Bali By Bike Day 2
We started with a relatively early (8 am) breakfast, but as soon as we sat down to eat in the open air bale (basically a dining room with no walls) it started to rain. We had just finished packing the panniers and left the bikes out so we ran to put them under the roof. It rained hard for about 30 minutes and turned into a light drizzle. We were a little nervous at first, but once it stopped we figured we wouldn’t have anything to worry about. We paid our bill, finished our packing, and got on the road.
We started out heading east on the Rendang/Amlapura Road. The first kilometer or so was pretty flat with a few ups and downs but soon enough we were cruising downhill enjoying the fruits of the previous day’s labor. The road wound down through more gorgeous countryside offering views of the volcano, Gunung Agung which the Balinese believe is the navel of the universe. Wreaths of clouds hung around the peak offering even more drama to the rice terrace views below.
We had originally intended to keep left at Bebandem, taking a smaller road shown on our map to meet up with the main highway north of Amlapura but somewhere in the downhill glee we missed the turn. Everything else on this trip has been well sign-posted and I am not sure if we missed it or if it simply wasn’t marked. After about an hour and 20 km we reached a crossroads in Karangasem (aka Amlapura). It was the first stoplight we had seen since veering off the main road the day before. We stopped to ask directions and were told we had missed our turn. Not about to make the uphill journey for a simple side road we decided to continue on from there. Only just then it started to rain. We took shelter, got some electrolyte drinks at the nearest drink shop, and waited out the rain. In case you are in the area and need one, we also noticed a bike shop right before the stoplight. Twenty minutes later we were on our way.
The next leg of the ride brought us back on the main road through Amlapura to Tirtagangga. The road had steady traffic with a good number of trucks, but did not feel threatening at all. The sky continued to sprinkle as we made our way up a slight incline another 40 minutes and 7 km to Tirtagangga. Tirtagangga means water of the Ganges and is home to a beautiful water palace where you can actually swim in the pools. All we saw, however, was the roadside warung (restaurant) where we noshed on some tasty lunch and re-energized. Briana and I are horrible tourists. More sprinkles came and went but the sky looked pretty cooperative. We asked the people who stopped to talk to us about what the road was like up ahead. We made the arm gesture for steep and they indicated no, making the arm gesture for downhill. That was exactly what we wanted to hear. We finished up lunch and set off around noon.
We had stopped just at the top of the road and sure enough it was either flat or downhill the rest of the way. We only got 10 minutes in before I looked up and yelled to Briana “Hey we’re in a cloud.” No sooner did I say that than the sky opened up and it started to pour. We ducked into a closed store front and decided to wait out Mother Nature. We expected it to last like 20 minutes since that’s how long the monsoon rains usually last, but Bali rain seems to be more than just a monsoon. We decided to play a game of chess while we were waiting, but one chess game and an hour later and it was still pouring. We were trying to figure out what the best course of action would be since we didn’t really want to get wet. There were guest houses only 10 minutes behind us or it was another 12k to Amed. In Amed there was the beach and snorkeling and if we made it today we would have more time in the sun, assuming the weather cleared up. So we said it’s only a little water and we got on the bikes and made our way.
We were drenched in about 5 minutes and there was no going back. We started to cruise downhill amid the locals continuing to go about their business despite the rain. The people in the fields were still out cutting and harvesting and there were a few people with umbrellas walking on the road. Rain is a regular occurrence and it seems to be no excuse to take shelter. After all it’s still nearly 80 degrees. The rain just works to cool you and rinse off the sweat.
It was quite an exhilarating ride downhill in the rain. Once you’re wet it doesn’t really matter if there are puddles or you don’t have fenders. We were a little worried that the panniers weren’t waterproof but we would have to wait and see if that was the case. It took us about 45 minutes to do the 12k into Amed. We stopped at the first place we saw since the sign posted was for rooms at 70,000Rp ($8.25). It was lightly raining when we checked in so we walked the bikes up to our room and assessed the damage. The computer and important stuff was wrapped in my Gore Tex jacket and that was all dry. The compression sacks with our clothes were wet on the outside, but everything seemed to be dry on the inside. The books were pretty wet, but GEB is still readable. The cardboard for the panniers had disintegrated so we’ll have to try something else on our next riding day.
We took a shower and got coffee and a snack while the rain died down. When it stopped we went for a little walk and second lunch with tea and dessert. It was a pretty epic day and we were ready to relax. We got back to our room and picked up a couple books taking breaks staring out our window up at Mt. Agung thinking about what to eat for dinner.
If you use a GPS you can download a GPX file of our ride here. (right click – save target as)
View Bali by Bike day 2: Pura Pasar Agung to Amed in a larger map