Day 454-459 / The Death Road

Day 454-459 / Copacabana – La Paz – Oruro, Bolivia / 200 miles (Total 11,525)

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Heading out of Copacabana on a bus with bald tires and smoking brakes.

Our plan today was to take a bus into La Paz to avoid some crazy traffic. I think everyone was grateful that we did at the end of the day. La Paz has one million people strong, and I have heard enough horror stories about bikers loosing their cool trying to pedal into the large city. I only have 30 days to get in and out of Bolivia (that’s the most they give people from the states), so there will be some buses and hitching involved for the next few weeks. For the last 15 months I never thought about the end coming. Now, the deadline is staring me in the face. I need to start planning out routes, how long they will take, and try to swallow the thought of the last days are coming fast. I’ll be honest, its hard to grasp right now.

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We had to take a ferry across a part of lake Titicaca, and this is as shady as it gets. The raft was about the same size as the bus. The passengers of the bus jumped on a separate boat and crossed the lake.

We bought our bus tickets for 25 Boliviano’s (7 Bolivianos to one US dollar) and made our way to the bus. I jumped in right away to make sure the bikes were loaded carefully and not just forced in. Usually the bus company’s have no respect here and do whatever they can to get it done fast. All loaded up and on our way to La Paz.

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My boat buddy. Maybe not.

It took about 4 hours to get into the El Alto (sister city to La Paz), and things got hectic real fast. Vehicles and pollution filled every inch of the streets. Seriously, it was a mess and we were happy not pedaling through the chaos. We finally get a glance at La Paz, and the city is massive with buildings and houses over flowing out of the crater. We made it to the bus station and started to unload the bikes, and of course the rain showers started up. We had no clue where the Casa del Ciclista was, so checked out the address at a internet shop. We found the house on the net and I plugged the address into my phones map. Things got very stressful then. With the rain coming down and some of the worst traffic on the trip, we slowly made our way to the house. Every road we tried was bumper to bumber and we were biking against the grain of traffic. We jumped on the sidewalk and I tried to have a little fun. Slick roads and drifting kept me entertained for a while, till I drifted a bit to far and wiped out on the sidewalk. Laughs all around and I was up in a second. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to ride normal.

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Imagine biking through this.

We found the casa del ciclista, and Christian welcomed us all into his house. Since Christian opened his house to bike tourist, over 1,000 bikers from around the world have passed through. We came inside and the house is packed with other cyclist. Christian gives us a run down on how the house works and shows us to our sleeping quarters. Not much room or privacy, but its a free place to stay with a kitchen, bathroom, internet and great people. It’s really amazing what Christian does for bikers like us. We get settled in and there is never a silent moment with 12 people sitting around with the same passion. Six of us decide to bike the Road of Death tomorrow, so we make plans and I headed to bed early.

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This is why I love the bike touring family. From the age of 22 to 50, everyone was laughing and telling stories. Such a great group at the casa del ciclista.

DEATH ROAD

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Think we were all pretty excited to start the Death Road this morning. Pretty cold starting off at 15,400 ft.

Around 7 am, we pack our bikes on top of the van and made our way to the Death Road. No panniers for this ride and traveling light felt great. The driver will bring us to the summit, follow us down, and bring us back into La Paz. Not bad for $18.00 each. We start the descent at 15,400 ft and the first 18 miles is a fun, fast, paved ride down. Immediately the views start off with a bang and we are all laughing at the thought of 45 miles of downhill fun. The road eventually turns into a dirt road with a smooth ride and the road starts looking like its name. Hairpin corners and some of the steepest drop offs I have seen. There would be no surviving a fall on this road.

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And we’re off!

A small rain shower came through, only making the road seem more dramatic. I pass some areas on the road that had me saying “what the s%$^”! So amazing, so beautiful, and so breathtaking. Just try and not look down. For the next 5 hours, we blasted down the hill and enjoyed one of the worlds most dangerous roads.

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Andres, going for more speed.

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Right from the start the views sucked us in

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Brake pads wearing down fast from all the stops

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Sharp jagged mountains and…

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valleys and waterfalls were a common sight

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Clouds adding to the beauty

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Wow

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There’s our road behind us

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Not aloud in the tunnel

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Waterfalls far away

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So good

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Just dont look down

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Steep cliffs around every corner

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Tom rounding the corner

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Switchbacks and waterfalls

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Barbra over a bridge

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Loving the road today

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Always wanting to see around the next corner

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A little wet this morning

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A great crew to be riding with

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Day 452-453 / Country number 12

Day 452-453 / Juli – Copacabana, Bolivia / 45 miles (Total 11,325)

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Getting out of Juli was no joke. Some steep, steep roads. After pushing up the massive hill, we were huffing and puffing.

Woke up feeling refreshed from a great night sleep. Made my way outside and another perfect morning in Peru. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky would give us some amazing views today. We took our time getting ready and started to make our way out of the small town. It was an early morning workout trying to get out of town. Very steep hills had us sweating and pushing our bikes early in the morning. Made it on the main road and our last day in Peru was unbelievable.

