Top Cycling Trails in Bali: Routes for every fitness level

You might be surprised to find that Bali isn’t just surf beaches and UNESCO-listed rice paddies. Bali actually has a lot of incredible trails for cyclists to sweat it out on. To learn a bit more about why we need to begin considering Bali a cyclist’s dream, we turned to Mirko Corbella. Mirko isn’t just The Luxe Nomad‘s Bali General Manager, he’s a real fitness nut – using his spare time to climb up and fly down the island’s many trails. Here Mirko tells us about Bali’s cycling scene and some of his favourite routes to get you started.

Mirko enjoys the view of Mt. Batur after a day of cycling

What is special about the Bali cycling scene?

We are a bunch of cycling and triathlon enthusiasts that meet regularly to ride and train together. The scenarios you casually encounter all over the island are breathtaking and leave you wanting more. The island is vast, and after two years of riding, there are still plenty of undiscovered routes on my bucket list (and some harsh climbs).

You often refer to your cycling expeditions as “suffer-fests”. Why do you do it and do you really enjoy it? 

Cycling is a pleasant sport, enjoyable at all ages and in all weather conditions with the appropriate gear and physical preparation. Competitive cycling takes the riders to their physical limits for as long as it takes to get across the line – which is an imaginary one in most cases. It is by aching, agonising and suffering that one improves performance conditions and becomes a better rider. I enjoy, work permitting, challenging myself to long and arduous rides. These usually imply an early wake-up call at 5 am, an excess of 10 hours on the saddle to cover over 250km and 2,000m of elevation gain in one day but they also take me to visit farther regions of Bali and, once over, allow me to push the known boundaries a tad bit further.

Read also: Niseko Trails: Top running routes in Niseko

Eat, Pray, Love has led us to believe that cycling in Bali is pretty dangerous (although a great way to meet a spouse). What safety tips do you want cyclists visiting Bali to keep in mind?

Cycling in Bali is safe, yet it is important to observe caution when riding, whether it is an urban area or a back road in the pretty countryside. Always look out for the odd child playing on the side of the road or the dog exuberant about the magic machine passing by. And remember: we drive on the left-hand side in Bali and Indonesia.

As an Italian, you’d undoubtedly be used to hill climbs. How would you describe the quality of the climbs in Bali?

Bali’s climbs come in all gradients and lengths – from the sharp and short ones in the southern Bukit Peninsula to the long and steady ones ascending to Mt. Batur’s crater rim.

What type of bicycle would you suggest people either bring with them or rent?

Bali island presents a variety of itineraries suited to both road and mountain bikes. Unfortunately, the availability of both kinds for rent is limited island-wide. If you are serious about riding it is well worth bringing your own bicycle and equipment.

For the enthusiasts wishing to take on the challenge to climb to Mt. Batur’s crater rim (Bali’s second tallest volcano) appropriate gear is recommended – the steepest sections average 10% for as long as 4km. Kayuh Bali offers Mt. Batur tours with specially designed high-end fat bikes.

The gang’s all here!

Are there any cycling events on the island that cycling enthusiasts should know about?

Tour de Indonesia is an event that has taken place in Java since 2004 and is organised by the UCI. The 2018 Edition saw athletes riding from Jogjakarta to Denpasar in 5 stages. In August 2019, for the second consecutive year, Bali will see the finish line of Tour de Indonesia at Mt. Batur’s Crater Rim.

Herbalife International Bali Triathlon has been held annually in Sanur since 2008 with over 1,000 athletes taking on Sprint and Olympic distances in individual and relay formats. Earlier in March 2019, Bali saw a leg of the qualifier rounds for SuperLeague Triathlon, an exciting new format which sees athletes tackling consecutive triathlons and the introduction of the unknown T3: Run-Swim transition.

Bali Audax and Gietman Series are other popular races that populate Bali’s calendar of both on and off-road competitions.

Read also: Best Bali Surf Spots for Beginners

What advice can you give people who want to cycle around Bali?

Check your gear and ride to your rhythm, take along with you sufficient hydration and nutrition as required, convenience stores are a cyclist’s best friend!

The Bali Cycling Routes to Try!

The “easy” route: Sanur – Goa Lawah

Length: 60 kilometres
Suggested time: 2 hours
Vertical climb: 350 metres
Average gradients: 2 – 4%
Beginning and end points: Sanur – Goa Lawah
Type: Paved roads
Features to note: Scenic ride along Bali’s east coast
Image from Mirko Corbella on Strava

The “moderately difficult” route: Sanur – Uluwatu

Length: 80 kilometres
Suggested time: 3 hours
Vertical climb: 600 metres
Average gradients: 4 – 8%
Beginning and end points: Sanur – Uluwatu
Type: Paved roads
Features to note: Exploring Bali’s southern Bukit

The “suffer-fest” route: Sanur – Kintamani aka Mt. Batur

Length: 110 kilometres
Suggested time: 5 hours
Vertical climb: 1450+ metres
Average gradients: 4 – 10+%
Beginning and end points: Sanur – Kintamani
Type: Paved roads
Features to note: Epic ascent to Mt. Batur’s crater rim
Image from Mirko Corbella on Strava
Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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