New Zealand’s MTB Capital
Flashback two years ago: During my first (and still only) enduro race on the foothills of Mt. Isarog, a fellow bike blogger said a section of the race reminded him of Rotorua. Though neither I nor ‘Prancis’ of AttackMTB had ever been to Rotorua, both of us had apparently watched a video of Wyn Masters attacking a trail in New Zealand’s mountain biking capital.
The lush forest of Mt. Isarog, especially the giant ferns that lined the wet trail, reminded us of Wyn and Sam Blenkinsop’s run on Stage 1 of the Enduro World Series in Crankworx that year. It was a beautiful trail, and both Prancis and me were glad to be riding on a track that was uncannily similar to it.
But not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever set foot on Rotorua itself. By some strange twist of fate, I and my adventure buddy from Travel Up found ourselves last year on a bus in New Zealand en route to this mythical mountain biking town in the Southern hemisphere. Read more [+]
Queenstown blends big sky mountain views with alpine lake scenery
For mountain bikers, you can’t visit New Zealand and miss out on Rotorua and Queenstown: these two towns in NZ have already become sacrosanct pilgrimage sites for the devotees of dirt riding.
For fantasy geeks meanwhile, you can’t visit New Zealand and miss out on Hobbiton. That’s like going to Banaue and not visiting the terraces, or getting a Triumph Street Scrambler and riding it only to the nearest 7-Eleven, or getting a Santa Cruz Hightower and biking solely around the UP campus. You get the drift.
That’s why, as excited as I was to hop on the saddle and start grinding gears on the trail to Rivendell, I had to make time to visit the Shire and see for myself where Bilbo and Gandalf enjoyed second breakfast and pipeweed. Read more [+]
Biking amid alpine lakes, alpine mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand
‘Magical’ is probably one of the most oft-used words to describe New Zealand. This is, after all, the site where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, and Peter Jackson could not have chosen a better place to bring JRR Tolkien’s books to silverscreen life. It’s hard to look at New Zealand’s mountains, valleys and forests and pretend that what you’re seeing wasn’t taken from the pages of an epic fantasy masterpiece.
For mountain bikers, New Zealand represents another kind of magic. The town of Rotorua has become famous internationally as one of the best places to go trail biking and freeriding. Rotorua has been the site of MTB mega-event Crankworx, and its reputation has rivaled that of Whistler. Read more [+]
Bike on bike lovin’
Before I begin, please forgive me for what may seem like a self-indulgent post.
I love two wheeled machines. As readers of this blog may have guessed, bicycles are like a religion for me. The mountain trail is like a church and I try to faithfully attend service more than once a week. Others who know me also know how much I love bikes of another kind–the sort that requires a throttle. Out on the open road, motorcycling is the closest you can come to flying.
For the longest time now, I’ve been trying to find a way to fuse my two passions. Years ago, whenever I wanted to go to my home trails in Tanay, I had to drive through Marilaque in a car. It always irked me to know that I could be riding my motorcycle instead of driving to the rendezvous point for the trail ride. Padyakoldaway is always an option, except when you have to get back home on a limited visa.
As someone who regularly rides Marilaque, I know just how much fun it is to carve those twisty mountain roads on my motorcycle. I needed to find a way to carry my mountain bike on my motorcycle. I needed a bike rack on my motorcycle. Read more [+]
Ready to pedal ahead to 2017
This year I promise to travel more. This is at the top of my list of New Year’s resolutions. Looking back at the year that was, most of the best memories I have were collected while I was in motion, in transit, and in someplace stranger than the everyday, but always on two wheels.
This year, I also promise to buy more locally made mountain biking and backpacking products, as well as outdoor gear from local brands. I feel like the Philippine outdoor industry, and mountain biking in particular, is really taking off, and I just want to do my part in supporting the people and companies making it happen. Besides, I believe that these products can kick ass with the best in the world.
