Words by Patrick Gordon
The trip begins
One of the things that hooked me into cycling from the beginning–and still does now–is meeting new people and riding new roads, especially when being shown by locals where they go and how they do it.
A few of the Pana Pedla Organic team were recently invited to join the Pedla Indonesia crew in Java for il Festino. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse and it didn’t disappoint. Every place we went, the people we met (and every dish we ate!) was amazing and proved the power cycling has to open up anywhere in the world and allow you to experience it from a unique perspective.
Coffee, Jackfruit Stew and new friends in Jogja
After a day’s travelling from Melbourne, the hospitality began immediately and we were welcomed into Pedla Indonesia’s main man Rez’s home for dinner while our bikes were built for us. The next morning we packed up the minivan for the road trip to Yogyakarta. A long bus ride, but a great way to see the scenery of Java and spend time hanging out with Kawindra, Wito and Fenno.
The first two ‘Jogja’ community rides were spectacular; so many local riders (plus those in town for il Festino) joining us, proud to show us their local loops and the history of this old city, so many picturesque views and roads which I’ve never seen anything like before. Bumping into the national champ as we climbed the Merapi volcano and hanging out at the top couldn’t have been better timed.
Both rides were highlighted with something very common to cycling in Melbourne–great coffee. The Kopi Mlaku van arranged to meet us en route with some of the best coffee we’ve ever had, no exaggeration, and snacks for us all to stop refuel and soak up the beautiful surroundings. Our new friend Hilda was there to guide us through it all and recommend her favourites. Some things may have been new and different to us, but the coffee-cycling combo was definitely our common ground.
We were taken out for the first and what was probably our favourite of many local food treats; a Jogja speciality Gudeg jackfruit stew (this particular one was Bon’s secret, which included bonus coconut flower stew).
The main event: Il Festino
The main event of the trip was the inaugural il Festino: a Gran Fondo inspired by the Giro d’Italia. We all felt it was up there with any of the big ones in Australia. Almost 1000 riders of all levels and from across the region gathered at the crack of dawn, to be led out of town by a police escort and south towards the sea and then back into the hills. So much community spirit was on display–everyone was just happy to be there and riding their own race, saying hello and chatting away, even on the epic gradients in the hinterland to finish, yikes!
Jen did the team proud taking out the win, plus two other prizes. Three novelty cheques to squeeze into the luggage home!
A chilled-out last day in Jogja involved being taken to the awe-inspiring Prambanan temples, then onto Plaza Ambarruko (or Am Plaz, as the crew call it!) mall for some of the best freshly-fried tofu I’ve ever had–again courtesy of Bon’s local knowledge.
Back to the hustle and bustle of Jakarta
From the outside, the traffic back in Jakarta appeared incredibly hectic and difficult to ride in–but when in the thick of it all it had this flowing movement to it, which you just go with. Horns tooting constantly but all friendly and respectful of each other’s space and safety: something too often missing in Melbourne.
We joined the Jakarta LLCC Local Loops shop ride: rolling up and down the CBD, finishing up with coffee at the Pedla store. It felt like a home away from home. Once again, everyone on the ride was friendly and accommodating and just excited to have us join and to show us around. Next, we headed out and explored the hills to the south of the city; a long and hot day, powered by our new favourite sports drink Pocari Sweat.
Our last day we rode ‘Nando’s Express’ and wow what a way to go out, a seriously fast bunchie with seriously good coffee and banter at the end. A perfect ride to end our time here in this wonderful country.
What a trip
I can’t thank everyone enough who made this trip happen and looked after us while we were there. It was a truly special and unique experience which we’ll never forget.
A massive shout-out to the Pedla Indonesia crew who were so welcoming and friendly; in particular Reza, Kawindra, Zaid, Eka, Kemal, Rosie, Bonang, Hilda, Wito and Fenno. Wito and Fenno’s photography captured everything beautifully.
Special mention to my teammates, Jack, Marie and Jen: we survived travelling with each other for ten whole days! Team leader Jen in particular, whose organisation skills made sure we never missed a beat, all while putting in the best performance on the bike!
Pana Organic Pedla is a collaborative and inclusive cycling team sponsored by Pana Organic and Pedla. Taking on races individually and together, catch them at local races like the Hawthorn Cycling Club summer series, or at select international events like Il Festino in Indonesia.