Often, well most of the time, our days look just like this: Eat – Ride – Eat – Sleep and Repeat.
How many hours and / or kilometers we sit on the bicycle saddle depends on many different factors. There are the temperatures and whether it is raining, how our condition is and of course how much slope lies ahead of us but also the path condition often prevents us from a faster progress and last but not least, whether we have eaten well.
And I can tell you, in Indonesia we do eat very while while meeting the most wonderful people preparing wonderful vegetarian food, mouth watering 🙂
But we can’t really do it right
If it drizzles a bit, that’s okay. But actually only if it is not too cold. But if it rains a lot and for a long time, then it’s also crap if it’s warm. And if then the drops also rain down big and hard on us, then it’s especially annoying.
Certain temperatures are okay, but when it gets a little too warm, we quickly get cranky. In the morning, maybe the birds were still chirping at pleasantly cool temperatures, but now the sweat runs down my forehead, into my eyes and it burns like hell. At some point, I then also no matter and after a few days dries nothing more, neither shoes, nor gloves or the bands on the helmet. Or the bike pants or the shirt. Our bike pants are then covered with complete salt landscapes. A tramp stamp tattoo could not look better. Will say, our clothes stand from dirt and sweat.
Now you’re probably wondering why we do not just put on a fresh shirt and bike shorts. Problem, we then have to pack these foul smelling, damp clothes and the temperatures that prevail during the day also heat up our bags properly. And I suspect, at the latest after 2 days it would be done around the clothes. Since no soaking, no washing machine and no washing powder in the world would help anymore. So, we carry the salty with composure.
Klaus tries to do the laundry at least once a week
In addition to the sweat problem, the heat is also very hard on us physically. For Klaus it is especially hard since his heart operation in the Emirates. So we finish earlier rather than later in the day. Sometimes we cycle for 6 hours and are then around 12 or 13 o’clock already ready for the day. And then we dream of a cold shower, white bed linen, air conditioning, a cold beer and spaghetti or pizza.
Sometimes, however, we forget all these impassibilities. Namely, when the roads are so bad that we fear material damage. And again, we forget when the roads are so bad that we fear for our lives. Sometimes roads just end in nothing. Then we just hope that we have enough sensible supplies with us. Sensible means appropriate amount of carbohydrates. The next day will certainly not be easier.
By the way, we don’t get sore muscles anymore, not for a long time. But still, we notice certain areas in our body after some tours simply more. When we have to push more because the sign next to the road says: 15% incline.
Or when we have to take the bags off the bikes several times because of insurmountable obstacles, carry them a bit and then mount them on the bike again.
And then there’s the issue of food: oh man. I had always wished that this topic could take a subordinate role in my life. It was always so important to me and that’s exactly why I wanted to let it go. Forget it. It is more important than ever.
Some bicycle colleagues wonder about malnutrition and that although they eat a lot. Lots of chips and beer and pizza. I don’t even think about proper food that much. My body demands it. If we don’t eat really well one evening, we notice it the next day. The energy is missing. Well, we are quite old and maybe that’s why it’s easier for us to listen to our bodies. For all the others, there are a few really important nutrition tips to avoid deficiencies.
Carbohydrates for energy metabolism
For endurance performance, it’s especially important to have filled “glycogen stores.” You need fuel for muscle work. However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Grape or fruit sugar, lactose or malt sugar are short-term quick energy suppliers. A Mars in your pocket is not the worst thing. But again, this is only available in certain countries, of course. Potatoes, pasta or legumes are particularly interesting for endurance athletes, as these are slowly broken down over a longer period of time and thus provide continuous energy. And after the tour, the muscles should regenerate. So again carbohydrates. The portion of vitamins may not be missing. A little fruit and vegetables.
And then of course, very important: Proteins for the regeneration and build-up muscles every day
When muscles are stressed by training, microscopic tears form, the repair of which leads to muscle growth. For the repair work, the body needs proteins, among other things. Therefore, more proteins must be supplied if the training is appropriate. However, proteins can also be converted into the body’s own protein better or worse depending on the source. Protein from eggs, for example, is of particularly high quality, while protein from corn can be processed more poorly. Other good sources are fish, lean meat and soy products.
Although at home in Berlin we eat without animal products, on this trip it does not work. We eat eggs. However, not dead animals. Without eggs it would be almost impossible to take in the necessary amount of protein. Not every country has enough beans, tofu or tempeh.
By the way: we always mention literally that we do not eat dead animals. This eliminates the elaborate list of “no meat, no chicken, no shrimp, no fish, no pig, no….” and whatever else people just eat. In some countries, for example, chicken does not count as meat or crab does not count as fish. And for my nose smelly fish paste already not at all.
Another really important point is the fluid intake. I have no problem drinking a liter of water just like that. But it doesn’t work that easy.
We need electrolytes every day while cycling in the heat
The electrolytes or minerals contained are responsible for maintaining certain bodily functions. The combination of sodium, potassium and calcium is particularly important for rapid absorption of the substances by the blood. A pinch of salt in the drink can already help. In India, for example, there is a Salty Lassi and in many other countries lime lemonade with salt. However, it is also important not to overdose. And, be sure to hydrate regularly. Every 20 minutes a few large sips, instead of emptying the entire contents of the bottle at irregular intervals.
And with all this knowledge, we now have to reorient ourselves in every country, which is not so easy after all. Mars bars are not existed for a long time. It would only melt away. Fresh orange juice, which could help with the electrolytes, usually also no longer.
