April 03 2020 Friday at 02:01 PM

Put Down That Beer & Take Up a Bicycle

This is what happens when you mix empty winding roads, that are warped along the edges of the rich green terraced rice paddies with a fever for movement. At the Deus Temple of Enthusiasm, when the wave gods haven’t graced us with their swells, it’s tough not to get stuck into the afternoon beers in the backyard that inevitably ends up as a night partying at one of the many spots now in the local area. With no waves for an expected full three days, we decided we didn't have to do that and headed up into the cooler clime of the mountains. The idea was to trade the beer bottles for pushing some pedals. Never ones to conform to the conventionalism, we’d be riding bikes that resemble what the older Balinese generation rides, simple steel frames set up with single speed gears and Dutch style handlebars adorned with a handbrake. Mind you we’d incorporated some components to make them just that little bit sweeter. Our focus was to find uncrowded roads devoid of typical Bali traffic, where local kids could still be found playing in the street. Where there were hills you could bomb without worrying about getting hit by a cement truck around the next turn. We headed off after the morning rush hour and arrived up at our beautiful new digs, Puri Tupai Villa. Situated on the southern edge of Ubud, a town that’s always been over brimming with culture and its own unique version of creative flair, it has also become a swarming metropolis of new restaurants and groovy little cafes constantly replenished with busloads of tourists that ply the road between Nusa Dua and there. In hindsight, perhaps not the best place to find these uncrowded Jalan’s we were searching for. We had called up our friends over at Bali Road Bike prior to coming up and just after arriving they got back to us with the good oil on where we might find a few meandering miles of asphalt without putting in a day’s drive to get there. We were seeking the Bali that you dream about, the one you see on the postcards. A place steeped in its traditional origins and culture but lost in time. And boy oh boy did we find it. Matt Cuddihy & Harrison Roach, swapped their four-stroke motorcycles for one geared bicycles and in doing so were flung back to the roots of self-powered transportation. The feeling of the hard slog uphill, the exertion it took to move man and bike without the help, or need for that matter, of 24 different speeds turned out to be the perfect cardio preparation for the upcoming Deus 9ft Event. Once they crested a hill they took time out to collect a breath and to take in the view before pointing their handlebars back downhill and the rewards the serpentine roads lavished on them. The wind in the face, the gentle rays of light piercing the green canopy above and bathing the golden fields that were their constant companion off to one side. It’s almost as sweet as being in the saddle of a powered motorbike. Almost. Amidst the mountains the climate is cooler, a lot cooler. And as anyone knows a fresh breeze against warm perspiration and you got the making of your own personal air conditioner on any hot day, and up here along the cloud line, it only added to its beautiful normality. With these obliging conditions, it is little wonder they went back up, time and time again, flying back down those hills with no hands and laughing like lunatics as one of their wheels nearly slide out is a session not to forget. What goes down must come up, or, what goes up must come down. Can’t remember which, but I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. Ask Harrison about his, less than halfway through the trip his bike had no back brakes. Adds a different dimension to hitting curves at an unstoppable 40 clicks an hour. The three days of tirelessly pumping pedals and gliding down the uncrowded circuitous roads paid dividends, not necessarily as good as a surf session but added to the fact they’d gone without imbibing any beers since coming north, the entire experience had led to a nice healthy lifestyle choice. The time not spent on the road was spent soaking up the tranquil surroundings of the villa, which consisted of two traditional Joglo houses. Beautiful teak timber buildings with ornately carved details. They could have been a hundred years old or just one. The perfect union of elements from both Balinese and Javanese cultures. They grew their own organic vegetables just outside our windows and in the common area, there was a well-stocked library with everything from D.H Lawrence to Jack Kerouac. Our minds were at ease and our stomachs contently appeased. And all this a mere forty minute drive from the Deus Temple at Jalan Batu Mejan in Canggu. For all of us, it’s an experience that will in no time at all, have us coming back for more. Big thanks to our friends at Puri Tupai Villas and Bali Road Bike Words by Jemma Scott & Ano Mac Photos by Giang Gow