The Flores Bike Adventure
Destination: East Nusa Tenggara more specifically Maumere. Getting there seemed to be an adventure in itself as we were greeted at Jakarta International airport with a cancelled sign and no real possibility of another flight. Eventually we were loaded bikes and all on to a Garuda flight to Denpasar. Unfortunately, we had missed our connecting flight to Maumere. Lion Air were decent enough to put us into a hotel for the night.
Next day we were ready to board out Lion air / Wings Air flight to Maumere.
We arrived in Maumere with about 2 hours left of sunlight. It was straight into assembling the bikes as quickly as we could and hitting the road. We cycled for around 18 km into the fading sunlight to a very modest guest house on the outskirts of maumere on the coast. Dinner and bed!
Day 1: 86 km Maumere – Moni : We awoke after a pleasant night sleep at around 5:30 am, ate our breakfast and hit the road. The road out of Maumere is pleasant enough although it was a very gradual climb over the tops. We had to make it from the north coast onto the south coast and the climb was relentless. It wasn’t because it was steep it just continued to climb and wind.
We hit Pago just before lunch after a pleasant downhill for around 15 minutes. Pago is a beautiful white sand beach that is practically deserted. You can stay at the bungalows on offer if you feel the need for isolation. We were tempted to stay the night but understood we had to keep cycling to Moni. After nasi goreng chicken it was back on the bikes for the second leg. Once again we found ourselves slowly climbing what seemed like an endless hill. The scenery around us was breathtaking with the coast on one side and the rolling hills with rice paddies on the other. We eventually arrived in Moni around 4:30 pm and found a reasonably priced guesthouse for Rp 150, 000.
Day 2: 63 km Moni – Ende : After visiting the magnificent Lakes of Kelimutu, we were back on the bikes again. Oh yes we had to climb out of Moni slowly but surely for around 20 km. The road was very good and we weren’t bothered by almost any traffic. The road bends and winds until you finally make it to the top where we had a welcomed rest at a fruit market. People were telling us that the downhill was about 25 km long and I was ready for some freewheeling! The locals were not wrong as the the descent down into Ende was sublime. We freewhelled for around 25 km wondering when we aould have to climb again. There was the occasional climb but nothing we had experienced on the previous day. We arrived in Ende around 1:00 pm and decided to find a guest house just on the outskirts of this dusty town.
Day 3: 79 km Ende – Bajawa : This was to be a very emotional day for us. The ride out of Ende was nice enough as the road hugged the coast and treated us to some spectacular views. As I was riding I could see on the horizon the real mountains of Flores that awaited us. Soon enough the winding road began and we started the climb. We stopped at a roadside market and stocked up on local fruits and the ever so needed water. The road continued to climb and we were told “Naik lagi” which means uphill again! I didn’t like this word as it became somewhat demoralizing. We eventually arrived in Bajawa very tired and extremely sweaty around 5:00 pm. The night in Bajawa was terribly cold and didn’t boost our morale for the next day.
Day 4: 94 km Bajawa – Ruteng : This was another day of climbing right into the interior of Flores beautiful landscape. The scenery was stunning with sweeping vistas, volcanoes and very friendly locals that thought we were crazy. At around 12:00 pm we had realized that we had only covered around 45 km and still had a long way to go. We made a very good decision to flag a bus and load the bikes onto the roof. I was not ashamed at doing this as the climb was relentless and the higher we got, the colder we became. It was strange to be in a tropical country and feel cold like that! We arrived in Ruteng around 3:00 pm and managed to find a guesthouse with blankets! (Cold water shower though).
Day 5: 143 km Ruteng – Labuan Bajo : This had to be the hardest day of cycling I have ever done. Although we had a steady downhill we understood that we would be climbing again. Once at the bottom of a mountain we had to do it all again 3 times! It was like a roller coaster. We cycled on at a very slow pace until we eventually reached one of many crests. The only difference with this one was that fact we could see the west coast of Flores and our coveted destination of Labuan bajo at the bottom. The ride down to Labuan was spectacular although many trucks seem to use the road as a car park. We had to manuver around the trucks and drivers carefully as the road continued to zig zag down the mountain. We arrived in Labuan bajo just before sunset and we were greeted with a spectacular show of colour as the sun said goodbye for the day. We stayed at gardena guest house which is located on the main street in Labuan Bajo. Total Distance: 465 km.
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