Finally, as a service to the readers of this blog, I promise to write more. Yeah, I know–I’ve been too much of a slacker this past year when it came to posting new articles. But in my defense, it ain’t easy holding a fulltime job (sometimes jobs) and writing stories and features for a website. Read more [+]
Leaving Sitio Lusod
Apparently, our ride on Mt. Ugo and the accident suffered by members of our group caused a controversy in the mountain biking community. Dennis Lee, or cowpatchman as he is known in the biking forums, has been particularly vocal in his criticism of what happened on Ugo. As is often in social media, initial posts generate more heat than light, more anger than discernment. But after a few exchanges between me and Dennis, some of the real issues have been fleshed out.
Because I consider these issues to be important, I opted to treat this exchange as another article so that it doesn’t get buried as just another comment in my previous post on Ugo. So here is Dennis’ recent reply to my earlier comment, as well as my reply to his reply.
From Dennis Garett Lee aka Cowpatchman:
I’m not going to question the credentials of your guide Ohmar as a mountaineer but I do have a few points to get across. I understand that such a trip requires careful preparation and your team did. You have mentioned, it’s the closest thing to Everest for mountain bikers here and it is. As with Everest, there is a time and season to climb it for safety’s sake and for maximum enjoyment. Even the most prepared won’t stand a chance on Everest if they climbed in the off season, if ever, they’d be extremely lucky, like winning the lottery twice over with the same number combination. Read more [+]
Who needs an expensive fancy resto when you can get a whole waterfall all to yourselves for free
Kinabuan Falls in Sta. Ines, Tanay Rizal used to be just a side trip for hikers and mountaineers climbing Sierra Madre’s Mt. Irid. Recently though, it has also become a popular destination for Metro Manila mountain bikers seeking to cool off in a body of water that’s not as crowded as Daranak, Batlag or Puray. Unlike these other waterfalls that are now often crowded with noisy barkadas, Kinabuan still has that rustic frontier charm that many of the more touristy waterfalls have lost. Because it isn’t easy to get to, Kinabuan hardly sees any crowds.
Kinabuan is also home to a community of Dumagats–indigenous peoples who call the Sierra Madre their home. Like the Aetas of Central Luzon, the Dumagats live on the margins of society, and eke out a living with subsistence farming and hunting.
It’s easy to get to Kinabuan if you’re a mountain biker. By that I mean, it’s easy to figure out how to get there. Biking to Kinabuan itself, is anything but easy. Read more [+]
Guest post by Travel Up
The first ever Mount Isarog Eco-Tourism Endurance Challenge last June 15 saw challengers running and biking through the natural forest parks in Camarines Sur, Bicol. The challenge which combined trail biking and trail running, incorporated a pili planting activity at the foothills of Mt. Isarog, which is known for its rich biodiversity, to mark World Environment Day. Read more [+]
Puray Falls really comes to life in the rainy season
Puray Falls is one of the best mountain biking destinations near Metro Manila. Getting there means riding up steep slopes, crossing clear flowing streams, hiking up huge boulders, and viewing beautiful mountain vistas. It is one of those rare places within riding distance of our smog-choked, rubbish-strewn megacity where a biker can reconnect with greenery and soak in some soul.
If you want someone to understand what mountain biking is all about, you should take him/her on a bike ride to Puray Falls. Challenging climbs, fast descents, and the thrill of exploration: a journey to Puray provides all of these.
Sadly though, the place is getting trashed little by little.
Read more [+]
Volunteers repack relief goods at Power Up Gym in Tandang Sora. The goods were directly transported to the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar. Photo grabbed from Power Up Climbing Gym’s FB page
I had a lot of stories lined up for the blog. But when Supertyphoon Yolanda slammed into the country, writing about biking, running, climbing and other activities I enjoyed just didn’t seem appropriate.
Amid the destruction and suffering wrought by this horrifying force of nature, it just didn’t seem right to post anything that suggested happiness. Against this backdrop of demolished houses, bloated corpses and wounded desperate human beings, stories about biking up and down a steep hill, or breaking a personal running record not only seemed trivial but also insensitive. Read more [+]