And there was I. Constantly going downhill on this narrow road less than 3m wide. The ground was very uneven, the road made of gravel. From point to point I was making a sudden turn with my bike to avoid a pointy rock coming straight from the ground or a loose huge rock. Sometimes I would just hit them. But by that time I was already fully trusting my sturdy bike with its double suspension, downhill pneumatics and disk brakes. Regarding to the environment around myself I could do little unless keeping on the right side of the track (each in this case was the left side), avoiding hitting the wall of mountain rock on my right side and keeping the bike to fall off an unprotected edge of the road that takes you into a cliff of 600m!
I have visited other companies and some of them seamed also safe, but on the other side, after a careful research I have found some bad reviews online on some of them. Although they were cheaper than Gravity the difference was not that much and for security you may want to spend some extra cash.
Later, as the traffic on the road grew, the nickname acquired a second meaning. Driving on the road was difficult. Most of the road is very narrow, having approx. 3,2m width which is the same as one vehicle. With no guard rails and weather conditions that would turn the poor gravel base into mud and limit visibility, accidents happened often. The deadliest ones would include the fall of vehicles into the cliff. Because of its death rate, the road was considered in 1995 to be the "world's most dangerous road" by the Inter-American Development Bank. It was estimated that 250 people died per year on this road, until an alternative modernised route was built.
After the opening of the new Yungas Road in 2006, the old Death Road was left to bikers and their support vans and occasional local cars. Although it isn’t the world’s most dangerous road any more, this path has still its dangerous. About 20 incautious bikers have perished on this road on the last 10 years!...
Once up there, we put the gear provided by Gravity on and had a try on our bikes. From the very beginning, our guide, an American expert on downhill called Dustin, was giving us all the information, guidelines and safety rules for the ride. This would extend throughout the entire trip, making the ride not so difficult and not so dangerous. We would also stop several times for photos, rest and a small briefing for the next part of our route. After a blessing ceremony that included pouring an almost pure alcoholic local beverage into the ground, the bike and your own throat, we were ready to go!
We drove on the left side of the road and not on the right as in rest of Bolivia’s roads, which is the side of the cliff for those who are going down. The reason is so that the car drivers who are on the side of the cliff, descending, can be closer to the cliff and have better control of its left wheels.