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CYCLING BALI DAY 3: Cruising Down Volcanic Ridgelines

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

temple on Mt Batur crater rim

Pura Ulun Danu Temple at Kinatmani

CYCLING BALI DAY 3: Cruising Down Volcanic Ridgelines

36.6 km / 20 miles entirely downhill. Not a stroke to pedal. Nothing to do but just cruise downhill, enjoying astounding views of villages perched on sheer ridges, steeply terraced rice fields, stormy clouds floating by below, vibrant roadside flowering bushes and exotic Balinese village temples.

Along the way I passed stands selling locally grown papayas and mangoes; villagers carrying grasses, bundles of wood, and machetes; cloves drying in the sun; and colorful tropical flowers. In the lower slopes, the pungent aroma of fresh cloves overwhelmed the air. The ride entailed 1 1/2 hours of sensory delights. And that about sums up my 36.6 km cruise downhill to Bali’s north coast,  just east of Singaraga city.

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Ornate family shrine, roadside

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Vibrant flowering bush beside Balinese house

My day had begun just as dramatically on the crater rim of Mt. Batur volcano. Wide awake at dawn, I sprang out of bed and pulled on my jacket, gratefully noting that I had stayed toasty warm all night bundled up in my cozy guesthouse room and that I felt well-rested for today’s big ride. I was also reminded with amazement that on tropical Bali island, just 8 S of the equator, it is actually possible to become ‘freezy’ cold. I had slept in my long pants, 2 long-sleeved shirts, 2 pair of socks and had used 2 blankets to keep warm that night.

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Lake Batur inside Batur crater

I went outside to witness the sunrise. To my surprise, the street of Kintamani Town was already jammed with traffic. My guesthouse lay smack in the middle of the area’s main market town. People were bustling around carrying merchandise to buy and sell. But I was on a completely different mission: to find a place where it was possible to see nature, the crater and the sunrise. The town, built along Batur’s narrow ridge line, was completely jammed with shops that blocked out all views.

Once again I was astounded that local people living in beautiful natural surroundings intentionally block out the beauty around them, distinctly ignore sunrises and sunsets, and much prefer to remain immersed in humanity and their man-made environs. Too bad for them, I say. That certainly wouldn’t stop me from enjoying the sunrise (I hoped). I had to walk quite a way up the road before I found an open yard from which I could access the crater edge behind the town’s ugly cement shops. It was well worth it.

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Penulisan Temple- Mt Batur

An amazing sight unfolded before me: the vast innards of Batur crater splayed below with the actual peak of Mt. Batur  rising from the crater’s center. The whole scene was engulfed in mist and clouds seeping in from outside the crater rim. Colors caught in clouds as the sunrise unfolded and I saw perhaps the most bizarre cloud formations of my life. I enjoyed the ever-changing color display until the sun began peaking up over Mt. Batur.

A big smile plastered across my face, I returned to my room, quickly packed up, ate, and climbed on my bike. It was 7:15. I had a big day ahead of me: 75 km. As previously noted, 36 km was entirely down hill. However, before that luxury downhill cruise, I had to tackle some tough climbing along Batur’s crater rim: 5 km pushing up steep grades to reach the road’s summit just beyond the town and temple of Penulisan. On the final hill into Penulisan I actually had to walk up, pushing my loaded bike. Holy huffing and puffing!

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Handsome young local guy dressed for ceremony at Penulisan

But I finally made it to the crest. It had taken me 45 mintues to cycle just 5 km / 3 miles. But I’d done it. And then my reward. Before heading down hill, I bundled up in head band, wind breaker and neck warmer to protect myself against the cold mountain air while racing down the ridges. Then off I went.

cycling bali - Bali's central mountains- Mt Batur

Local helping direct traffic during Penulisan Temple ceremony

When I reached the north coast at 9:30 am, it was quickly becoming roasting hot. I was back to tropical Bali as I knew it. I had ‘ordered’ clouds for the rest of my cycle day. I had another 32 km to ride. But clouds were nowhere to be seen. Just bright blue sky and blazing sun. Ah well, good thing I like heat.

I cycled the first 10 km / 6 miles into Singaraja city on nearly flat roads, a breeze after the morning’s hills. Unfortunately, gone was my rural ride through nature. The coast was pure city: people, noise and traffic. No photos needed there.

In Singaraja I stopped to eat and rest. I’d been on my bike 3 hours. Though mainly cruising downhill, it was still 3 hours sitting on a bicycle, including 1 1/2 hours of real pedaling. Time to rest.

Low and behold: while I was eating, down from the mountains rolled in the thick clouds I had ordered. Well, maybe they were a bit too thick. Just in time, I jumped on my bike and headed west as rain drops began falling. I managed to stay ahead of the rain as I cycled toward the small city of Seririt, 22 km further west.

Seririt was my day’s destination for two reasons: First off, I knew a hotel there. With few hotels along the north coast, that was important. Secondly, I also knew a natural hot spring nearby. I planned to end the day soaking my sore legs and body in niiiccceee hooottt spring water.

cycling Bali -Bali's north coast- Seririt- Bali

Lovina’s welcoming road gate decorated with dolphins

Gratefully, my final 22 km followed a nearly flat road along the coast. About 10 km beyond Singaraja I reached Lovina, North Bali’s famous tourist beach resort area, unmistakable by its huge entrance gate with dolphin carvings. Lovina is most famous for its early morning dolphin sightings. It would seem to be a natural place for me to end my day, except for the very pesky Lovina beach boys. I’d stayed there before: no thanks. I’d rather stay in a city hotel than face that hassle.

cycling Bali -Bali's north coast- Lovina- Bali

dolphin detail on Lovina gate

So I pedaled on. Glimpses of  gorgeous rice fields and Bali’s central mountains started appearing more frequently as I road west. I also discovered the region grows grapes. I stopped at a local stand to buy some plump purple clusters. I got 1/2 kg (1 lb) for 6000rp / $0.75 US.  The stop also conveniently offered me shelter from some rain that swept through briefly.

cycling Bali -Bali's north coast- Seririt- Bali

beautiful rice fields backed by Bali Barat Mountains

cycling Bali -Bali's north coast- Seririt- Bali

grapes for sale along road to Seririt

Back on my bike I soon found myself pedaling into Seririt. I checked into my hotel, took a well-deserved nap, then set out to the nearby hot springs, set in the jungly mountains.
read more: Jacuzzi in the Jungle

Reporting from paradise, Lash

Lash in jacuzzi in jungle, Bali

Lash in jacuzzi in jungle, Bali

 

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Cycling Bali Guidebook - Lash - LashWorldTour - travel book

my Cycling Bali Guidebook

 

If you’re inspired to cycle around Bali, check out my guidebook-

Cycling Bali: Guide to Circumnavigating Bali by Bicycle

 

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2 comments

3 pings

  1. Suzy

    Love taking this journey with you, especially through the photographs. The Lovina Road Gate is goregous! I wouldn't mind having that greet me in my hometown.

  2. LASH

    hi Suzy,
    Thanks for enjoying the journey!
    Interesting to hear your impression of the Lovina Gate! Although i'VE taken many photos of the road gates in Bali, I've never actually used the photos… I always thought they looked boring! Good to know they are interesting! I'll post some more.thanks for stopping by, as usual, cheers, Lash

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