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 :)

Blogging since 2003. Thank you for reading :))

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sun drenched, rain dropped

8-9 Sep, Bintan, Indonesia, 225 km

An act of kindness 
Day 1, Sat 8 Sep, 110 km. Singapore-Trikora. What's that sound? Oh, it's the alarm clock going off hours before dawn. I cycle 1.5 hours to the ferry teminal and pass the spot where three cyclists had been hit weeks ago. One died. Someone has laid a basket of flowers on the kerb. Under the street lights, the dew-laden air melds into the light grey road. At the ferry terminal, I wait. The last rider is almost an hour late. The check-in staff tells us to remove our bicycle accessories. "Say goodbye to your bike," he tells me with a laugh.

Our group of eight has two veterans from Laos and Taiwan. The rest are mostly newbies. Bike leader briefs them, then points at me and says, "If you can get ahead of him, you deserve to stay there." After an hour's riding to get out of "Bintanpore" (where prices are in SGD and as high) to the real Bintan, one of them pukes. He hurls. The locals watch, amazed. It's going to be a long day. After breakfast part 2, we cycle off. Kids wave and cheer. A motorcyclist gives me the thumbs up. I cycle ahead, mulling over work, head and heart matters. I somehow miss a turn, but don't realise this yet.

Have ice cream, will travel
I wait at a tiny, dusty shop. I figure I'm half an hour ahead. The shopkeeper chats with me. I finish my room-temperature drink. The sun burns. An ice-cream vendor rattles up on his motorbike. I ask for chocolate. It's RP3,000. He has no change for my RP50,000 note, which is the smallest I got from the money changer. I apologise. He smiles and thrusts the ice cream at me. I shake my head again, he insists again. I am amazed. I thank him in his language and he thanks me in mine. 

After an hour's wait, I call bike leader. Turns out he's just a few minutes away, having a break. He's sent the newbies ahead so that we get to the hotel during daylight. And we do. They celebrate with beer. I toast them, with ice cream. Some newbies decide to skip the ride tomorrow, including the ride treasurer. And I somehow end up being appointed treasurer - the one who handles the cash and pays the bills. My first such appointment.

Nightstop: Ocean Bay Resort

A wrong turn 
Day 2 Sun 9 Sep, 115 km. For breakfast, I have eight slices of toast, four cups of tea and two eggs. Who knows what the food and beverage situation is on the road? Near Tanjong Pinang, bike leader's sixth sense tingles. We've missed a turn. I speed back to save the others from wasted calories.

As we regroup, I tell bike leader there seems to be a shop that sells cold drinks. "I didn't say cold beer," I stress. "You seem to be right," he says after I lead them there. There is a fridge with cold drinks. I ask for ice and glasses. Bike leader says, "This is a shop, not a restaurant." He's right. I try to cancel my request. Glasses of ice appear. Sorry to impose and thank you so much for your hospitality. It's hot and sunny.

Like yesterday, kids say hello. A motorcyclist on the other side of the road beeps me. A passenger in a car give me a thumbs up. Passing vehicles give me a wide berth. Ahead, I see two Caucasians by the roadside looking at a big unfolded map. I give them directions. "Is it hilly?" one asks. I ask, "Where are you from, are you from Holland?" They reply, "Singapore". "There's nothing like that over there," I say. They have a long way to go.

Thunder rumbles, like the unhappy belly of Thor. I want to keep ahead of the rain clouds, to no avail. Rain falls. I'm wet but it's not the kind of rain that wets tyre rims. There is no time for lunch. I reach for my energy powder but it's gone, together with my reflective strip, which is the shiniest I've seen. They must have bounced out of my velcroed pocket. Bike leader pats his girth and says he has reserves but I'll die. To comfort me, he says he'll burn me hell money every Seventh Month. Thanks.

At the ferry terminal, I find out how true is the saying that it's in "Bintanpore". Prices are in Singapore dollars and Singapore rates. A couple occupy three chairs, with their bag taking up the third seat. I'm told only one seat is available. A second couple remove their bag for us. Seconds later, the first couple pay the bill and walk away. Guess you're not kind Indonesians, are you?


No comments: