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.
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.
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.
Compared to the south side counterpart, the cycling exploration to Lembang Fault’s north side was more challenging. It is significantly longer, because it is further to the north from the city, and it allows end-to-end 29 km exploration, from east to the west. It also features two valleys, which contributes to added climbing sections along the road. However, it also rewarded me with clear view of the fault, stretching from Mount Palasari in east end all the way to the west.
Stretching 29 km from east to west, Lembang Fault was one among the most prominent geological features of Bandung Basin. From the city, it is easily recognized as elongated hill in the north, starting from Mount Palasari in the east, sloping down all the way to north of Cimahi in the west. Created through eons of tectonic plate movement, the active fault lifted the higher southern side, exposing wall of ancient rocks to the lower northern side. It was the southern side, especially the eastern side of Maribaya Valley, that I explored for this cycling trip.
Even though not as famous to tourists as Tebing Keraton, Gunung Batu (lit. “Rock Mountain”) is well known among local geologists. It is often considered as the “peak” of Lembang Fault, even though it is 500 m lower in elevation than Mount Palasari at the east end of the fault. The rocky structure is believed to be the collision point between eastern and western segment of the fault.
For the past few years, Tebing Keraton (lit. “The Royal Cliff”) has become one among the most popular tourist destinations in Bandung. It is largely known for its “instagrammable” view of lush Maribaya valley, carved by Cikapundung river across the Lembang Fault for eons. It is also a mere 9 km uphill trip from the city, making it a great destination for half-day leisure cycling.