Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tour of Indonesia 1 : Sumatera - Part 04

A long day ahead...

We had enough rest and packed up for the long journey to Minas, another oil town that lies about 100-odd kilometers ahead.
Up till this point, the roads have been bad.
Potholes everywhere, sunken road shoulders, dust and debris.
Mohd Radzi found it rather hard and asked if there's a highway linking the provinces in Sumatera.
"This IS the highway...," I told him.
Back at home, we don't know how good we are getting it.
The roads are wide and well-maintained.
Yet, people complain about this and that.
We rode out to a petrol station some 13km away from Duri and found a makan place.
The rule is simple: find a place with running water. We are in Indonesia where water is a commodity.
And our well-deserved breakfast was Soto Daging. Here, they have it with rice. I found it strange. 
While we were at it, an elderly woman asked where we were from.
She said she had seen a group of cyclists with "small bikes" heading towards Bengkalis. That was some time back. 
The people of Sumatera are a hospitable lot. They are friendly and helpful.

Our shared room in Duri

Duri town
Breakfast - Soto Daging
Hills, sweat and tears...

We've covered just a fraction of the long distance ride to Minas.
Initially, it was a straight push to Pekanbaru, but having seen the terrain with short bursts of climbs up to 20% gradient, we were worn out.
I was amazed at Mohd Radzi's prowess in his 8-speed bike. He rode past me during the climbs with ease.
The guy has a lot of strength and energy to expand and at most time, he was riding too close.
I told him to keep a distance and during one of the stretch, his front wheel had nudged into my rear pannier.
I've done 100++ km rides with him, but this was his first tour.
If properly trained, his honed skills would make him a great expedition leader. This talent is still raw and in need of fine-tuning which I believe can be done with time and enough exposure.

New over old, road resurfacing on Jalan Lintas Sumatera

Indonesian motorists are fond of using their vehicle's horn

Riding along the road construction site..
With the Sun above our heads and a series of hills before Kandis, the next "Big" town which is roughly about 55km away, we slowly rode on the bad road and took breaks every 25km or so. Progress was painfully slow.
Our average speed was 10km/h and it's no joke when you lug panniers on both sides.
By mid-noon, we've passed Kandis, which is a town that has a large population of Batak people. And they can really sing! It was Sunday and the entire stretch was deserted as the population were attending mass at their respective churches.

In Jetstream country..

I made the right decision to use my 2011 Dahon Jetstream EX. 
With the bad road conditions and uncertain gradient, this 27-speed bike was comfortable and sturdy.
It took on the hills with much ease and the only time I had to get down and push was at one of those steep slopes where I lost momentum during the roll.

The large wheels and suspension made this ride really smooth

Rolling on wet concrete!

The hills in the background..
A test of endurance and mental discipline..

We rode in the dark the day before and would endure another day of night cycling.
From Kandis, we have to cover a distance of 67km towards Minas, another oil town.
This was where oil was first discovered and what I was told that the blend from here is one of the most expensive in the commodity market.
The journey to Minas alone, is a sight to behold.
Lots of winding stretches with steep gradient.
There weren't much written about Jalan Lintas Sumatera. I guess those who had rode past this road before us had too much in mind.
We rode towards a ride and while I was climbing, I noticed that Mohd Radzi was rolling on top of a narrow ridge.
When I got there, I took a snapshot of the small hills in the background, a reminder that this was not an easy route and its definitely not for beginners.

The road to Minas

At the first oil well in Sumatera
Cup noodles for lunch
Calling it a day at the Minas - Pekanbaru border
We reached Minas late in the afternoon and was rather disappointed to learn that there were no guest houses or hotels in the town.
As a matter of fact, the spot which was marked on the map was actually two rows of houses.
Having spent the night earlier in Duri, my impression of Minas was that it's a big town. 
We were dead wrong.
Half-way into the ride, we had our rear blinkers switched on.
Mohd Radzi had no lights, so, I offered him my Blackburn Super Flea.
On trips like such, it's always better to pack in some extra gear and headlights are the sort of equipment one should not take for granted.
We rode past Minas and found a roadside stall and decided to pull over.
The stall owner told us that there is a hotel some 2km away from his location and its a decent one. 
Mohd Radzi made the call to spend a night there.
We found the place called "Rindu Sempadan" cottage.
On my mind, we deserved the rest and a good shower after riding nearly 100km in a day.
The push to Pekanbaru is a shorter distance.
We had dinner at a shop near the cottage's gate and discussed about the journey.
Mohd Radzi is an excellent companion and I think he's gonna go far in his future adventures.
Before we hit the sack, I asked if the hotel could provide a lift to their entrance, which is nearly 1km away.
The receptionist agreed and had arranged for a transport for the bikes and gear..
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