Biking in Bali – One of the highlights among our adventures in Indonesia. A morning spent downhill cycling through the villages, rice terraces, and farmlands of the incredible island of Bali. We had booked this excursion the afternoon before, on the recommendation of another couple staying at the same villa as us. They also had a toddler and they told us that this company had bicycles with seats for kids. We are always looking for family friendly adventures, so we were sure that we didn’t want to miss this one. Weather is unpredictable in Bali during the rainy season, and once a trip like this is booked, there’s almost no backing out of it, so as we’ve told friends before, never prebook something like this too far in advance. It really is best to book the day before, and go on the suggestions of other travelers currently vacationing where you are.
We woke up that morning to dark grey clouds and the occasionally rumbling of thunder, but our tour guides showed by at 8am nevertheless. Our three bikes were loaded up on the back of the van, one for the guide and two more for us, and we were on the road in no time at all. We were assigned two guides. One would to drive the van and the other to ride on a bicycle ahead of us, pointing out any dangers, telling us when to pedal faster or slower, and making sure that any questions that we had were answered. Our first stop that day had been at a spectacular view point, where we got to see the Tegalalang Rice Terraces from one of the main roads that goes up to Penelokan (Kintamani). Next up was a tour of a coffee plantation, where we had to opportunity to try “Poop Coffee” – more on that in another post. We started our cycling adventure on the top of Kintamani, after enjoying breakfast overlooking Mount Batur (the active volcano that Catherine conquered at sunrise later in our trip). The clouds were thick and there was an eerie mist moving in, but our guides didn’t seem bothered at all. Justin and I had packed rain ponchos (mainly just to protect our cameras), and we were keen to continue, whether the skies opened or not. Once we had filled up on pancakes, omelettes and plenty of coffee, we climbed onto our bikes and began our downhill cycle, following our guide in the green shirt.
We tried to get Elijah to wear the safety helmet provided for children, but he isn’t a fan of hats or glasses so he refused to wear it. Our friendly guide didn’t seem too bothered, so we went on without it. The frown below is a result of those helmet efforts…
All ready to go!
It was much cooler than we had anticipated on top of the mountain, and with a mist moving over the air was moist too. We figured that Elijah might get a little cold since he was sitting still on the back of Justin’s bicycle, so we covered his legs with a shirt. It turns out that daddy shielded him from the wind so he had a pretty awesome draft-free spot from which he could view the surrounding sights.
At first we went slowly and our guide was way up ahead of us, but as our confidence started to build and we got more familiar with our bikes, we really began to pick up speed. The entire course is downhill – except for a few steep sections among the rice terraces – so it was really easy to hit phenomenal speeds without much effort at all. If you notice that some of these pictures are blurry, you’ll have to keep in mind that I was pedaling, while taking pictures with a DSLR. I also had a small waterproof camera in my pocket, and I took that out at random points too.
Look at Elijah’s face as Justin and I rode next to each other…
He was so happy on the back of that bicycle. It must have been a really exciting experience for him!
We rode through the heartland of Bali, travelling downhill on small village roads, with little traffic, experiencing typical Balinese daily life and enjoying the beautiful Balinese countryside to Ubud. We cycled through thick forested areas, plantations full of Balinese staples and cash crops (cloves, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, tapioca, taro, local vegetables and exotic tropical fruits), through timeless small villages and lush rice paddy panoramas. We saw many adorable Balinese children calling out ‘hello’ on our way down. Of course, they all loved the sight of Elijah on the back of Justin’s bicycle.
We got off our bikes a couple of times to explore. The guide stopped at a village temple and gave us some information on the daily rituals and traditions in these villages. Although very informative, it was usually Justin who listened and asked questions, while I wandered off to take pictures. Below you can see Justin and Elijah in the distance, chatting to our guide about the local village temple which is across the road from them…
We especially loved the parts of our cycling tour that took us through the Tegalalang Rice Terraces (click on that link to see our view of rice terraces earlier that day). These areas were breathtaking, and although the weather had initally seemed poor for a bike ride, the clouds provided for a majestic backdrop.
A bit blurry… but look at that face! This kid must have been about eight years old and he was give two other kids a ride on a motorcycle. I waved and lifted my camera to take a picture. At first he stuck out his tongue in a playful manner, and then he got a huge grin on my face. This was the best shot I was able to capture in those brief seconds as we passed each other.
Even though most of our cycling route was downhill, there were a few steep parts where we had to climb off our bikes and push uphill. Our guide pushed his bike and helped Justin along. Elijah sat munching on a crack, none the wiser!
There were moments were I couldn’t decide what was more gorgeous, the rice fields to either side of my, or the palm-tree lined road that lay ahead of us…
And then, there was this view above us…
What a wonderful family experience cycling through villages, forests and rice fields. As far as I can remember, we rode for about three hours and fortunately or us it only drizzled a little bit during one part of our ride. Our driver had been following at a distance behind us, in the van. We got off our bikes a little earlier than planned because the last few turns on the course were very steep, and we were ready to eat. Lunch was prepared and waiting at a local Balinese home.
We highly recommend this cycling adventure if you find yourself in Bali!