I get up to Manado and meet up with the most wonderful people – friends of my friends in Makassar. Gland has a motorbike workshop and Wayne runs the coffee shop and their mum and dad take me in. They have awesome energy. One day they say to me, hey, you want to go downhill mountain biking? Down a volcano?I haven’t ridden a bicycle in ten years. Sure, I say, let’s do it.


Gunung Saputan. Yes, the mountain is awake.

Gunung Saputan is alive and active, and its slopes are waiting.


* * *

So we rock up to the base of a volcano with mountain bikes – and wait, there is a God! – there are motorbikes here too! What’s going on, I ask? So it turns out that the only way to get up the volcano is straight up the single track…. and the dirt bikes are here to tow us up.


These guys are your friendly uphill towing service.

So they chuck a strap around the front of the mountain bike and suddenly I’m being dragged up an active volcano by a bored-out CRF150, up the bermed single track, and it’s fucking wild. I go arse over tit a couple of times and then I get the hang of it.

Up the top, they ask if I want to go for a burn around on the CRF, and of course I say YES YES YES.


However I didn’t know that there was going to be motorbiking glory up here, I’m dressed in shorts for this whole mountain biking thing, and of course that comes back to bite me on the arse. Well, on the calf. I’m fanging along the single track when the guy who owns the bike jumps out from some bushes to take a photo, he’s wearing fluoro yellow and of course I look straight at him and miss the corner, drop the bike, slide slightly down the mountain. No big deal but my calf is stuck to the header pipe. Oops.

Nevermind, I can’t feel a thing. We ride on and prance around the top the volcano. You can see the yellow sulphur down below in the active crater.


There’s a camp just below the summit of the volcano, we have deep-fried banana and sweet coffee, I can see the beer cans on the ground here from good times before.


Then we mountain bike down again, and I’m absolutely terrified, what the hell is this whole downhill single track thing without engine braking?? Actually it’s pretty cool and I don’t die but it was a close run thing there a few times. No worries, lets you know you’re alive.



A good day.

Anyway, life is amazing. We have a bonfire on top of the mountains in Tomohon, where we’re up so high that it’s actually cold, the water chilly enough to make you squeal like a girl as you bucket it over your head. We eat an entire pig and sit around the bonfire and they’re drinking local whiskey, tuak, it explodes in blue flame when it touches the fire.


4 thoughts on “Riding the Volcano

  1. Geoff Shaw says:

    That’s what it’s all about!!!!!
    Perfect day

  2. Lee Gilbert says:

    Good to hear you finally got on a downhill mountain bike.. on a freakin’ volcano!

  3. Bob Boonstra says:

    Beautiful photos once again.
    I am always struck by the seemingly endless happy faces of people so willing to get out there and have a good time – and help others while they do so.
    The towing up the volcano is a bit unorthodox but it would have been a long hard grunt otherwise and hey, why not make it easy?
    The road pig and high test seems to be an extra bonus.
    Nice to see you had a good time.
    Take care in Thailand for the time there.

  4. Jeff Weaverling says:

    Looks like a great day!

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