Monday, June 23, 2014

Tour of Indonesia 01 : Sumatera - Part 1

Going where few bicycle tourists have gone before.. 

I was corresponding with fellow cyclist Mohd Radzi Mohd Noor about riding in Indonesia.
He suggested Bengkalis island as a start.
From his recommendation, I started researching about the island.
There's not much to see in the island and basically, it's a waste of time.
Why? We had to travel down to Muar in Johor to board a ferry that departs only on the even days of the week.
Even the return trips are scarce.

A change of plan...

Bengkalis island, seen on Google maps

The new route: Dumai - Pekanbaru
After a brief discussion, we've ruled out Bengkalis.
Instead, I suggested to Mohd Radzi about traveling to Dumai port and cycle to Pekanbaru from there.
Sounds not too far fetched as this route has been trodden by some foreign cyclists.
The plan was to take a ferry from Port Klang to Dumai, disembark, set up and ride off towards Pekanbaru.

Drawing the route..


I've been to Dumai. 
That was back in 1992. This is a port town known for shipping out petroleum.
It's a small town and was also a place for booze and a cheap fuck.
The plan was to land in Dumai, re-confirm our ferry tickets and set off.
But first, I had to get the tickets and departure dates. 
As the guy behind the scene, I have to do everything. 
Mohd Radzi is a greenhorn. He's never been on such a trip.
After I've secured the tickets (cash payment, no credit cards), I told Mohd Radzi to take the KTM Komuter train to Port Klang. 
The ferry to Dumai departs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And they leave the port at 10.30am. Well, it's wishful thinking because the departures are always delayed.
So, that said, we made plans to spend the night in Duri, another petroleum town which is roughly about 60km away from Dumai.
There are accommodation in this town and it's just the right distance to get a night's rest.
From Duri, we ride off to Pekanbaru and the plan was to complete the 201km ride in two days.

Preparations...

I wanted to bring my Tern Eclipse S18 for this ride.
But being unsure of the terrain and road conditions, I've activated my trusty Dahon Jetstream EX.
This bike can take every abuse and punishment on the road. And I think it's roadworthy -- especially in Indonesia.
I haven't ridden before in this country and since I've been there and have actually seen the road conditions, the Jetstream EX came as a huge advantage.
I had it rigged with a Thule Pack and Ride touring rack and a pannier adaptor. These alone costs about RM850.
My choice panniers were the Ortlieb Frontrollers and I had to be careful not to overload the packs as the Thule rack is not proven.
But, it seems that the Thule system is the only luggage rack that can be mounted on the Jetstream's seat stays.

The Jet: Rigged for touring
Ortlieb panniers on the rack
The Jetstream can be folded and carried on a Dahon carry-on cover. Very convenient for taking the bus and rail services, but not for baggage handlers on ferries.
And like the usual, I packed the essential bike gears: tools, size 15 spanner for my SRAM DualDrive II hub, spare inner tubes, patch kit, lights, recovery tools, clothing, meal kit, international plug adaptors, chargers and cables.
So, in short, both panniers are packed to the brim.
For my personal medication, I always carry my kit in my Ortlieb hip pack. This one had served me very well over the years in countless offroad folding bike expeditions. 
To capture the moments, I brought my Canon EOS-M system with a 22mm F2.0 pancake lens and its standard 18-55mm kit lens.
These worked very well for still shots and for the Tour of Indonesia, I've experimented with shooting High Definition videos on the EOS-M.
To keep in touch with my wife Michelle, I brought my Motorola Moto G smartphone.
This one had proven it's worthiness in Southern Thailand earlier and its about to prove itself again as an indispensable asset.

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