Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Birthday Ride

A view of Marcos HighwayWith Connie getting her new Thule roof rack, what better way to celebrate my 30th year on this planet than with a cool birthday ride. And so Mike, Charo and I left Manila Saturday evening for Baguio.

It was a sperm of the moment kind of thing. We weren't even sure that we're going to Baguio until that very same night. The original plan was a long, long drive to Pagudpod Friday night but Charo got sick, unfortunately.

We arrived in Baguio at around 2:00 in the morning. We could have made it earlier if we didn't stop for Jollibee at Urdaneta, but good thing we did. The Crispy Bangus Belly seemed to be so delicious after that 5-hour drive. We slept at 3:00 a.m. after checking in Hotel Veniz and unloading our stuff. The drive was tiring but it was fun.

And this is meWe woke up and geared up the following day. Our objective seemed pretty simple, and that is to go up to where the two huge satellite dishes are - a place where the locals call radar. This place has been part of San Mig Light's Urban Jungle years ago but it was only for the elite racers.

The TrailThe cyclometer doesn't do justice to the ride as it only registered 14 kilometers from Burnham Park to the top. What it does not show is that almost all of that 14 kilometers was pure climbing - from cemented roads at the base near Green Valley to a rough road strewn with rocks and stones at the last seven kilometers. It also doesn't say how much the climb was worth it with the cool mountain breeze comforting you as you spin on your granny gear all the way to the top as you enjoy the breathtaking view of the city and its neighboring mountains.

The Third StopWe had several stops on the way although one can ride it all the way as long as he's pretty fit and patient. The climb is not steep so there are very little out-of-the-saddle moments required - it's just long and it goes on and on till the top.

Cheez Whiz on TopIf you're planning to go there, bring more than one water bottle or a hydration pack with you along with a couple of Powerbars or cookies. There are no stores to buy your usual Coke and SkyFlakes in case you bonk.

The Birthday RideReaching the top was very rewarding for us considering that we barely road our bikes since the Clark Duathlon. After taking some shots, we adjusted our forks and blasted went down the mountain with care. Now how I wish I had a full-suspension bike to tame all those rocks on the way down.

All in all, this is a pretty good ride and it's worth the five-hour drive!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Connie with a Nice Rack

I don't know if it's my birthday present for myself but I finally got Connie her bike rack. For those of you who don't know, Connie is my 2006 Honda Civic. I wasn't exactly planning on getting it. It's just that Mike O and Charo were jokingly asking me to get one and I obliged.

So this is Connie with a Thule rook rack. I got it last Saturday morning and we went straight to Baguio that night to try it out. It was an improvement over Chai's because it was easier to secure the bikes.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Preparation for the Flight

I enjoy cleaning my bike. Admittedly I have to force myself to do it most of the time. However, once I'm into it, I'm in the zone. I love how my hand glides through the top tube as I rinse it with water. I love how the cogset shines after I brush off all the grit and grime. And when everything's all lubed up and the frame's waxed up, the sight of it - all clean and shiny - takes my breath away. It's one of the joys that you just can't explain to someone who doesn't share the passion.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Discovery Channel signs Basso

I guess Discovery Channel doesn't want the feeling of being insecure, so not only did they sign Levi Leipheimer but Basso as well.

I don't know, but I really have this feeling that something's not right in the picture. Well, there's George, who's trained to be one of the leaders for the Tour. Then, Tom Danielson has proven that he has matured quite a bit so we'll be seeing him in the Tour as well. Now we put in the mix Levi and Ivan and we've got a team full of leaders.

Hmmmm. This is interesting. I guess we'll find out next year at the Champs Elysee.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is Discovery Channel Panicking?

What is happening in the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team? After a very disappointing Tour de France realizing that neither of their "Lance Replacements" is an actual tour contender yet, it seems they're now in the state of panic. Is it that they are spoiled from all those seven years of always riding at the front going to Paris that they can't stand the thought of not being able to do it again?

