“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.
Truth be told, he had almost missed the ride entirely.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…