“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.
The allure of smooth winding road across scenic hills of tea plantation, the fresh mountain breeze under the bright blue sky, the bowl of hot noodle that matched cool air of high-altitude—those were what stayed in my memory from my first ride to Rancabali Highland, commisioned by Kilomantra Indonesia. It was the memory that resurfaced, when my brother @rizkiardhi_ asked me if it would be okay for me to ride there again with him. “It’ll be my pleasure,” I told him.
That was the question I asked @therudihartanto, when he told me he was going to Nagrek Pass, a couple of months ago—the question that I actually had to ask myself. Lately, I thought a ride to Nagrek Pass is a bit lacking and should be added with Cijapati Pass to make a larger loop—yet, somehow, I never actually rode it myself.
Let’s admit it: 2020 didn’t go the way we had expected.
What started as a passing news from foreign land—pieces of story we quickly scrolled through without much attention—quickly spread across the globe and affected our life in a way we had never imagined. People fell ill, businesses dwindled, jobs lost—I was one among those affected financially, and was forced to slow down. It’s compelling to say 2020 was disastrous.
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.
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.
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.