Few bike upgrades—if any—comes close to the value of great tires.
It was one of my main reasons to get myself WTB Byway, two years ago. And, for the most part, I was happy with the tire. Granted, it has few quirks; it was occasionally losing grip when wet, and it was nightmarish to install, especially when I had to deal with it in the dark, under the rain, alone. But the high-volume carcass provides extra comfort, and the slick centerline rolls smoothly on the road. It must be one among the fastest allroad/gravel tires out there, too, I had thought.
And then, I learned that—based on few independent testings—WTB Byway was consistently one among the slowests.
Should I push forward to test my limit, or should I take it slow and savor the trip?
Bikesystem Rides 500 was the cycling event I was looking forward to the most in 2022; it was the perfect event to test my ultra-endurance capacity. In 2021, the same event had revealed my weaknesses and mistakes as a newbie. In 2022, I looked forward to see if I had improved.
“It is, indeed, beautiful.” My riding buddy Ryan remarked.
We were just around 500 m away from Rancabali main road, rolling at relaxed pace, and already the lonely road served us with the moody view of hilly tea plantation under cloudy, silvery sky. It was thirty minutes to midday, but the cool high-altitude breeze was refreshing.
Truth be told, he had almost missed the ride entirely.
Could there awe-inspiring, unexplored routes left around Bandung?
The city has, indeed, plenty to offer. Gambung Loop is, arguably, the most popular one; so is roadie-friendly Wayang-Windu route. Cisanti Loop has also been my personal favorite. For shorter, sub-fondo routes, Eurad Pass seemed to be local cyclists’ favorite, while Sukawana Tea Plantation has become my personal preference recently. Yet even their magical charm faded, bit by bit, the more we rode them, over and over again…
It’s no doubt that cycling jersey has evolved into the most optimized outfit for the sport. The skin-tight fit reduces aerodynamic drag more than aero frame and aero wheels, combined, could ever achieve—allowing us to go faster and cover more distance with the same power output. Combined with quick-drying material, its front zipper allows optimal thermal regulation in wide range of temperature, while its back pockets allow us to carry the essentials without messing with smooth pedalling movement. Cycling jersey is, therefore, a must for a competitive ride.
But most of us are riding for fun, not for competition.
Somewhat icky name aside, Squirt was one among the pioneering drip wax lube, and it scored highly in Friction Facts’ original chain lube efficiency testing. But years have passed since, brands have come up with new formulas, and each have their own characteristics other than efficiency alone. Is Squirt still standing tall among the newcomers? How does it fare against the others, including the Silca Super Secret, which I reviewed earlier?
“Don’t ride there alone; let me know when you’re going.”
Derry cautioned me when I told him my plan to ride Rancabolang-Patuha mountain pass. Situated at the southeastern slope of Mt. Patuha, the highest mountain in Bandung region, the route has long stayed on my wish list. Passing lush forest and hilly tea plantation, the mixed-terrain road punches well beyond 2,200 m above sea level, making it the second highest mountain pass in West Java—and the fifth highest in whole Java.
It was Rizky Subangkit who asked us, one by one. We were riding through the rural road at casual pace by then, still thinking we were going back home before midday.
Casual, after all, was how it all began. Our plan was to ride to the top of Eurad Pass, enjoy the brunch and hang out, then descend back to the city—a morning picnic. That was why I only filled one bidon, and donned simple cargo short instead of a cargo bib. And we did stick to the plan early in the morning; taking the ride easy along Cijengkol, and heading further to the north, as the layer of clouds began crumbling in the sky… until he asked us.
“I might’ve started the day with the wrong foot, but it shouldn’t ruin the whole ride,” I told myself.
There I was, standing in the middle of hilly banana plantation in West Cipada, immersing myself in the view of Mt. Burangrang to the east, and glimpse of infamous Gede-Pangrango twin volcanoes to the west, feeling small and free at the same time. The air was cool, and the sky was cloudy, with a dash of gentle morning sun. After a hard struggle caused by my own foolishness, I could finally take a deliberate deep breath, and put myself at ease.