It rained last night and the clouds were still clinging to the mountains in the morning so I slept in.Eventually I set off to visit the Kelimutu volcano with its three colour crater lakes on the insistence of the lodge owner that ‘no problem can see can see’.
Nope. Half way up the dusty road I turned around.Couple of consolation photos then are this giant bamboo bike. And a selfie. Actually I’m not too bothered missing this item. I’m not travelling anymore to see touristy things.I stopped at a bridge, and the kids playing in the river went wild jumping up and down waving which made me feel a surge of joy. Tourists in mini vans don’t see this or hear kids yelling hello mister as they pass by behind their tinted windows.The journey is the destination. If you can embrace that you have already arrived. So many other things will seem less important. The ride is just fantastic all morning. It is a 50km long descent of yet again non stop corners.I was happy to reach lower altitude and warmer temperatures. I really am not kitted out for extended cold.What is amazing about Flores besides the riding is how Christian and Muslim religions exist side by side with no problems.All hail motorcycles!
The bike is making some loud drivetrain noises. I hope it is just the chain and stop at a hardware type store at Maumere looking for chain lube.
By sheer chance behind the counter is a most beautiful girl who studied in Ohio and speaks perfect English and who gives me some great advice on the area as well as sourcing my chain lube.I stop early today at a beach area Melisa suggested and wash some clothes and watch a magnificent sunset. There is just a handful of people here.
The next day is the ADV part of this ride. Nobody can tell me how bad the route is, seems a road to service village to village not a through route. I asked how long to ride the northern coast to Riung and the girls at the hotel said best allow two days. I am fairly sure a bike like the KLX150 can get through but I wake up an hour earlier than normal ha-ha.
First up today is visit another place Melisa told me about north west of Maumere, and wow it is jaw dropping! (marked on map later with arrow)No I am not back in Croatia, this is here in Flores and there are no resorts or shops here, never saw a car the whole time either just odd local bike passing.And the riding is amazing with great road the hugs the coast. Look carefully you can see a cross on the hill, there is 1000 steps to the top I was told. I went part the way but at this point was not carrying sufficient water so thought it foolish to try the whole thing in already high temperature.
Very different riding further along this northern region. Dry landscape, very hot. Small villages, bamboo huts, women carrying water or fire wood on their heads. Naked children playing in the dirt. Men sitting around smoking under trees. The people look different here too. Their features to me take on more of a look from the east, Timor/Papua. The beaches alternate from black volcanic sand to white sand as the road slowly deteriorates.Until it is rough – but not difficult on the KLX.The sections inland from the ocean were often still sealed but some parts indeed are very badly chopped up. About half way I topped up the tank. There had been no petrol stations or any place to get food since leaving Maumere but I had filled to the brim there and was carrying two litres of water also for the extremely hot conditions. I thought I’d see someone selling banana’s which would do me for lunch but there was nothing in the sari-sari stores except water, cigarettes and very basic home supplies.
The blue is called premium, the yellow is called solar, but real premium is called Max with a 92 RON and is only in a couple of the largest gas stations. I think the solar fuel is low octane maybe Australian 89RON or lower and the ‘premium blue’ is maybe 91RON regular. The bike ran much better once I had a full tank of the blue premium through it and the fuel economy went from a paltry 25km per litre to 40+km to the litre. But I was being cautious to not rely on this because fuel in bottles can be diluted.The road started out fantastic on the second half but that came to and end. The road turned very bad after this changing to loose stones and slippery loam with some very steep hill climbs and descents which would be impassible on anything other than 4 wheel drive. I did not take photos, too busy trying to maintain a steady forward momentum up and slow descent down the hills. (worst section marked with blue line)It is remote and no other bikes were coming along. The thought crossed my mind if I break down here it would not be good and I really should have more water on me. But I kept repeating to myself what Genghis Khan said – ‘If you are scared then don’t do it but if you are already doing it then no point to worry’ and just focused on the ride.
Finally about 2.00pm I come into Mbay, the first real town since leaving Maumere and stopped at the first road side stall to eat a simple meal of fried rice and a boiled egg with chilli. Here was the first petrol station also so I filled again and got another large bottle of water. Bike was running superb now mileage approaching 50km to the litre.
They have started building new road back east from Mbay and the ride into town last 30 minutes had been very good. Before that there was about 10 km they have started to work on and so I estimate there is just 30km that is rough and of that say two 10 km sections that I would call very rough so not too big a challenge if wanting to ride this way but the southern route is far nicer. From Mbay to Riung the road is easy and opens up to reveal bit of the landscape.Arriving in Riung I continue west on the coast road looking for a viewpoint of the 17 islands that the town is known for. The road here is very rough indeed. I find a track and then the viewpoint.
I wanted to get more time on gravel for a future ride and today was good practice for that. The KLX150 with big wheels and dual purpose tyres is perhaps too easy to ride on gravel compared to a heavier bike with 17’” wheels and road tyres but still helped give me a idea of the sort of pace that I can do on mixed surface.PART ONE PART THREE