Maybe we should’ve listened to Adi’s warning.
Instead, we thanked the guesthouse owner for the information, finished our fried rice breakfast, and then started cycling to Riung—a small fishing village on the northern coast of Flores—via the supposedly impassable road. It’s not that we didn’t want to take on advice from locals, but both Steph and I love a good challenge. Plus, we’d been told that the area had some of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Seemed too good to miss.
As predicted by Adi, the paved road quickly turned into a rocky gravel path. Our cheap commuter bikes were not designed for this type of terrain. Every few hundred meters we had to get off our bicycles and push them up the steep trail.
By lunchtime we’d covered less than a third of the distance. A pickup truck passed by. The first car we’d seen all day. If it hadn’t been transporting a cow, I would’ve been tempted to ask for a lift.
We were fantasizing about juicy pineapples and ice-cold Coca-Cola when Steph’s bike started making a rattling noise. A few seconds later, her rack broke off. Bike maintenance wasn’t our strength, but without a rack there was no way to carry our gear, so we had no choice.
As we were sitting on the side of the road, attempting to fix the rack, a man on a moped appeared out of nowhere. He took a quick look at the bike, left without a word, and came back ten minutes later, with tie wraps. I almost hugged him. Using the tie wraps, one of Steph’s shoelaces, and duct tape, we were able to secure the rack in place.
There was only an hour to go before sunset. But the rack was fixed, so we felt cheerful. Using our limited Indonesian vocabulary, we thanked “tie wrap man” for his help, and then set off.
One last hill to go.
It was dark when we finally reached the fishing village. We’d been cycling since breakfast, we were covered in dirt, our muscles ached. But we’d made it to Riung via the “impassable” road, and this sense of achievement alone had definitely been worth the effort.