Hi there fellow BF riders and owners! 

Join us on our June 2008 Cycle Sulawesi trip.

My son, Rendra, and I have planned, a group ride around (South) Sulawesi, that spidery shaped island, east of Borneo, north of Bali. This trip began evolving in 1996 when I visited Indonesia’s spice capital Makassar, largest city on the island. I traveled down to the southern coast past the home of Indonesia’s wooden sailing boats and on to the white sand beaches at Cape Bira. I was struck by the beauty of the agricultural and coastal landscapes, the timeless villages, the quiet country roads, the unconjested towns and a distinct lack of commercialism. I thought this’d be a great place to cycle around.

In 2000 Rendra and I did just that. We took Bromptons and soon found that as good a folder as the Brompton is, it is not up to mountains and long distance touring. Luckily I met Roger Covell, a BF owner. This led me to Margaret Day then David and Bronwyn Laing who allowed me to try, in January 2001, a New World Tourist. By February I was the proud owner of a brand new yellow NWT. To get myself up to speed I attended an Australian BF gathering in the Barossa Valley.

In 2005 I traded my aging NWT for a new red one while attending, with my daughter. Pactour’s Arizona Desert camp. The camp was a knockout. Held in the clean, clear, cool air of a mountain desert, there were well planned trips, good talks and a supportive community of people. My fondness of my BF grows daily. I don’t drive so my NWT is both functional and recreational. I take it just about everywhere. Desert Camp inspired me to get serious about organizing a major trip on Sulawesi.

In August 2006 Rendra and I returned to the island to explore the feasibility of taking a group there. We were thrilled with what we found. Every day brought surprises and delights. Most visitors to South Sulawesi fly into Makassar in the southwest and then take the road north to Tanah Toraja, in the middle of the island. On our first trip we too took that route. On our second trip we took a circular route: went south to the bottom of the island, turned east, north up the east coast and then westwards back inland to the mountains of Tanah Toraja.

On the return to Makassar we cut down the middle of the island thus avoiding the route that most people take. On this trip we had the needs of a group in mind. Accommodation? Food? The culture? What to do apart from cycling? Traffic? The roads? The people? The toilets? Could every day be a good one? We discovered a terrific range of ever changing scenery, mostly uncrowded sealed roads, cycle respectful drivers, warm hospitable people, very friendly towards foreigners. We got to really like the custom of villagers selling fruits in season from roadside stalls, where tired, thirsty and hungry cyclists can lie down, rest and enjoy mango, watermelon, rambuatan or durian.

Rendra and I want to share, through cycling, our love, knowledge and experience of Indonesian life and culture. We are both bilingul and bicultural. I’ve had over 40 years of work, family and recreational association with Indonesia. Rendra has lived in Central Java, West Java, North Sulawesi, West Sumatra and has traveled the planned cycle route in South Sulawesi.

During the 27 (19 cycle, eight non-cycle) days of this trip riders will see the ‘musts’ of South Sulawesi: Makassar (spice capital of Indonesia) Tana Toraja (ancient animistic ancestor worship culture), Sengkang (floating villages and silk weaving), Bantimurung (butterflies and waterfalls) and Bulukumba (wooden sailing boat industry) and many places that tourists do not go to.

The route is 1200 km, average 62.5 km per cycle day. There will be a gradated build up; first day, 35 km on the flat, building to 70 km plus, then day-long mountain climbs.

There’s heaps more info at www.cycleindonesia.com.au

Hope to see you along.
Best wishes from Sydney.

Colin Freestone