Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Road Warrior

5:00 AM

Three cups of strong black coffee.
 A bowl of oatmeal mixed with bananas and brown sugar.

I am probably more awake now then I will be all day. I need to be. Strap on some shoes and head down to where the Tiger is parked. A few turns of the starter and she comes alive, purring softly in anticipation. I feel a cool hardness transform my persona. As lower my helm my over my head mild mannered PJ no longer exists. I have become the Road Warrior.

As the Road Warrior I join thousands of like minded individuals who partake in the daily death race up the bypass from Kerobokan to Jimbaran. Their welcoming cacophony greets me as I join their fraternity: the hoover of the Mios and Varios, the purr of the Tigers and Vixions, and the occasional deep rumble of the Harleys.

As road warriors we share the same mission - to get ahead of the other guy by any means possible.

Bali is probably one of the few places on earth where motorists accelerate while approaching a red light. It’s important to remember that driving here is competitive, and you can still progress while the light is red by squeezing ahead of the other guy. Suspend any sort of altruistic notions that you may ever have entertained in you life. No gap is too narrow. If you can get your nose into it you are in. Signal lights? Use ‘em as decoys to confuse potential overtakers. Lanes? Mere references - not to be taken seriously – make your own. Cars? Think of them as moving hazards or as poles in a slalom course. The ends here justify any and all means and the ends here means the front of the queue.

Of course this type of temperament is not without cost. Accidents are common on the battlefield. Many a road warrior bears the scars of the asphalt’s tarry embrace. And today, like every day at one or two will join that big bypass in the sky, victims of their own or their neighbor’s recklessness. Still apart from a few signboards advising warriors to wear helmets and slow down little has been done to change the attitude of most warriors from that of indifference to their fate.

Easing into Udayana I can slowly relax and release the death grip on the handlebars. My pulse gradually drops below 300 as the adrenalin dissipates in my blood. The road is narrower here which means less traffic and less places for other warriors to surprise you with sudden turns, stops, and starts. The air is cooler as well and I cautiously raise my visor to get a taste of it. At that moment a truck pulls out in from of me engulfing all of us in black exhaust so heavy that I have to shower it off.


There will always be one last truck.


H. Nizam said...

Hi Pj,

People say that motor 'racing' on public roads can be very exiting although very dangerous.

pj said...

Hi Harry

Indeed - And the new style countdown traffic lights don't help.

There was an article I read somewhere about the possible causes of dangerous behavior on bikes here (and possible elsewhere). One reason given was a lack of credible public transport In Bali. The other is the feeling of freedom that a bike gives to the young.

According to the bureau of statistics approximately 500 deaths last year in Bali. Dollars to donuts that the great majority were motorcycle deaths.Interesting to note here that outside of Denpasar almost nobody wears a helmet.

johnorford said...

great read! : )

pj said...


Glad you liked it. It was fun to write.