Back to the Bukit, a death-defying odyssey

Leaving Gii Meno, 23 April 2016

The slow-boat, which takes half an hour to go from Gili Meno to Bangsal costs 14 000 rupiah and leaves at 0800.

The fast-boat, which takes 15 minutes costs 85 000 rupia and leaves and 1000.

So I’m told by the ticket office. Fifteen minutes seems awfully short and a lot shorter than the ‘fast’ ferry I took from Bangsal to Gili Meno. The price difference is a staggering six times.

I’ve been getting up waaay before 0800 lately so 0800 it shall be. I am afterall as a cyclist a dedicated go-slow lifestyler.

Only I had not counted on the pervasive influence of my do-nothing Chill-Out Guru Pierre.

I’m still in bed idly checking the news whilst considering how to approach packing when he turns up with a funny look on his face which says “We going to do breakfast or what?” He offers French-press coffee down at Adeng Adeng and away we go.

Coffee and breakfast is a languid affair. Afterwards I return to Balenta Bungalows pack, follow the path through the centre of Gili Meno, buy a ticket for the fast boat and spend the intervening fifteen minutes enjoying the bustle of the small harbour.

Dreamer on G Meno's quay-side, with the barge just behind
Dreamer on G Meno’s quay-side, with the barge just behind

Getting off Gili Meno is simply a reverse of getting on it. Unload Dreamer on the small sea-wall, manhandle the panniers and the bike through the small surf to a barge. Transfer in deeper water to a fast boat, pull into Gili Air on the way and finally cross to Bangsal where Dreamer and panniers are deposited on the quay. Perhaps it’s the influence of Chill-out Guru Pierre. Perhaps I’ve simply mellowed. Perhaps the porters are more experienced. Perhaps a combination of all three, for I have none of the same anguish or troubles as I had when I came to Gili Meno. Admittedly there is always some concern when I watch Dreamer transferred over open-water between a bobbing-barge and the roof of a rolling boat.

Sitting atop The Fast Boat
Sitting atop The Fast Boat
Approaching Bangsal
Approaching Bangsal

Then I hit the road.

For the ride to Senggigi the intrepid traveller has the option of a 24 km ride first along Jalan Raya Tanjung, the National Road which runs inland, before turning right on Jalan Pariwasata which eventually joins Jalan Raya Senggigi on the coast. Or simply follow Jalan Raya Senggigi for 32 km along the coast. From then on the intrepid traveller has really one option, to follow the coast. Although the main roads all head inland to Mataram, Lombok’s capital. I have no desire to go to Mataram, so I’ll follow the coast.

It should be no surprise to anyone that I chose the coast, Jalan Raya Senggigi. The distance between Bengsal and Lembar is only 60 km along the coast. Not long enough to worry about an extra eight kilometres especially as a boat departs hourly from Lembar to Padang Bai on Bali where I shall stay the night having learnt my lesson three weeks previously. For there are no places to stay in Lembar.

What could go wrong? How hard can it be?

Little Voice drags up something someone said sometime … “The coast road is really nice. Though it is hilly” looking me solidly in the eye when he tells me this, just to make sure the message gets across. I recall the sincerity and intensity of his eyes.

Well, he’s not cyclist. Them non-cyclists tend to struggle how to judge a hill from a cycling point of view. If you are not used to riding up and down hills, any hill seems bloody hard. This is the last ride in Lombok, having done quite a few nasty coastal roads with some pretty nasty hills.

What could go wrong? How hard can it be?

Let’s set the context: it’s a typical day, 34oC, frequently full sun especially on the hills, no wind as in no cooling wind. The inclines max. out at 15%.

The inclines occur at the beginning and end of each section of scalloped beach which tends to be flat. Of which there are many as I hope the picture gives some indication.

The convoluted ziggy-zaggy nature of the road along the coast whispers: inclines and declines, enjoy! Compare to the last bit, which is relatively straight and says Flat
The convoluted ziggy-zaggy nature of the road along the coast whispers: inclines and declines, enjoy! Compare to the last bit, which is relatively straight and says Flat

So far so good. Nothing exceptional.