They brought back Levi Leipheimer, an ex-postie, from Gerolsteiner, and now there are even talks with ex-T-Mobile and Lance's rival Jan Ullrich.

With Armstrong retired, it is natural to have a void in the team. But this is precisely where you put the ones you picked to succeed the seven-time Tour champ. This is where you put your Tom Danielson and Yaroslav Popovych. Getting help from outside would only outshine your homegrown talents - something that you don't want to happen, else they sign up to another team as their captain. The Discovery Channel doesn't need to look further. Hamilton has done this, Levi has done this, and of course don't forget the guy who won the Tour this year.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Tour de France

Finally the Tour is over and Floyd Landis emerged as the next wearer of the yellow jersey after Armstrong's seven-year reign.

With the wake of Operacion Puerto, the Tour started without any clear favorite. Last year's top five in the overall classification weren't there. And so for the first time, the Tour is wide open for anyone willing to suffer and ride in the Champs Elysse with the yellow jersey.

We've been following the Tour almost everyday. Because of the lack of coverage, we were left to do our own night outs World Cup-style. We would go to a resto, order food and drinks there, and follow the live coverage via wap. Yes, you read that right - wap.

After a couple of bottomless chips downed with bottomless iced tea at Chilli's, Floyd Landis emerged as the winner of this year's tour. He got the jersey in the Alpe D' Huez only to lose it the following day and getting it back after an all-out breakaway effort in the final mountain stage and a third place in the last time trial. Add to that his "amazing" story of his degrading hip.

I'm glad that it's all over. After three weeks of intense racing that hasn't been seen in a long time, the memories of Operacion Puerto were all but forgotten. However, there is still no patron in the peloton. Landis didn't command that much respect that the likes of Merckx and Indurain has. I guess only time will tell if his colleagues will consider as that.

Vive Le Tour!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Baguio Challenge

We got to see the Kennon uphill going up Baguio last Friday. It was 31 kilometers of pure suffering, especially right after exiting the toll gate going up the Lion's head. The switchbacks were steep that if we were to climb it, we would be definitely using the granny gear most of the time.

My wife said we couldn't climb it in a day. She said that it's not that she doesn't believe in us but we have to be realistic. Hence this challenge to prove her wrong.

The bet is for us to climb the whole 31-kilometer stretch in one September day. It has to be between six in the morning to eight in the evening and we can only walk 10% of the way. If we win, Mike O and I get P2,500 each. If she wins, she gets P5,000 from each one of us.

Piece of cake.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cramming for a Race

I am succumbing to peer pressure and will be racing in this Sunday's Men's Health Mountain Bike race in Maarat. Being crammers that we are, we went for a training ride last Tuesday night in UP despite the rains, and it showed me how much I am out of shape. I couldn't hold on to Mike O's wheel. After the third lap, I was dropped.

According to King, this Sunday's course is just a couple of laps in the Roxas trail. If ever I can't hold on to the main pack, at least I'm confident that I won't get lost.

This is going to be my first race since the First EBD Invitational Mountain Bike Challenge, which was held in a one-kilometer race course that we made at Barangay Sico in Batangas City.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Hell of the Southern Tagalog

The EBD Barangay Tour Mountain Bike Challenge went pretty well, and I can't wait to plan it next year with an even more challenging course.

As I've told the racers from the start, it's going to be long and hard - nothing like the courses they're used to. If the race is in Batangas City, you can bet your ass that the locals will include a lot of climbs to see how others fare in their usual weekend route.

Going around the race course made me see just how much damage the typhoon caused. There was a barrio by the sea near Ilijan where the roofs of the houses were blown away and the road was reclaimed by the sea. I hope this race will jumpstart local biking tourism that can help these small communities.

Below are some of the pictures I took while going around the course. For more pictures, visit the Batangas Mountain Bikers website.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Day before The Race

It was pretty sunny this morning when I brought my new car to the church to have it blessed. Then I was awaken from my mid-morning nap by the sound of rain falling quite heavily on the roof. It has stopped now, and I hope it would stay that way for the whole weekend, especially with tomorrow's mountain bike race in Batangas.

