Cycling is like life. Cycling with no goal is meaningless. What meaning is there cycling in circles? Or living aimlessly? Meaning comes from direction and destination. Join me in my life's journey on a mountain bike :)

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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Seven bridges of Barelang

Feb distance travelled: 504 km

Sat 28 - Sun 29 Feb
To Barelang, Indonesia, 127 km. The primary mission: head south about 80 km along six bridges linking Batam, Rempang, and Galang islands until the road runs out and locate a seventh foot bridge. Secondary mission: ride an American century, ie 160 km to and fro along the route, instead of the usual metric century of 100 km. Mission brief by bike leader TYS: hot and long, hilly ride. Eat and drink all you want, provided you carry it all the way. Form up position: 0700 hours at Harbourfront for ferry to Batam.

The roads at Batam are like those in Malaysia. But some drivers unfortunately are like those in Singapore. Still, there are friendly, helpful strangers. In the big city, it's been said: "Don't talk to strangers." But in Batam, like Malaysia, helpful people appear from nowhere, like the lady who calls our hotel for us to arrange our transfer. And the motorist who honks at me to tell me I've missed my bike pals who've headed along another road. What a nice welcome to biking in Indonesia; it's the first time I'm cycling here. And it's the first time I've done a century ride on my 1.25" slicks.

Mission outcome: primary mission completed.

Secondary mission is a total failure. I'm glad AD is along for the ride. It's when he cramps that I manage to overtake him, since I'm off form. Mitigating factors: starting the ride with barely four hours of sleep. After two weeks of medical leave. The enemies are too strong: blazing sun, roller coaster hills and ... only one "official" rest stop, at the first bridge.

Off the end of the road in the east just before the seventh bridge is a kelong which, as it turns out, serves fish of the day. I'm flat out on a bench while waiting for lunch. After lunch, AD and I abandon the secondary mission and seek evacuation back to the airconditioned comfort and soft pillows of our resort. TYS haggles with three locals on our behalf and we speed back to our hotel by four-wheel drive. The rest of the trip is total relaxation: eat and sleep. Except for AL - he doesn't cycle at all but is working through the weekend at the resort.

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