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.
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…
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.
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…
Situated in the western border of Bandung, Rajamandala Karst Complex—often known as Citatah—is arguably the most unique geological feature of Bandung. Originated as the seabed of shallow, coral reef-rich water, the region was uplifted gradually by tectonic plate movement to form lands approximately twenty seven millions years ago, far older than any other volcanic-origin geological landmarks. Unfortunately, the natural beauty and scientific treasures it contained are under threat of destruction by limestone mining operation in the region. Exploring the area, therefore, is urgent.
Located at 1,200 m above sea level deep in the heart of Kerenceng, Calancang, and Bujung mountains complex, on the east border of Bandung, Taman Buru Kareumbi-Masigit (Kareumbi-Masigit Hunting Park) might not share the hype or fame of other natural tourism destinations around Bandung. It is worth visiting, however, particularly for some serene time in the middle of the woods, away from bustling daily city life. Originally used as an official hunting ground (hence the name “Taman Buru”), the acres of lush forest has long been declared as conservation area.
Standing 1,818 m above sea level, Manglayang is the least famous among Bandung’s northern mountains. Not only being the only one left out of the infamous Sangkuriang legend, it is also the least studied. Not much is known about the mountain, except the fact that it is an ancient stratovolcano, with unknown last eruption—perhaps a couple of millions of years ago, preceding the oldest human civilization that created the legend—that its crater is no longer visible, buried under the lush green forest.