It’s been a while since last time I had such a fun ride.
Sunday, August 2nd of 2020, 5.45 a.m., four cyclists who had never ridden together—or even didn’t know each other before—gathered in Alfamart in Gedebage. It all started with a direct message from @xtoredy asking me to ride with him while he was in Bandung. Once the plan was set, he invited his friend @anggawis to join the ride; likewise, I invited fellow Bandung cyclist @derryfa to join, too. So there we were, four cyclists who had never ridden together, brought together for a Sunday gravel fest.
The shortest, closest mountainpass loop to home—Palintang Pass has become one among cycling routes I ride most frequently. Starting from Alun-alun Ujungberung on East Bandung, the pass featured 10 km climb with 900 m of elevation gain to the peak, beautiful view of Mt. Manglayang and Mt. Palasari, rough gravel descent across cinchona plantation, as well as another 1.4 km climb with 130 m of elevation gain as finale punch. With total elevation gain of around 1,200 m for the full loop, it was a torturous rite of passage for me as a newbie, 7 years ago; even after all these years, riding the route is still quite demanding.
There it was: another hidden gem of Bandung Barat.
I saw it on @fahmyrhamadan’s Instagram Stories for the first time: Gravel road across vast ricefield, grassy meadow next to a beautiful lake view, under gentle sunrise’s warmth—it seemed like a promising cycling playground. Even better, it wasn’t particularly far from home; located next to Saguling dam, it doesn’t involve any steep or prolonged climb, too. I wondered if riding there would be as delightful as it seemed…
How would new normal approach affect group cycling?
The question was hovering over my head when @isnain2142 invited me for a group ride. It’s been almost 3 months since the country confirmed its first cases of Covid-19 and implemented mass social distancing policies; it’s been almost 3 months, the spread of the virus hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down, the vaccine availability is still months away, and people has grown weary, financially, psychologically—so much, that the government declared “new normal” as new approach to cope with the pandemic.
Let me start with an honest confession: an epic gravel adventure was what I was longing for.
After only doing easy city strolls during Ramadan month, however, I reckon it’d be wiser for me to go on a warm-up ride instead—something harder than mere city rides, yet isn’t as demanding as long gravel trip. Palintang Pass is normally my go-to choice; after recent repeated trips there, though, I decided to ride another nearby mountain pass: The Eurad Pass.
I’ve been wondering about it myself—the route has been sitting on my ride plan list for the past few years. Unlike my usual preference, it doesn’t involve a mountain pass. With total elevation gain of almost 1400 m, however, it was comparable to my previous mountain pass century rides, thanks to its pronounced hilly terrain alone. Somehow, it has always fallen out of my personal favor—that is, until fellow cyclists @storyonsaddle and @foldinggram actually rode it, and inspired me to take it for my birthday solo ride.
“Is going on a long ride, on Chinese New Year, a good idea?” my wife asked.
I had to admit she had a point. In Indonesia, Chinese New Year is identical with rain. Weather forecast predicted 80% chance of rain as early as 10 am, and 100% afterward. Despite the certainty of rain, however, I was firm with the plan of exploring new cycling route in Pangalengan—especially after my last rain ride to Palintang.
Workload, family, and health issue, among others, mean it was impossible for me to participate in #raphafestive500. Still, I feel the need to end the year with at least a century ride. A solo cycling trip to remind myself why I ride…
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…