I left the house at around 4:30 in the morning and got to BF in Parañaque at five to pick up the Big O. We arrived in Batangas at around 6:30, parked the car in my tita's house (the place where I learned how to ride a bike), geared up and met with Topher and Aldrin at Oca's Shop.
Today was race day for them. Aside from a lot of BMB members whose names are unknown to me, there were also mountain bikers from neighboring towns and provinces. The prizes were actually small. Just P500 for the first prize winner. But it's more of the bragging rights that got these people to this part of the country - to be the first one on top of the Sto. Domingo climb and nothing less.
What's so cool is there are actually no corporate sponsors nor official support from the local government. The prize money, the trophies, the tokens and the food all came from the pockets of some of the members of the club. Now that's grassroots cycling!
Well, technically it wasn't a grotto. It was a big statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion on top of the peaks overlooking Batangas City and the bay. It was a tribute by a Batangueño politician to the City's patron.
The route was basically the same as the climb going up the dreaded Sto. Domingo, except for a right turn going up the grotto. Now we had the choice to use the cemented road to the top, but mountain bikers that we are, we chose the steep footpath going up the peak and ended up carrying our bikes on our backs.
Getting there was really worth it as we're rewarded with a fantastic view of the city as cool mountain breezes comforted us. Eventually it rained so we had to take shelter under a small mango tree. But after a while, the rain turned into a slight drizzle.
From here, we rode to the main road to Sto. Domingo initially to watch the race and go back to the city and reward ourselves with pancit from Krosroads. However, after some lauding by our friends, we climbed/walked/crawled our way to the top.
This was a great ride. The climb was about three to four times longer than Maarat's Wall and about as steep. I can't believe that this was just one part of the EBD Mountain Bike Challenge that we did last year. How those at the top finished in less than three hours is absolutely amazing.
And as tradition, we ended a good ride by rewarding ourselves with Krosroad's Pancit Guisado and rice.
If you're dropping by Batangas City, try this route. The road's all cemented now but you'll definitely need your granny gear.