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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KTMInduro, Jul 6, 2013.
Keep 'em coming, Looking forward to next installment.
Awesome bikes, beautiful photos and a very cool place to ride...I'm in!!!!
Labuanbajo is currenty under going somewhat of a boom, being dubbed Indonesias next up and coming destination. This is largely due to its proximity to fantastic diving and Komodo National park where this feller lives
In the past few years theres been some big changes in town and a new international airport is currenty being built. Theres been some positive changes with these developments including an influx of pretty decent restaurants selling reasonable plonk.
I therefore wake up today with a bit of a hangover after indulging in too much red wine last night.
Packing seems slightly easier today and soon Im ready to head off. Mike struggles with his Giant Loop. Its his first real trip using it and it seems the compression buckles are not behaving themselves. He has to bodge the straps a bit using a couple of carabiners. This is all part and parcel at this stage of the trip as its still early days , but it really serves him right for not testing out everything before we left .
We head out of town following the Trans Flores Highway and the GPS. I think to myself as I ride along that perhaps the classification of Highway in Flores is perhaps a road with a white line running down the middle with only 10 potholes per 100 metres compared to perhaps no white line, broken ashphalt and 50 potholes on a minor road............
After a few clicks on the highway a waypoint flashes up, so we make the turn and extremely quickly we are riding where we want to be on this ride - in the boonies.
Its obviously been raining recently and this does not bode well for the trails we plan to ride in this part of the island. I really had expected dry and dusty conditions to be the norm when sitting in Bali planning the ride in front of Google Earth. The dry season is supposed to start at the beginning of April and here we are at the end of May and its still pissing down. Oh well well just have to see what happens. At least its not raining now, ,and the road here is still straight forward.
Another waypoint fires off as I hit a fork in the road. We stop and have a chat with the locals.
This guy tell us that in a few kilometer the trail will get much more difficult and that our planned camp for the evening is about 7 hours way. We guess we should be there in 5.
We soon hit our first major obstacle of the trip. I stop to go and investigate and nearly go arse over tit.
The water is pretty shallow, only about 10 cm deep, but the whole of the bottom of the river is a huge slippery slab of weed covered rock. Its like an ice rink.
Some kids show me their preferred line. As Im walking back to my bike, Mike steams into the river, going at a fair pace. I shout to him to slow down, but he carries straight on, somehow keeps his bike upright, paddling his feet , before exiting on the other bank.
Very impressive Maestro.
Crikey, now what should I do ? Hit it fast like Mike or slow ? I decide to ride it slowly on the advised line.
The following photos tell the story of what happened next.........
I discover in the middle of the river that my bike weighs a tonne !
As we ride further the trail deteriorates as we climb into the hills.
Theres a few stretches of broken ashphalt
and this turns to stone
until finally I stop at the top of a hill with some pretty impressive ruts heading down in front of me.
Mike is nowhere to be seen. I decide to check out the immediate trail ahead on foot whilst I wait for him.
Climbing back up to my bike I decide I may as well go down the hill as Mikes still not turned up.
This is my first real offroad test on the AT. Its deeply rutted, very steep and very slippery. I paddle my way down, searching out the best line. About halfway down the hill I realize that if I need to go back up later in search of Mike, Im going to have some major difficulties. Minutes later Im clear and park my bike up.
I climb halfway back up the hill and wait.
Im too busy taking a photo to ask this guy if hes seen Mike, and he just nods at me as he passes.
Im getting a bit concerned. Ive now been waiting for about 20 minutes. 2 locals come down the trail on a moped and tell me that Mike had dropped his bike a few km back but was now on his way. Phew
Mike navigates the hill
Caption should read "Holy Shiite"
Great - it seems were both down without dropping the bikes.
We have a Q&A session and it seems Mike unable to lift his bike alone, had removed all his luggage.
Fortunately the 2 guys on the moped I had spoken to then turned up and helped him get his bike back up onto two wheels.
The trail is getting more and more technical and difficult. On several occasions there are some major climbs where we have to ride up steep rock steps.
We have to ride these sections fairly fast to keep our momentum going. I soon find that the rebound on my forks is set too hard, as my front wheel strikes one of the steps straight on, catapulting me and the bike off the side of the trail into the bushes. I manage to stay onboard, and Mike unfortunately catches the moment for prosperity.
