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 [+]
Crankworx world pump track champion Adrien Loron gets airborne at The Bike Playground in Circulo Verde
Pump tracks are a ton of fun. If you haven’t tried ‘em, you definitely should. You’re missing out on a lot of grin-time. The pump track at The Bike Playground in Circulo Verde near Eastwood is my current favorite.
There aren’t a lot of pump tracks near Metro Manila. The old UP trail used to have a roller section where bikers could practice their pumping skills, but sadly the UP trail is gone now–bulldozed by a construction firm that very probably loathes mountain bikers.
Basekamp in Mt. Maarat, San Mateo also built a dirt pump track in its free-to-ride trail system. If you ever find yourself there, give it a go and discover for yourself how much fun it can be.
Other pump tracks meanwhile are a bit too far away for ordinary Manileño bikers. Bathala Bike Park (or what’s left of it) is in Tanay. Nuvali has a pump track, but it’s in Laguna.
Thankfully, this pump track opened up recently which is right in the heart of Metro Manila. 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 [+]
What better way to experience the world than riding it on two wheels? Here are seven essential tips if you’re planning to cycle your way through your travels.
Prepare for the weather
Depending on where you’re headed, there’s going to be weather conditions that you may not be accustomed to, and they become a whole new challenge when cycling. Hot weather can tire you out much quicker than usual and leave you dehydrated and tired, whereas storms and even snow in some locations pose a threat to your safety. Make sure you’re aware of the local climate, and work your day around it. Consider going for a ride early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day.
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Biking amid alpine lakes, alpine mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand
‘Magical’ is probably one of the most oft-used words to describe New Zealand. This is, after all, the site where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, and Peter Jackson could not have chosen a better place to bring JRR Tolkien’s books to silverscreen life. It’s hard to look at New Zealand’s mountains, valleys and forests and pretend that what you’re seeing wasn’t taken from the pages of an epic fantasy masterpiece.
For mountain bikers, New Zealand represents another kind of magic. The town of Rotorua has become famous internationally as one of the best places to go trail biking and freeriding. Rotorua has been the site of MTB mega-event Crankworx, and its reputation has rivaled that of Whistler. Read more [+]
Each year, bikers across this Catholic country brave the scorching heat of summer to ride their bikes in a pilgrimage of sorts to at least seven churches. This practice has come to be called Bisikleta Iglesia.
Last time I did this was several years ago with a few biker friends from my hometown Binangonan, Rizal. We went to seven churches in Rizal starting from Cardona, to Morong, Baras, Teresa, Antipolo, Tayuman (Binangonan) and concluded in the Sta. Ursula Parish church of our town. It was a fun ride with friends that was in keeping with the observance of the Lenten season.
This year though, I got an invitation from Lima Park Hotel to try the Bisikleta Iglesia they were organizing in Batangas. Heading the event was no less than legendary ‘running priest’ Fr. Robert Reyes. How could I say no to a chance to bike with Fr. Robert? 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 [+]