go through that. I think your right, it is a good thing that the road isn't being used much any more.
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:56 PM   #941
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Dodging Llamas on the Bolivian Altiplano

Day 104 (January 27, 2013)
La Paz, Bolivia to Potosi, Bolivia
Day's Ride: 336 Miles



Our Hotel last night was the Hilton of Bolivian Hotels. It was called Hotel Oberlander and was run by some swiss guy. They have a camping spot in the back that you can get for 50 Bolivianos; however, since it was raining, we elected to split a room ($33 apiece, yikes!). It was well worth it though. Immaculate room with heating, hot water, solid wifi. And breakfast this morning (which is included) was incredible! Great place to stay. They even have a working jaccuzzi, pool, and sauna.

In any event, we were late leaving. The road out of the area where we had to stayed the night to the Panamerican Highway went through some interesting dirt spires.



However, it soon turned into a giant straightaway across the altiplano.



All of the riding today was done at elevations above 12,000 feet. Most of it was above 13,000 feet. Consequently, my bike struggled and wheezed all day. I really should just get down and adjust the mixture screw on the carb; unfortunately, you never know when you are suddenly going to drop down below 5,000 feet so it almost seems like a waste of time.

I'm jealous of people with fuel injection. Yesterday when we did the Road of Death, we started at 11,000 feet, climbed to over 15,000 feet, then dropped all the way down to 3,000 feet! And that was all in the space of 60 miles. The drastic altitude changes down here really play havoc with carb settings.

Halfway through the day, we decided to push all the way to Potosi in one day. It's easy for Mike on his massive BMW. He can cruise down these roads at 85 MPH while I putter along at 65 MPH. Consequently, he plays the hare and usually rides ahead of me and stops to take lots of pictures while I play the tortoise and keep my slow, steady pace. Of course, the tables turn whenever we get into a city, or in the dirt, or have to move our bikes in a parking situation. Then I'm the one getting the last laugh.



There are lots of domesticated Llama and Alpaca herds grazing out on the Altiplano. There aren't really any fences so it's more of an open range situation. Today as I was cruising along, a couple of Llamas (or maybe they were Alpacas) got spooked and decided to cross the road in front of me. Unfortunately, they weren't very smart and decided to freeze up right in front of me! I locked up my brakes and skidded right for them. At the last minute, they decided to get out of my way and I narrowly avoided running them down and getting pitched off my bike. I almost got taken out by a Llama today, how odd is that?

Obviously, I had to stop and take a picture of these dumb beasts:



Eventually the road turned off the plain and started heading up into the hills. I saw a lot of stone fences on the hillside and wondered why they didn't keep the damn llamas in there.



Soon the road began cutting through some more picturesque country:





Some of it even reminded me of the Painted Hills in Oregon.



After a long day of riding, we finally reached Potosi. The small mountain behind the city was the chief source of funding for the Spanish Empire back in the day.



It's called "Cerro Rico" and was the location of the famous silver mine of Potosi. Silver was discovered here in 1545 and the town eventually reached a population of over 200,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time. Thousands of people died working in the mines which were in operation for hundreds of years. In fact, they are still being mined by locals.

We found a Hostel in the colonial section of town that let us put our bikes in their courtyard.



Hostal Compania de Jesus; they have solid wifi and charge 90 Bolivianos for a "doble" (room with double beds) which works out to 45 Boliviano or about $6 apiece for Mike and I.

In other news, I just started noticing an odd scratching sound coming from what I think is my transmission when I down shift into second gear. It only happens when there is a moderate amount of compression on the engine and I'm not giving it any gas. It has me a little worried, but I'm hoping it doesn't present too big of a problem as I only have about 3,000 miles left. Hopefully it holds out until I finish or at least make it to Santiago where I can get it checked out. Hopefully it's just my chain making strange sounds.

Tomorrow I'm going to change my oil and maybe go check out the mines. I'm not sure if I want to go into the mines as I'm not a fan of being exposed to mercury, arsenic, asbestos, and silica dust, but I do want to at least see them.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:30 PM   #942
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Yep, that scenery does look very much like the Painted Hills. Hope the bike is okay.
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figures...my stud was rusty I played with my nuts a little and it cranked right over
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:46 PM   #943
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I wish I knew how to advise you on the scratching noise . I pray it's nothing of consequence to you this trip. Hopefully you'll be able to tell by how fast it came up and at what rate it gets worse, just what level of attention to give it. Dios lo acompañe.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:07 PM   #944
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Hi from Dwight aka Kedgi

Hi Bryce

I'm way behind you, hanging out in Cusco. Altitude really kicked the crap out of me but I'm feeling better now. If the weather is good tomorrow I'll be riding up into the Sacred Valley

I am hearing stories of difficulties buying gas in Bolivia. I must confess I haven't had the time to read every page of your Bolivia experience, can you tell me if you had any trouble getting fuel.

Glad to see you're still headed south successfully, ride safe.

Kedgi

Dwight

your readers can check out my rr here

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=832336
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:57 PM   #945
Super Dave Hawaii
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Aloha Ulyses,
Check your chain adjustment and make sure it's not too tight. Also lube it up good and ride to see if noise goes away. I've got 97,000 on my XRL and the chains will make noise if not lubed and adjusted. properly. If too tight there is a chance of bearing failure, but you don't have enough mileage on it for that. Great report and photos.
Ride On!
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