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Adventure: Indonesia by Bike – Surfing the Rinjani volcano

I knew Indonesia from a previous surf trip back in 2009, and ever since I have been waiting for a good time to hit those island with my bike. With the project of my travel book coming out this year, I saw a good opportunity to escape from the rainy French spring, I choose a good and reliable bike, as my main goal was to be the Rinjani volcano, a 3726 meter high cone falling into the Indian ocean. I also wanted to do everything on the bike so I was getting prepared for some long road days.

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I arrived in Bali, no EVOC bike case this time as I knew I will be flying home from another island! I opened the box and went straight to the south of the island for some serious surf. The waves were good, making it hard to get back on the saddle as the sun was killing me while pedaling along the rice field.

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But soon I was in the mountains and around Mt Batur, an active volcano with a crater, with it’s lake and rich life surrounding the main cone. I was going to spend a few days exploring the trail in the dry zone, before heading into the jungle for some incredible riding! I’ve meet so many people along the way, and people were curious about my very strange bike, and they all worried I was riding a bicycle because I was poor.

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This started many a funny conversation, especially because I was trying to explain my point of view, their simple lives are richer than what we see in the western word. Because in my opinion they have more time for their family and for themselves, surrounded by beautiful nature, simple and rural life. In some remote place I was invited to stay with the family, forgetting the camera and enjoying the moment as if it could be the last.

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After a few days I went back to the coast and reached the harbor, where I jumped on a boat for Lombok island. It took me some time to cross the island and get to the porter’s village, the heat was killing me and I had to set my backpack on my handle bar for some road action. Eventually I made it and managed to find the way to climb the volcano with Haduk the porter.

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The local were shocked to see me trying it on bike and most of them did not want to help me as they thought it was too dangerous! Finally after one climbing day I was enjoying the sunset on the crater rim and realized a lot about my challenge in life. Happy to be alive and ready to meet the challenge. I had some fun convincing Haduk that this mountain bike can make it.

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I reached the summit during the night, after carrying the bike for about two hours, a few dozen hikers were watching the sun rising. All hypnotized by this divine show. I decided to start the downhill before everyone else set off, the hikers were looking at me, taking picture of me like I was living the last ride of my life. I took off and started the very steep and rocky descent, after the rocky summit I was carrying some speed and making clouds in the dust, with eyes on the rising sun, the Indian ocean and the island around me.

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It was like snowboarding, and an intense moment, I suddenly stopped, I watched the crowd on the summit and screamed my happiness, they responded to me and it filled me with energy. Heading down on this massive volcano was a lot of fun, it was fast and sandy on top, then some forest, roosty dirt and finally the super fast savanna style bottom when I reached the porter’s village. After some rest and forest riding it was time to get to the ferry and cross the channel to put my tires on Sumbawa island.

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I had an interesting but hard time crossing this huge island on the roads. Saw dozens of villages full of kids screaming « misterrrrrrr » when I was actually trying to keep some speed and try to not get cooked by the sun! Riding around the sea fields, coconut tree forest and avoiding so many local cows.

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I finally made it to this surf spot I knew from before. There I had an awesome time surfing and meeting the community, happy to enjoy a new ION surfboard flying from France with a friend! The conditions had been good and the time was going faster and faster. I managed to paint a surf kayak with the local kids using some Posca. It was a good time, sharing and learning about art.

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When I left Indonesia I had the feeling of having had kind of the perfect trip, complete with human and nature but also the thrill of riding. Indonesia is tough, raw, and demanding effort but there is so much to do and the people are amazing!

Words & Pictures: Tito Tomasi

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