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I happened to find myself being bored in the US one day and decided to pop down the road for a bit of mountain biking on some proper mountains! Okay, I was abroad on business and booked some holiday on the end :-). The trip was to Las Vegas which is pretty close to the riding Meccas of Utah (the Moab trails) and California (the birthplace of the mountain bike itself). However, neither place is exactly what you might call cool in late May and I'm not a great fan of hot deserts :-(. I looked northwards to Canada and the single track heaven that is Whistler. Alas it seems British Colombia is closed for refurbishment during spring! Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking Turning south instead, I came across the wonderfully named Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking company of Bolivia.

The story was something like, a Kiwi Missionary called Alistair discovered a country that had never even heard of a mountain bike despite having some of the best trails in the world. He felt duty bound to convert them to the true faith no matter how many exciting years it might take nor how many gorgeous miles he must ride to do so. Hence Gravity was born.

The result is that if it's fat tyre fun and it's in Bolivia then it's Gravity. And they do know how to have fun :-). To start, there is the road route that roadies fear to ride - the World's Most Dangerous Road. 20 miles of vehicle width dirt track that descends 6,300ft in under 3 hours. Oh, and as it's the main route NE out of La Paz, it also has big trucks going both up and down all day and night! Including some very picturesque tarmac before hand, the day's ride actually drops you 11,0000ft over 6 hours (with plenty of breaks for rest, picnics, Kodak moments, etc.). A very unusual day out indeed.

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The World’s Most Dangerous Road:

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For more regular biking activities, Gravity run day long to several week rides taking in plenty of truly awesome single track. It's largely downhill biased due to the geography of the area (it's the Andes!) and the fact that having only two thirds of an atmosphere around means that any kind of uphill is a major effort! The rides are all jeep supported though and the bikes are Kona Stinkies and Coilers so well up to the task.

Due to the energetic political protests going on in the area, Alistair decided it would be unwise for me to do the 'lost in the wilderness' tour I had originally booked. Not dangerous but just that a few days might become a week due to road blocks and he could not guarantee I would catch my flight back! Instead, he took me on a series of day rides around La Paz itself. Basically, driving up to one of the (many) ridges and cruising back down to the valley floor approx 4,000ft below! Then driving back up and doing it all again, of course :-).

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Secret Single Track:

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The weekend was actually interrupted by the Sunday being the La Paz district downhill championship race! I was somewhat nervous about this but somehow Alistair convinced me to have a go. As it turns out, down hill racing is still very much in it's infancy in Bolivia so it was quite a low key event with most people just out for a laugh and some fun rather than taking it deadly serious. Having said that, the two guys battling for first were both seriously good when it came to hurtling downwards at insane speeds! Still, I managed a fairly respectable 11th out of 27. Not bad for being out of my depth on the course and out of my altitude physically!

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La Paz district downhill championships:

Route of a downhill race:

Race Route

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Big Thanks! to Alistair, Axel, Sylvia, JJ, Kory and all at Gravity for a week that was significantly more fun than being stuck in the office back home :-).
If you should ever find yourself wandering South America, then pop over to Bolivia and give Gravity a call. They will put a grin on your face for sure!

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Contrary to how it might seem above, there is much more to Bolivia than cycling and mountains. Take a quick peek here to see...

PS: A number of the pictures on this page are courtesy of Gravity. That includes all the WMDR ones and most of the race day shots (and any other image that has me in it!). Part of the Gravity service is to make sure you have a record of your daring doos without worrying about how to take pictures mid-hurtle :-). Thankyou, Gravity!

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