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We had no clue that this was a head. I was listening to Tool’s Parabola, and the lyrics hit me as I saw this over the hill. “This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality. Embrace this moment. Remember. we are eternal. all this pain is an illusion.”

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Flying down a hill with this view will remind anyone that life is amazing.

Snow capped mountains far across the large lake was visible. We never had a chance yesterday to see them from the low covering clouds. Not much time went by, and the scenery exploded with some of the best views on the trip.

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Add a lake and the scenery is one to remember

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One more

A few hours went by and we rode slowly around the lake taking in the amazing views. As the morning drifted away, the traffic did the same. There was still signs of a protest from the gas prices and locals did what they could to make a point. Rocks, trees, and garbage was spread throughout the road to block traffic. The further down the road, the bigger the road blocks became. Eventually there was no traffic at all, and the road was ours. Perfect for us.

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Police just drove by with not a care in the world

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No problem for a bike

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Not really sure what the point was of the road block. Anytime a vehicle came by the kids moved the rocks them replaced them

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Barbra with a no-hander

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Our road to Bolivia

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Missing Minnesota’s lakes

We made it to Peru’s immigration office and that took no more then a minute to get my exit stamp in my passport. We bumped into Andreas from Switzerland again and he joined along with us. Made my way to the Bolivia side and things went ugly for me. Everyone else was stamped into the country within a minute, but being an American took a lot more effort. I needed to fill out extra paperwork, make copies of all paperwork at the shop near by, give a copy of my passport, and ended up paying $40 for 30 days in Bolivia. I was pretty happy not having to pay the $130 entry fee for 90 days though. I will have to be in and out of Bolivia fast. No problems though, I only want to ride the Death road and across the salt flats. Should be plenty of time. Later found out Mateo ended up paying $135 for his entry (he’s from the states). Careful to anyone crossing the border to Bolivia, they are shady.

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Trout traps I’m guessing

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Tom stopping for a photo, and me stopping for a photo of Tom taking a photo

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They sure do like the Puma out here

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Making our way through a bigger road block. Some empty roads after this one. Loving it

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Nick and Nick from Australia. Their first few days on the road and heading north

We exchanged our Peruvian soles for Bolivian money, and made our way to Copacabama. This small town is another tourist trap with high prices and hotels everywhere. Tom bumped into a Colombian rider that he toured with for a while, and he recommended the hotel he was staying at. Hotel Center is a very nice, clean and cheap hotel. $4 gets us a comfy bed, internet, and a hot shower. I got settled in and checked out my first Bolivian town. Pretty nice here.

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My first photo in Bolivia. Copacabana up a head. Never thought it would be so full of tourist.

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Lake Titicaca is massive. Stretching into Bolivia

We ended up staying another day in the small village to check out the Island Del Sol. A 3 hour boat ride brought us onto a beautiful island. Here’s a few photos of the island.

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November 22nd is a beautiful day

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My old man. Wish you were here

It’s been 9 years now since my father has passed away from pancreatic cancer, and a lot has changed since then. 9 years ago I was a wreck, and the next few years after his death was no different. His death started a chain reaction in my life that sent me into a downward spiral. I just lived each day to get to the next. I never lost someone close to me, someone that I loved my entire life . That’s how I tried to deal with his death, by not dealing with it. It didn’t work. In 2010, I started Pedaling for Pennies and that has been the best therapy for me. Pedaling for Pennies has let me ride to honer my father, to learn how to live each day to the fullest, and to raise money for cancer research. My father felt so far away after he passed, and now, he rides with me everyday. When I sit in silence, taking in some of the most spectacular views, he’s there with me. I talk out load as if he sits right to my side, and somehow nature shows me that hes listening. Almost five years after starting Pedaling for Pennies, and November 22 is no longer a day to dwell and be sad. It’s a day that I give thanks for everything he has done for me. That day has changed my life forever. That day is where I woke up to life and now I see the world in different light. His death opened a door in my life that I would have been scared to walk through, if I never would have went through those emotional years. Once again, thank you dad for everything you have done. You still inspire me, even after leaving this world. Missing you always.

9 years ago I lost my father to pancreatic cancer, and his death showed me to live each day like it's your last. Today, I biked the Road of Death with some amazing friends. The Road of Death was once considered the worlds most dangerous road. We started over 15,000 ft in elevation and dropped down 9,000 ft to the Amazon. Miss you old man. Wish you were here.

9 years ago today, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer He was one month away from retiring from work and his death showed me to live each day like it’s your last. Today, I biked the Road of Death with some amazing friends. The Road of Death was once considered the worlds most dangerous road, with 200-300 deaths a year We started over 15,000 ft in elevation and dropped down 9,000 ft to the Amazon. Live each day like it’s your last! Miss you old man. Wish you were here.

 


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