Mt Ugo is a feast for the senses. Photo by William Balanza
Mt. Ugo is one of the best places in the Philippines for mountain biking. If you want to grow in skills as a mountain biker, the challenging uphills and the ultra-technical trails of Ugo will let you know just how much you still need to grow.
Last year, I went to Mt. Ugo with a group of friends including fellow bike blogger Valleybikes. The mishap suffered by two members from our party generated a controversy in the mountain biking community.
Thankfully, this year’s trip to Ugo was devoid of mishaps and rancor. The deities of dirt seemed to be smiling on our group that day and blessed us with excellent weather, dry trails and lots of great riding.
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Last time i was here there was a sea of clouds in this area
Last Sunday, I really wanted to ride my motorcycle. But then I also really really wanted to ride my mountain bike. I was itching to ride my MTB in Tanay again and reacquaint myself with its beautiful watery trails. I was also aching to ride my motorcycle along the twisty mountain road known as Marilaque as I hadn’t done a proper ride in several weeks.
Since July, I had been riding my mountain bike and franken-roadbike during the pitifully few days that I was not clocking in at the office. I had been training for the Brusko race (because sometimes even slackers need to train so they don’t suck). After the race, I thought that I could finally have some quality time with my motorcycle, but the weather just wasn’t cooperating.
Just as I was dusting off my riding jacket, Kuya Kim comes on TV with an evil grin saying: “Teka lang bro. What’s that in the langit? Its… typhoon Isang/Jolina/Kiko! Ang buhay ay Weder-weder lang! Nyahahaha! (insert thunder sound effects here) hahahaha.”
But last Sunday, thanks to a confluence of cosmic factors, the sun was shining and I had some extra time for a day long ride. Motorcycle ride along the beautiful open road of Marilaque, or MTB ride in the awesome mountain trails of Tanay? Damn decisions! Thankfully, I could ride them both on the same day. Read more [+]
It feels like Palawan, minus the expensive air travel
The Sierra Madre offers some of the best mountain biking in the country and Gen. Nakar is blessed to have some of the most pristine parts of this glorious mountain range. Last weekend I got to sample some of Nakar’s offerings and came away wanting more.
Here’s the lowdown: Nakar is a slice of unspoilt tropical paradise. This quaint town has big sky mountain vistas, crystal clean rivers and streams you can literally drink from, quiet secluded beaches, a sea so warm and pleasant that’s just begging you to take a swim, and people so friendly they make you wonder if you opened a portal into a universe that is the opposite of everything that is Metro Manila.
In my many years of mountain biking, I have sadly not yet been to a place like Nakar until last weekend. Legendary bikepackers like Dru Kalakas have mentioned it before in their multi-day adventures, but I could never find time to embark on more than an overnight trip. 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 [+]
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 [+]