I found La Paz to be just another large city, and after one day I was ready to move on. Cochabamba was my destination.
The map indicated that I had approximately 300 miles to ride. The first 150 miles on the Bolivian Altiplano were rather easy. The road was mostly straight and fast with a few rain showers along the way. I approached a fork in the road and I thought – another 150 miles and I can stop for the day. It should not take me more than two or three hours. Was I ever wrong!!
At the fork I made a left and headed toward Cochabamba. At this point the elevation was 12,000 feet. As I headed east the road started climbing and there was a steady rain. Soon the rain turned into freezing rain and the temperature was dropping quickly. Before long I was traveling in a sleet and snow mix which was sticking to my face shield. That made it very difficult for me see with my face shield closed so I opened my face shield. My GPS indicated that I was very close to an elevation of 15,000 feet. The real fun began when the snow and sleet reached about 5 inches deep with the sleet and snow still coming down hard. I was the lead for other traffic which meant that I was cutting my own path through the snow-coverd road. I did think about pulling over and taking a few photos and also to allowing someone else to make the tracks on the road that I could travel in. My tank bag was frozen solid and I could not get to my camera so I decided to keep on moving. After a while I finally reached the mountain top and started my descent to the other side. The snow and sleet turned back to rain.
It was amazing that I traveled at elevations of 14,000 to 15,000 feet and then dropped to 12,000 feet. I felt like I was at sea level. I could breathe much better and it was also warmer.
After five hours I finally reached Cochabamba, Bolivia; and I thought it was going to be a three-hour ride.
The nice altiplano before the weather turned bad