We encounter more and more deeply rutted sections. Its really tiring wrestling with the bike so i don't take too may photos.
Some of the deeper and steeper sections have had sawdust thrown into them in an attempt to aid traction for the trucks that navigate these tracks moving goods and people between the villages. It helps a bit, but not much, so we try to avoid entering the ruts all together and ride down the sides of the trail where we can. Its still very difficult fighting to keep the bikes upright.
It now starts to rain............
I'm so in for this RR
Must congratulate Monty for persuading me to be his 'virtual' mechanic/electrician/builder and actually building and completing a stunning Africa Twin
Cheers Liam . See you for a beer soon
The journey before the journey was quite the journey Thanks once again for all your support mate.
Well it looks good so far...those flash bikes and I see you even have special event tshirts... Good Job boys...Can't wait so see the dirt.
im in , been waiting on this one
We ride into a small village and stop in front of a rustic wooden house with a kiosk that's selling a few packs of noodles and bottles of coke. Its still raining a bit and we’re both knackered and hungry after this mornings ride. We both also need to refill our camelbaks so we pull to a stop.
We're immediately surrounded by inquisitive villagers and are invited inside and sit down on a couple of plastic chairs. . The floor is pounded earth, there a wooden bunk bed in the corner, a small table and a few other chairs. It looks like theres a small kitchen out the back. Theres also a TV so I guess the village has some kind of way of generating electricity. Its as rustic inside as it is outside.
Soon the room is crammed full of locals, both adults and kids wanting to inspect us. We order a bowl of noodles each and they are happy to oblige although it soon becomes obvious that this kiosk doesn't normally serve food due to the confusion our request causes our hosts.
A new guy enters the room and introduces himself as John, the local English teacher. He sits at the table chatting with us relishing the interaction with us in front of all the other villagers. I ask about local hooch and immediately someone heads off returning within minutes with a couple of litre bottles of what we learn is called Moki. Rice Whisky.
John (in the white shirt) then gives us a lesson on how to recognize the good shit. He pours some on the table and lights it. If it burns with a nice blue flame, which it does, its apparently “Bagus – Nomor Satu” and won't kill us.
We have a couple of shots of Number One to give us “Energy and strength for the road.” Just a few shots to test it. Its extremely smooth with a nice bite. We decide to buy it all.
John wants us to visit his home in a village half an hour up the trail but we have to refuse as its now mid afternoon and getting late. Apparently the trail ahead is easier than what we had come through but we still have a couple more hours in the saddle. Phew !
We wave our goodbyes and are escorted out of the village. The trail is still pretty difficult with more ruts and more rocks. Mike comes off his bike again but luckily John and a few others were still heading in our direction so helped out.
We’re not out of the woods yet but the road does gradually get better as it slowly drops through the hills towards what my GPS shows is the ocean.
The crashes are not over yet either. I ride through a water filled rut only to lose my front wheel on some hidden rocks at its exit. I have a nice mud bath to finish off the days ride.
With 30 minutes to spare before it gets dark we reach the ocean and our camp for the night; a huge expanse of coconut palms running along a beach. In amongst the trees is quite a sizeable fishing village stretching down the whole length of the bay.
We park up and start to set up our hammocks for the night. Soon we the invaders, are being invaded, as the occupants of nearby houses decend on us. The Flores people once again are incredibly friendly and run around doing their best to help make camp. We are a major attraction.
Mike pulls out his Alite chair. They have no idea about its function until Mike sits on it. They cannot believe their eyes and this causes absolute hilarity amongst some of the guys as they all jostle to try the “floating chair”.
We are asked if we want to go wash and a couple of the guys & gals guide me towards a well in the dark. My torch needs new batteries as its not working very well. Suddenly I find myself going head over heels and land heavily on my back in a pile of wooden planks. My sandal is broken and my toe is killing me. It must be broken but I feel like I’m lucky not to have broken something major. It was a big fall.
I’m pretty pissed with myself. This is our first full day out in Flores and it seems I've already picked up an injury.
Theres one thing for it. Moki.
Everyone is absolutely fascinated and intrigued with everything we’re doing. Its beginning to feel like being in a very good natured zoo as I start boiling water on the Primus.
