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Biking in New Zealand: Queenstown
(Part 1)

Jack’s Point on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand

There are trips that are so grand that they just overwhelm your ability to process them with words. You try to jot one word down after another to describe what the place is like, but then you realize that you’ve used up your vocabulary of hyperboles and expletives on lesser experiences. You pause and try to reimagine things. This is what our backpacking trip to Queenstown, New Zealand was like. This is also why it took me so long to write this down.

Queenstown is New Zealand’s premiere adventure town. Some describe it as the adventure capital of the world, and it’s not hard to see why. Along its streets are shops upon shops of adventure outfitters ready to take you on almost every imaginable outdoor adrenaline fix. Alpine mountaineering, rock climbing, rappelling, skydiving, bungee jumping, canyoning, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, and yes… mountain biking.

People here like to point out that the ridiculous postmodern sport of bungee jumping was invented here. Why would anyone want to strap ropes around their ankles and jump from a bridge? I seriously don’t know. I guess for the Kiwis here, the need for a different kind of rush is just overpowering.

But I didn’t come here for the bungee (although my wife who has tried it before in Macau was disturbingly considering it), I came here for the biking. Just the biking–because as much as I would’ve loved to try out all these other adventure sports, the spirit was willing but the wallet was weak, so to speak. Read more [+]

Pedals: Clipless or Flats?

Clipless pedals

Clipless pedals, are they worth it?

It’s a question a lot of bikers ask: Should I “upgrade” to clipless pedals? When you’ve been biking for a year or so and you’re looking for the next so-called performance boost, you can’t help but think of clipless pedals.

The pros use them. Your “serious” biker friends swear by them. Heck, you might be the only guy in your squad whose bike still doesn’t have them. But should you give in to the peer pressure and temptation? Or should you keep your hard earned money for more important purchases like a case of Cerveza Sagada or round trip tickets to Batanes? Read more [+]

7 great tips for cycling enthusiasts travelling abroad

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.

Read more [+]

Biking and Backpacking in New Zealand: Part 1

Queenstown, New Zealand

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 [+]

Bisikleta Iglesia in Batangas

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 [+]

Motorcycle Bike Rack for the Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield Bike Rack

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 [+]

Resolutions for 2017

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 [+]

On the Mt. Ugo Biking Controversy

Mountain Biking Mt. Ugo

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 [+]

Mountain Biking Mt. Ugo: Part 2

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 [+]

Project CX/Touring Frankenbike

Cyclocross bike

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 [+]