Photo: Out and about.

Mountain biking in Bali

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"Make sure you have good brakes. Like life, it’s mostly downhill." So said John (Jack) Daniels of Bali Discovery when I tweeted to say I’d be off to mountain bike from Kintamani to Ubud in Bali. And it’s true, save a single near vertical 100 metres or so, the ride was almost all downhill—and you know what, that was good.





Looking for a slice of Bali far from pulsating Kuta Beach, four of us had engaged Wayan of Mountain Bike Bali to guide us on a half-day pedal, slide and roll from Kintamani to the tourist heart of central Bali, Ubud. Unlike Balinese Wayan who had ridden around Bali (or 420km of it) in a mere 20 hours, not one of us had a cycling bone in our body, save the occasional pedal to kindergarten, so it was with some trepidation that I jumped on the bike after a 1.5 hour drive uphill from Sanur.

OK, lets get started. Photo taken in or around Mountain biking in Bali, Ubud, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

OK, lets get started. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The road started fine, smooth, sealed, next to no traffic, clean air and fruit and vegetable gardens off to each side—scenic and easy—but then Wayan paused at a dirt trail (I’m being generous here) that ran off to the left and we were in business! In just a short time the trail, I mean goat track, was barely wider than the bike’s handlebars and it was taking all my concentration not to get hurtled into one of the nearby paddocks of cauliflowers, oranges, chillies, mangoes, bananas and dry rice.

Every now and then we’d bounce out onto a sealed road for a couple of hundred metres only to dart back onto another dirt trail. The only constant was, as JD forewarned, it was all downhill. Every now and then a house, smiling waving kids out front, would surface from within whatever crop we were riding (I mean rolling) through, then just as quickly we’d be back among the Kintamani greenery.

Putting the off-road in off-road. Photo taken in or around Mountain biking in Bali, Ubud, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Putting the off-road in off-road. Photo: Stuart McDonald

I’m not a novice to emerald rice paddies and fruit orchids, but I have to say, this was really an impressive kind of a ride. Wayan would pull us aside here and there to give us a walk through on what we were looking at. At one point, on a devilishly tight goat track corner, he pointed out coffee, cacao, mango, jackfruit, bananas and jasmine—and I think if we’d asked him nicely, he’d have prepared us something out of the ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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