Stretching 24 km in southern Bandung region, Gambung Pass doesn’t share the fame of Ciwidey and Pangalengan, the two well-known tourism destinations that it connects. Rarely taken by tourists, however, the twisty road featured beautiful forest, tea plantation, and gravel sections along the way, making it a perfect route for enthusiasts seeking pure cycling experience away from bustling city traffic.
“How hard could it be?” I wondered, as I contemplated my cycling plan to Pangandaran. Crashing waves on gentle-sloped shore, with plenty inns, hotels, and attractions around—Pangandaran bay is definitely the most famous beach in West Java, frequently visited by tourists all-year round. Just a hair over 200 km mark from Bandung, the capital city of the province, it has also become a popular cycling destination for those interested in testing their endurance for randonneuring and long-distance cyclotouring. “How hard could it be?” I wondered, as I remembered the century rides I’ve finished in the past; considering the terrain and road surface, I thought it would only be marginally harder.
It turned out, however, Bandung – Pangandaran double century cycling trip is a different kind of beast altogether…
Situated in the western border of Bandung, Rajamandala Karst Complex—often known as Citatah—is arguably the most unique geological feature of Bandung. Originated as the seabed of shallow, coral reef-rich water, the region was uplifted gradually by tectonic plate movement to form lands approximately twenty seven millions years ago, far older than any other volcanic-origin geological landmarks. Unfortunately, the natural beauty and scientific treasures it contained are under threat of destruction by limestone mining operation in the region. Exploring the area, therefore, is urgent.
Located at 1,200 m above sea level deep in the heart of Kerenceng, Calancang, and Bujung mountains complex, on the east border of Bandung, Taman Buru Kareumbi-Masigit (Kareumbi-Masigit Hunting Park) might not share the hype or fame of other natural tourism destinations around Bandung. It is worth visiting, however, particularly for some serene time in the middle of the woods, away from bustling daily city life. Originally used as an official hunting ground (hence the name “Taman Buru”), the acres of lush forest has long been declared as conservation area.
Standing 1,818 m above sea level, Manglayang is the least famous among Bandung’s northern mountains. Not only being the only one left out of the infamous Sangkuriang legend, it is also the least studied. Not much is known about the mountain, except the fact that it is an ancient stratovolcano, with unknown last eruption—perhaps a couple of millions of years ago, preceding the oldest human civilization that created the legend—that its crater is no longer visible, buried under the lush green forest.
Compared to the south side counterpart, the cycling exploration to Lembang Fault’s north side was more challenging. It is significantly longer, because it is further to the north from the city, and it allows end-to-end 29 km exploration, from east to the west. It also features two valleys, which contributes to added climbing sections along the road. However, it also rewarded me with clear view of the fault, stretching from Mount Palasari in east end all the way to the west.
Stretching 29 km from east to west, Lembang Fault was one among the most prominent geological features of Bandung Basin. From the city, it is easily recognized as elongated hill in the north, starting from Mount Palasari in the east, sloping down all the way to north of Cimahi in the west. Created through eons of tectonic plate movement, the active fault lifted the higher southern side, exposing wall of ancient rocks to the lower northern side. It was the southern side, especially the eastern side of Maribaya Valley, that I explored for this cycling trip.
Even though not as famous to tourists as Tebing Keraton, Gunung Batu (lit. “Rock Mountain”) is well known among local geologists. It is often considered as the “peak” of Lembang Fault, even though it is 500 m lower in elevation than Mount Palasari at the east end of the fault. The rocky structure is believed to be the collision point between eastern and western segment of the fault.
For the past few years, Tebing Keraton (lit. “The Royal Cliff”) has become one among the most popular tourist destinations in Bandung. It is largely known for its “instagrammable” view of lush Maribaya valley, carved by Cikapundung river across the Lembang Fault for eons. It is also a mere 9 km uphill trip from the city, making it a great destination for half-day leisure cycling.