Chasing the Horizon….s Unlimited Meeting
After leaving East Timor Matt, Tom and myself had made it to West Timor. Stumbling into the much-recommended Lavalon Hostel we met the interesting owner Edwin (who had starred in the 1984 box office success the Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins) where we indulged in a much needed warm Bintang, shortly after arriving Josh had joined us coming over the border from Timor-Leste near the infamous Balibo Fortress. We had a few days to wait for the next ferry and were certainly all looking towards a nice and easy ride across Flores, that was of course until we found out about the HU Indonesia meet.
“Ted Simons is going to be at this Horizons Unlimited meeting”
Josh stated with more eagerness than the promise of a Starbucks around the next bend.
For those of you who are wondering who in the bloody hell Ted Simons is the gentleman who is responsible for the first recorded round the world motorcycle trip (I’m sure a lot of concerned friends and family would like to have a word with about all this nonsense.). I quickly pull out the ol’ reliable and take a gander at Google maps. As it appears on the screen there it is roughly 900ish kilometers of riding between the meeting and us. We had a total of 5 days until our meeting began but unfortunately had a 16-hour ride ahead of us on a sea vessel that would be fortunate to make it plus an 8-hour ferry from Flores Sumbawa which would bring our total of available riding time down to 3 days… that meant 2 days to make it across Flores.
Foolish I thought to myself “well that could easily be done”. I join the others outside and the deliberations if we would go began. There wasn’t much protest in against the cannonball. I mean what do you expect? We are riding across the globe on motorcycles we aren’t exactly about sensible decisions. (Even less sensible when 3 of you are on CT110’s). So it was decided, we were going to HU Indonesia!
Now I’m going to stop all of you reading this at this point (yes all three of you) to say that if there is one thing I have learned in Indonesia is that every kilometer is not equal. I mean there not even close to equal, so un-equal I would hate to see what the standard deviation on such an average was like. Anyway, I digress.
The Top End Traveller’s GPS had led us the most round about way to the port that I think us three on the posties feared we were heading back to Timor-Leste for a minute. After our micro adventure, we arrived at the ferry terminal to the sight of a long line of Harleys and massive BMW’s. I used my Sherlockian levels of deduction that given the A4 Horizons Unlimited Indonesia stickers plastered all over there bikes that they were heading in the same direction as us. After some discussions with the riders, we found out that they were flying over and meeting the ferry! Many jests were made that they were in fact cheating! Not only that but they were chartering a boat from Flores to the meeting! The other half I tell you.
Fresh-eyed after relatively decent nights sleep on our sea faring vessel with questionable safety and even more questionable reliability we disembarked to East Flores at around 7:00am. After the pandemonium of fighting our way through locals to exit the ferry, we were immediately on our way. Once again being left at the mercy of Josh’s GPS we headed north on our way across Flores. After about 5 minutes on roads that were entirely sealed we soon had made it to the coastline. Unfortunately, the quality of roads did not preserve but none the less we had to. Evidentially there once had been a road on the North coast of Flores, when that was wasn’t in recent memory by the state of it, maybe it was a few decades before or potentially when Jesus walked the earth, I mean who really knows? Making our way across the constantly deteriorating road we passed by spectacular untouched beaches which I’m sure everyone wished they could just stop for a couple of night camping. The northern “road” was actually really enjoyable and scenic ride, but when you are trying to cover distance tarmac could be considered to be more of an ideal option, which from all reports the road on the south coast was.
We soon hit the tarmac and finally made it to the first town of Maumare. Now it was becoming evident that the 60kmh pace I had factored into my sums was clearly not going to be met. After a brief fuel stop, we were back on our way. At the point Tom and I had lost Matt and Josh (worse things have happened), Josh we assumed had powered on ahead with all the horses powering his Affluence Twin. We just assumed the same for Matt, not because it made any logical sense but it was the conclusion that best fitted our agenda.
Flores was turning out to be a spectacularly beautiful island, the stark changes in scenery were immense as we blazed our way between coastlines into rice patty’s and finally through mountains, we stopped briefly on the road before a very touristy town in the middle of nowhere as nature was calling. Suddenly on the side of the road, Matt pulled up. Turns out he was behind us, which would have been the more sensible conclusion as he had now been nicknamed the Captain Slow of the group. We got our lunch this small town in the middle of nowhere, honestly seemed like there were more foreigners here than locals and hit the road again trying to put as many kilometers behind us as we possibly could.
