During the off-season this year, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Bali to check out the riding on the island. I stayed at the amazing Chillhouse, a surf and bike retreat run by one of the nicest most genuine mountain bikers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Alex Springenschmitch is an Austrian living in Bali who has been super active in supporting and fueling the development of mountain biking on the island. With the Asia Pacific Downhill Challenge hosted in Bali the past 3 years, the popularity of mountain biking and the building of singletrack on the island has taken off. I was blown away by the quality of riding and the amazing experience I had while I was there. The Chillhouse was the perfect place to stay and Alex was the perfect guide. As I prepared to leave, Alex clued me in on a now not-so-secret plan: he was going to build a bike park in Bali. He had the land all scouted out and was just waiting to break ground and start building. I was so excited and couldn’t wait for my chance to return to Bali and check it out! Alex has grand visions, as well as the motivation and drive to execute them- I knew the park would be amazing.
Now, a few months later, Alex is busy making his dream a reality. With the help of some big-name pros, the bike park is shaping up into an absolutely epic jungle playground. I caught up with Alex to check in on the progress of the park and his plans for the future of mountain biking in Bali.
Alex, How long have you been in Bali?
I’ve been here almost or even over 12 years, you know you kind of lose track of time on a tropical island…
What brought you here?
The obvious, surfing perfect indian ocean waves. I built up a surf school and was pretty deep into the surf biz. These days I take surfing less serious and only paddle out if it’s really good.
How often is that?
(Alex laughs) About every other day!
What do you do the rest of your time?
I am building Bali Bike Park. A total jungle playground. Super shapeable dirt, big jungle trees, riverbeds, stoked locals, and passion fruit along the way. I love it.
How long have you been riding in Bali?
About 3 years now. Once I brought over my bike I realised that it’s endless opportunities here in Bali. From singletrack volcano descent all the way down to the north shore, mellow rice field rides, to jungle trails full of roots and natural berms. This year I decided to really take it into my hands and do something substantial here on the other side of the world. Ok, no gondola yet, but the sickest trails for all levels.
A Bike Park in Bali, really?
Yes I am as serious! As serious as approaching a massive step up with a death grip. Ha, sorry, but this step up has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks, and besides my pregnant wife and two boys, this is kind of all I think about lately. We have been building it with Andrew Taylor and Nick Pescetto, so sick! Cam McCaul and Andrew Shandro saw the location and said that if we build it they’d be back for sure!
Really, such big names in Bali?
Yeah, Lauren, Bali is going off. It is such a new pristine bike location, and it’s been on the map kind of since I told people about it and put some stuff on Instagram. Last year I rode with The Coastal Crew – Curtis Dylan and Kyle were blown away by the island, they said Bali had it all- dirt, waves, party, hipster vibe, and the most welcoming smiling people they had ever seen. From then on the word spread and I am amazed by the names of email senders in my inbox.
The Asian Pacific Downhill Challenge is in Bali each year, is this where you are building the bike park?
This is one of the sickest tracks ever. Gary Patterson built and shaped it. Such a sick location, total ocean view and big drops on red earth into a jungle of banana trees and coconuts. You should check out Wyn Masters’ POV. But no, we are building Bali Bike Park more inland. You see, we are talking tropical climate, so you wanna be on a higher elevation for cooler climate. Sure, ocean backdrop and a post ride swim is unique, but what matters more is no sweat on the palms when you approach the step up!
Are you building Bali Bike Park for pros only?
No, not at all. We are shaping trails and tracks for absolutely all levels. Of course we are doing big stuff with a lot of airtime for the pros, but what matters most is fun for everyone. We are even doing kids lines because they form the rippers of the future!
What’s the terrain like?
Imagine 50 hectares of jungle in central Bali about 1500 meters above sea level with an elevation 200 vertical meters. We have 5 tracks open, top to bottom it takes you around 4 minutes if you absolutely blaze it. There are two gentle river beds that we use for berm lines, drop downs, hips, hits, step ups and the like. The rest of the terrain is open to our imagination. A berm here, a roller there, a north shore line over a huge fallen jungle giant, or just a couple of off camber sections to spice it up a bit.