There are a lot of different kinds of crazy when it comes to riding mountain bikes.
There’s the ‘a-tree-is-about-to-kill-me’ downhill kind, the ‘are-you-actually-being-serious’ freeride kind (think Red Bull Rampage), and there’s the cross-country, ‘you-surely-don’t-expect-me-to-ride-up-that’ kind as well. And that’s just for starters.
There’s also endless others types of crazy in the wonderful world of MTB, some of which are less common than others. This feature, for example, is about the ‘I-hope-I-don’t-fall-15,000ft-off-this-Bolivian-death-road’ kind of crazy. It’s a bit more obscure than most.
Known as ‘El Camino de la Muerte’, or ‘The Death Road’, Bolivia’s North Yungus Road has became one of the country’s top tourist attractions, and the setting is globally renowned for its perilous mountain biking tours.
Over 25,000 riders take to the trail each year, and around 300 people – not all mountain bikers – are said to lose their lives on the road in the same period of time.
The trail starts at 15,400ft and spirals upwards, providing unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime views of the Amazonian rainforest.
The ride itself is not one of the most challenging you’ll ever take on in a saddle, but as you’ll have gathered from the photos above and the yearly death-rate, it certainly isn’t without its dangers.
The narrow single-road has some devilish corners, and there’s nothing to stop you plummeting off the edge if you lose control of your wheels for the briefest of moments.
700 metres into the four hour cycle, the road narrows inwards to just three metres wide and really puts your nerve to the test, especially if a couple of cars decide to take on the gap as well. The prize for your bravery though? Well, it’s pretty damn impressive.
Not only do you get amazing views of the rainforest during your ride, once you’ve climbed 8km up the ‘Cloud Forest Road’ (best road name ever?), you’ll find yourself pedalling through the jungle, through 100m waterfalls, through Amazonian streams and through beautiful coca fields.
You’ve probably noticed one crucial element missing from this mountain biking experience, though. The all important post-ride beer.
Fear not good friend, for once the waterfalls have been passed and the cliff-edges avoided, the next stop is the village of Yolosa at 1100m, where you can drink all the beer that your heart desires… or some of it at least.
It may not be the most challenging day you’ll ever spend on your bike, but given the history, the views and the unnerving intensity, it looks like it’s got to be one of the most distinctive and memorable.
But is the reward worth the radical risk? Well, we’ll leave that up to you to decide…