Why do we ride?
It was early morning in the middle of March—a month after my own birthday, and a day after Surely’s own first one. The sky was painted in thick, moody haze; I was riding across southern Bandung’s vast ricefield, and the road seemed to lead nowhere but empty white space. Yet, I knew exactly where I was going.
It’s such a humble, innocent question—something we rarely ask ourselves, for a good reason; most of the time, we simply grab our bike and ride away. Yet, over time, I found myself getting lost on the quest for faster speed, longer distance, higher elevation gain—the game of numbers that distracted me from pure, profound joy of the ride—that I need to ask myself such a question, to remember my personal reason to ride.
It was early morning in the middle of March; I went for a ride of remembrance.
The haze cleared, almost instantly, on the early section of the 26 km climb from Ciparay to Cisanti, revealing the beautiful vista of plantation terraces along the mountainrange’s slope. Moderate exertion level allowed me to enjoy the scenery instead of struggling with my own breath. A few hundred meters past Situ Cisanti’s entrance gate, the road turned mellow hilly across vast plains of two intersecting tea plantations—Kertasari and Malabar. With refreshing view, cool mountain breeze, and gentle morning sunshine, the gravel road has long become my favorite, and it was just as awe-inspiring as ever.
I was thinking about continuing the ride to Situ Cipanunjang and Gambung for an all-day gravel adventure, but slippery & muddy sections, and especially the gathering clouds hanging over the west horizon, had me decided to go straight back home from Pangalengan. After all, I had nothing to prove; I had found what I came for—a refreshing gravel ride across vast highland plains of tea plantation. Just before Pangalengan, however, I came across the junction with alternative gravel road to Wayang-Windu, and out of whim, I made the turn, because why not? The last time I rode there, the desolate, beautiful gravel road felt jittery, speed-sapping on my 26er rigid MTB; this time, it felt smooth and fun, despite the bike’s narrower tires—a testament that the Surly Midnight Special was a perfect bike for the kind of ride that I enjoy.
Why do we ride?
The slightly climbing gravel road took me to the road between Wayang-Windu and Kertamanah. Another mellow climbing road was followed by smooth, winding descent across Kertamanah tea plantation. As I flew the bike at high speed, the question reared its head once again, and I couldn’t help smiling. For many I know, the answer might be the pride of glorified self-inflicted torture, the pursuit of speed, or perhaps the high-class community with uber-expensive branded kit and latte art. For me though, it was about the humble joy of riding through beautiful landscape—the reason that brought me to cycling, the reason behind the decisions for my current bike build.
There’s no denying that I will ride for a self-imposed challenge from time to time, or, more regularly, for the sake of training and self-improving. Yet, I know, they’ve never been the reason that brought me to ride. Cycling can be game of numbers, personal challenge, social fun, geek talks, and whatever else; yet, above all, cycling should be a celebration of life.
Cycling Trip Stats:
- Distance: 116.7 km
- Total Ascent: 1,510 m
- Max Elevation: 1,675 m asl
- % Unpaved: 8.5%
- % Singletrack: 0%
- % Rideable time: 100%