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Switching to Steel

Steel is Real

Steel is real. This is the battle cry of a lot of bikers who feel that bike manufacturers have been making bike frames that are way too complicated and expensive. Seems like it wasn’t too long ago when steel was the bike maker’s metal of choice. Nowadays though, steel bikes have become as rare as a competent and uncorrupted Pinoy politician, which is kinda sad because steel is such an excellent material for building bikes.

I had been looking to switch to a steel frame since late last year. While I love my aluminum Venzo, I just felt that I already needed something sturdier. The Venzo was a great lightweight alloy frame that helped me nab respectable finishes in duathlons and XC races. But it just didn’t seem like a well-suited weapon for fast descents on rock gardens and technical trails, which I found myself riding more and more often. I was longing for that strange alchemy of toughness and suppleness that could only come from that bastard spawn of carbon and iron more popularly known as (you guessed it) steel! Read more [+]

Duathlon: More Fun in Batangas

Batangas Duathlon

The duathlon is my favorite kind of race. I like biking, and I like running, and there’s nothing quite like combining the two in one event. So when I got an invitation to try out the Batangas Earth and Water Festival duathlon, I immediately said: Oooh… Hell… Yeah!

Besides, how could anyone say no to a race which promised to take participants down to Taal Lake? So, even though, I had absolutely no practice, and could never do any track read, I signed up for the 5k-20k-3k race. I knew I would suck, but I didn’t care. It’s not everyday that you get to race in a special place like Taal Lake. It also helped that the guys who invited me to the race also threw in a free stay at the excellent Lima Park Hotel.

I just had one problem: was it going to be a trail duathlon or a road duathlon?

Apparently it was the latter. And as I looked at the rows of slick road bikes and road-optimized mountain bikes being slung on the rack at the transition area, I could only hope that these intimidating, ripped, hardcore-looking guys would bonk at some point in the race. I hoped that maybe they got dumped by their girlfriends the night before, drank several longnecks of Emperador afterwards, and were eventually going to break down crying and screeching like Piolo Pascual in some cheesy melodrama. It was the only chance I had of not sucking so bad. Read more [+]

CamSur Enduro Lite 2015

Mt. Isarog Enduro Lite Camarines Sur

Disclaimer: I know zilch about enduro apart from the fact that it seems to be the most talked-about mountain bike racing format right now. I was invited by friends from Naga to try out the Cam Sur Enduro Lite last month, but work commitments got in the way. This was kinda sad because I really wanted to try Mt. Isarog’s trails. I was planning to bike on Isarog last December, but the weather was schizophrenic that month–rainy and dreary when it was supposed to be all sunshiny.

When I got the invite to do the CamSur Enduro Lite, I immediately checked if I could take some time off to finally sample some Cam Sur dirt. But… no can do. Fortunately, some adventurer from Travel Up agreed to cover it for me, while doing some canyoning/waterfall rapelling on the side. So this is the race I missed. Thank you very much Ms. Travel Up.

Enduro Lite on Mt. Isarog

Guest post by Travel Up

101 riders from all over the Bicol Region participated in the 1st Mt. Isarog Enduro Lite Challenge, held last January 25, 2015 at the mountain trails of Mt. Isarog covering parts of Naga City and Municipality of Calabanga.

With an elevation of 1,966 meters above sea level, Mt. Isarog is an ideal destination for mountain climbing and biking. The 19-km challenge route tested riders’ technical bike handling skills as well as their endurance with timed downhills and untimed uphills. Final race times were determined over a series of 3 special stages, with the top prize being awarded to the rider with the fastest combined time. Read more [+]

Nuvali: Another Mecca for Mountain Bikers

Biking in Nuvali

Getting some air on the Nuvali 4X track during the Dirt Weekend 2015

Nuvali is a vast real estate development in Sta. Rosa Laguna has been attracting bikers from all over Metro Manila and Southern Luzon. I’d been hearing lots of good things about this place for quite some time now–chiefly about its amazing trails and scenery.

I’d always wanted to check out Nuvali and sample its dirt, but I often got discouraged from going there. Why? Because it meant loading up the bike on the car, and braving the infamous gridlocks of Southern Metro Manila. Yeah, I’ve said it before: nothing ruins my day quite like getting stuck in traffic.

But last December, I finally got to bike in Nuvali.The almighty mountain biking gods accepted my sacrifices of virgin titanium spokes and graciously granted me my most fervent wish! Or almost. Actually, my wife got invited by Seda Hotel for a free overnight stay through her travel blog. Since we were going to be resting, relaxing and luxuriating in an excellent hotel for FREE (!!!), the dreaded traffic going to Sta. Rosa seemed less dreadful. Read more [+]

Epic Cordillera Mountain Bike Traverse

Sagada

“Epic” and “hardcore” are words that are casually thrown around nowadays. While the proper use of these adjectives can be a hot topic of debate, I personally don’t think a 4 or 5 hour ride through flat pavement could count as epic. Neither should a morning romp down The Blue Zone be considered as hardcore.

But there are bike trips that leave little room for debating “epic” and “hardcore.” A four day bike traverse of the Cordillera is one of them. We’re talking here about distance, technical difficulty, remoteness from “civilization,” danger, and overall gonzo factor.

