Germany had quite a depressing winter in 2019 – no snow, but the season was supposed to start with a highlight. If we couldn’t ski, we’d ride our bikes – but where could we find circumstances, that would allow us to enjoy the sun, to cycle in shorts? Correct, further south – and in our case Bali.
After having had the opportunity to cover multiple races of the global GFNY series we developed the urge to participate ourselves. GFNY Bali was chosen to start our season – followed by “Ronde van Claanderenc Cyclo“, ”Amstel Gold Race” and many others.
Sign-up took no time at all, communication with the organizers was quick and uncomplicated. We chose the VIP package, including the hotel and airport shuttle – it was well worth it. The hotel was clean and there were no hurdles.
We considered adding a trip to Thailand after our stay on Bali. We tried figuring out what to do with our bikes in the meantime. The organizers had a plan for foreign participants and offers a bike rental for the race. Our hesitation proved to be without reason – we received top bikes like we were used to in Europe. We were able to gawk at all sorts of beautiful carbon offered by top brands at the expo. Wolfgang received an Indonesian Polygon bike which he really enjoyed, I got a Focus. Both bikes fit us perfectly and there was no reason for us to bring our own pedals – SPD SL were already mounted.
Since we were able to pick up the bikes a few days before the event, we took the chance to explore the mountainous interior of Bali and ended up having to push the bikes a lot. It was beautiful – we were the only tourists, the villages and landscapes were picturesque and the people very friendly.
The only issue was the garbage bordering the streets. While cycling you notice it a lot more than while driving in a car. We often felt like the ground was mostly made up of different sized and colored plastic bits. The villages and towns were very clean – but it appears as if they just dump the trash outside of the town limits.
On the day prior to the event we cycled to the Expo Hotel, near the start and finish area. We were able to restock on energy bars, effervescent tablets and clothing. Everything was of great quality.
We used the afternoon to prepare our bikes and our equipment and went to bed early.
We got up early on Sunday – but since the location was moved we weren’t able to find the breakfast area. We had a few sandwiches on our way. We watched a beautiful sunrise over the start corral – the start of a beautiful day – not a single drop of rain.
We started off motivated by music and the announcer. Our plan was to ride the Medio Fonodo – the humidity and temperature was a challenge for a non-acclimated European. After a rough start in the flats, during which we were left behind, we were able to pick up speed with every passing kilometer. Then we got to the hills. Usually they aren’t my strength but on that day we had no issues with them. Wolfgang and I raced up the hill. Volunteers were posted at the intersections and the race was escorted by a strong police presence. We were impressed by the amount of voluntary and official supporters.
The aid stations offered all kinds of drinks, fruit, bars and small cakes.
We were completely invested in the race – that is the only way we can explain racing by the turn off on to the Medio Fondo route and ending up on the Gran Fondo course. We didn’t really care – the race was going easy.
Then we got to a difficult and looooooooong incline, in Strave it’s named the Slow Death, we should have paid more attention. I made it to a small village, in which they put a timing station and had a look around. Wolfgang was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes I got worried and figured something must have happened. That’s when he arrived, pushing his bike. That’s a sign that something isn’t right. Sadly he couldn’t continue on – the heat took its toll. A Bus full of volunteer’s picked him up and his bike was loaded on to an extra broom wagon and taken to the finish line.
I finished the race, but it just isn’t as fun alone. I couldn’t focus on the beautiful nature anymore and was glad when I got to the finish. I was able to hand my bike over to the organizers in the finish area and we took a shuttle taxi to the hotel.
We ended the day with a nice dinner and a coffee by the beach.
We have concluded that we want to come again. The race is beautiful, the organization was great and we really enjoyed it. Next time we’ll finish together!
More about Gfny at https://gfny.com/gfnyworld/