Five Minutes with Lintang Flores

Five Minutes with Lintang Flores

5 April, 2024

Photography by Muhammad Fenno Words by Ali Macleod

Once structured by northern hemisphere events taking place April-October, the ultra-distance cycling calendar is now busy all year round, with an increasing number of events taking place outside of Europe and North America.

Indonesia is an advert for a burgeoning scene within the global community. With the creation of Audax Randonneurs Indonesia (Randonesia) in 2012, and with Bentang Jawa now entering its fourth year of ultra-racing existence, local riders are taking part in events that have gained international popularity, without the need to incur the costs of travelling abroad.

The most recent addition to the scene is a self-supported race called Lintang Flores, which took place in the last week of March. Sitting down over zoom, I spoke with some of the organisation team to hear more about the event’s inaugural edition.

For those unfamiliar with Lintang Flores, please could you introduce the race?

Organised by Race Director, Tirfan Putra, the race takes place along Flores Island, eastern Indonesia. The route is 1000 kilometres in total, with 19,000 metres of elevation gain, and the cut off to complete it is 100 hours.

It begins in Wae Rana, and goes along the south of the island towards Maumere, then returns to Wae Rana via the north shore.

The route seeks to elevate tourism in the local area, visiting several regions that have a diversity of culture - unique foods, landscapes and customs - but all share the same kindness that participants will experience on the road.

Lintang Flores is an accessible event, available for everyone, but for everyone that has prepared!

In a thriving Indonesian ultra-distance scene, where does Lintang Flores fit in?

If Bentang Jawa is about the length, the challenge of Lintang Flores is in the climbing. The total elevation that riders are required to do, over a shorter distance, is what sets this race apart, and makes the cut off time a challenge.

The route is often remote and re-supply on Flores Island can be limited, with shops usually closing at 7pm. In fact, during this year’s event, the standard opening hours were more restricted because it was Ramadan, a month of fasting. Therefore riders were required to be very organised to make sure they have enough to keep momentum through day and night.

Like much of the riding in Indonesia, riders were faced with intense heat and humidity. This year temperatures soared as high as forty-eight degrees celsius.

Some of our team have ridden large sections of the route, and wanted to share the happiness of it.

There were just 14 riders in this first edition, but we hope that their crazy spirits will inspire other people from across the world to visit the beautiful island.

A few words from the first finishers:

Citra Saraswati (solo female 1st finisher)

“When I heard there's a race in Flores, I signed up immediately because I've never been to Flores and any place I haven't been is where adventure and challenge await.

Aside from the breathtaking landscape (from the highland to the coastlines), the people of Flores is truly what makes the ride special. Throughout the course of the ride, people of every age in each town and village, always light up at the sight of someone riding a bike. They'd drop everything they're doing at the moment just to say hello to us.”

Boru Mccullagh (solo male 1st finisher)

“When I heard of a new ultra race in Flores, Indonesia, I knew I had to come over to take part. I’d ridden through the more populated islands of Indonesia and taken part in Bentang Jawa last year so had already been introduced to the thriving and supportive ultra cycling community in Indonesia. It’s a special one, full of amazing characters, some of the most resilient riders I know, and friends...

The most interesting part of the race was just how supportive the people of Flores are. And it’s not just the children, it’s every generation. By the end of the race, my face hurt just as much as my legs from the amount of smiling in those 1000km.

The riding was some of the most challenging I’ve done, but the beauty of Flores always rewarded you at the summit. The climbing had a purpose to display Flores at its best, and all of us who rode were blown away by what this island and its communities had to offer.”

Read more from Ali Macleod here