Shotgun in San Mateo: Masochistic mountain bikers consider this the ultimate trophy in Metro Manila. It is 5 kilometers of almost relentless climbing that only gets more difficult with each turn. Last weekend I thought of doing a different challenge on Shotgun. Instead of biking all the way to top, I was gonna run it and see if I still had my mountain legs.
Shotgun is without doubt, the most punishing climb a mountain biker or runner can do near Metro Manila. The road is steep—definitely one of the steepest in the country. The Wall is a difficult climb, but Shotgun takes that difficulty to an even more sinister level.
Take the most difficult section of The Wall and multiply it three times and you get a good idea of what I’m talking about. Just when you thought you’d get a reprieve, just when you thought you’d get a chance to recover, the next twist in the road smacks you in the face with even more climbing. Such is the evil that is Shotgun.
I parked my bike at Biker’s Café and made my way to the fork in the road which led to Shotgun. Early on the way up, I got passed by mountain bikers who I thought were a bit over eager. But a few minutes later, I was passing bikers who were now huffing, fading, and moving slower than Mar Roxas in Tacloban.
This is one of the weird things about this route. It’s a lot easier and faster to run Shotgun. I mean that in all honesty and without a hint of bragging. Riding Shotgun (no pun intended) means hauling a 25-35 pound bike up a very steep relentless incline. All that weight can really slow you down, which is why bikers often stop to catch their breath and recover.
Picture this: your legs are already boiling with lactic acid, you’re struggling to suck oxygen into your chest, your pores are pumping out gallons of sweat in a desperate attempt to cool you down, and all the while the sun is baking your sorry ass. Not exactly fun eh?
But strangely enough, my stab at Shotgun last week was one of the most enjoyable runs I had ever done. Thank heavens for amihan. It seemed as if someone had turned on the turbo cooler, which made it possible for me to run up Shotgun without overheating and with just one water bottle.
If you plan to run or bike Shotgun, you should start at around 6:00AM. You should also try to finish the climb before 9:00AM because you don’t want to get sun-baked on the way up.