I would have loved to go on this cross country, all-mountain, four day bikepacking ass kicking trip through the Cordillera with these guys, who also rode with me in Bobok-Bisal. But work and the unstoppable forces of nature conspired against me. But it was not just that: I also didn’t know if I was strong enough for such an adventure. These guys apparently were, and this is their story as  recounted by Bong “Madjohn” Madriaga.

Sagada to Tirad Pass

by Bong Madriaga

While long rides, century rides, and races, are common and can happen on any given day or weekend, it’s not easy to go on adventure rides, because of work, family and priorities. I go maybe once or twice a year when “stars align” and I’m able to get the required “visa” from my commander in chief .
For this year’s grand adventure ride I went to the legendary Tirad Pass. Read more [+]

Mountain Bike Trails Around Metro Manila

Biking in Metro Manila

Lots of people seem to have bought new bikes lately and are eager to give this thing called mountain biking a try. Good for you, people! This is probably one of the best decisions you’ve made in your life. Fitness, fresh air, countless adventures, and the love and respect of all humankind await you.

So you got the gear. Now what? Ride it of course. If you’re new to biking, you should probably first practice on paved roads to give your leg muscles some experience and oomph. I’d recommend logging in 20-40 kms for each major ride. Try to push it farther when you feel like your legs can still take it. And take it as far away as your sense of adventure will take you.

But after getting pavement miles, it’s time to try some real trails. Unknown to many, bikers in Metro Manila are actually fortunate to have a lot of trails and destinations that were designed and built for mountain biking. And there are still other destinations that are friendly to mountain bikers. Here are some of them.
Read more [+]

Christmas Gifts for Mountain Bikers


There was once a wise man who said: It is better to give than to receive. Legend has it that that man was actually Mike Tyson, and that he was just describing the most basic tenet of his sport. Anyway, Christmas is fast approaching, and the season of giving (and receiving) is here again.

Yup, it’s that time of the year when people at work receive bonuses from their employers. It’s also that time of the year again when those who get something extra in their paycheck give something back in a chain reaction of gift-giving that exponentially increases the level of goodwill and fun that is Christmas.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are mountain biker, or you may have a friend/significant other who is also a biker. Chances are, you may also be wondering about what to give him/her this holiday season. Well then, here are a few ideas you may want to consider. And since people don’t really receive the same amount of goodwill in their paycheck, I’ve taken the trouble to sort them out according to budget.

Read more [+]

National Bike Day and the Hell Ride on Edsa

National Bike Day

A gathering of the tribes

I like long solo rides or epic rides with a small group. I like rides up in the mountains where the view and the fresh air make it worth the effort. These are the kinds of rides I usually do—the kind of bike rides I really enjoy.

But I also see the value in joining critical mass rides or CMRs. These are gatherings of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of bikers to ride on streets normally claimed by cars and other motorized vehicles. I believe that biking should not just be a means for having good, clean fun outdoors; it should also be a means for keeping the outdoors good, fun, clean and free from toxic suffocating oily halitosis that seems to perpetually choke our cities. And yes, I believe the urban landscape is also part of the great outdoors.

As a former tibak from Peyups, I also like the idea of thousands of cyclists taking over the streets to demonstrate their collective power. Last Sunday, November 23, cyclists from all over Metro Manila joined the first National Bike Day (NBD). Thousands more joined them in the provinces in a nationwide push to promote cycling as a viable means of urban transport, and to pressure the government to make the roads safer for cyclists.

Interestingly though, it was also on this day that Kara and I found out first hand just how unsafe Metro Manila’s most well-known road is for bikers. Calling Edsa unsafe is putting it very mildly.  Para kang nakikipagpatintero kay kamatayan is more like it.  Read more [+]

One Awesome Bike Expo

Thomas Oehler at the Phil Bike Expo

Thomas Oehler at the Phil Bike Expo

If I could, I would fit it in even more words into the title, like: vintage bikes, fat bikes, low riders, fixies, cargo bikes, recumbents and all other pedal powered machines in between.

And of course, I would also include Thomas Oehler, the Red Bull trials biking maestro who was awesome enough to grace the Phil Bike Expo 2014 with his presence. Yes, I know: awesome is an often-misused and abused term. But in this case no word could be more apt.

If you weren’t there… ang laking sayaaang! What’s your excuse? Were you busy covering up the details of your hacienda in Batangas? Were you incarcerated for stealing from your pork barrel funds? Or did Jessy Mendiola ask you out for a date to watch Interstellar on IMAX? Di pa rin excuse yan.  Read more [+]

The Phil Bike Expo 2014

Phil Bike Expo 2014

Organizers of the Phil Bike Expo 2014

This is big. It is probably the biggest expo of its kind. I guess it’s a testament to how much the Philippine biking scene has grown in recent years.

If you want to scratch that nagging itch from upgraditis, you need to be there. Some of the best gear from the biggest brands in the industry will be featured at the expo. If you want to see just how Filipino bike makers and bike brands are making inroads in the industry, you have to go there and see their displays. Nyfti will be unveiling its Pinoy designed hand-made folding bike. Bambike will be showing off bicycles made from probably the greenest material you can ever use to build a bicycle–bamboo. Local brand Mars Kingdom will also be there to acquaint the public with their very affordable line of folding bikes and mountain bikes. Local makers of hydration packs and travel bags will also be there.

And last but not the least, if you want to see world class trials rider Thomas Oehler showcase his ninja tricks, you had better be there. Of course, you can simply have a good time being with thousands of other like-minded people who have a passion for bikes.
Read more [+]