It's another Sunday and there's another forty riders who converged on Deus for an eight am 'breaking of the fast' and then a ride to places unknown.
For the second Deus Kumpul-Kumpul Ride, we stuck to the format we had on the first. A select few know the coordinates and the rest put their faith in the few to not lead them astray. Misguided, I'd never say it to their face!
Full bellys and gassed tanks later we wheeled out of the carpark and hightailed it in the direction of Tabanan. We took the scenic route of course, shying away from the main road as our fanfare of fun slid through one village after another. Straight ahead at Krambitan Market, then we paralleled the Tukad Yeh Ho River roughly north until we came upon the main road.
There was no reason to linger on that diabolical and deadly asphalt ribbon that ties Denpasar to the port of Gilimanuk though. We used it only to get us safely to the other side of the bridge that spans the wide river before throwing ourselves in front of the oncoming traffic with a quick right and resumed our trajectory north but this time we seemed to also be headed sky wards.
Batu Karu, Bali’s second highest mountain, sprawled ahead of us, we navigated the bit of blacktop that wound fifteen kilometres straight up her side before doubling back. A slew of twists and turns upon little motored roads. Mind you, two years of little or no maintenance had wrought havoc on more than a couple of sections but for the most part it remains a motorcyclist’s dream.
In Dalang, we circled our long posse up around a big fork in the road, the guys and gals dismounted. A little down time to smoke kreteks and allow everyone for stretching their legs. The view back down the hill towards the coast, nothing short of spectacular from up there. It took more than several minutes to look uphill and realise that we were in the shadow of a less than salubrious chicken hatchery. A couple of the lads huddled around a troublesome two stroke doing running repairs but mostly people just sat about. The van arrived and water was distributed to the chin wag.
The call went out to saddle up and move on and we did. Our way lay upwards for another six kilometres. The trees were filling in now and the twisted road was dappled with shadows as we ambled ever upwards. At one point we climbed through a markedly cooler layer, an atmospheric thermocline, regardless of whether you wore a jacket or not you felt it. This mountain, Batu Karu, rises up to over twenty two hundred meters above sea level and just shy of a thousand we went around to the left as the road curved off and as quick as we’d come up, we went down.
You could shut off your engine if you wanted to and coast. Spinning silently through the bends and a blur of small villages. Lulled by the passing landscape and return of warmth then about seven clicks down, suddenly having to pull up for a hard right as we were gestured off onto a mountain pass. The road went from what you would call ‘twisty’ to downright ‘gnarly’. Wasn’t for long though and we popped out on the Pupuan road and a short drive to lunch.
We ate, talked and laughed a lot. We met new best friends and were reacquainted with past mates with whom we’d shared rides in the past. A perfect lunch spot perched, literally, on top of a rice field. Wonderful hosts and delicious food made for an exceptional punctuation point in our Sunday ride. As we were leaving we grabbed everyone together to pose for the obligatory group photo.
Back up the main road, we headed a few hundred meters up hill to a spread of dirt and grass we’d earmarked for the competition area, a place to hold our ‘go slow’ races. You know the drill, riders line up in smaller groups, or heats, to try to be the slowest across the carpark without letting a foot hit down. It’s the perfect anodyne sidesplitting shenanigans made more interesting after we opened the vans doors and introduced a little ice cold Bintang lubrication to the throng. Nothing too serious as to inhibit the journey back but enough to put smiles all round and unbalance one or two trying to ride at point zero, zero, zero, five kilometers an hour across the patch of dirt. After several hilarious heats we’d whittling the audience from nearly forty to the last five who were all gifted a Deus prize.
The ride back is always a funny one, isn’t it? You’re in this loose pack that’s headed on a more direct route for home. But home has multiple destinations. They are all similar but each unique. You wave to people as they peel off to the left or right on their personal routes until you are the one doing the peeling off. Coming into my carpark mid afternoon Sunday, switching off the bike I paused. I sat there a moment and without thinking, just listening to the new sound of silence from home. Neighbours dogs barked, there were bikes in the distance, always birds about and you could even hear my exhaust creak a little as it cooled down, I experienced this fabulous warm feeling of knowing that was one great ride under my belt.
Can’t wait for Deus Kumpul-Kumpul Three… it’s bound to be huge.