“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.
And we all said yes.
Extended Eurad route has long been part of my wish list. There’s a reason I hadn’t given it a go, however: the long stretch of rocky road, the long tough climb on the way back, with total elevation gain of more than 2,000m, mean a demanding ride. So, when he innocently said we might be able to finish just after midday, I was apprehensive. “We’ll most likely finish in about 3 o’clock,” I said.
The Eurad Pass was as beautiful as I had always remembered: sunshine penetrated through the trees, lighted up surrounding peaks and patches of smooth winding road we were climbing. After a short break and refilling our bidons at the top of the pass, we descended the steep twisty road to Bukanagara, a small village and tea plantation located at the base of a tens of million years old caldera. Riding further along the flowy, rolling gravel road took us to Bukanagara’s tea factory, where we asked direction to passing locals while taking a short photo break. It wasn’t even 9 o’clock in the morning, we were all refreshed by the cool mountain air and gentle morning sunlight… it felt like a perfect picnic ride.
It was from here, however, the challenge began.
“How much longer is this rocky road?”
Bangkit asked us the question each of us was wondering ourselves. We were taking a short break on a switchback, watching the trees and surrounding forest, as we relax our joints and muscles. We had been enduring the boneshaking, vision-blurring rocky road for about half an hour—the half an hour that felt like hours.
The road from Bukanagara tea factory began with mostly descending segments, which blessed us with the joy of going fast, effortlessly. Soon after the road entered the woods, however, the relatively smooth road turned rough and rocky. We slammed our brakes, and held the levers incessantly, as we tread our bike slowly over the rocks to maintain control—the maneuver that grew harder and harder, as minutes passed by…
Thanks to the plump 650b x 47c WTB Byway, I could glide over the rocks faster than my friends, who were riding harder, narrower tires—even with the pressure adjusted for smooth gravel. Shimano’s hydro brake made controlling the speed along the jarring descent easier than mechanical one. Still, it wasn’t easy; my mistake of constantly braking from the hoods instead of the drops—with gloves on—resulted in painful hand blisters, even before the rocky segment ended.
A mountain bike with proper suspension would definitely make the ride much easier here…
We were all thrilled when the road turned smooth and took us out of the woods. And just there, sitting on the roadside, overlooking open valley to the northeast, was a warung—a perfect place for a break. Our mood brightened as we exchanged jokes and laughter over lite bites. A bowl of noodle, and a cup of iced tea, in front of beautiful view, was a fitting reward after the struggle.
And then, just when we were about to continue our ride, heaven opened, and the Earth was drenched as far as we could lay our eyes on…
“One kilometer to go. Time for the last push!”
I shouted at Andrei as he rode past me in his granny gear. I stopped for awhile, taking few snaps as he struggled climbing the last part of the legendary Emen climb. We all knew it’d be hard. Still, we were not prepared.
The ride after our brunch break at roadside warung in Darmaga was relatively easy. True, the sky showered us without mercy when we were back on the saddle, and we were all shivering like frail little kittens. But the flowy descent was smooth, and the rain stopped before long. The road was perfectly dry when we reached Kasomalang; there was no sign of any rain, except for the blanket of thick gray cloud in the sky.
It was from there, however, another challenge started.
Featuring steep descents and climbs, the hilly main road of Kasomalang was tough. It was, however, nothing compared to what awaited us in Cagak. By then, the clouds opened, and the intense mid-day sun scorched us, as we finally came face to face with our toughest battle yet: the dreadful Emen climb.
Spanning 13.5 km with total elevation gain of 940 m, the climb to the entrance gate of Tangkubanparahu highlighted our group’s difference of power. For the first 4.5 km, we rode close to each other and made a convenience store stop together. From there, though, the gap between us lengthened significantly; being the strongest, Elba charged ahead, and I couldn’t keep up with him without risking exhausting myself too early. Bangkit decided to get evacuated, while Ryan had leg cramps 3.5 km before the peak. After morale-sapping struggle, we finally reached the top of the climb at 3 o’clock—starved and exhausted.
With few more climbs to tackle, we put out our last power to get back to the city—our only concern back then was to get ourselves decent meal before calling it a day. Tongseng Kambing and iced orange juice at Imah Babaturan were the perfect late lunch I decided to treat myself with. It was almost 5 o’clock in the evening; after telling my wife sorry for being very, very late, I finished my meal quickly, and finally headed back home.
Cycling Trip Stats:
- Distance: 105.5 km
- Total Ascent: 2,313 m
- Max Elevation: 1,517 m asl
- % Unpaved: 19.9%
- % Singletrack: 0%
- % Rideable time: 100%