Day 14: A solo circle trip to the mountains and back

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Cycle touring Mountain biking Bali, Indonesia 2006, 2008
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday May 20, 2006, 109 km (68 miles) – Total so far: 672 km (418 miles)

I did this solo ride from Ubud to the Batur caldera and back by another small road because,

1. We didnt ride all the way to the crater rim road courtesy of heavy rains on the 3rd day of our trip 2. With the thick fog and mist 1/we didnt really see anything much that day 3. Because the mountains are there. 4. All that fine dining in Ubud had to be expanded into some fine cycling 5.The womenfolk are going to be in their element today – shopping, getting massages, shopping, lunch followed by shopping….. 6. No more cycling with the panniers since we got back to Ubud. 7. I had cycled up to Penelokan let’s see, in 1995 and was just wondering whether my body was still up to it 8. Once I reach the maximum height at a pass that at 1640 meters, the return ride to Ubud would be a downhill of about 40 to 50 kms. Should be back in time for a dip in the pool before dinner. 9. Cycling is fun. 10. Cycling in Bali, even better. Pardon the 10 reasons, only No 9 is relevant.

The route from Ubud to Kintamani is 35 kms of uphill tarmac.

I was clipped in and headed out by 6.45 in the morning and find some form of breakfast along the way. Unlike our climb up to Batur last week, this was a longer and less steeper route up Bali’s central highlands. It’s less populated with lesser traffic and the bane of all smaller vehicles, the big white 44 seater tour bus. I took my own sweet time spinning up this road in the cool morning air with distant views of Bali’s blue mountains in the distance. The 35 kms translated into almost four hours including many photo stops and a couple of caffeine fixes. I had forgotten even about breakfast relying on the reserves last night to pedal until the final 4 kms of switchbacks at which time any breakfast would have been good. It was times like this when brow sweat is smarting in your eyes and your lungs are about to burst from freshly scented pine in the cool air, that I’ve got to ask myself, do ya, well do ya feel lucky today? No, 1 km on the speedo is still 1 km on the road. Then some schoolgirls on a motorcycle will pass, screaming TOO-RIS !! giving the thumbs up and suddenly the wheels will start slowly spinning again.

The last 4 kms to the crater’s edge was just climbing bend after bend. I think I saw a cobweb on my brake pads.

Reaching the top was slightly anti climatic as the weather seemed gloomy as the faces of the mountain people here. Then there’s another 12 kms of cycling on the crater rim road before the actual turnoff heading south begins. As the road levelled out I was able to pick up speed till I heard a dreaded hissing sound from below. It was no snake. Changed the tube in a flash and took a leak, pun intended in some bushes.

A sign of things to come, wide sweeps of gravity friendly asphalt.

Time to get the cobwebs out of the brake pads. It was even more chilly as the wind hit my sweat soaked helmet and jersey. These back roads with no traffic are like a widened bike path with sufficient far enough views to ensure no surprises. Even in the remote mountains, there was some form of commercial faming. From the scent of what seemed like chicken sh*t ha it was. ‘Untuk Kentucky’ or for Kentucky some guy told me. Moving on I felt some rain drops which then turned into a full blown storm lasting a whole 5 minutes As I was Bali’s prime coffee growing district, I decided to get a beer glass sized coffee and pulled into a mom and pop shop filled to the brim with all the necessities for a life in the mountains. The road was broken and getting a bit rough for a rigid bike. Just as well as the potholes here were flooded and after the flat, the one and only on the whole trip, I did not want any more surprises.

Descending a few hundred meters in to a ravine is good until you have to ride or crawl out of the same on the opposite side.

The ravine at Plaga must be one of the deepest in the whole of Bali crossing a crumbling concrete bridge over an even deeper chasm where I could only hear the sounds a rushing river. The slippery moss covered bridge must get only 2 or 3 hours of sunshine each day. Looking at the bent and twisted cast iron pipes used as rails, it wouldnt be a good idea to be here during heavy rains when a wall of water hits it. I didnt stop too long as I wasnt making good time and knew what awaited, switch back after switch back climbing out the other side. When a motor cycle passes by and you can still hear it struggling uphill for 10 minutes,there’s still a long way to go. Somehow all that coasting without much pedalling puts the legs to sleep and the climbs seem just a bit harder.

A solution to deep dark ravines, but why connect two relatively remote and hamlet laced hillsides? The theme song from The Apprentice was going on in my head, money, money, money……

After almost three quarters of the downhill ride done, it seemed that more pedalling was needed. No more sudden bursts of gravity assisted speed up to 50 kmph. I was savouring every minite of this ride but still needed to hustle up since the sun was going down at a faster pace than I could ride. I pulled out my map and took a few short cuts heading east back to Ubud even though it meant cycling in and out of some deep ravines. Funny thing about shortcuts, there’s more pictures to take – a stud farm for pigs, some more wood carving villages, more bucolic ricefield scenery and kids on their bicycles wanting to start a race. I must have ‘wasted’ another 30 minutes, even longer if it was evening bath time in the rivers. While I almost, if not exclusively ‘prefer’ that the bathers were women, its not uncommon for men clad only in their briefs or nothing at all, to suddenly stand up in all their god given glory to greet and wave at tourists. Most are usually covered in suds or wave with just one hand. We havent met any two handed wavers, thankfully.

I knew the girls would be worried since I was 3 hours overdue. Somehow as wives go, Coleen knew that I’d turn up late as usual and didnt seem too worried. There was still 20 minutes of daylight left too, after which I’ll start to worry. I pull up into the gardens of Adi’s Cottages to find them on their way out to dinner! Hey, I’ll join you for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. We planted ourselves at the Jazz Cafe for the next 3 hours. Me with a tingling feeling in my over stretched leg muscles. I think the stairway to our room might be a slight bother tonight.




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