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.
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.
The shortest, closest mountainpass loop to home—Palintang Pass has become one among cycling routes I ride most frequently. Starting from Alun-alun Ujungberung on East Bandung, the pass featured 10 km climb with 900 m of elevation gain to the peak, beautiful view of Mt. Manglayang and Mt. Palasari, rough gravel descent across cinchona plantation, as well as another 1.4 km climb with 130 m of elevation gain as finale punch. With total elevation gain of around 1,200 m for the full loop, it was a torturous rite of passage for me as a newbie, 7 years ago; even after all these years, riding the route is still quite demanding.
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…
How would new normal approach affect group cycling?
The question was hovering over my head when @isnain2142 invited me for a group ride. It’s been almost 3 months since the country confirmed its first cases of Covid-19 and implemented mass social distancing policies; it’s been almost 3 months, the spread of the virus hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down, the vaccine availability is still months away, and people has grown weary, financially, psychologically—so much, that the government declared “new normal” as new approach to cope with the pandemic.
If you can only have one bike, how would you build it?
Against widespread adoption of N+1 principle among cyclists, I have long been a believer of “one bike to rule them all” approach. For me, it made much more sense. On a multi-terrain cycling adventure, changing bikes to suit specific terrain condition isn’t an option; not even changing wheelsets. Combining long stretch of paved road, long climbs, rocky gravel road, steep twisty descents, even singletracks, such adventure demands one bike capable to tackle them all. Granted, such a bike will not excel at any particular task; it will, however, do well on almost any challenge a cycling adventure throw at it.
“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.
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…