A little to the left, a slight move to the right, a minor change of saddle angle…nothing stopped the bolts of pain in my underside as we bumped along Sumatra’s backroads.
Turns out we still have a few things to learn about bike touring. Here’s our latest lesson learned:
Two Months off the Bike + Brand-New Brooks Saddle= Intense Agony
And it wasn’t just saddle sores we suffered from. With 20 extra kilos of “essential stuff” I’d lugged back with me from my trip to America, the bikes were weightier than ever. Five minutes of struggling up Sumatra’s first big hill (which comes as soon as you zip off the ferry from Java) and I was ready to ditch the new tarp. The rain poncho? Totally unnecessary. And that extra rim Eric insisted we needed? Not so crucial, I reflected, when faced with a 15% incline.
It took a few days of adaptation before we succumbed to Sumatra’s charms. First we had to re-accustom ourselves to the motorbikes darting about helter-skelter, the cows and goats rummaging through rubbish piles in search of their next meal and the intense tropical sun pounding down on our pale exposed flesh.
And we had to get fit again. FAST. Having spent almost six months in Indonesia, Eric had exhausted his options for visa extensions. We have a month to get out of the country or risk the wrath of the immigration officials. There will be little margin for lingering on the shores of Lake Maninjau or calling it quits early when our legs are heavy with fatigue after a series of brutal climbs.
It’s been 10 days now since we wobbled out of Jakarta. (I was actually really surprised at how unwieldy the loaded bike was in the beginning—I felt like a toddler taking her first cautious steps)
Here’s a bit of what we’ve experienced:
A massive thank you to Paul and Raihan for making Eric part of your family in Jakarta for such an extended stay.
Thanks to the good folks at Missoula Free Cycles for setting Amaya up with the coolest wheels in town and not laughing at her less than stellar bike repair skills.
A big thanks to all the hosts from couchsurfing, the random individuals who invited us into their homes for the night and the teachers and staff at the many schools who offered us shelter.
Hats off to the folks at SteriPen for setting us up with one of their lightweight water purification devices.