The Malaysian Foldie 19, May/June 2015 - Page 10

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.

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.

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.

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.