VIDEO: Extreme Urban Downhill Racing

Staff Writer
Take a stomach-churning POV mountain bike ride through La Paz

Downhill mountain biking is already a warrior's sport, the kind that requires full body armor for those minor judgment errors on a rip-roaring descent that lead to major wrecks. Now try adding narrow, sometimes cobbled streets, more than 1,000 steps, nine drops and plenty of manmade jumps to a 3,000-foot descent. Oh, and starve your brain of oxygen while it navigates that insane course in the nosebleed-high air of La Paz, Bolivia (where there's roughly 40% less oxygen).

Sound like fun? For a few twisted souls, yes. To us, it just sounds like Red Bull's latest cockamamie contest, the Descenso del Cóndor. Run last weekend for the first time since 2006, the race is just one of many urban downhill races held across Latin America, including Valparaiso, Chile, Santos, Brazil, and Taxco, Mexico, but this one is by far the highest elevation race.

Slovakian Filip Polc, winner of both the 2010 and 2011 Valparaiso races, soundly beat 36 competitors, finishing the harrowing 2.2 km ride in 2:32:89, a full 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Yannick Wende. “I feel very proud of having won my first race in La Paz," Polc said at the finish line. "It has been a very technical ride, but I liked it from the first moment.” Technical, indeed. Check it out, and try not to get too queasy.