The starting point of this adventure is the village of Mano which is around 10km south of Ruteng on the Trans Flores road. Shortly after the village, there is a road junction to Watucie to the left side. Make sure you have enough water and food for your cycling trip and a mountain bike to fit all the different road conditions ahead towards Mbeling (45km from Watucie junction). Enjoy idyllic roads passing mountains and the eastern part of Ranamese Lake area and expect cycling in stunning jungle forests.
After passing the junction to Watucie and then to Waling (ask the nice and helpful locals for direction to Mbeling if in doubt), ride your bicycle carefully on the thrilling downhill road. Mbeling is an ecotourism village in corporation with young and initiative local organic farmers in Manggarai Timur and is a good base to do day trips around the area. There is a small and basic traditional homestay available for guest, located just beside the priest’s house next to the church. Ask around for Yopi, an organic farmer and bike enthusiast, to get advices for sleeping and assistance for tours around if needed.
Day trips from Mbeling can lead uphill again towards Ajang – a small settlement of very friendly farmer families in their village completely surrounded by forests and mountains – or enjoy the steep and long downhill ride to the coastal town of Borong with a nice and colourful market close to the river mouth. Take a short round trip along the coastal road and visiting mangroves along the river creek to Cepi Watu beach before returning back to Borong and uphill to Mbeling.
From Borong you will paddle your bike with a lot of pleasure and fun on the Trans Flores road towards the district border of Ngada (around 40km). This area of Trans Flores road is very convenient for cyclists because it’s still very remote and have less traffic. The topography is not too demanding as it can be on other parts.
The curvy road is mostly in the forest and when passing by the area of Poco Ndeki to reach the “summit”, a few kilometres before Munde village. On the way down to the coast around Mbalata beach is a lovely ride through old forests again. Please note that the possibility to stay overnight besides Borong is on the beach in Mbalata or at Aimere.
Last but not the least, please enjoy Flores by cycling, especially in Manggarai Timur district since there are still many off-the-beaten track to be discovered on bike. My next report on the way to the east will be about cycling around Bajawa which is famous for its traditional villages and other attractions sites around there.
Article & photos by Oskar Ruch