Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's over. See you again next year.

Me and my MegaphoneIt has been a few days since the 6th EBD Barangay Tour Mountain Bike XC Marathon and I still have to get it out of my system. Admittedly I've been surfing the forums and e-groups fishing asking those who joined for their feedback of the race. And from what I've been hearing and reading, it was a success! Of course I know that next time we really have to beef up on the directional arrows some more and add even more marshals, but generally the race rocked!

A Lone Rider on the Riverbed TrailIn the briefing I told them to get ready to suffer, and suffer they did. What's so cool is they all loved it! They've been talking about how the tackled the grueling 63-kilometer mountainous race course for days - from Dandan's record-breaking finish of only three hours and fifteen minutes to bonked racers eating leaves along the way to participants who refused to ride the sweeper back to the City for the awarding ceremonies in order to be called a finisher. The race was a story full of triumph, drama and comedy on man's will to overcome the odds.

All Terra's King BeeAnd it didn't just stay online. It spread like wildfire in the bike shops as well. I dropped by All Terra tonight to wait for my wife and Bruce and Dandan were talking about it. Even Edmund's wife, Salve, told me that it really put Batangas on the map. Wow!

Hearing all this really gives me goosebumps. I was so happy that I collected the messages and shared it in the BMB e-group. They were all so happy that they kept reading and re-reading the messages. It didn't stop there. I even got inspired to revamp the BMB website. (Check it out at www.bmb.org.ph and let me know what you think.)

I don't know if I'll still be appointed as race director again next year, but I sure hope I can still help out and make this an even bigger event. These guys need better planning and more coordination with more City Government departments, especially the City Tourism Council. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

For my pictures of the race, click here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

One Day to Go!

I woke up early today, hours before the alarm clock rings. I guess I'm totally excited for the big day tomorrow that I can't wait to see if everything is really ironed out as they said.

This racing director gig reminds me too much of being a stage manager back in my college theater years. You really have to think of everything, including scenarios that might just pop out of nowhere, and be ready for it. It's like being praning with everything but keeping your cool at the same time.

So I'll be leaving today at 7:45 in the morning. I'll pick up King in his house near Commonwealth and then Dandan again at the corner of Batasan and J. P. Rizal. Hope we can make it to Batangas City early so we can check in the hotel, have big, fat pancit at MGM for lunch, do the final briefing with everybody and then drive to Pulot Aplaya to check things out.

I gave them the feedback from last year's race when we met the last time so we can address it. Hopefully now they placed tons of directional arrows and more marshals and guides on the route.

This year we're placing a cut-off time at Pulot Aplaya and an official SAG jeep or truck for those who can't ride any further. The cut-off time is 2:30 p.m. For their safety, those who arrive beyond that time won't be allowed to climb to Pulot Itaas as they might not make it back to the city before it gets dark.

I pray everything goes according to plan.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

EBD Barangay Tour Fever

The EBD Barangay Tour is reaching fever pitch with only a week to go before the mountain bike marathon. The online forums are all abuzz and the metro bike shops' customers are asking about it.

For my part, I posted all the information that I have about the event on the BMB website and sort of turned it into the central event information center. The maps are there (both from MotionBased and Google Maps) along with my story about the course, route pictures, places to stay in Batangas City and links to the online discussion boards and eGroups.

Aside from that, King and I went around the different bike shops to post my makeshift event poster, thanks to my bootleg PageMaker and photocopy technology. From my place in Katipunan we biked to the two John Wilkie's, Joven, All Terra, Bike King, Powerbikes, Dan's, Sabak, Elixir, Paulina's, Velo City, Ross, Cristy's, Cycle Options and Extreme - in that order. We started at 10:30 in the morning and ended with a McDonald's milkshake at Quezon Avenue at around 6:30 in the evening before we headed back home. That was more than 70 kilometers of biking.

The ride was long and so polluted that I'm not feeling 100% at all. I was supposed to go to Batangas City this weekend to do the briefing and check up on the tasks at hand, but I'm not feeling well. I guess I have to do this over the phone with Oca and Atty. Percy.

To those people who are joining the race, see you on the 24th. And please don't hesitate to approach me and say hi.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Hardest One-Day Ride I Ever Did

I can't be the race director and not know what sort of suffering the racers will face in the upcoming EBD Barangay Tour. