Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Drak Bike Park: As Good As It Gets!

With 65km of groomed and maintained singletrack, Super D and downhill courses, is Drak Bike Park as good as it gets?

Drak Bike Park is situated on the Indonesian island of Batam, just a 40 minute ferry ride south of Singapore.  Drak (short for 'Durian Kang' or Durian River) Bike Park lies in the area to the east of the lake formed when the river was dammed 20 years ago for the fresh water needs of the island.
Drak Trail Map
The park had it's beginnings when a rider from Singapore, Stewart Ong, came to Batam over 20 years ago for work.  He rode the farm trails and wanting more, began creating trails in the nearby park.  Today, he works in conjunction with the community and state park authorities and created the Drak Bike Club, which maintains and operates the Bike Park.
"The Gap".  Image Courtesy of Drak Bike Park
There are many challenges building trails in South East Asia.  The dense jungle canopy drops leaves and heavy rains often topple trees over trails and erode trails.  Stewart and his crew work full time maintaining the trails when there are no customers.
65km of singletrack trail at Drak Bike Park.  Photo by Stewart Ong.
How does does one go about riding in the park?  First of all, get in touch with Stewart by Facebook.  Stewart will book you on one of the morning ferry services from Singapore to Batam (on the weekend, it is either the 8:20 or 8:50am; on a weekday, only the 8:50am ferry is available).  He will meet you at the Batam ferry terminal, and take you and your bike to the club.  At the club, Stewart provides a simple breakfast or snack while you change up, and then head off to ride.  There's a time difference of one hour between Singapore and Batam, so it still seems quite early when you begin your ride about 10am Batam time.
Laura negotiating some 'adventure' singletrack trail.  Photo by Stewart Ong.

All riders are guided for safety and security.  Faster riders get to follow a motor bike, and it was fun trying to keep up with a powered bike through the singletrack trails.  Stewart normally takes riders on a scenic 10km warm-up ride along singletrack farming trails which crisscross padi fields and along the lake shore.  Then the trail dives into the park's gem, 65km of maintained singletrack trails.  In addition, there are other 'ride-able' trails around the park, such as unmaintained 'adventure' singletrack and motocross trails.
Photo by Luki Gunawan.  Courtesy of Drak Bike Club.
Stewart's crew will meet rider's with a lunch pack and cold drinks at a prearranged lunch stop.  After the ride, showers and a snack await.  If you aren't staying the night, Stewart will send you and your bike back to catch the ferry back to Singapore.  Drak Bike Club has enough beds to sleep 24 riders in 5-6 rooms, so an overnight stay with more riding the next day is encouraged.  Note that each ferry has a limit of only 12 bikes, so if you are coming over in a bigger group, it has to be split-up over 2 or more ferries.

Cost varies, depending on the number of riders and how long you stay.  For large groups, the cost is about SGD$80 per rider for a day, and includes park entry fee, guide, all meals and drinks.  The ferry ticket costs SGD$50, and you have to pay another SGD$10 for bike handling.  For overnight stays and longer, it's more cost effective as you only pay for the ferry once.  Contact Stewart or Drak Bike Club for details and cost.

So back to the question: is Drak Bike Park as good as it gets?  For South East Asia, my answer is yes :o)


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