The circuit that I eyeballed on the map was from La Paz up the pass La Cumbre (15, 200 feet), down to the jungle and then back up the Takesi trekking route in order to exit the mountains and turn south to Oruro. In the event it was beautiful, varied, dynamic from the grey brown ice capped tops to the cartoon green below. It was also bewilderingly, fragmentingly painful. The heat, the slow dragging dirt pitches, and, finally, the ancient Incan or pre-Incan (no one is sure which) cobbled highway.
Push, pedal, lift, rest. Repeat. For days.
slowly yielding to mountains.
For a spell I go blind with breathing searing shoulders and back, ten steps, ten count rest, thirty steps, thirty count rest.
Another fourteen or fifteen thousand foot pass, Bolivia presents these with a casual nonchalance. But this one after two and a half days of mostly pushing the bike, ragged and resigned, consciousness extinguished, just appreciate the beauty of the movement from jungle to mountain ecological zone, of the effort from heat to freeze.
When I lift a leaden leg over the saddle not just for a stubborn grinding upward stretch but in the knowledge of a clear downward path ahead, riding is like a revelation, a salvation. I let go, unwise speed because I feel free.