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Exploring the Laiban-Daraitan Trail

Biking to Laiban Dam

The light at the end of the tunnel

Laiban Dam has intrigued me ever since I first saw photos of mountain bikers visiting this oddity in the Sierra Madre mountains. This massive concrete monolith built during the Marcos era, sticks out of a forested mountainside like an evil lair for a James Bond villain—a structure that’s meant to be broken into, entered and explored.

Laiban Dam was supposed to supply Metro Manila with more than a million liters of water per day. However, concerns over the dam’s environmental impact, and the displacement of thousands of indigenous Dumagats from their ancestral lands, eventually caused the project to be shelved. And now Laiban Dam just sits there unused like a monument to human folly.

I have been itching to ride there and see the goddamned dam for myself. It’s not everyday that you get face to face with some Cold War level coolness. Last week, I finally got to do it. And it was one hell of an awesome mountain bike ride. Read more [+]

La Mesa Offroad Duathlon 2013

La Mesa Offroad Duathlon 2013, Mountain Biking in the PhilippinesThe La Mesa Nature Reserve is one of the best running and biking trails in Metro Manila. It’s always been a favorite trail of mine because it never fails to give both newbies and old timers a very satisfying endorphin kick, while making them realize what a beautiful well-preserved forest looks like. These were some of the reasons why I couldn’t pass up the chance to race in La Mesa again.

Mud, sweat and gears: we often hear these words used to describe top MTB racing events. This year’s La Mesa Offroad Duathlon was all that and more. Much more.

Last October 13, just after Typhoon Santi dumped a week’s worth of rain on Luzon before saying sayonara to the Philippines, around 200 trail runners and mountain bikers made a pilgrimage to La Mesa to test their mettle in the forest’s soaked earth. Many of them were casual bikers and first timers who wanted a get a taste of the booming multisport scene. Others apparently were triathlon veterans who wanted to add dirt to their resumes.  Read more [+]

Epic Biking to Puray Falls

Biking to Puray Falls, Mountain Biking in the Philippines

Getting to Puray Falls means numerous river crossings

Puray Falls is definitely one of the most epic mountain biking rides I’ve done. Riding to this postcard pretty cascade in the mountains of Rodriguez, Rizal already busts lungs and cramps legs on a normal day. But throw in Habagat-like downpours, plus 90% cluelessness on how to get there, and you have the recipe for an adventure.

I’d been to Rodriguez/Montalban several times before, but those were trips to Wawa Dam on rock climbing excursions. I had yet to explore Montalban on a mountain bike. And while Wawa has kick ass climbing cliffs and an awesome boulder-strewn river, it has no waterfalls.

Lately, I had been hearing a lot about Puray. Supposedly, it was accessible via a half day ride on a mountain bike. I looked at the photos online, and was instantly hooked. This one was without doubt a bucket lister for any Manila weekend warrior.  Read more [+]

Trail Running in Daraitan

Barefoot Trail Runner in Daraitan in Nature's Trail Discovery Run 2013 (Leg 1)

Hardcore dude thinks shoes are optional for trail runs like this

Race Report: Nature’s Trail Discovery Run 2013 (Leg 1)

Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal is legendary for Manila mountain bikers who have a serious craving for pain. I’ve heard bikers compare Daraitan with Sta. Ines—that other brutal biking route in Tanay, with some saying that Daraitan was probably the more difficult of the two.

I had never been to Daraitan until I joined this year’s first leg of Nature’s Trail Disovery Run. But after running to and from Daraitan, I can safely say that Daraitan is the more difficult climb.

The dirt road from the river bed to the highway seemed to go on forever. The road grade is also something that could put Shotgun to shame. It was a great race and a feast for people whose idea of fun is generating gallons of lactic acid in their legs. Read more [+]

Trail Running in the Sierra Madre

Tanay Trail Run 2013 Love a Tree

A trail runner enjoys the hills, streams and fields of Tanay

Dawn broke around six. By that time I had already been running for about an hour. Normally, I would have already covered at least 10 kilometers, but when I checked the GPS app on my phone, it said that I had covered a paltry 7 kilometers.

My goal of finishing the trail run in 3 hours now appeared impossible as my legs seemed ready to burst battery acid if I kept up this pace. With my race goal now completely out of reach, there was nothing left to do… but enjoy the scenery, take lots of photos, and have fun on the trail. Read more [+]