I’m going to digress, just a bit here. And I’m going to assume a runner’s heart isn’t that much different from a cyclist’s heart. Runner’s World tells me that my Maximum Heart Rate is between 168 and 172, depending on which method I calculate it. The same article has this little gem:

The closer you are to your MHR during your workouts and races, the shorter the duration of exercise that you will be able to maintain at that pace. If you can maintain a rate of 160 during your workouts and races, your MHR is well above that.”

http://www.runnersworld.com/ask-the-sports-doc/what-is-my-maximum-heart-rate

The three Gilis. They seem pretty low and vulnerable from up here
The three Gilis. They seem pretty low and vulnerable from up here

Now, I really hate using genitalia, particularly female genitalia, as a adverb or adjective especially in a negative sense. It’s a protest thing, against the misogynistic and brutally chauvinistic small-town Western Australian upbringing I endured. But I confess I confess that a certain Anglo-Saxon manner of describing something in the strongest negative terms using a word for female genitalia crosses my mind when I am half way up a long, but not too long, 15%-er in the full sun. I am labouring, my heart my heart is waaay over the 170 +/- maximum beats per minute recommended for a man my age. I swear I believe I can feel the first tickling tension and tightening sensation in my left chest which warns me I’m approaching rupture point.

I swerve across the road, gingerly get off Dreamer and lie collapse with my head on the downhill side of the slight incline of a disused brugak, my Metz cycle-helmet nestling my head. And I wait. For the heart-attack, for the incredible drumming in my chest to die down, for my body to cease twitching each-time the blood pulses through my system in perfect timing to that heart-beat.

Cycling has three essential components: Leg power, Heart-beat and Breathing.

I’ve plenty of leg power. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to get my heart-beat to max out quite the way I have. Breathing is laboured.

For in my calculation of the day’s ride I failed to take account four days of Chil-Out Guru Pierre. Four days of a relentless diet of Marlboro Gold cigarettes. And chilling out. Beers and drinks. Good food. Four days.

Add Fucked Lungs to 15%, mid-30s temperature, no cooling wind, and (relatively high-density) traffic with very poor exhaust emission control, and I simply can’t shift enough oxygen into my blood stream so my poor heart races more than ever before desperately trying to supply the necessary fuel to legs who are wonderfully rested and eager to prove their power.

Continuing I stop frequently on the hills well before my legs start to burn well before my heart does too. I am grateful when I finally crest the last hill climb over the last peninsular and Senggigi is laid out before me for the road south to Lembar is flat. I commit myself to reduce my desire for the ‘odd’ cigarette.

After a nice lunch at the Bambu Café in Senggigi the rest of the ride to Lembar is very enjoyable along small roads with little traffic.

Back road, very light traffic, no trucks. Flat. Low heart attack potential. A joy to ride
Back road, very light traffic, no trucks. Flat. Low heart attack potential. A joy to ride

Half an hour after arriving in Lembar the ferry departs and I arrive in Padan Bai around 2000. Fifteen minutes later I’ve found a decent homestay just behind the harbour. Tomorrow I’ve 70 km to the Bukit, with the last five kilometres being a nasty hill. I do not smoke any cigarettes.

My home for the four our trip to Padang Bai. Quite a pleasant little trip actually
My home for the four our trip to Padang Bai. Quite a pleasant little trip actually
Somewhere in the hold, among the trucks and scooters is Dreamer
Somewhere in the hold, among the trucks and scooters is Dreamer
Cautiously sandwiched against a bulkhead hoping to avoid being squished by a behemoth
Cautiously sandwiched against a bulkhead hoping to avoid being squished by a behemoth

The Bukit, 24 April 2016

The main roads out of Padan Bai all climb for the first three kilometres. I’m not keen on starting my day with some grunt of a hill climb. Checking Google Maps it appears that there is a small road winding its way along the coast. I’m going to try following it. There is a small possibility that there are hills along this road to. They may even be steeper than the main road, for otherwise why wouldn’t this small road be THE road heading south out of town.

The options I considered concerning getting out of Padang Bai without kilometres of hill climb. I have to go south
The options I considered concerning getting out of Padang Bai without kilometres of hill climb. I have to go south

Sure enough, within a kilometre I’m climbing 15%, again. The hill crests and the road drops down. This worries me for if I do have to climb to say 100 m or so I would like to do it only once. Not climb to 50 m, drop back to 25 m and then climb again.

But the road does not climb again. It gets narrower and narrower. There may be a line on a Google Map, but it doesn’t tell me the type nor condition of the road. And Google Maps is not entirely accurate. As the road becomes a track and kampongs replace villas and houses I wonder if at a certain point I’ll hit a dead-end and need to back track.

