2009 Spring Mountainbike Trip part 1

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
436
103
Tokyo
#1
Time for another trip report! Naomi-san and I have been travelling a lot recently, with our first big trip of the year to Bali in Indonesia. I have to admit that Bali is not a place I associate at all with cycling of any kind. However, my friends had already been there two years previously and showed us a great DVD video/slideshow they had made. We arranged to meet up with them for an active week of mountainbiking, snorkelling and diving.
Bali is a fairly small island but has some serious elevation, with extinct volcanoes almost as tall as Fuji-san.
Bali

The whole island is criss-crossed with hundreds of trails linking the villages and fields. But without some local knowledge there's no way we could find our way around, so we went with a local company, Bali Trail Blazers who my friends had used before. The company is run by a former geologist from the UK, but their guides are local. They also have a couple of vehicles which we used to great effect to shuttle up to the start of the rides. Each day we drove up to about 1100 m and rode down towards the coast, so there was plenty of downhilling :)

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We had a fairly ambitious plan, and would be moving around the island to get the best from our time there.
We started with a couple of days in Sanur, on the south-east coast. We arrived at our hotel to considerable confusion; my friends (who had arrived the day before) were nowhere to be found and the staff did not know where they could be. But at least we had a place to stay and our bikes had arrived with us.
As I was unpacking our bikes, there was a knock at the door and my friends appeared, and a few minutes later Clare, the owner of Bali Trailblazers, also tracked us down. So we were all set to go the next morning.

Day 1
Our group of 4 (Naomi-san, me, and my two friends Phil and Jane) was joined by a group from Queensland, Australia, so we had a lot of riders together.
We drove for what seemed like ages to get up the slopes of MT Agung for our first ride, arriving at a mountain village where we were the centre of attention for the locals

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In fact, everywhere we went, people would shout "Hello!" and smile and wave :D It was really amazing.
We started our riding with a steep climb, but pretty much the rest of the ride was downhill, and right from the start it was challenging! I have to admit I was expecting a gentle start, but we were straight into steep, narrow singletrack. We descended a ridge with drops to either side and soon we were deep in the jungle
Spot the Bikers
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The heat was harsh for Scotland refugees Phil and I, while Naomi-san, Jane, the Aussies and the local guides all claimed it was nice and comfortable.
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We wound our way down the trails, following the guides through what seemed like hundreds of left and right junctions. All along the edges of the trail were people working the fields, chickens, dogs, and animals. It was the most crowded rural area I've ever been to!
We stopped a few times along the way; the guides had planned the route so that we could rendezvous with one of their vehicles and refill our camelbaks. We had a longer stop for lunch.
The rest of the rides we did also followed this pattern, which was great as we were going through water at a tremendous rate in the heat.
Feeling a bit lethargic after lunch, we set off again and it wasn't too long before we popped out at the sea! We had enjoyed over 45 km of downhill and dropped over 1000 vertical metres; it was quite an introduction!
Route

Day 2
Another long drive took us to the shore of Lake Buyan in the north-east.
Phil, Jane, Naomi and Me
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As we had a large group, it took a while for everyone to get ready, but eventually we were all set to go. We skirted the edge of the lake, heading west. The going was wet and muddy, and extremely slippery. Our average speed was something like 2 km/h :( We were hardly making progress at all, and I was starting to feel a bit fed up.
As we struggled through the jungle trail, we found ourselves being attacked by leeches :eek: These little beasties are attracted to heat and can easily seek out a mountainbiker and wriggle into shoes. Their bites don't hurt, but they're pretty unpleasant to say the least. I ended up with a bite on my foot and Naomi-san had two leeches in her shoe when she later checked. I took to stamping a clear area around my feet whenever we stopped so I could see them approaching and hopefully avoid them!
Dodging Leeches in the Jungle
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Eventually we escaped from the jungle and the leeches, arriving at a clearing where we had an early lunch.
From this point the ride got much better. The trail was a mixture of hard dirt and old, eroded concrete, but only singletrack width. The gradient began to get steeper and steeper, and our speeds got higher and higher. We were really flying along, pushing the limits as much as we could. On the concrete surface, there was plenty of grip, so no reason to hold back. The descent went on and on, and towards the bottom my brakes started to really heat up and fade quite badly. I could (just) maintain my speed by hauling hard on the levers, but there's no way I could have stopped in a hurry! Eventually we arrived at the bottom of this fantastic descent and soon the group was back together, surrounded by the smell of overheated disc brakes. It made up for the earlier slog through the jungle, and we were all smiling :)
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Another few km took us to the rendesvous point with the truck and the end of the days riding.

Route

Local Kids
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