We decide we don’t want to burden the villagers when they offer us food, so take out a Mountain house meal each. This causes much interest too. :eek1 Chili con carne washed down with Moki on the beach tonight. Not bad.
Later on the headman of the village comes down to the camp with some other elders. They are real characters, and cannot believe that Mike is the same age as some of them.
These guys have a hard life although a happy one by the look of it.
Whilst I sit sipping Moki with my throbbing toe, Mike starts chattng to this chap. He states he is 100 years old, has 11 children and over 50 grandchildren !
It seems half of our audience is related to him !! He even still goes out fishing every day in his canoe. Amazing chap.
Mike tries to show him some photos on his camera , but his eyes are shot. He hands him his reading glasses and Bham the guy is bowled over. He can see close up for the first time in about 50 years ! Mike then decides to give him his spare pair. The guy is so stoked Its a very cool moment !
Slowly everybody drifts off home. We have a few more moki’s and Mike is soon dozing on his Alite. I wait for him to topple off and am slightly dissapointed when this doesn’t happen.
I head to my hammock and am soon in the land of .
I didn't see much need to up-grading my bike. It was running perfectly and I am totally familiar with it as is, so... But I did change my springs out from stock to Yacougar progressive springs. I think they made riding on the dirt better; not sure. Definitely made my road ride interesting; my front end would bob up and down on perfectly flat tarmac surfaces like a pogo stick, and wobbled going into downhill corners; especially if braking. I'm assumed that it needed adjustments in oil/air, or balancing front and rare shocks, and I made adjustments, but so far, I have not been able to correct. I also changed out my rectifier (good move), and my wheel barrings and brakes and put new sprockets and chain on bike, and other normal routine maintenance and service for a trip like this. Oh, I also decided to repaint my faring; the puke-green bondo really stood out next to Monty's newly renovated bike.
This is brilliant, I love the bit about the reading glasses, such a simple act of generosity that can mean so much. Keep it coming, I'm heading that way in September and lapping up every detail.
well done guys , truly one hell of journey , fab pics , just want do it myself one day ....... soooo impressed .
monty that's cool. those are my spares and will leave them like they are.
i am enjoying your RR, reminds me of a lot of places i travelled. i grew up in metro manila and the rural areas get mucky after a typhoon.tic the weather and landscapes are pretty much identical.
as far as the people, the same, the locals are friendly and curious to see outsiders. most of those poor people have good hearts.
thanks for the slipping and sliding tour....
love to see more....
I have to say, the refit that Monty did to the AT made a huge difference on weight. The braking was much more responsive, and the rally faring and cockpit displays awesome. Plus, it looked sharp! Started me thinking about similar upgrades to my bike, which is pretty much stock now. May happen yet (but don't tell my wife).
Amazing adventure, and that bike looks mint.. how big was the weight drop compared to yours bike Mike?
It was a great moment indeed. I think we'll be loaded down with reading glasses on our next ride as giveaways. We had a few other villagers ask for them but we couldn't help them out.
Where are you planning on riding in Indo ? Let me know if you need any help or info concerning your trip.
The people in Flores really were amazing. The highlight of the trip for me.
I go over to Cebu for business sometimes and always think to myself I should rent a bike for a few days and go and explore. Never got around to it yet. One day.
More slipping and sliding on the way
Cheers ! Unfortunatly my bike does not look quite so mint anymore
I estimate by removing all of the OEM front end my bike lost about 15 to 20 kg. Stormforce8 does that sound about right ? It was considerable what ever the exact figure and transforms the bike as we've said.
The original RD07 weighs 205 kg dry so I guess my starting weight was somewhere around 190kg. Mikes RD04 210 kg.
Both bikes take 23 litres of fuel , 3 litres of engine oil and 2 litres of coolant, so there's an additional 22 kg or so.
We then had about 45kg to 50 kg of gear, tools, water & food each, figure also dependent on how much red wine remained at anyone time.
The weigh in figures with a full fuel tank are therefore approximately
RD07 260 kg
RD04 280 kg
I wake to the sound of Mike chatting to a local and the throbbing of my toe.
Sunrise isn’t very spectacular as the skies are still fairly overcast unfortunately.
