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 [+]
On the way to the peak of Mt. Ugo
In any adventure, the intended results are never assured. This is one of the things I’ve learned in so many epic bike rides, trail runs, climbs, and travels. When you think you think you got everything planned and figured out, a moment’s inattention can have nature throwing you a sucker punch and leaving you dazed, confused and wondering what went wrong.
We knew that mountain biking Mt. Ugo was never going to be an easy task. But we calculated the risks versus our own abilities and made as much preparation as we could. Still, this was mountain biking: a sport where risk can never fully be taken out of the equation, an activity where taking risks is part of the satisfaction. Read more [+]
Mt. Ugo is a one-of-a-kind mountain biking destination. Whistler ba ‘to?
Mt. Ugo is not exactly the highest peak in that ass-kicking mountain region called the Cordillera– that would be Pulag. For experienced hikers, it’s a relatively moderate climb. Nowadays, it is even used as the venue for some of the country’s most prestigious trail running events.
But for mountain bikers, Mt. Ugo is the closest thing to Everest, or El Capitan in the Philippines. Bikers who have ridden its trails swear that Ugo’s gnarl factor is off the charts. If there was an hors categorie in mountain biking, Ugo was supposed to be it.
So when a friend from Valleybikes asked me if I wanted to join an exploration bike trip to Mt. Ugo, I said: Oh… Hell…. Yeah!!! There was no way on Middle Earth that I was going to miss the chance to be part of this sacred Fellowship and its grand quest. Read more [+]
Presenting the Frankenbike
After enduro, perhaps the hottest new trend in cycling right now is gravel grinders, also known as adventure bikes, also known cyclocross or CX. While it’s not exactly a new thing, CX seems to have caught the fancy of a lot of bikers… including me. I liked the idea of having a bike that can handle pavement with respectable speed, and still handle gravel roads and moderate trails with acceptable deftness. Such a bike would also be ideal for touring long distances where pavement is the terrain of choice.
However, I wasn’t ready to plunk down a lot of money and buy another bike. Thankfully, there was another way. And it’s called Multi-level Marketing lalo na kung open minded ka sa business…
Just kidding. After doing several upgrades to my mountain bike, I ended up accumulating a lot of excess bike parts and components. Somewhere along the way, I realized that with all these extra bits and pieces, I could actually build up a whole new bike. Read more [+]
Bataan is famous for being the site of some of the most heroic but hopeless last stands of the Second World War. For mountain bikers, the province is equally famous for the dreaded Bataan Killer Loop–a mountain bike route so mythically gnarled and twisted, it has supposedly reduced many a mamaw to a weeping pile of Piolo Pascual.
The BKL has been high on my bucket list for quite some time now. Last weekend, I finally ticked it off my list. I got the chance to haul my bike to Bataan and see for myself what the hype was all about. The verdict? The Killer Loop doesn’t just live up to the hype, it surpasses expectations.
Take the most enjoyable and challenging features of Timberland’s Blue Zone and Black Diamond trails, stretch them ten times and you got a pretty close approximation. Technical climbs, flowy descents, bone-rattling downhills, fantastic views of mountains, rolling hills and seas– the Killer Loop has got it all. 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 [+]
Despite its massive wheels, the Trek Stache was still surprisingly nimble
When I heard that Edmund Ang and several other personalities in the biking community we organizing the first Philippine Bicycle Demo Day, the first thought that came to mind was: Hell yeah! It’s about time somebody did this.
As a long-time biker (don’t be rude and ask how long) I’ve seen the Philippine bike scene expand, develop and explode from a negligible subculture of enthusiasts into a mainstream force in society today that just can’t be ignored. Last year we had the Second Philippine Bike Expo day, which was a testament to just how far the cycling community has gone. The expo was as exciting and colorful as the car shows held in recent years in Metro Manila, albeit admittedly on a much lower budget because you know, bike companies don’t have the financial resources of those big bad polluting road-congesting automakers.
Anyhoo, the success of the expo showed that there was a huge community of two-wheeled, human-powered aficionados out there, and it was a market just waiting to be tapped.
However while it was fun gawking at the wares and salivating at the bike porn on display at the expo, a part of me also wondered what it would be like to actually ride some of those bikes. This is where the #PhBikeDemo comes in. Read more [+]
The light at the end of the tunnel
Laiban Dam has intrigued me ever since I first saw photos of mountain bikers visiting this oddity in the Sierra Madre mountains. This massive concrete monolith built during the Marcos era, sticks out of a forested mountainside like an evil lair for a James Bond villain—a structure that’s meant to be broken into, entered and explored.
Laiban Dam was supposed to supply Metro Manila with more than a million liters of water per day. However, concerns over the dam’s environmental impact, and the displacement of thousands of indigenous Dumagats from their ancestral lands, eventually caused the project to be shelved. And now Laiban Dam just sits there unused like a monument to human folly.
I have been itching to ride there and see the goddamned dam for myself. It’s not everyday that you get face to face with some Cold War level coolness. Last week, I finally got to do it. And it was one hell of an awesome mountain bike ride. Read more [+]
The Nyfti folding bike, an excellent urban commuter
This is a review of the Nyfti Folding bike, which as far as I know, is the only locally built folding bike in the Philippines. It is a truly awesome bike. However, while reviewing this wonderful piece of Pinoy engineering, I also felt that I had to vent out my frustrations on the problem that the Nyfti is trying solve. So please bear with me.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Edsa during rush hour is the Eighth Circle of Hell. It’s a kind of punishment you would wish only on your worst enemies, and only if your own soul has become so warped and devoid of empathy that you’re willing to inflict extreme torment and suffering on another sentient being.
The fact that millions have to endure such a soul crushing ordeal 5-6 days a week is a testament to the insensitivity of the government and its abject failure to provide basic services to the public. Read more [+]