We had made it back to the beautiful coastline just as the sun was beginning to dip; we had done two coasts to coasts in one day and had covered a huge distance as we were crossing Flores with more but not quite at my lofty initial estimation. Stopping in at a local bike shop we got some new mirrors for my bike (now I’m chromin’) and asked if there was nearby guesthouse to stay the night. We were advised the nearest place to stay was in Ende, 40kms back the way we had come. It’s safe to say that no one was particularly keen on the idea of back tracking but we had been advised that maybe we could stay at an outdoor beach restaurant only a couple of kilometers back. After having a local help us translate for the owner it was offered that we could spend the night for free on his outdoor bamboo structure providing that we bought dinner. The coastline here was spectacular and honestly, we couldn’t have found a better place to spend the night.
We made an early start the next morning for what would turn out to be the most intense day of riding in my life. Climbing from the coast into the mountains the poor postie was slugged in low gear the whole way up and the back brake was given a work out the whole way down. I certainly had to keep the revs up or I wouldn’t be going up. The roads had begun to snake into a series of bends and hairpins. I’m not complaining about the roads here, they were some of the most enjoyable roads I have ever had the pleasure of riding in my life, not to mention just how spectacular the scenery was. I did, however, manage to crash twice, I won’t get so much into detail because it’s best to leave things to your imagination as it’s probably more exciting than reality.
Tom and I had made it to Lubaun Bajo as the sun was dipping down creating a jaw dropping view over the bay. We got into contact with Matt and somehow he had managed to overtake us without us even knowing it! so much for Capt. Slow! Making into town we were on track and had made it in time to be able to catch the ferry to Sumbawa the next day.
We met some really awesome Indonesian on the ferry the next morning who were also going to HU s well (small world!). Zaky and his team were riding across Flores on their KLX250s being sponsored by IOX (Indonesian Off-Road Expeditions). After being invited to join them on the deck we were offered coffee and butter fruit (a curious butter like fruit!). whilst we discussed at length motorcycle related topics.
We had arrived at the port of Sape with a few hours of daylight to spare and immediately made tracks towards the meeting. Tom, Josh and I had soon left captain slow behind and got stuck in the worst traffic jam I have seen in my life! It was so bad the police were involved, slowly trying to weave through the cars with all the local motorcycles I got to witness the Africa twin getting into trouble in all sorts of places (props to small bikes!). The local authorities directed the bikes off the road on a small expedition crossing over peoples houses, tight alleyways out into a field and finally down a small stone path where on the hill back up to the road the Africa twin fell over. I stopped the bike much to the disdain of the police officer trying to deal with the chaos and ran back to help Josh get his bike moving again. Luckily for myself, I didn’t have to do much hard work as a swarm of nearby locals had already got it upright. Pushing back on into the traffic Jam Tom had some how caught back up after our detour had taken us less than 50ms up the road. Tom pushed on through traffic and I tailed Josh. When we met back up with Tom being the clown he is had somehow managed to buy a large helium balloon of a bird that was bobbing along happily behind his bike. Leaving the traffic Jam we were almost in Bima! Toms balloon had managed to free itself on the way where a local family on a moped managed to catch it and abscond it with it much to his disdain.
We made it be in Bima where Josh found some swank hotel for himself and the Affluence Twin. After accessing the cost of the room and likening it to the GDP of a small Pacific nation Tom and I decided we would preserve up the coast in hope to find somewhere a little more affordable or if not camp. After another couple of hours, we found a much more cost-effective spot with a pool! (It may be worthwhile to note that we had no idea where Matt was at this point, but I think he was sleeping somewhere questionable)
After being woken up at 7:00 am for a refreshing plate of nasi goreng for breakfast which was sure to set us up for the day! Tom and I were on our way, running into Matt in a small town by a mobile store where we soon parted ways and left Cap Slow behind. The rest the days riding were rather uneventful, except Tom managing to get air speeding over a giant pothole and losing a bag in a spectacular display.
We arrived unscathed after our cannon ball run chasing the meeting. The meeting was fantastic in the best way with a group of maybe 20 overlanders sharing their stories, never before have I made such quick friends with a group of people of the highest order and was truly a magical time. Also meeting Ted Simons was also a true joy and hearing his wisdom but all of the other friends I had made really made the effort beyond worthwhile
Love and Mercy,