“Thankfully, it’s not raining here. We’re safe.”
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.
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…
“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.
“Shall we extend the ride?”
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.
“What are you getting yourself into?”
Such was the words of my father when I told him I was participating in Bikesystem’s 500 km ride event. The words that came back to me, in my own voice, when I ground the pedal to the north of the island, under the heat of equatorial sun, alone.
But I had been expecting to join the ride, ever since it was a mere casual talk. I’ve recently grown interested in long rides, as a means to experience the landscape in an immersive way. My longest ride, however, was only 200 km, as it was the distance I could comfortably complete in a day. Longer distance means considerable time riding at night and sleeping along the way—the skil I deemed too risky to learn alone.
The second time in less than a month.
The allure of smooth winding road across scenic hills of tea plantation, the fresh mountain breeze under the bright blue sky, the bowl of hot noodle that matched cool air of high-altitude—those were what stayed in my memory from my first ride to Rancabali Highland, commisioned by Kilomantra Indonesia. It was the memory that resurfaced, when my brother @rizkiardhi_ asked me if it would be okay for me to ride there again with him. “It’ll be my pleasure,” I told him.
“Are you available next weekend?”
That was the text from my little brother @rizkiardhi_ in one fine afternoon—the text that eventually led to this road cycling trip to Wayang-Windu, the trip we had been planning for awhile.
Offering the ride across plains tea plantation in Pangalengan highland, Wayang-Windu route was one among few roadie-friendly cycling destination in Bandung. Despite the refreshing view and vibe, it wasn’t as popular as Lembang or Tangkubanparahu Entrance Gate, for a good reason; the distance and the total elevation gain means it requires about 8 hours of total trip time—definitely closer to endurance-type ride than those morning quick getaways. But my brother was looking for a 100+ km with good view, so…