So you’ve had a fantastic summer season riding your bike, days upon days of hot sunny weather, riding dry dusty trails and finishing your rides with cold beers and a group of mates. You’re thinking “I don’t want this to end, I’m not ready to give this up yet” …. Well, you might not have to. And I’m not talking about massively expensive trips to Europe or Whistler either (although that is definitely an option).
I know a place not so far from New Zealand where beers are cheap (REALLY CHEAP) food is fresh, the people are super friendly, and the weather is warm all year round. It’s a place that might not immediately spring to mind when you think mountain biking, but maybe it should.
That place is… Bali.
Let’s get this straight, there are parts of Bali that I would not send you to. I’ve got no time for chain stores, strip malls, westernized outlet stores, and tourist traps. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, then its not for you either. Whilst there are places like that in Bali, you don’t have to go to them.
There are amazing parts of Bali, just waiting to be explored...
Step 1, get comfortable with how people drive over there. If you’ve never been to Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia, then prepare to have your mind blown. Things like a warrant of fitness, or a helmet are seldom seen. You overtake by flashing your lights and it’s generally accepted that a one lane road could fit 3x cars, or 2x cars and 2x scooters. The speed limit is usually around 50km/h, however most people will just go as fast as their naturally aspirated, tiny vehicles will let them. Flat out this is usually about 80km/h and down to first and second gear on the hills. Driving in Bali is an experience on its own.
Step 2, work out where you want to stay. I wanted to stay somewhere far away from the insanity of Kuta, but not too far away from all the things I might want. I stayed near the Chillhouse, in Canggu, I was lucky enough to have all my breakfasts and a couple of evening meals in at The Chillhouse, and they were brilliant. If I could suggest the polenta pancakes with pineapple and honey, with a little sprinkle of cinnamon. Delightful. The food at The Chillhouse is fresh and super colourful, you eat outdoors (under cover) at shared tables, which is a great way to meet fellow travellers, and riders, whilst sharing the stoke about your days activities.
Step 3, get set up for your ride. Whether you take your own bike or you hire, make sure you get a chance to ride. I used bikes supplied from The Bali Bike Park for all my riding. This included:
Enduro riding around the crater rim.
Downhill in the Bali Bike Park.
Freeride down the slopes of Mt Batur.
Easy rides through the rice fields.
The guys at The Chillhouse and Bali Bike Park were awesome, they arranged all the trips, and the transport to the places. They had great local guides who knew all the best places to eat, and where to see the best views, and they were able to help us get around Bali with ease. They also treat you like you’re one of their mates. It’s really personal and cool.
We found that some of the best places to eat or get food were these tiny little local places that you might even miss if you didn’t know where to look. You can’t go past a coconut with a straw in it, or a spicy Nasi Goreng. You can’t visit Bali without a trip to the beaches, and the beach bars either. If you’re into surfing, or you want to learn, then Bali is the place for that too!
Bali is a real lifestyle change. Wi-fi isn’t fantastic, you shouldn’t drink the water, driving can be terrifying, there are dogs everywhere, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone is so friendly, everyone says hello. A lot of the kids in the more remote parts rarely ever see westerners, especially riding mountain bikes, so are really excited when they do see you.
And last but not least, the weather. Yeah, the weather. Bali is hot. Like super humid tropical hot. How about sweating whilst eating dinner, or leaving your air conditioned room in the morning and being hit with a punch to the face of hot, humid air. In Bali, the condensation is on the outside of the windows. Then there is the rain. In Bali there are 2x seasons. Hot and dry, and hot and wet. The rainy season can be blue skies one minute and torrential rain the next. But, hey, it’s just rain, sometimes it’s a nice change.
So if you’re looking for a bit of adventure for you next bike trip, why not look into Bali?
Just be ready to ride a scooter like your life depended on it, and watch out for Aussie tourists. (No offence to normal Australians, even you know the ones I’m talking about).
Have fun and be ready to have an amazing time.