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Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.
Wow! Thanks so much. Stay warm up there! Here you are:
Thanks a ton man! You Canadians sure are a generous bunch! Here's your spot:
If you are going to dispose of the bike in the Straits at Tierra del Fuego, at least save the Blaze Orange tool bag.
Looking forward to the Death Road (whatever that is!). Stay safe.
After this, the first beer is on me! Thanks man, I owe you one. Here's your slot:
I'm not sure if you are reading this, but I'm sure Justin will fill you in. Thanks so much for stepping up and helping me out! I've marked out your territory on my tank:
Just registered today so that I could say how fun it has been to read your RR. This thread is like a book you just can't put down. I'm planning to do a similar trip in the future and have benefitted greatly by the information you've included in this report. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I'll throw you a bit on your paypal to help you along your way. Can't wait for the Death Road! Be safe and have fun!
Hey man, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.
The short answer is yes.
Of course, if I had a different bike (say a KTM 990 or BMW 1200 GS) I would go with hard luggage. My bike just wasn't built to carry all of that weight. It has a weak subframe and there aren't a lot of options for good solid luggage racks. In fact, I don't think there are ANY options for a solid rack. I think if I did it again on this bike with hard luggage, I would just build my own rack. I have had to go to visit five different welders to repair my rack. My experience isn't typical, but then again, most people aren't trying to pull wheelies off of speedbumps or see how fast they can ride in the dirt on the shoulder of the road.
Still, it depends on what you are wanting to do. If you are planning on spending a LOT of time off road, then soft luggage is really the only way to go. Regardless of the bike you ride, soft luggage is going to weigh significantly less than anything else and therefore put less stress on your bike. For a long ride like this, every ounce counts, especially if you plan on abusing your bike like I have mine.
The drawback to soft luggage is that you will have to be a little more careful about leaving it unattended on your bike. The nice thing about hardluggage is that you can leave it on your bike at night and not worry about it. This saves a little bit of time every day when you stop and get to your hotel/hostel/hospedaje/camp site.
I think you are on a BMW x-challenge right? Do they make a good luggage rack for that bike?
Thanks a lot man! Where are you from?
Sorry, haven't filled out the signature stuff yet. I'm in Chicago. It's 15 degrees with snow on the ground right now so I, like many others, am living vicariously through your RR.
Did you take a look at the Happy Trail setup? I haven't, but I've heard tell it's good.
It's true, most people aren't trying to master their bike, just ride it.
I think they secretly like us crazy gringos down there, though.
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.
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!
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.
Thanks for taking us along for the ride down the "Death Road," Bryce.
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.
Ha ha who would have thought there would be a Montreal Canadiens hockey fan in Bolivia. Wonder where he got the hat
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.
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.