Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The most dangerous ride in the world

Yesterday Shane Stokes tweeted a link to a BBC story about the worlds "most dangerous" road and how mountain biking down it has become the adventure of choice for thousands of travellers every year. I was intrigued and had to know more.

The road in question is the "highway" between La Paz and Coroico in Bolivia. Built by POWs in the 30's it earned it's "Most Dangerous Road in the World" tag due to the average of 200 - 300 deaths per year (yes I did say per year!), mainly due to trucks and buses falling from it's narrow ledges over sheer cliffs. In places the road is little more than a ledge on a cliffside with barely room for one vehicle to pass, let alone two coming in opposite directions. Add to that the blind corners, waterfalls cascading down on to the road and the long unsurfaced stretches and you start to see the point. You may have seen Jeremy Clarkson trying to pass another SUV on it in a hair-raising clip from Top Gear last year. If not you should!

In 1998, New Zealander Alistair Matthew mountain biked down the road describing the adventure as "spectacular". He finished with a "big grin and claw hands from holding the brakes" after the near 12,000 foot vertical drop over 40 miles. From that he founded a company, Gravity, dedicated to guiding thrill-seekers in pursuit of "bragging rights" down the road.

While he is proud of the fact of his record, there are now a raft of similar operations who's emphasis on safety isn't quite as obvious. As a result , as well as the one client Gravity has lost, a further 17 riders have died in the 12 years of mountain biking rides down the road.

I can't really do justice to the experience so I'd recommend you have a look at this video from ABC in the US to get a better picture.

BTW Here's the BBC link.



  1. Astonishing!!!! saw the Bolivia road in the Discovery Channel, and seeing the pictures of this horrific road. It was really hair raising, just like static electricity. It is very curvy and very narrow road, on the other hand the view is splendid.