I've ridden the course before but in several parts when I was staying there. Never had I imagined that they will combine it in a race. I'm sure it's going to be tough for those who are competing tomorrow with all those climbing.

I pray the weather would be forgiving tomorrow. I would really shorten the course if I feel the safety of the riders is in jeopardy. Regardless if it was 65 kilometers or 10 kilometers, it's still going to be the first man to reach the finish line anyway.

To those who are going to race tomorrow, I bid you good luck and I hope that you have fun.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Race Director That Needs Some Direction

This Sunday is the 5th Edition of the EBD Barangay Tour Mountain Bike challenge. Held in Batangas City, the route is 65 kilometers consisting of cemented Barangay and Barrio roads, double tracks and mountain footpaths.

As the race director, I would have to wake up early Sunday morning and drive to Batangas City to be there by 6:00 in the morning.

This is going to be my second time to be a race director. The last time I was director was during my term as president of the Batangas Mountain Bikers. I hope everything turns out OK.

If you're interested in joining the details are in the Batangas Mountain Bikers website.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Ride to Calatagan

We were supposed to start the ride from Quezon City, but King talked me to starting at Sta. Rosa, instead. The additional 30 kilometers wasn't worth the risk going through Metro Manila traffic at five in the morning. Fine then, to Sta. Rosa we go.

So we started the ride at Sta. Rosa at around 7:00 in the morning after unloading the three bikes from the roof rack at Caltex, putting on our gear and applying sunscreen. Powered by a "healthy" breakfast of Pan de Coco, Inipit and Powerade, we started the ride up Tagaytay. There we were, three souls willing to suffer under the heat of the sun riding three different beasts - a single speed road bike, a mountain bike with slick tires, and another mountain bike with full knobbies and a pannier.

I left the Camelbak in the car. I thought I wouldn't need it in the short climb. I have a new Discovery Channel-knockoff waterbottle filled with Powerade anyway. But when Charo said that they'll be waiting for us at the top, I reconsidered and got it back. At least if I get a puncture, I wouldn't have to call them for my tools.

I was riding with arm warmers covers at first to appease my wife, who hates my weird cyclist tanlines, but I just couldn't take it. I had to take them off at the first climb or I wouldn't last the ride. It was too damn hot!

So up to Sta. Rosa we climbed. It was surprisingly easy. I was just spinning all the way. There were only two major inclines - the first one up coming from Sta. Rosa and the one at the PNPA. I had a harder time climbing Antipolo.

King was riding his single speed road bike so he was on a league of his own. At the start of the PNPA climb, he stood on the pedals and just left us without any effort. I was thinking of catching up with him but I don't want to leave Mike behind, who's having a problem with his back. Now I know how a T-Mobile lieutenant feels like when Lance breaks away and Ullrich can't respond the way you want him to.

The climb up Tagaytay was 18 kilometers from Caltex. Charo and Mang Piermo, the driver, was waiting for us at the shoulder. After stopping for a few minutes for some more Pan de Coco and strawberry bread downed with Powerade, we continued riding.

Tagaytay itself is not flat. Going to Batulao, we had to climb several hills. Knowing it's the last one, Mike broke away and attacked the final climb before the downhill to Batulao. I was tempted to chase but I was thinking about conserving my energy. So I rode on King's wheel and let him bridge the gap.

Our next rendesvouz point was at the gasoline station near the fork going to Lemery, the the car wasn't there when we arrived. The driver apparently missed it, according to Charo.

From there it was a long downhill to the Nasugbu junction with a some rolling terrain near the end. It was long that eventually the adrenalin fades and you stop spinning and just coast. My fastest speed was 63.5 kilometers per hour but Mike's was faster at 64.

The car was parked near a waiting shed near the junction. We stopped for a short while to eat, chat and drink before we started the final leg from Nasugbu to Calatagan. After doing a bathroom break at the Shell Station at the corner, the suffering began.

