Biking In Bali Is A Breeze

23 July 2015
Read Time: 2.6 mins

Making decisions on holiday is hard. Do you get up and embrace the morning – be that a walk or some yoga – or linger in bed a little while longer? Do you attempt to master the art of windsurfing or read that book you've been meaning to get through by the pool? It's not like you've got anywhere to be, right? Except maybe in a cabana on the beach, with a cocktail in your hand.

While there was a lot to keep me occupied at Club Med Bali in lovely Nusa Dua, the wonders outside the compound were calling. I, plus a few other keen cyclists, had signed up for an eagerly anticipated 25-kilometre bike ride through the rice fields of Kintamani.

Not only was it high on my list of things to do in Bali, I thought it might also help my clothes fit better. I'd only been there three days and the buffet had already taken a toll on how well my dresses were fitting. Little did I know I'd be keeping my hands firmly clasped around the brakes with little need to peddle on this downhill adventure.

 Serene and green

Club Med Bali's Discovery Centre offers a swathe of adventures to choose from, including the likes of white-water rafting, temple visits and monkey forest excursions at an additional cost.

Putu, our guide for the day, was all smiles as we bounded into the van early that morning. He warned it was going to be a long drive – almost two hours – from Nusa Dua to Kintamani where we would be beginning our cycling adventure, winding through remote villages to our end point in Ubud.

As a first-time visitor to Bali, I was surprised how immaculate the roads were. Lined, signed and sealed, there were few potholes to avoid and dirt tracks to traverse – even through the villages.

School children donning pressed, colourfully striking uniforms strolled hand-in-hand, two-by-two to temples, as some of the scrawniest chickens I've ever seen darted about and weathered gentlemen bartered over glistening golden bottles of Absolut that lined many ramshackle storefronts. Not for some kind of bootleg moonshine, but petrol.

Fancy joining the club? See all that's on offer at Club Med Bali

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Before we strapped on our helmets and got comfortable on two wheels, we had a couple of stops to make. The first was a coffee plantation high up in the mountains with stunning views into the lush valley below.

The specialty in these parts is kopi luwak: coffee beans that have been ingested and passed by cats. Said to be the world's most expensive coffee, it seemed somewhat appropriate that the plantation was also home to the world's most expensive coffee shop.

Now I'm not a coffee drinker, nor is maths my strong suit, but it didn't take me long to work out the coffees my travelling buddies ordered were not 80c, but a whopping $8AUD each. And due to ethical reasons, they didn't even order the kopi luwak. It was a big price to pay for a sip of what was mostly sugar and milk. In hindsight, I wish I had spoken up. Sorry, ladies.

 Lake Batur

Our next photo opportunity was high above Lake Batur and the active Mount Batur volcano. The extortionate coffee prices were all but forgotten as we snapped away at the visually arresting landscape before us.

 Handmade wedding pastries by a local family

Finally arriving in Kintamani, we donned our helmets and set off zooming through its villages, waving to kids and even calling into a traditional Balinese home compound. It seemed more like a temple than a home, dotted with small pavilions and tranquil gardens. The women of the family were busy crafting hyper-coloured pastries for an upcoming wedding.

As I mentioned, the route was all downhill, suitable for any fitness level. All I really needed to do was sit tight, hold on and steer. I might've impressed the loved ones by boasting about my 25-kilometre bike ride, though I probably didn't peddle any more than two kilometres the entire way.

 Cycling through the rice fields a must-do in Bali

My visions of Bali mostly invoke cascading rice fields, and though they were a little further south than I had anticipated, I still got a glimpse of these picturesque landscapes.

But those views, at least the ones I took home, came at a price. About $1 per photograph, I couldn't help but grin when I saw the villagers' signs. Their entrepreneurial sense is admirable.

Cycling through Kintamani is a great way to see the countryside and get out into the fresh air. Just don't count on burning too many calories.

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.