Packing up my gear this morning seems to take ages again especially as I’m limping around. Somehow it seems I’ve used everything I brought on the trip last night as its all over the place. Maybe I should blame the Moki. :slurp
Riding late yesterday my forks and steering didn’t seem to be 100%. I do a visible check and don’t see anything wrong but wind back on the compression and rebound 5 or 6 clicks to see how if the handling improves today. One of my rebound clickers doesn’t seem to be working properly either, so I’m going to have to look into this later if the fork woes continue.
After discussing routes with the villagers, apparently we seem to have 2 options today. One is to continue along my GPS track which is apparently difficult. The other is to back track 25km them head east which we are told is difficult also. :huh
With nothing to choose from, we may as well stay on track then.
We are soon on a very slippery trail which has close to zero traction in places, as our nobbies quickly fill with sticky mud. We reduce the air pressure in our tyres but its still like riding on a skating rink.
We are forced to slow right down at every rut or area of mud, and then have to paddle through with our feet, trying not to drop the bikes. The white limestone that was used as a base for the track in places , is really treacherous after the rain. This is the last photo I take for another 2 hours of riding.
The trail become more narrow and overgrown and it looks like not many people come along here. It starts rising very steeply in places as we climb away from the ocean into the jungle along a ridge line. On both sides of the track the edge falls steeply off into thick lush valleys full of massive trees and thick jungle.
The views are really beautiful but as the riding becomes increasingly difficult I’m having to concentrate on keeping a balance between having the momentum to get up steep sections and also preventing wheel spin. Choosing the right lines through the rain ruts is essential and even then I’m struggling ,nearly dropping my bike on several occasions
Eventually I get to a section of the path where its flat enough to stop, park up and rest. I’m knackered and dripping with sweat, and start to worry what else is in store for us up the trail. This is by far the most difficult riding we’ve encountered so far and we're really in the middle of nowhere here.
I do carry a Spot but don’t really trust it (for reasons that will become apparent later in this tale). There doesn’t seem to be anybody out here at all and if things turn south we could be in trouble.
I walk up and down the ridge waiting for Mike to catch up. He seems to be taking a while. I really don’t want to have to ride back down and then have to come up again, but the longer I wait the more it seems that Mike must have come a cropper somewhere below and I’m going to have to go back.
I suddenly hear a loud roaring / snarling coming from down the side of the ridge where I’m parked. Its really close and pretty eerie. Actually its bloody scary !!
I nervously peer through the bushes but cannot see anything, but it sounds to me like a wild cat of some kind. Are there tigers in Flores ? No that’s impossible I tell myself – we’re east of the Wallace Line and there’s no wild cats here, but crikey it sounds like one ? What the hell is it ?
I start having visions of The “Last Tiger of Flores” pouncing on me and eating me for breakfast. The snarling continues unabated so I decide that I’ m not going to sit around here waiting to be eaten any longer , so jump on my bike and head up the trail to find an area where I can turn around before going back down the hill to go and find Mike.
I really did'nt get enough time to give the bike a proper field test before we left. I'm now finding that the AT has an impossibly narrow turning circle. Its like a container ship. I have a nightmare rolling backwards and forwards across the ridge in order to get the bike turned around. I nearly roll off backwards off the edge at one point, as I’m also discovering that due to the increased height of the bike from the new suspension , I’m having to maneuver on tip toes. Fortunately my broken toe encased in my boot seems to be doing ok through all of this.
Riding down the hill is more difficult than going up in places . After 5 minutes of struggle I come around a corner to see Mike down the hill with his bike across the trail. He’s collapsed on the ground beside it.
Did I mention how hot it was ?
I call down to him, get an OK and drop next to my bike. I’m exhausted too.
After 3 or 4 minutes in the shade drinking water and taking in some power gel, I stagger down the hill forgetting all about taking photos of the scene in front of me. Mike’s bike is sitting across a very steep section of trail with his wheels hovering over 2 rock filled rain ruts to the left and right.
Mike tells me that 10 metres further down the hill he had dropped his bike, and had somehow managed to lift the bike fully loaded by himself. This had used all his energy and when he started up the hill again he had promptly fallen off. He looks physically wrecked after all this.
