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Day 384 – 27th December 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 27, 2009

Sunday – La Paz, Bolivia

The Road of Death and a blown front tyre, not a good combination

Breakfast was done with and just on 8am we headed off, you can see my front tyre wear pattern, it is very uneven but apparently is normal at this stage of the tyres life, especially a knobby.

It only took us half an hour to get out of town and we were soon amongst the surrounding mountains with spectacular views, and with the sun out for the first time in days it was a bonus. This good feeling lasted all of about 15 minutes because when I went over a tope the front tyre started to lose air, as indicated by my tyre sensor, and in fact when I stopped and looked, it was leaking around the plug I had inserted in the hole, so I added some air and also some tyre sealant for the inside, hopefully this would work!

After this short stop we headed off and it was only a short time after this we hit some dirt patches and potholes, this time the tyre went straight down and it looked like my day was done. The actual plugs were missing so I added two more, but the hole seemed to be bigger than before and as I pumped up the tyre we could see the plugs being forced out of the hole 😦 The only option was to remove the wheel and go and find a tyre repairer and get it patched from the inside.

One of the bonuses of carrying around the right tools is that the work can be done right there. By this time everyone had come back and waited while we tried to repair the tyre to at least get me back to the hotel.

After a while I had the inside of the tyre patched thanks to the BMW tool kit and also a borrowed inner tube from Gino. The patch was just so the tube did not come out of the hole, but armed with this I had the tyre back on the bike and ready to roll in under two hours 🙂 The rest of the group were very patient, so thanks for that, drinks are on me 🙂 Because I was now tubed and patched, I had no need to return and so I decided to ride on, I would just keep an eye on the tyre to make sure it did not split any further. Of course with a tube in I no longer had my tyre watch system, a trade off that I can live with for one day 🙂 It was not long after this that we turned off the paved road and started on the dirt section, this is the actual beginning of the Road of Death and we could see it winding its way across the mountains just below the cloud level.

We stopped to remove some clothes as we were now descending and it was getting a tad warm. Myself and Mark reduced tyre pressure, but the beemers did not bother, maybe no belief or no idea 🙂 We were of course now amongst the packs of mountain bikers who pay to ride as fast as possible down this road, most of them survive as well, but some don’t!

The road continued its descent into the jungle below and as we were here in the rainy season there were numerous waterfalls to look at, sometimes we got a bit wet and the road was mucky as well.

One particular section was all waterfall for about 100m and we had to ride under and in it to get past, this was fun and a bit scary, I have no movie of myself because I was the first through, but here are a couple of reactions to it, the first one is Chris and Melissa then Gino 🙂

That was fun and we played around here for a while as it was quite warm and the water was cool 🙂

This road continued for 64km, always going down and through some spectacular scenery. As the first movie showed, it is a very steep drop off and a rough road, but not particularly dangerous except for mad pushies 🙂 At one stage I was riding and taking photos and noticed I was nearly being passed by pushbikes, crikey, nearly as bad as being passed by a woman, so I quickly parked the camera and gave it some right wrist 😉

We saw many landslips in the area but lucky for us none blocked our road. We stopped near another creek crossing, one of many where we were surrounded by butterflies before eventually reaching the bottom and a turnoff to a village up a cobblestone road where we decided to have lunch.

This was a strange little town and we had to pay a tax to get in!! After that it all turned to shit. If you get a chance to get up here, do not eat at the place in the photo, it is a hostel upstairs and a food joint downstairs.

Basically we ordered some food, most of us chose trout, but it took forever to turn up, and it was once again hard to get the drinks served now. When the fish did turn up, a few at a time, it tasted like crap, a very dirty taste and after some bitching and moaning and a big verbal telling off by Gino(he owns a restaurant and knows food, and he gave him a gobfull), we left without paying in disgust. It sure put a damper on the day, but we brushed it off and headed back to La Paz via the new highway. Well, they call it a highway, but it sure is missing some pavement in a lot of sections. There would be sections of real nice fast sweepers, then suddenly you are on dirt and gravel for 40m then back on pavement again, it was very twisty and windy as well and we had some great views once again 🙂 I was real happy that my front tyre had taken everything I had thrown at it and it was still up and the hole was no bigger when I inspected it while Mark and I were adding air 🙂

Not long after this stop I had to stop again and put on the wet gear, as we were now climbing back up to the top, we could see rain and of course it was starting to cool right down. We had been at a top height over the pass at 4600m and a low of 1100m, so it was quite a change in air and temperature during the day as can be seen by the trip profile.

The rain did slow me down a bit, but then it always does and there was no need to rush things, survival was the name of the game 🙂 The rain and fog continued for a while, there was a long tunnel of about 1km which was full of exhaust fumes, yuck, and there were even deer around here, a very unexpected sign!

Over the next hour we got back onto the section of road we had done before and this was mostly fine highway, still with patches of dirt and rock though and we entered the outskirts of La Paz around 4.30pm, not a bad round day trip 🙂

The town did look great as it filled up both sides of the valley.

After putting the bikes away I went looking for a beer, it was Sunday after all. I spent an hour wandering around and never found a bar, amazing but there was none around! I even asked a few cops and they pointed in different directions but no joy, I did find a dance joint but it was closed. In the end I settled for a beer in a pizza place, but that was boring, so I had some chook and chips and decided to call it a night! I could not even find a shop that sold COLD beer, they all sold hot stuff. On the way home I spotted a dog who looked like he was stuck in a fence in the park!

He was not stressed at all and after a bit of coaching I managed to get him to back up and take the next space to his left which was a lot wider, my new friend then followed me for a short while until he spotted someone else with food, oh how quickly they forget 🙂 I did some internet stuff and had an earlyish night. All in all a very good day, despite the tyre and food dramas I achieved my objective, that is all part of traveling in a developing country I guess 🙂

Day – 135 miles and 217 km
Trip – 47,595 miles and 76,597 km



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5 Responses to “Day 384 – 27th December 09”

  1. ybg said

    Absolutely amazing day. Well done. Spectacular photos and the videos are great.

    Gazing out my front window on this mild (-15c) Jan. 1, 2010 morning, I am wondering if I should shovel the 5cm of snow off the driveway first before venturing out to get the paper, and I realize that I have 10 weeks before I can officially get the bike out (mandatory snow tires here until Mar 15).

    I wonder if they make a snow tire for a Strom. Wishing I was there. Flat tires, bad trout and all.

    Happy new year. ça roule

  2. Al & Ann said

    Happy New Year Richard, we want you to know how much we have enjoyed your travels this past year, your visit in Oregon was a plus. We hope that this “Ano Nuevo” brings you joy and much more great riding, but lets start with a new tyre Ok! Ride On!

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