Ride and River – Bike

Directly after Huyana Potosi I had my next adventure planned. Cross by bike and boat from La Paz to Rurrenabaque. Or at least, that’s how the company advertised it. Luckily for us, there was also a lot of car involved, so that we only needed to ride the down hill parts and not the uphill parts. Or almost. Starting at the highest point of the road to

Sorata, our first day took us down some dirt roads into Sorata, where we spent the night. While I was still getting used to the bike, I tried to take it slow. However, the pure fun of speeding down a dirt road quickly overrode my desire to stay safe and I found myself speeding down the slopes and the bikes did pick up speed nicely. The only thing more fun than speeding down the hills was crossing the numerous streams on the road.. I ended up covered in a lot of mud, but grinning like a mad person.

The next day, our car drove us up the mountain again, to this time drop down to Consata. The roads started getting much more narrow and much steeper scaring me quite a bit. I did see us tumble down the ravine more than once. But our driver had it all under control. At the highest point we unpacked the bikes and raced down. We stopped in a small town and set up our lunch tables in the plaza, while a local cook supplied us with a nice hot soup. From there we went further down, dropping almost 4 km in altitude in a single day. As we went down, we shed some clothing, slowly but surely ruining every layer of clean clothes I had brought.

The final day had a couple of unexpected surprises.. We had been told that there would be a slow, gradual incline because the miners had destroyed the original road and the replacement road built went up the mountain and back down rather than just plane alongside the river. Since the road was new, we’d be measuring out the climb, but it surely wouldn’t be more than two to three kilometers. Well, as it turns out the climb was anything but gradual and about seven kilometers long. Making us quite proud to have conquered the road, even if I had to get of the bike repeatedly when it got just too steep. The next surprise was also provided by the miners. After making it up and down the mountain in quite good time (as only a few people decided to do the ride up anyways), we were all happily on our way towards the lunch place. A nice riverbank with the option to swim.. Dusty as we were, we were all fantasizing about jumping into the water.

But that never happened. About a kilometer before the river we hit a road block. Miners were working above the road and all the debris they didn’t need was being pushed down hill onto the road we were meant to cross. As we learned this is a typical Bolivian experience, the miners will close down the road for the day to be able to work, then plow over the road at the end of the day to make it crossable again. Even though we did not want to, we were looking at a couple of hours just sitting around and waiting. Every attempt to sway the miners to stop working for a bit and let us pass failed. We did make the best out of it though, by having lunch there and we got lucky. At 3pm, rather than 5pm, the miners stopped working and half an hour later the road had been cleared and we could pass.
This allowed us to do our final ride into Mapiri still in day light. Arriving into Mapiri was absolutely marvelous, small kids were lining the streets waving hello, cheering us on and holding out there hands for a quick high-five while passing by. I imagine that’s how the final leg of a bike rae might feel. I definitely enjoyed myself riding up.


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