I was happy to leave the heat in Mexico—it was unbearable. It was unpleasant to wake up at 5AM in the morning to ride 50 miles as fast as we could to get to the next town at 10AM or 11AM and having to lock ourselves in air conditioned room the entire day before it gets cool enough to go back out. Although I can’t complain about the ridiculous amount of popsicles (mangoes! Tamarind! Lime!) that were consumed because we were trying to stay cool to no avail.
It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision derived from frustration of being locked up in the room to escape the heat. What’s crazy (and awesome), was that I found the blog of a father-daughter who were a day behind us on the Baja tour. They are amazing! I can’t believe they stuck with it and continued their ride South towards an even hotter, even desert-ier weather. Kudos to them.
So—off to Jakarta we went. I’m so happy we have so many options and hence it was so hard to make a decision! I love this gift of time and options—the world is truly our oyster (this saying doesn’t really make sense to me)
We flew from Loreto to LA, followed by LA to Taiwan, then Taiwan to Jakarta.
Picture with the black bears of Taiwan—hint: They have a free shower and gym at Terminal A in the departure section in Taipei airport. We’ll be frequenting this for sure, especially because there’s no bar in Taiwan airport.
So we went to Indonesia with the original intent of me applying for Schengen (European union) visa so we can ride there the few months from mid September to end of October before it gets too cold in Europe. We arrived on a Wednesday, planning to relax a bit, prepare my paperwork for visa application and plan our next move. But life is crazy—we heard from my mom’s friend about this Audax – which means not exactly a bicycle race, but more like a touring- you go in a peloton for a certain distance. In this case, they have an Audax in Surabaya (1.5 hour flight East of Jakarta), spanning 330km over 2days, from Surabaya to a highland lagoon called Sarangan.. The route seemed doable and I figured that we’ve been on the bikes for 4 months- we should be able to handle this thing, right??? On Thursday morning, still jetlagged, I did more research on the event and we decided to try to register if it was possible. The registration was closed, of course, but somehow, I managed to convince them to allow us to register, a mere day before the start of the event. We bought flight tickets and booked a hotel immediate. The next day, Friday, off we went to Surabaya, along with our touring bikes and our stuff in the back panniers ‘just in case’ we will be somehow touring again in Java.
We arrived in Surabaya and went to the opening ceremony to this East Java Audax- not knowing what to expect, but having heard good things about it. We want to do more bike touring in Indonesia, so I was excited to meet Indonesia’s biking community-I was hoping that they’d be able to help us out with routes and recommendations.
They even gave us two polo shirts and two jerseys- we were suggested to wear these uniforms at all times.
At the start of the event- this is the first time ever I’ve ever ridden with a group. Brady was very worried about me because I’m not that great at riding in a straight line. I think he was worried that other people’s bike won’t make it if I ram into them with my Surly
At one of the 3 pit stops the first day- it was brutal, we went 180km that day (116 miles), one of the stretch was 70KM (43miles) where we rode non stop at pretty high speed (21mph). I thought my touring legs will bring me far, but this is a whole different type of riding. We rode in groups and these people went faster than I’m used to. I had a few issues with my bike and had to pull over. When these people left me (we were in convoy, surrounded by cops so no crazy traffic and motorcycle can disrupt the cycling), I had to fend for myself in normal traffic, steering precariously around motorcycle. And let me tell you, it was hard to go 23mph to catch up a group that went 21mph—I was so exhausted after! Here’s me, trying to enjoy a hot noodle. It was hard eating something so hot when I’m overheating and still slightly jetlagged.
My beautiful surly—it’s so crazy how heavy our bikes were (16.5kg), in comparison to other people’s really light ones (6kgs)—it’s 22lbs difference!! Cray cray. It’s fine when we were going on flat land, but I definitely felt the impact when it was windy or even slightly uphill
Everybody wants to take a picture with the ‘bule’ = white guy—I was just along for the ride. Brady is more fascinated of the people here than they of him, so he couldn’t quite understand why they wanted to take a picture of him. The whole entire time he just wanted to take pictures of EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING.
It’s a few days after Indonesia’s celebration of 70 years of Independence- We played traditional games. I was picked to play this game where you try to put a nail, hung from a string around your waist into a bottle. Did not win. So inappropriate, please don’t laugh.
The second day- we immediately fell asleep at 7pm on the first day. I was hoping that since we’ve been touring for a few months, my recovery is better than others. That should make up for the heavy bikes, right? New jersey– so many new attire options!
A few more pictures of Brady taking pictures with the locals. At some point, it was somewhat relentless. What was amazing, however, was how warm EVERYBODY was. They are so welcoming and friendly at all the different places that we stopped. Brady demands that we never leave Indonesia.
At one of the pit stops, they have Panjat Pinang- an Indonesian traditional game usually played during the independence day celebration- it’s essentially a shaved off palm/coconut tree, oiled to the max, with gifts hanging from the top. Whoever can get to the top first gets to claim all the prices. It’s quite ingenious and hilarious.
Old/ antique bikes. Throughout the audax, people kept on coming to us asking why we had antique bikes—I didn’t quite get it at the time, but it would make sense—all steel bike with leather saddle with springs! Totally!
The last uphill section was nuts! We went up to 1250m ~3700’, which in itself is not that difficult. However , the last 8 miles or so were crazy steep- It went from 7% to 10% to 23% at some point! It was insane!!! Especially because the of the switchbacks, I kept on hoping that the top is near. IT WAS NEVER NEAR! Brady pulled through and managed to not stop. He was one of the first 40 or so people who made it to the top- very impressive considering the heavy-ass bike. I stopped a bunch of times in the shade , but managed to be the second woman to make it to the top! Here’s a pic with one of the guys who corralled people with the motorcycle. He helped me lots on the first day when I got left behind, fixing my bike and making sure that I make it back with the peloton. He was really taking care of Brady and I, seeking us throughout the day and making sure we are okay and Brady’s hydrated.
This event was amazing! They made sure that the entire road (both ways) were closed whenever the pelotons passed through. It helped with the pollution and the speed of travel. It was amazingly well organized and we had so much fun. We met so many amazing people! I’m really into it!
We are exhausted, even after the rest day, but we will start riding again tomorrow towards the West- to Jogjakarta to see the famous Borobudur temple—More of Javajaunt stories to come!
Stole these pics off Facebook from the Audax: