Living the death road

19 Jul, 2011 | Ivan Rodriguez P.

Part 1

As you wake up early in the morning, you experience your first adrenaline rush as you understand that you’re about to start one of the most intense days of your life; or at least, that’s what you’ve been told and that’s how you imagine it, thinking how you’ll soon be riding down the road as if falling from the sky.

Finally, it’s time to go: the Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking bus arrives, its roof covered with what seem like enough bikes for an entire football squad (plus subs, plus entourage). As you hop onboard and look out of the window you’re overcome by pangs of adrenaline: you’re feeling strangely excited and scared at the same time. But hold your horses, it takes a while to make it to the top of the Cumbre, whose deceptive mist artfully hides what lies below.

As we get there, the guides start to prepare the equipment: knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, helmets. All the kit makes you not only virtually unrecognisable - it also makes you feel like a professional warrior - such is the level of protection. According to your size, you’re then assigned a bike which feels so perfect that when you mount it you feel ready to face any obstacle that lies ahead. Dragons, carnivorous plants, pirates - bring it on. The route starts with the chunky wheels gliding down the asphalt road. The army of bikes invades the road followed by crazed war-cries from the troupe. What an amazing feeling: the curves, mist and frozen air come together in an experience which seems otherworldly. There’s something not quite right though - perhaps you assumed you’d be riding down mud and stones the size of heads; this almost seems too easy in comparison. But as the guide stops at the end of the asphalt road, you’re just able to glimpse a small dirt track - a promise of what lies ahead. As you begin your second descent, patches of green emerge from round every corner and through the thick fog, which will soon envelop you completely. Before you know it you’re in the belly of a cloud and halfway down the camino de la muerte. Read our next issue to discover where you’ll end up next.

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