The road from Nasugbu to Lian is flat. And at around 10:30 in the morning, the heat was getting to be more and more intense. We drafted to each other's slipstream, doing our turns at the front.

What killed us was the surprise climb between Lian and Calatagan. It was a short incline and not so steep, but coming from a flat road without expecting this made us shift to our granny gears. The great King, of course, just rode away. Again.

After the downhill and a few kilometers of flat roads, we finally reached Calatagan's Arc. And what better way to celebrate the achievement than a minor cramp on my left calf a kilometer after entering Catalagan.

I soft-pedalled the rest of the five kilometers to Punta Baluarte, where we had lunch and stayed for the night.

The trip totalled 92 kilometers. A pretty good achievement for someone who hasn't ridden long distances for quite some time.

Now I'm thinking of doing a Laguna de Tour - a bike ride going around Laguna de Bay that starts at Antipolo and ends in Muntinlupa.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Last Minute Preparations

I made a trip to Extreme bikeshop this afternoon with Dan to get some last minute stuff I need in preparation for our Saturday ride. Armed with a little more than a thousand bucks in my pocket, I bought two pairs of Shimano V-Brake cartridges, two pairs of cycling socks, a Cateye rear blinker and a Discovery Channel-knockoff water bottle. The damage is just P1,300.

Because I went to the office early, I was able to go home early, too! As soon as I arrived, I started working on the bike. I changed to my Continental Avenue slick tires and installed the new brake pads and rear blinkers. After a couple of runs from the house to Ateneo (we have a gate going into the campus, you see), the brakes felt like new.

Another good news is after a week of looking for a driver to drive our support vehicle, we finally found one. That means two things: (1) Charo can join and support us, and (2) we don't have to bring all our stuff in our Camelbaks! Yeahbah!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tour of the Fireflies Flaker

I'm a Tour of the Fireflies Flaker. I was supposed to go today but backed out last night after I arrived from the Cecon 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race at around 11:15 in the evening. I figured going through the Metro at this heat is not worth it.

This is the 8th year of this annual earth day event. With participants numbering over five thousand, the Tour of the Fireflies is the biggest cycling gathering in the country. It aims to promote the use of the bicycle as a transportation alternative to stop vehicle emissions from further polluting our air.

Joining one of their Marshal Rides a few weeks back, this year's Tour will start at the Tiendesitas compound and will go to Ortigas Avenue, Gilmore, E. Rodriguez, Espana, Intramuros, Roxas Boulevard, the CCP Complex, Macapagal Avenue, EDSA, South Super Highway, Buendia, Makati Avenue, Mandaluyong Rotunda, Nueve de Pebrero, Shaw Boulevard, EDSA, Ortigas Avenue and back to Tiendesitas.

For more info about the Firefly Brigade and their other cool projects, login to their website at www.fireflybrigade.org.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Getting cold feet from the Cecon race

My group from Batangas will be joining the Cecon 24-hour mountain bike race in the La Mesa Nature Reserve. After much prodding, they'll finally be "mountain biking".

They have set-up a monthly uphill time trial event in Batangas City and it's been ongoing for more than two years now. But when I checked it out, it was all pavement. Now where's the mountain biking there? In fairness, the climb is quite a killer.

As far as I know, this is the first time in a long while that they'll be racing without the hometown advantage. The last time they went out of their hole was in the 1999 Mountain Bike Challenge series held at Tagaytay and Pasig City.

I woke up at four in the morning today. I don't know why. Probably excited about the race and see where they stand against the other racers. Will those uphill time trials pay off? Do they still know how to ride the dirt? These questions will be answered as soon as race starts at 12 noon.

I charged the batteries of the camera last night, removed the slicks and installed the IRC Seracs this morning. I'm planning to go around the course and take pictures. Hopefully Thumbie and the organizers would let me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cycling Philippines: The First Biking Book about the Philippines

The first time I heard of this book was with a Firefly during one of their Tiendesitas meetings. Actually it was more like a rumor -- that there's this book about mountain bike trails in the Visayas that's only being sold in the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival in Ormoc. Goyo had a copy so the Firefly got to read some parts and it was good and very detailed.

