What should you do when you’re in Bali and the only reliable mode of transport is a motorbike? Learn how to ride one! And do it fast.
When I decided to immerse myself in Asia, a quick flash crossed my mind: great time to learn how to ride a motorbike! I often imagined myself speeding up and down lush green hills or honking left and right at crazy traffic. I travelled dirt roads covered in dust and cruised comfortable highways. There was only one problem with all this and it was quite substantial: I didn’t know how to ride a motorbike…
I’ve been dreaming about riding a motorcycle for years
My love for two wheels started when I was 7 years old. On my way back from school, I would stop at a shop that sold motorbikes and I would spend hours gaping at the machines. I could never get enough… I managed to convince my grandma to get me a moped when I would reach the age of 12. When the key birthday came, everyone pretended not to remember the promise and I got a kick scooter instead…
Still, my love for the two wheels persisted and like a crouching tiger, I was waiting for the right moment.
The right moment came in the form of necessity
Once I got to Bali and the first wave of euphoria faded, I understood that there was no way I was going to live in Asia without being able to ride a motorbike.
I asked my adventurous, surfboard shaper friend, Tommy, to give me instructions on what I should do to deter the moment of the impeding death once I mount the machine of my dreams.
Tommy applauded my interest but, as in the previous instances, the enthusiasm for teaching me evaporated quickly. “Never give up,” is what my parents taught me, so I nagged Tommy every day. Finally, he gave in. The low quality of life of a person unable to commute freely was about to end!
When Tommy got inspired, he put his baseball cap on, stuffed a book under his arm, nodded at me and said: Hurry up.
Unsure of what he was talking about, I sprang up to my feet just in case. Ready to rock, I put my flip-flops mid-air and a moment later, I followed his swaying footsteps across the green lawn.
Off we go
We jumped onto his moped and five hundred meters later, Tommy turned left. When we got to the beach, he turned the engine off and pushed a helmet into my hands, Put this on.
“I put the helmet on looking like a sourpuss,” should be the next sentence but what could I do? Safety comes first! Anyway, I promised my mum never to ride a motorbike, so the least I can do for her is to wear a helmet.
Tommy showed me the basics: this button starts the machine, this is the break, this is the throttle and here’s the horn.
Now, ride! Tommy sat down on a set of stairs and opened his book.
And ride I did.
Back and forth, a hundred times
A few people had the questionable pleasure of witnessing my schooling. Living in a surfing village, you can be sure to meet a lot of surfers. Somehow, most of them seem to appear when you least need it. For example, when you’re learning to ride a scooter looking like a goof. Oh, well.
The only thing I could do was to focus on the task ahead. Which was easy as it was a lot of fun! Keeping the balance while not having to pedal was new and refreshing. Playing with throttle sent shivers of pleasure down my spine.
Even though I was wobbly, riding this little thing made me feel incredible. I quickly got the drift of what it was all about: freedom. For some strange reason, the impressions that gusts of wind left on my body were signing an anthem to freedom…
Now ride in circles! Now do the 8s!
Tommy kept on instructing without taking his nose out of the book.
A few days ago, I met a man from Java who had an amazing custom-made motorbike. Seeing that I was applauding his work but could not really enjoy the ride, he asked, Can you ride a bicycle? Well, I can. Then you can ride a motorbike.
I recalled his words while trying not to bump into a wall that was nearing me too fast. Once I regained control, I shrugged my shoulders with a hint of surprise. He was right. This was not so far from riding a bike…
It’s faster, more intense, more beautiful. Exactly the way I like.
Since then, I have been riding a moped everywhere. Even to a beauty salon a hundred meters down the road. The girl’s gotta train her skills, right? Especially that I want to start riding a motorcycle.
A motorcycle??? I can see my mum clutching on her chest. She falls to the floor, opens one eye and checks if I have seen her despair. No, I have not. A motorcycle, that’s right.
In Bali, I live next to Deus Ex Machina where amazing motorcycles stand proudly in a row, watching passersby with a quiet sneer. Waiting for a true conqueror, they don’t pay attention to the common crowd.
This is where I go to stare at beautiful motorcycles. I come to appreciate their slick silhouette, massive shapes, smooth lines and perfected profiles. Oh yes, Mama! I’m switching to a motorbike…
But not just yet
For now, I have to figure out something simpler and the moped I got does do the trick.
I ride often to Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Maneuvering between cars and other riders makes me feel like a video game. It is how it’s supposed to be, right?
I speed through the streets discovering what it means to have an engine between my legs. Or under my buttocks to be exact.
Wow! I can steer this thing with my hips???
This comes as an epiphany and since then I’ve been doing just that. I like to think that my skills improve. Sometimes they’re better, other times they’re not so good. Whatever I do, it’s always with a smile.
That’s what I love the most in this little adventure: it’s enough that I sit on my moped and a smile finds its way to my lips at once. I start the engine. It coughs a little. I move the throttle. All right!
Streets, temples, palms and banana trees are passing me by. Everything is drowned in the fragrance of incense. I barely register shops, restaurants, lazy dogs and impatient people as I swish through the streets with a wide smile glued to my face. Using my hips, I enter a curve in the road and speed into the night.
Day after day, I feel more comfortable with the new power that almost magically landed on my lap. I know that this is the right thing for me. The perfect attraction. I’ve resisted the call for so many years but it is obvious now that nothing can take the place of a motorbike.
While I’m training my balance and agility, my thoughts are already on a real motorbike. Next up: The Girl On A Real Motorbike 😉
The photos are so good because of Nemanja and Jelena from Dream Studio Bali 🙂 Thank you!