Few bike upgrades—if any—comes close to the value of great tires.
It was one of my main reasons to get myself WTB Byway, two years ago. And, for the most part, I was happy with the tire. Granted, it has few quirks; it was occasionally losing grip when wet, and it was nightmarish to install, especially when I had to deal with it in the dark, under the rain, alone. But the high-volume carcass provides extra comfort, and the slick centerline rolls smoothly on the road. It must be one among the fastest allroad/gravel tires out there, too, I had thought.
And then, I learned that—based on few independent testings—WTB Byway was consistently one among the slowests.
“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.
“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.
“I might’ve started the day with the wrong foot, but it shouldn’t ruin the whole ride,” I told myself.
There I was, standing in the middle of hilly banana plantation in West Cipada, immersing myself in the view of Mt. Burangrang to the east, and glimpse of infamous Gede-Pangrango twin volcanoes to the west, feeling small and free at the same time. The air was cool, and the sky was cloudy, with a dash of gentle morning sun. After a hard struggle caused by my own foolishness, I could finally take a deliberate deep breath, and put myself at ease.
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.
@asep_hadian’s words were as daunting as classic movie’s bad guy’s, when he passed me by on Pacet climb, km 56 of the ride. Held by @audaxrandonesia and @dirtxclouds, the 200k 2020 Bandung All Terrain Challenge started from @bikesystem.id and began with flattish, uneventful ride to Ciparay, the first checkpoint, at km 49. Starting at 5.00 a.m., I was one among the firsts to arrive. There was confusion among participants about the exact checkpoint location, until @storyonsaddle showed up carrying the barcode to scan. He reminded me not to stop too long, but I took my time regardless—snacking and drinking, while watching others passed me by.
“Don’t worry, you can still buy your favorite coffee.”
Such was @Satset.CC’s statement when it announced the Ortap Seat Pack prototype—the statement that came back to me, as I looked at the pricetag when it was officially released. Was there a mistake? Have I been living inside a cave for too long, that I’ve lost track of general price inflation? “No” was the answer to both questions. So came another one: what is it about the seat pack that justifies its higher-than-average pricetag?
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.