If Cycling is your cup of tea, then Indonesia is your answer for your perfect Cycling holiday. The islands’ imposing lush mountains, blue lakes, white sand beaches, transparent aquamarine seas and green paddy fields, altogether form the perfect countryside to cycle through, both for leisure or as challenging course. While the warm and friendly welcome of the people, their diverse colorful cultures and cuisines all form indescribable ingredients that will complete your unforgettable holiday experience.
In recent years cycling has gained a large number of followers in Indonesia not only in rural areas but also in densely populated cities. In Jakarta, cyclists take over the city’s main streets on weekends thereby reducing city pollution. Every year, the Tour de Singkarak race for professionals takes place through the spectacular countryside of West Sumatra. This is followed by the Bintan Amateur Race: Tour de Bintan. Meanwhile, major destinations such as Bali, Yogyakarta and Komodo-Flores offer Cycling tours, from two hours to 10-days all-inclusive tour packages.
Jakarta Car Free Day: Reducing Pollution and open public space for Sport
Every Sunday, several main boulevards of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, are closed to all traffic from 6 am to noon, allowing tens of thousands of Indonesians to pour into the streets on bikes and on foot, with street stalls and music offering a carnival atmosphere. Initiated since 2008, the local government has designated each Sunday as Car Free Day with the aim to reduce pollution in the city and provide open space for Jakarta’s residents for jogging and cycling with the entire family. During these hours, the hub of Central Jakarta from the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout to Jalan Thamrin and part of Jalan Sudirman is cordoned off from motor vehicles. Thus, what usually are traffic snarled streets turn into an open space arena for all kinds of fun sporting and leisure activities and a popular fun cycling track.
On Sunday, 30 November 2013, Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, invited visiting Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to witness and experience himself the sensation of leisurely cycling across broad avenues that are daily packed with cars. President Joko Widodo joined the group and together they cycled down Thamrin avenue to the Presidential Palace.
The Bristol Post, UK, wrote:
After breakfast with the president, Mr Johnson said: ‘Wasn’t that sensational? I have to admit I was blown away by the popularity of the car-free Sunday here in Jakarta.
‘We have been thinking about it for ages – I don’t think you are going to get the British people out of bed at six in the morning to do it quite like that but it is certainly food for thought.” (www.bristolpost.co.uk.)
Tour de Singkarak, West Sumatra : Annual Challenging class 2.2 category International Cycling Race
One main trigger for the popularity of Cycling throughout Indonesia is the Tour de Singkarak, an international world class Race now in its 6th year organized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Amaury Sports Organization that manages the prestigious Tour de France and is fully supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia. This class 2.2 category Race is held annually in the province of West Sumatra which offers spectacular sceneries besides very challenging, steep climbs, U-turn bends and downhill courses.
The latest series of Tour de Singkarak (Tour de Singkarak 2014), involved 20 top international cycling teams from 20 countries covering a total distance of 1,250km in 9 stages across 18 regencies in the West Sumatra Province. Riders expressed that they will always remember the Tour de Singkarak for the thrills provided by the Kelok 44 (The 44 hairpin bends), Kelok 9 (The Nine Hairpin bends), and the so called “deadly” climb at Bukit Sileh. Adding that they truly enjoyed the beautiful natural landscape of West Sumatra such as Lake Singkarak, the Twin Lakes, the Harau Valley, Lake Maninjau, the view of the Jam Gadang Clock tower, Bukittinggi, Sawahlunto, Istana Basa Pagaruyung Palace, and more.
Tour de Singkarak has also evolved into one of the most prestigious international sport tourism events in Indonesia that has not only contributed significantly to tourism in the country but has also inspired other international cycling events to be held in various parts of the archipelago.
Cycling Bintan, Riau Islands province : Amateur Race pass Beaches and bustling towns
Another challenging race initiated on the island of Bintan located just across Singapore is the Tour de Bintan, organized by MetaSport. Despite being quite challenging, this is a race for amateur cyclists, nevertheless, participants need lots of stamina and expertise. Tour de Bintan is probably the most popular mass participation event which is basically a closed-road race in South East Asia. It’s a 2-day, 3-stage race on the equatorial island of Bintan, the province of Riau Islands, just an hour ferry ride away from Singapore.
One of Asia’s leading stage races for amateur cyclists, Tour de Bintan is divided into category 1 (men), category 2 (men) Women Category, and Category 3 (Men). For recreational cyclists looking for a new challenge, the grand Frondo categories are dedicated for those who just want to complete “The Big Ride”. The two stages cover a total distance of over 200km, passing the capital town of Tanjung Pinang, the festive township of Simpang Lagoi, and the beautiful beaches near Nirwana Garden Resort and along some of the most fascinating coastlines of the island.
Cycling Tour Packages All Over the Archipelago
For the majority of the public and tourists who love to cycle and explore the countryside on their holiday, there are tour packages organized by a number of travel agents. Most popular are the ones in Bali, around Yogyakarta in Central Java and on the island of Flores which includes a trip to watch the Komodo dragons.
The romantic island of Bali with its natural splendors and cultural marvels is undisputedly one of the best places in the world to spend your holiday. While you can enjoy exploring the island in the comfort of an air conditioned car or tour bus, there is nothing that can beat an up close and personal experience when cruising through green paddy fields, passing tranquil traditional villages, with the breeze in your hair, biking through the most breathtaking landscapes on the island.
One of the most prominent destinations for a cycling tour in Bali is around Mount and Lake Batur in Kintamani. With starting point overlooking Mount Batur volcano at Kintamani, this breathtaking bicycle tour winds down pass 26km of lush valleys, through Balinese villages, pass century-old temples and rich green rice fields. Frequent stops are made along the way giving you the opportunity to view The Pura Ulun Danu Temple and shady plantations bearing a variety of crops. This journey offers an insight into a Bali that is not commonly seen, and allows you to experience the charming culture of rural Bali.
Aside from its rich and captivating culture, the city of Yogyakarta is also a great place for cycling trips. Cycling tours in the countryside and surrounding rice fields of Prambanan Temple has become a favorite activity for locals and tourists to fill in their holidays. Prambanan Cycling tour route starts from the pages of Sambisari Temple, crossing the Southern fields to the Mataram trenches toward the temple. Pedaling a bicycle along the Mataram trenches, ones can observe at how farmers cultivate their fields in distinct Javanese way. There are also cycling tours that take cyclists to watch the magnificent sunrise at the still active volcano of Mount Merapi.
Those who want to take it far off the beaten track may want to try cycling on the rugged terrain of Flores in East Nusatenggara Province. With tour packages ranging from two hours to 10-days all-inclusive tour packages, here, not only will you be presented with breathtaking sceneries of hills, mountains, and beaches, but you will also get plenty of opportunity to see some of the most amazing wildlife such as wild buffalo, long-tailed macaque, wild boars, and most definitely encounter and get up close to the legendary living dragon, Komodo on Komodo or Rinca Islands.