Eggs were actually always available no matter where we were in the world. Rice is a wonderful carbohydrate provider and also in very many countries a cheap and always available food. But also oatmeal can be found in many countries. Sometimes already slightly rancid, but better than nothing.
Unfortunately, there is no ready-made guide for such a trip. Again and again we had to adapt and find out what is good food for us. That makes it exciting, but also exhausting. Sometimes it is delicious, but sometimes we just eat it out of common sense. The 10th fried egg on rice is also disgusting at some point.
All the happier we are here in Indonesia. The food is perfect for us. Lots of vegetables, tofu, eggs, tempeh and rice and noodles. And it always tastes a little different. Not always wonderful, but always good. And we feel ourselves filling our stores.
And on such a morning we did it again. The happiness hormones break out and while we are cycling like this, I observe something more closely and that’s what I’m writing about here.
We are in Indonesia, on Java and the plan is to go from Jakarta to Bali.
And while we are cycling after a wonderful breakfast, I am afraid that I will forget everything I see. So I dictate it into my cell phone. It is 6 o’clock in the morning. One day.
An older lady, beige blouse with small yellow and red flowers and a dark blue sarong, gray hair tied up, she is bending over a hole in the ground, it seems to be a well.
Children at the side of the road, 2 girls, maybe 5 and 8 years old, stand close together, their hair a bit disheveled and look up at Klaus with their big googly eyes, watching him. What might be going on in their heads?
In the side street at a wall stands a very slim gentleman with a bottle, I suppose, because it also smells like it, that it contains gasoline. With it he stokes the fire to burn the garbage.
Coconuts on the plots, carefully arranged in several rows. The next small coconut plant is already growing out of them.
It is getting more crowded along the streets. Scooters, people, we already suspect, while we roll towards this colorful pile, there is a market.
A very neat house, on my left (we drive on the left since India). Wood, very simple. The property is surrounded by exotic plants growing on compacted sandy beige-gray soil. It occurs to me, they’re not that exotic to us anymore. We’ve just been on the road for a long time.
The door opens slightly, a lady in a turquoise dress half comes out.
In all the beige-grey she shines like an apparition briefly and wins my attention.
An old bicycle leans against a dilapidated wooden house. It has meanwhile taken on the color gray-beige.
Another market is still closed. People are starting to open it.
A wooden house with a colorful door. One horizontal stripe each of red, green and yellow.
We cross a small stone bridge. Maybe 10m long. Only one vehicle fits through at a time. In front of the bridge a Muslim woman, bent over her bowls, about 40 years old, looks up and smiles. On the stone railing sit 3 boys, with black hair and white shirts, looking at us. It’s their school clothes, but still too early for school. Maybe they are waiting for the bus?
All that green next to the road, a paradise.
There are more people riding bikes again, but mostly older people.
Once again, someone overtakes us with an overloud exhaust on his scooter. This noise makes us look a little distorted in pain every time. And we think every time: this idiots.
We are driving towards the east and that means that most of the time we have the sun in front of us and therefore back light and therefore often the people and objects appear black, like a silhouette. If we then drive towards a black moped with a man dressed in black, with a black dog in a black wooden trailer on the side of the road, then the silhouette image is perfect.
We see the many women and few men in the fields, we see the many men, (no women) in front of the cafes. Again someone calls loudly: Hello Mister! We do not react anymore.
A man waters the ground in front of his building. Probably so that it is not so dusty.
It is time for school. Students stream along the streets in their school uniforms. A bustle and chatter. Wonderful.
A few dogs bark. That means there must be fewer Muslims here.
And there I see it, a big church.
At a small wooden hut, rather an almost dark gray shack stands a young man, dark red, dirty much too long shirt. He just stands there. Tousled, black hair.
Motionless he looks after us and I see why he is so dirty. It’s a scooter repair shop.
A man squats on the ground and eats the fragrant, sweet pulp out of a honeydew melon with his fingers. He looks poor, perhaps also a little confused.
Huge green shining rice fields we have now for a while on both sides.
In the morning the haze of burning garbage lies over them. Now we also smell the smell of clove cigarettes again. It feels like everybody smokes here in Indonesia. In the villages themselves, however, this smell is overlaid by stinking markets and exhaust fumes.
We hear the rattle of diesel engines distributing water in the rice fields. A few men are standing at the edge, a bit thicker, rather not farmers, and discussing fiercely gesticulating. About whatever.
We cross a river with an extremely sour, acrid smell.
In such a “mud puddle” a man stands up to his belly button and tries to catch fish.
Garbage, garbage, garbage
Young men ride beside us on their scooters. Want to know where we come from, where we are going. They smile. Their white teeth shine from their dark faces, this velvety shining chocolate colored skin.
A truck overtakes us with a man sleeping under a blanket on top of the load, fastened with straps. I see only the legs flashing out. The load on which he lies is so about 4m high.
We cross a small village again. An elderly lady on a bicycle in front of us. Just as I pass her, I see her throwing her garbage bag into a small forest of coconut palms and banana trees. To all the others.
And finally we are happy about the shoulder on this very busy road. Only unfortunately, this is not only used by us, but rather serves as a 2nd lane also for scooters, cars and minibuses.
It becomes more crowded and narrower and I stop pulling my cell phone for my voice recordings from the handlebar bag and concentrate more on the traffic.
And the same or at least something similar will happen the next day and the day after again. But some routine on a day is not so bad 🙂
It is now 9 o’clock in the morning.