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.
As a mountain biker and backpacker, I really loved going to trail biking meccas like the Bataan Killer Loop, Mt. Ugo, and Rotorua and Queenstown in New Zealand last year.
Biking The Killer Loop was an awesome experience. I’ll be forever indebted to the guys who took us there. Riding up and down Mt. Ugo’s trails remains a magical memory, despite the mishap that hit our group and divisive controversy that it spawned. To the people who helped us there, we hope to repay your kindness soon.
And speaking of magic, there was nothing more magical for me than visiting Middle Earth itself. Readers of this blog know how often I drop Tolkien references in my stories. I’m a huge fan of the Lord of The Rings. Heck, I even read The Silmarillion twice. Traveling to New Zealand and seeing the fantastic landscapes shown in the films was a nerd’s dreams come to life. Being able to bike in such dreamscapes was like dying and going to Valinor. (Watch out for my posts on this trip!)
The New Zealand trip may have cost a couple of kidneys, a few other internal organs, as well as the chance to buy a bright shiny new bike. But the experience and memories I got from that trip were worth all that and more. No gear purchase can possibly outweigh that.
And this has got me thinking: why spend so much on gear when you can be spending on experiences instead? Unless you’re a hardcore super-competitive racer who needs the latest and greatest gear to score a podium finish for your filthy-rich sponsors, why spend so much on carbonanium-unobtanium upgrades that you don’t really need? Wouldn’t it be better if you saved all that cash to book a trip to Batanes, the Cordillera, or Nepal instead?
Seriously, in ten or even five years time, no one is gonna give a muthapakganernshet about your bling blingy 1×99 drivetrain that’s worth a plane ticket to Whistler or Patagonia. But fellow bikers will want to hear about your ride to the Alps or Mongolia.
Personally, I’m more impressed with bikers like Dru Kalakas and Adriel Paglinawan who are pushing the limits of bike travel and exploration, than with people who own 500k bikes but ride them only to MOA. No offense meant, but possessing bike porn isn’t trail cred, you really need to get out there, get dirty, and get lost in the wilderness.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy gear. What I’m saying is that you should probably buy only those things that you really need.
And if you’re buying new gear, try buying local stuff. I think the Philippine bike industry is really undergoing an awakening of sorts. Lots of Pinoy bikers are now making and designing their own bikes.
There’s the Cordillera fullsus all mountain rig from Rurok cycles, there’s Tutubi hardtail plus-sized bikes from Raven cycles, there’s the Brusko plus-sized bike from Sandugo, Mammoth fat bikes from Whattabike, there’s the ultra-hip Bambike, and there’s Nyfti’s cool foldies that can give Brompton a run for its money. I got to try some of these bikes at the recently-held Philbike Demo day in Filinvest, so watch out for ride impressions of these bikes!
At Philbike Demo I also saw a lot of great stuff from local gear makers and bike brands. 8A, Amihan, Sandugo, Lagalag—all of these local brands deserve our support. But don’t buy them just because you’re feeling fuzzily patriotic and all. Buy them because these gear makers are making awesome stuff and offer immense value for money.
As I have reluctantly found out, writing keeps me sane in a world where lunacy has clearly become the norm. So I owe it to my sanity and the readers of this blog to keep typing words, phrases and sentences, and try to create some semblance of meaning from all the senselessness of the everyday.
I don’t really fancy myself a writer. I have a lot of friends who deserve that lofty title more than me—poets, fictionists, novelists, and crazy bastards who can’t live without expelling words from their craniums. But despite my limited talents, I will continue to write about outdoor stuff here. Some people seem to like what I spew.
Oh, I also promise do more trail runs and climbs.