25 February 2012

Short tales

My new map of Java is huge. Java is huge. Fair to say I changed it’s typography in a radical way. Without bloodshed, mind you. The colonist in me got the Swiss Army knife out and I cut complete archipelago’s and seas off. From the top and from the bottom. I figured they’ve got plenty of islands and water anyway.
The previous map I used - Bali on one side, Lombok on the other - has been used and reshaped so much that it’s held together by it’s ink. It’s a disgrace how a lover of print can vandalize it.

Riding over Java’s roads, every so often I hear from afar a guy, advertising Allah and begging for money through an old PA system. On approach I spot 4 collectors on each side of the road, itself a near suicidal experiment and they collect coins and notes from passing traffic. It’s for the mosque, I have been told. When they spot me their hands and buckets go out and I can tell that the PA man has spotted me. [I even heard: “American”], as I pedaled by. I sometimes reverse the gesture and ask them for a donation. They find that very funny and shout me all sorts of well-wishes as I disappear into the distance.

Food discovery
I eat primarily from outside stalls now. Warung is the Indonesian name of shops where you can eat and drink and they range from filthy to spotless. I have noticed that the cleaner they are, the better service, the cheaper and the nicer the people are. Typical. Rice and noodles are the main staples but they come in many different forms.
Soto Ayam [Chicken soup], Bakso [Noodle soup], Martabak [pastry], Pisang goreng [BBQ-ed banana], Avocado juices and Tikan goreng [Fried fish] have been the best discovery.

Good old Bertrand has been behaving well although today he played up a little. The Brooks saddle definitely is a massive improvement but both my riding shorts have seen better days and I need to buy new ones.

He is loving it. Has had rides on beach roads, country roads, vivid climbs, hair raising descents, been over a fair few volcanoes and has crossed many bridges. AnParticipated in manic city traffic, took rests against banana, palm, and bamboo. And in not so pretty decors. He hitched rides on the back of 2  small trucks, and on one bigger truck on top of a pile of volcanic sand. And all that with a 100 kg + guy on board. He is not fazed. I can’t hear anything rattling except for when I rode around with two broken spokes.

Officer Sigit Pramono
A tough looking copper. All Indonesian coppers look tough with immaculate costumes and a fair dose of bling and insignia. Behind the mask shelters a caring 35-year old man and a father of two young boys, who offered me an old couch in an even older back office, and a mandi [wash room] in the police station of Candipuro in East Java. He and I did not change many words but he looked after me and Stumpjumper. It was a very special night as I sat with a few coppers watching Indonesian television and looking outside to the sunset over the Semeru volcano. The scanner radio crackling all night.

Three times I have hit the deck on this trip. That is more than in all my previous bike touring trips together. I partly blame stress and lack of concentration on it. The first time I was stuffed when trying to find accommodation in Mataram, Lombok. I bumped into a suv who bumped into my front wheel but there was no damage on suv nor on Stumpjumper. I lost some skin on my knee. The second time I was riding “too slow” and lost control over the bike with full packing as I hit a pothole. “Beng”, on the ground. The third timd was the hardest fall but I escaped with a bit of a sore hand and Stumpjumper showed no damage at all. I turned off at a beach side cafe and slipped hard on very slippery stones. My front wheel went and I went after it. Quite a smack.

The first week I had quite a few things going wrong. Lost bank card, but also equipment, and other upsetting stuff. It affected my riding. I think that I have dealt with that now and I’m riding free. Form is coming.

I stored my golden fleece somewhere away when I was packing all my things up. [I have rented my house for 10 months]. So no fleece on the trip. It would have been stored in my panniers for a long time though. My gut would have protested. I’ve had a fair bit of monsoonal rain on my trip but I am happy to announce that my beautiful white Vaude rain jacket now fits! My profile has been reduced.

While riding my thoughts are with Skipper who does so much for the team and for Harley who's had a nasty fall. With such a big trip for them coming up these must be difficult times. Hang in there boys!

1 comment:

skipper said...

hanging on each word mate...tight lines skip