From volcano rims to lava fields, from forests to rice paddies, from weird tropical fruits to swimming in infinity pools…. You can expect all this and more if you go for a week’s mountain biking in Bali!
After the world physiotherapy conference in Singapore Tony and I wanted to make the most of the trip over to Asia and do something a little bit different. Too hot for climbing, keen to have some beach time but also up for a challenge, we signed up for the Bali Mountain Bike Boot Camp with Infinity mountain biking. It would be very easy to write an article describing in delicious detail the amazing places we visited, the stunning views that we saw, the weird food that we ate and the unique things that we experienced but I’d end up writing all day! So here’s a little taster instead…
Our group for the week was intimate, just us, our two guides and two really nice Giant bikes (Tony had an Anthem and I had a Trance). Suandi our MTB guide was an ex-international basketball player and the tallest person on Bali and Gede our driver was Bali’s BMX champion – an amazing amount of talent in our little crew! Suandi’s knowledge of the trails on the island was amazing (he built some of them!), often winging it a little bit to deliver the best possible experience for us. Gede diligently drove us all over the island and was always there when we needed to stop, get some local treats down us and keep fuelled up. We generally started at the top of a volcano, descended all day through bamboo forests, lava fields and never ending rice paddies, finally ending up many miles below in a boutique hotel, and always with an infinity pool. It’s a tough life!
That said, it was hot and tiring work all week and I was surprised at how going downhill all day really can take it out of you. As a physio I’m always thinking about physical performance during sporting activities and after developing sore hips, I came to realise just how important core strength and dynamic hip stability is for downhill mountain biking. Standing on the pedals in that classic, relaxed flexed position for most of the day places many demands on your core to provide a stable base for your limbs, with the added leverage and weight of your bike, to move from. This position is also pretty demanding on your gluteal muscles which need to remain in a good functional position yet be capable of absorbing all the lumps and bumps as well as the forwards, backwards and side to side shifting that continually takes place as you wind downhill.
We had the best time and there were two things in particular that I took away from the trip. First and foremost, Bali is a most unlikely yet utterly fantastic mountain biking destination. Secondly, if you want to improve your mountain biking performance you really should work on core and gluteal strength. Looks like that’ll be the topic of my next blog post then!
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