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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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 [+]
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 [+]
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 [+]
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 [+]
New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail
I love trail running as much as I love mountain biking. This is why I was quite excited to try out the New Balance Fresh Foam 980 when it was unveiled several months ago.
This shoe has generated a lot of hype. The very name itself was calculated to stir up buzz and incite curiosity. Fresh Foam: does this mean every other foam used in every other athletic shoe has become stale? What the heck is so fresh with this foam anyway?
Well, honestly, not that much. The foam isn’t really that (excuse the pun) groundbreaking. But it’s the shoe’s marriage of the virtues of minimalism and maximalism which really distinguishes it from the current crop of running footwear. Read more [+]
This island is worth exploring by bike
Talim is the nearest island to Metro Manila. This rocky isle in the middle of Laguna Lake is not normally visited by mountain bikers. But it is a popular site for weekend hikers seeking a great 360 degree view of Laguna Lake and the surrounding towns. Hikers come for the peak known as Mt. Tagapo, which is oftentimes also referred to as (I’m not making this up) Bundok ng Susong Dalaga. This roughly translates in English to “Mountain of Unmarried Female Snail.” Just kiddin. You already know what it means.
Four years ago, I and a group of local riders from Binangonan decided to load our bikes onto a boat and see just what Talim island had to offer. While most of us had already been to Talim, none of us had been there on mountain bikes, so it was something of an adventure for us. Read more [+]
The pebble beach in Chavayan village in Sabtang Island, Batanes
Sometimes you just have to do things on your own—like biking in a strange beautiful island for instance. Last April, I went to Batanes for a week’s worth of biking. After savoring the sights, sounds and vibe of the province’s main island of Batan for several days, I thought it was time to hoist the anchor and sail to another equally incredible island—Sabtang. (Actually, I would have preferred to bike with someone, but my traveling partner took off on her own for the island of Itbayat.)
This small island municipality lies just a few kilometers from Batanes’ main island. Sabtang is easily accessible by boat. The trip however can last anywhere from half an hour to almost an hour depending on how rough the waves are.
But even if you easily get seasick, you should not forego the chance to see Sabtang. If you loved what you saw in Batan, the honest truth is: Sabtang has got more of them and then some. Skip Sabtang and you’ll be cursing yourself for life. The rolling hills, the cliffs, the quaint villages with stone houses, the friendly locals, and the quiet idyllic scenery that have come to define Batanes—Sabtang has all of that. But it also has the best beaches in Batanes, and rock formations which you can’t see anywhere else. Read more [+]