“Where are we going?”
“North,” was my answer when the Javanese filming team asked me for the route for the day, while I was saddling up my bike for its first ride.
“Where exactly? What’s the course?” I didn’t know. The direction of The Moto Quest isn’t mapped out; it’ll lead where my heart and the roads are taking me.
This morning’s sun was shining as bright as my smile when we rolled off. I had set aside 5-7 days to take my moto around Bali and I only had a camera team following me for the first day to document this essential event.
Me, and the boys on their scooters, were making our way through the mad Indonesian traffic towards Mount Batukaru in central Bali. I felt challenged by just jumping on a bike that I hadn’t ridden before and managing the crazy traffic on unknown roads. But the excitement was immense and I felt so satisfied, as being in the saddle poking my head in the wind of freedom was what I had been working towards in the last months.
After about an hour of throttling along, the roads became less busy, steeper, smaller… and my heart wider. During the last few weeks I couldn’t wait to soak in Bali’s beauty on my bike and here it was! The mountains appeared in the distance with dark thunderclouds around them, which we rode straight into. The rain hit us from one second to the other and we escaped to a little shop with a veranda where we spend the next 3 hours watching the heavy rainfall, keeping warm with tea, making friends with the locals and getting to know each other. Even though the Java boys’ skin was covered in goose bumps, the mood was still high.
When the rain finally stopped, it was already afternoon and time for my camera team to get the habour to catch the ferry to Java. I only understood little bits of what they were discussing in Bahasa and I was happy to hear about their decision to split the group so two of them, Tofan and Archi, could stay with me to make sure I was okay and to get some more footage. The bike wasn’t handling well and I was very pleased to be accompanied for a little longer.
As we continued on the road, the surroundings became more gorgeous with every kilometre. Winding roads with spectacular views, mystical highland lakes, colourful villages and rich green rice fields.
I couldn’t stop smiling until the moment I dropped my bike… I was trying to turn it on a little hill to ride back to where the boys were waiting with the cameras, when, due to the elevation of the road on one side, the bike tilted too far over before my left foot could reach the ground. I couldn’t hold the weight of it and had to let go. Before what just happened sunk in, I had two villagers running over to me to help me pick it back up. All my concerns were about the bike and whether I could continue with the ride. The damage was minor but I felt disappointed in myself. After bending the handlebars back in place and taking a little break on the side of the road, Tofan rode it for the next few kilometers to confirm my opinion about the points that didn’t feel right. It was clear now that the bike needs some more adjustments done and that it is too tall for me; but we would make assessments on if and how to continue the next morning.
It was getting dark, foggy and freezing, so we had to focus on finding accommodation for the night. We put our tired bodies to rest in a beautiful town called Munduk, high in the mountains with a peaceful flair.
A wonderful morning walk down to the river was followed by a breakfast filled with laughter about last night’s snoring and discussions about how to continue. We felt re-energised and I was motivated to give the motorbike another chance before we made the final call on weather to take it back or for me to continue alone. Back on the road, downhill this time, the smile on my face returned. Even though I felt more relaxed on the bike and probably could have kept going,I accepted that this was what a test ride is for; finding out how the bike is handling and making further changes until it’s running perfect. So we spent the whole day on the road riding back to Verve in Batu Belig, where we reached just as the sun was setting. The way through the mountains towards the coast was most stunning and we got spoiled with incredible views while passing remote little villages. I felt calm and happy, knowing that these were just the first two days of riding followed by many more.
The day ended by the beach with the three of us reflecting on the journey and planning my trip across Java, which will be captured on film.
It felt a little weird to carry my saddlebags upstairs to my room in my Canggu home that night. The last two days I got a glimpse of what’s ahead of me and my thoughts were very busy before I fell asleep…