Fast forward to yesterday. Lo and behond, while browsing through the Bike Room's website for their new stuff, I found the book as one of their featured items.

If you're interested, you can buy your copy from these areas:

Island Souvenirs (Ayala, Airport, Robinsons, Pasalubong Center, SM) ● YKK Bikeshop ● Habagat (SM) ● Sandtrap (Banilad) ● Turtles Nest ● Kukuks Nest ● The Wineshop ● Drop-Off Point (near Turtles Nest) ● Rudy Project (Ayala, SM)

Island Souvenirs (Island City Mall)

Island Souvenirs ● Habagat (both in MegaMall) ● Bikeroom ● Rudy Project (Ayala Center, Rustans Mall- Makati) ● Muntinlupa Rudy Project (Alabang Town Center)

Habagat(SM) ● Boondocks Bikes ● Rudy Project (SM)

General Santos
Rudy Project (KCC Mall)

Rudy Project (Salazar St.)

Rudy Project (D'Mall)

Negros Island Tourism (Bacolod Convention Plaza Hotel)

For more information on the book and where to get it, check out their website by clicking here.

Fr. Picx's Mindanao Bike Tour for Life & Peace

Based from Davao City, Fr. Amado Picardal or, as we fondly call him, Fr. Picx, started Monday his 21-day Bike Tour of Mindanao for Life and Peace. He will be covering a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers and will be preaching along the way the Gospel of Life amidst the culture of death and violence.

You can read his itinerary and more at his post in the PCN. You can also read his story in yesterday's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Plan

All day I've been thinking about doing my first long ride. I'm thinking of just using my mountain bike but I would have to use thinner slick tires, a rigid fork and panniers. That would be ideal. Otherwise I would have to stick with my Cannondale CAAD3 slapped with my old 1.5 Continental Avenues and my Camelbak Blowfish on my back.

First day would be on Saturday, 28 April 2006. We'll leave Quezon City at around 5:00 in the morning and take the CYCAD route passing through C5, the service road, Muntinlupa, Binan, Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay, Nasugbu, Lian and finally Calatagan. That's roughly 150 kilometers of biking. We'll just spend the night in a nice room there.

The following day, Sunday, 29 April 2006, We'll leave Calatagan, Batangas at around 5:00 in the morning and bike to Laiya Coco Grove in San Juan, Batangas. We'll be riding through Balayan, Calaca and Lemery, and climb to Taal, Sta. Teresita, Alitagtag, Cuenca and Lipa. From there it's pretty much flat going through Padre Garcia, Rosario and San Juan. We'll spend the night there and leave for Manila on a car on Monday, May 1, 2006.

The Manila to Bicol Inspiration

I'm now inspired to do the adventure rides after reading Raul Angeles' two-day Manila to Bicol ride.

Their first day was a 245-kilometer trip from Manila to Calauag. They left Malabon at 6:00 in the morning and passed through Antipolo, Bugarin, Pagsanjan, Luisiana, Atimonan, Gumaca and Pagbilao before arriving at Calauag at 5:30 in the afternoon.

The two cyclists left Calauag at 5:30 in the morning the following day and tortured themselves further on their way to Legaspi City. They passed the Quirino junction, Tagkawayan, Sipocot, Naga, Pili and Guinobatan before arriving at Legaspi City at 5:30 in the afternoon.

Talk about a real Amazing Race with the whole trip totalling a whopping 497 kilometers.

We're now planning on training for this type of trips starting with some not-so-epic rides. Yesterday over dinner, after King texted us that he wants to do a Manila to Calatagan trip then spend the night there, Mike and I are talking about doing a Manila to Calatagan, Batangas trip then do a Calatagan to San Juan, Batangas the following day. When that pushes through, we can probably do a Manila to Baguio or a Baguio to Sagada trip.

How I wish there's a sabbatical leave in the office to do all these things.
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