Eventually the track becomes a (muddy) path which winds its way through coconut groves. I come to The River, a blue line on Google Maps. My path follows the river to the main road. On the other side of the river Google Maps shows kampongs and roads. There is no bridge.

My road-track-path out of Padang Bai. The river is to the left
My road-track-path out of Padang Bai. The river is to the left

I stop to take photos when I hear a scooter approaching. It drives past me, turns left and crosses a dry river and into the area where the kampongs are. Another scooter comes the other way, crossing the river.

If they can do it, I can do it.

And the river is dry. Not quite sure the way mind you but it's godda go somewhere
And the river is dry. Not quite sure the way mind you but it’s godda go somewhere

I cross the river, follow the path until a small road appears and using a bit of intuition make various choices as to whether to go left or right and within a short space of time find myself at the main road. Aside of the short 15%er earlier, no hill. And an interesting ride to boot.

Truly a Path
Truly a Path

I’m feeling a L O T better than yesterday. Traffic is pretty heavy with the long low hills particularly nasty since over-laden trucks labour producing vast clouds of black smoke which linger. I have to ride through some of these clouds for minutes at a time. Very tasty.

Dragon fruit. It's a fruit of a cactus
Dragon fruit. It’s a fruit of a cactus

I takes me just over three hours to do the 60-odd kilometres the junction close to Tex’s place where I stop for lunch. The hill of the last three kilometres had some nasty short steep sections. Drawing upon my lessons of yesterday I stopped before my heart went ballistic and crawled up slowly but surely.

I return to Tex’s place to find myself alone.

Tomorrow I need to finalise arrangements for The Return Of Ram.

Ram and I have had a relationship for ten years. Occasionally we tend to fail to see things in the same way and consequently go our separate ways. This happened whilst riding around Australia and I found myself not only single but single with no future. For, until that point, my future had been Ram. She is building up her life in the north of Sweden and I was going to join her.

When we split up I found I had no future.

I was on a bike in the middle of Australia and suddenly my entire world consisted of everything that was with me. Each day my future changed by the number of kilometres I did that day. There was no Grand Plan. The post-Ram future Plan had now become Let’s See What Happens When I Don’t Ride Any More Kilometres. That maybe Perth. It could have been Alice Springs. Perhaps it would be Darwin. Maybe even Indonesia. Or wherever. Since my entire future had been based on Ram I had no Plan B since I didn’t expect to not have Ram.

It was a very interesting experience. I choose to ignore the What Am I Going To Do? question since I have at least another 6500 km and six months to answer it.

Then, of course, Ram contacts me. The winter season in Sweden is coming to an end, she’s time before her next contract and would like to join me. Timing means this would happen in Indonesia. How about it?

Hmmm …

Ten years is a long time. We’ve been through some amazing times. Not sure about you but I find it quite hard to throw away ten years. We discuss the How Did We Get To This Point? question and decide it was a mistake.

Well, the day after tomorrow on the 26th April, Ram is arriving for her post-season relaxation break in Bali. The first time she’s been outside of Europe.

This leave tomorrow to arrange some minor details like accommodation, and how to get to the airport to meet her and transport her back to wherever we shall be accommodated.

We’ll also need transport whilst she’s here. That means I godda hire the ubiquitous scooter, the King Queen and Scourge of transport and traffic in Indonesia.

Not a lot that has to be done, but I still godda do it.

For accommodation I’m hoping to stay at Thomas Homestay at Padang Padang beach near Uluwatu on the west coast of the Bukit. You can Google Thomas Homestay and you’ll end up with a phone number. It doesn’t work. Digging further I found a blog. On the blog was another phone number. It too did not work. Someone had pointed this out to the blogger who came up with yet another phone number. It doesn’t work either. Tex, who laughs at my idea of booking in advance anyway claiming they’ll never honour the booking, rides to Thomas Homestay. Yes, he confirms, it still exits (I had my doubts) and I get yet another phone number. I get through to someone who hasn’t a clue what I’m talking about.

So I have to track down Thomas Homestay in person and book and pay for a room. Only I’m not really sure how to get to Thomas Homestay. It should be a fun pursuit.

 

Max

The Bukit 24 April 2016

2 thoughts on “Back to the Bukit, a death-defying odyssey

  1. When you get time and a chance, check out the max temps for inland WA and NT, I’ve noticed lately that they’re dropping and now down to mid to high 30’s

    Like

    1. Thanks Warrick. Even here in Indo the temps dropped a few degrees (a few) and the humidity has eased. Getting close to cycling season. I look forward to it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s