Biking In Bali, You Certainly Get What You Pay For!
After a recent holiday in Europe and Canada It was decided by management that it was time for me to address the issue of pounds I had somehow acquired on our recent travels. “This excess weight must be shed, and quickly”, was the directive from on high.
After a couple of days away on assignment I noticed on my return that there were two brand new bikes parked in the driveway of our villa in Bali.
This, I was informed would, from now on be our preferred mode of transport around the district where we live and perhaps further afield.
Now, not being an avid cyclist I was a little wary of pedaling my way around Sanur in 30 degree heat but once I gave the transport the once over, even I had to admit that the machines looked quite zippy.
The 'racing stripes ' that ran along the frame coupled with the ten speed gears suddenly made me feel that I would look rather alluring cycling through the lanes and streets that make up our neighbourhood.
I could see myself now, whizzing past the warungs, shouting out a cheery "Salamat Pagi "to the traders and pedestrians who would undoubtedly see me as one of those fit, athletic types who looked quite at home, and dare I say it, quite fetching on two wheels.
The detailed reasons given for the two machines in the driveway was, I was told, “to get you back into shape and so, a couple of hours a day should fix the problem in no time flat.”
Given my position as an impoverished, “kept writer " I had no option but to follow the management’s instructions and so we set out on our first jaunt at 6am on a glorious Bali morning.
The day was indeed a splendid one, albeit a little muggy but once settled into the saddle I felt quite at home on this speedy little machine. Now, granted the route to the beach is very much down hill and after a few minutes I was wondering why I had been so averse to cycling for so many years.
We sailed along, my feet hardly the touching the pedals and I was beginning to have thoughts about registering for the le Tour, I mean how hard could it be? All those cyclists have been lying to me for years!
Management unfortunately had to turn around once we had reached the beach and head home to get ready to go to work; after all she has a writer to keep!
Emboldened, I carried on, racing along the seafront as if doing the final sprint along the Champs Elysees.
Seven Kilometers of this and it was time to head home, (I mean let's not push things too far on the first outing!)
The first thing that alerted me to the fact that something was amiss was the grating sound coming from the rear wheel and, coupled with that I had detected a slight vibration a few minutes before but put this down to the road’s surface.
However I did stop, and discovered that the mudguard had lost its screw and now rested atop the tire.
No problem I thought after removing the mudguard and tucking it under my arm and re- mounting. Within five hundred meters there was a loud 'ping' from the front wheel as a spoke popped out of it’s housing and whizzed around like a vicious sabre at right angles to the wheel!
This was followed by several more spokes deciding to join their lone companion and break free from the confines of their housing with that same, ominous pinging sound. I now felt a little like chariot racer of old complete with hideous spikes protruding from the wheels. These were at a height that would decapitate a small child so thought it best to stop for some running repairs.
I jam the spokes back as best I can into their corresponding sockets and once more climb aboard the trusty steed.
Something however feels definitely 'not right' as one, then the other pedal decides to part company with the frame and then, as if it was all a co- ordinated plot, the handlebars begin point in a different direction to the one I am going and, lest we forget, I am pedal -less!
Those are the little rubber things that are meant to bring the beast to a halt.
As I apply full pressure to both front and rear 'brakes' the little rubber pads crumble like a stale cup cake on a hot afternoon as they go about their supposed business of braking.
Abandon ship is the only option I feel left to me as I wobble full tilt to the safety of sand and tumble ungraciously arse over tip in front of about fifty children who are enjoying a school outing.
My sporty machine in pieces, my ego somewhat bruised and I am at least five kilometers from home and I forced to carry the bloody thing with bits and pieces slung over my shoulder.
That night, all thoughts of a career on Le Tour banished I ask management exactly how much she paid for the sporty machines.
"$70" she answered nonchalantly.
" Each?" I ask. “No,” she replied " for both"
"Bargain," I reply looking at the bits and pieces lying in the driveway.
The allure of an air-conditioned cab is suddenly is a lot more appealing.
Paul v Walters is the best selling novelist and travel writer. His latest offering Scimitar was released in August 2016.