As the dolphins jump over the bow of the boat, I stand watch with my crew member, Robert. Robert and I have been steering the boat every 4 hours for the past 6 days. The dolphins seem to realize that we are at the end of a long journey as we approach the final 2 miles of the 600 mile nautical ocean yacht race. We have seen good strong winds for the entire trip. On the second night the weather fouled for some time and Maralinga the yacht took on some crashing waves. Robert and I continued to steer into the rain storm for the next day until the weather and seas calmed to a pleasant roll. Robert is color blind and has poor night vision so tonight as we approach the finish I am the eyes and Robert is the voice reporting green and red lighted bouyies, fish traps and other mysteries that litter on the water’s surface to the rest of the crew steering our way up the harbor. The wind has silenced to a next to nothing breeze so we bob away for 12 hours as we approach the long awaited finish line and customs check in Ambon, Indonesia.
After a customs check we venture to shore and begin the second half of the Darwin to Ambon race, a week of festivities sponsored by the Indonesia government and Captain Bintang, Indonesia’s famous giant beers. Stage 2 of the race seems to require as much endurance as the ocean crossing and after another 6 long days I venture for the ferry with Pandemic The Magic Nautical Bicycle, who has been patiently waiting to get back on the road. 2 more days of recovering from stage 2 of the race while sleeping on a cardboard mat on the floor of the ferry next to Pandemic and I disembark in Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Or I attempt to disembark. Indonesians do not make lines but rather crowd around and filter through any opening with sharpened elbows. Disembarking the ferry has an impending rock concert stadium stampede vibe. I place Pandemic The Magic Bicycle to my right and hold tight in the crowd as thousands of people push their way through the maze of turns and doors. At the first turn of the hallway it becomes very clear that Pandemic and I may not make it out alive in any vertical position. I can get Pandemic fully loaded on my shoulder but not with any degree of balance to stand my ground in the pushing crowd. Next thing you know Pandemic gets whisked up in the air and a man begins to should clear the way or magic bicycle coming through or something like that. I followed and all I could hear is a chorus of speda, speda, speda which the Bahasa, Indonesian word for bicycle.
After a week of listening to sailing terms being shouted at top volume such as reef the main, tacking, moron, useless etc. (ok, the last two aren’t really sailing terms but the skipper of my boat was expanding his vocabulary a wee bit), it sure feels good to be back in the peaceful school of bicycle or speda. After Pandemic The Magic Bicycle lands on the ground outside of the ferry I quickly peddle away from the chorus of speda, taxi, hotel, where you froms, and are you alones, and peddle for 44 kilometers to the city of Manado. The 44 kilometers pass quickly, probably because my sea legs have been missing peddling for over 2 weeks. I am presently in Manado, Sulawesi sweating in a 3 dollar hotel, hoping the bed doesn’t have bugs, fresh from a cold bucket bath crouched over a new map, plotting and scheming my cycling route for the K shaped island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.