Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sliming down fast to Sibolga

Great descents!

Watch for big holes around hairpin bends

And crazy drivers too!

This 80 yo man selling drinks proudly proclaimed, "My God is LOVE!"

Old shop house in Sibloga

Indian Ocean at last!

Traded in my Surly for this baby - ultimate carrying bike

Our last riding day had to start uphill, again. But by now, our legs seemed stronger and fitter or we have gotten used to the pain. Leaving Taruntung seemed the right thing to do and we were soon out in the open country, with views of the small town behind us. The weather was cool as it was still 900m above sea level but in just a matter of 60km, we would descend to humid sea level. Heading southwest, traffic was lighter than usual with the occassional Bemo or truck honking us to get out of its way. This was the first time we got chased by dogs too!

The climb ended 10km later where a Makanan Islam restaurant perched on a hill top beckoned us to refresh. It proved a great decision as it was the cleanest place we've ever been. Instant noodles never tasted so good and this turned out to be a smart choice as every stop and village below this place was really bad, smelly and dirty. A blue delivery truck kindly offered us a ride down to Sibolga but heh, we came exactly for the descent of our life.

The long descent was beyond our wildest dreams - wicked corners, long straights on good roads (some parts) and challenging surprises. The beautiful roads got worse as we lost altitude till some stretches were simply mud, pebble and dirt. Flying down at 40 plus kmh only to see these conditions after a blind corner was scary, requiring hard braking and utmost concentration. At times, my Surly hit the dirt real hard that the shock threw my hands off the handlebar grips.

If that was not exciting enough, two stretches required us to enter dark tunnels carved through the mountainside. Just go in and hope that no oncoming crazy Indonesian driver will be flying up into you.

When we finally saw the Indian Ocean and the town of Sibolga, I felt a tinge of sadness that our ride was soon to be over. It was amazing that 2 wheels on some metal tubes, powered just by our legs with a chain, could take us from sea to sea, across Sumatra.

Sibolga used to be a trading post for the colonial powers and features old shophouses and period buildings. It is also referred to as the slime pit of Sumatra as it has a reputation of ripping people off with all sorts of scams and tricks. But that is another story altogether. It was simply great to be splashed with the sea in our faces - something that literally happened when we stood too close to the waves!

Looking back, we have somewhat "tamed" the volcanoes of Sumatra on our saddles. The famous words of the great James Brown say it all - "I feel good, I knew that I would... so good, so good, yeah!"


duarte said...

nice blog............

Raymond Ong said...

Thanks for sharing so much.

Vik said...

Love the photos brother! When can I come visit????....I'll bring my Tikit and my LHT....=-)

Oldyonfoldy said...

Heh Vik,

Come on over anytime! Spore is a great springboard to fantastic cycling destinations but its a bit hot, even for us...

Al :)