The bike is sitting on the centre ridge of the trail and it looks to me that the bike can be swiveled around on the engine case, so its pointing downhill. Mike is worried that we might snap or damage the rear brake lever which we can't see under the bike, so there's only one thing for it. We’ll have to lift the bike from where it lays on its side with the right handlebar on the downhill side of the hill to an upright position.
It takes 4 or 5 attempts but finally after much grunting , slipping & sliding , his bike is up on 2 wheels again. Its taken a real effort to do it as the hill is so steep and its so damn hot.
Mike mutters that its been “Harsh, really harsh”. I’m inclined to agree.oser
After resting again, I climb up the hill then ride down to a flatter section of trail where Mike is turning around. Once again it’s a struggle to turn my bike in such a confined space and the whole ordeal saps my strength even more, but I get the bike pointing up the hill again.
The next 30 minutes are more of the same but we both manage to ride through it all. I’m not liking the conditions much though as my front end is not giving me any confidence. We stop to rest and Mike mentions hearing a roaring in the bushes on the trail up. What ? You heard it as well ?? :eek1
On the way back along the ridgeline, my head was spinning so much from all the exertion of the past half hour, that I had ridden straight past the area, the “Flores Tiger” completely forgotten for the moment. So Mike heard it as well. Wow. What had it been ?
The trail gradually reverts back into a wider track and we drop down into a village. Civilisation !!
I stop to ask some villagers about trail conditions ahead and one of them points out that my Camebak is spraying water all over the ground. The valve is completely missing. It has to be somewhere on the trail in the last kilometer or so, so I walk back up the trail with a crowd of local kids.
Fortunately Camelbak in their wisdom must have known that it’s a dodgy design and made it bright yellow. I find it within 100 metres and am very relieved ! I would not fancy being out here with no water.
The villagers are very shy and are not sure what to make of us.
Not so much larking around like the places we passed yesterday, but I guess we're still in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think many people come through these parts.
On the other side of this village we come across a few farmers on step through mopeds struggling along in the mud. Its still really slippery so we don’t take many photos. We both want to get off this trail to be honest.
We pass one or two more villages before the trail slowly transforms itself into a gravel road. Its dry and I open the AT up. Now she comes into her own. The suspension eats up all that’s thrown at it as I blast down the trail. It’s a totally different beast to the unstable lump it was in the mud earlier.
I pull up in a crossroads in a small village. My GPS is directing me to go straight on to Ruteng the town we want to arrive in tonight, but the trail looks even worse than what we have already ridden through earlier. Single track with lots of mud and water by the looks of it.
The gravel continues to my left. I wait for Mike and when he pulls along side I don’t even bother telling him where the GPS trail leads and turn left.
At the next village we stop to refill our camebaks , just as the local school gets out for the day. We are soon mobbed and asked all of the usual questions !
The population is mainy Christians away from the coast ..........
Dirt changes to ashphalt ..........
We're now pretty close to my original route on the GPS and at a crossroads I decide to turn south in an attempt to meet up with it. I think the original trail is supposed to ford quite a large river. The plan for crossing this was planned to be one one of those “Here's Hoping” moments.
Better to be safe than sorry, we decide its time for some local information. I ask several people on the roadside if we can get to Ruteng this way. Both tell me its no problem.
Experience riding in Indonesia has taught me never to rely on one persons opinion when asking directions
A litte further down the road I stop and ask someone else. This guy tells me that there's a massive river about 10 km or so down the road . There's no way across. This matches up with what I suspected all along, but hadn't wanted to hear. Damn. U turn it is then.
The road continues to drop as we descend off the side of a mountain on a really steep series of switchbacks. Halfway down I lose all pressure in my rear brake. :huh
I take a few long draws on the Camelbak and spit 4 or 5 mouthfuls of water on the rear caliper. It explodes in a cloud of steam but seems to do the trick as within a minute brake pressure returns and I’m good to go again.
We ride leisurely through some woods and rice paddies for half an hour until we hit the coast.
We fill up with fuel, which involves undoing a strap on the Fandango tank bag. No too much hassle really.
We head into Reo, a dusty 2 street town of wooden and concrete houses built around a football field.
We find a Padang restaurant and have a late lunch.
We are both pretty shattered after the riding earlier this morning, but perk up after sending someone out to find a couple of Bintang’s.