The Hills of Lombok

The wind was blowing from the north west so Artemis was rolling in the swell. We were missing a vital part for the gearbox so could not go any where. It seemed like everything was breaking down. It was time for a bike ride.

We assembled the bikes and found that Heidi’s bike had two broken spikes so the first trip was to find a bike mechanic. The 72 year old expert spoke no English but Dewi and Bagus, the owners of the neighboring shop helped out. Dewi also told us that she comes from the beautiful village of Sembalun, high on the flanks of the still active volcano Mount Rinjani. We found a picture of a star shaped lookout so we had a target.

We planned a route using Alltrails which took us through the mountains. There were lots of valleys to cross and ridges to climb but, as we tell everyone when they search for our electric motors, “we are young and fit!” The problem is that some of the bridges across the rivers no longer exist and two connecting roads that are shown must have disappeared in the last earthquake. The state of the mountain roads is atrocious and everything is steep but the locals are all friendly and helpful. We left at eight in the morning but by five in the afternoon we were faced with an impassable gorge so descended in the light rain back to the coast road.

We reached the main road at six, just as the thunderstorm began and darkness descended. Luckily the first person we met was the English speaking Wina who organised a pick-up to carry us and our bikes through the deluge the last 17 kilometers to our hotel.

We had decided that we deserved one night of luxury at the Rinjani Lodge where we arrived tired, cold, dirty and hungry. After being shown the room, the view, the swimming pool and the restaurant menu, we decided that we actually deserved two days of luxury.

Day ones’s track is at Alltrails

After a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant perched high on the mountainside we walked up the gorge to see the impressive  Tiu Kelep waterfall. We were in a rain forest so the drizzle which then turned to rain and finally to a monsoon downpour was not unexpected. The path had fallen in to the river in a few places so river crossings were also on the program. Finally we reached the point where we couldn’t get any wetter so posing for photos under the spray of the waterfall was no longer a problem.

On day three we breakfasted early and descended out of the mountains almost back to sea level before turning up the road to Sembalun. We climbed 1300 meters up a road that at times reached 25%. Even the passing scooters were riding zig-zag to gain height. The humidity started at about 100% and the temperature was around 30°C. Not surprisingly we pushed some of the way but even so we received numerous thumbs up and looks of astonishment from the locals. The only rain was during the lunch stop so, incredibly, we reached the village dry. The hotel didn’t have a restaurant so we biked up the hill in to the village for dinner (as you do at the end of such a day 🙂

Day threes’s track is at Alltrails

Early on the morning of day four we cycled up to the view point above the village to enjoy the spectacular views to Mount Rinjani, still 1800 meters above us, and down on to the fields in the valley below. Luckily this early in the morning there was neither rain nor clouds hiding the mountains. From the viewpoint we descended almost to seal level. Non-stop downhill while pointing out every shop we had bought drinks at, stone we had rested on and curve we had pushed round the day before. We learn from experience so took the coastal road home and finally stopped at a hotel after 63 kilometers. We showered and walked in to the village to look for lunch. All day it had been dry but now we took shelter at the village shop as rivers fell from the sky accompanied by lightning strikes and thunder. After an hour we abandoned the restaurant idea, bought food from the shop, bagged our shoes in plastic and waded home.

Day fours’s track is at Alltrails

On the last day we woke to more torrential rain but by eight o’clock everything was drying out and we could enjoy a short trip through the rice fields back to our cycle mechanic – Heidi had another broken spoke – and then back to the boat. It was the Balinese festival of Galungan so the streets and temples were decorated and all the Hindus were dressed in their best outfits. A beautiful end to an amazing tour.

Day five’s track is at Alltrails

186 kilometers, 3200 meters of climbing, thousands of “Selamat pagi” and “Selamat Siang” and many, many friendly, smiling people.

Wina who saved us when it was dark and rainy. Dewi and Ayu helping plan the route. One of the many local cooks and stallholders who kept us going and our repair man. Thank you! All of you.

All our photos of Indonesia on in the album at Google.

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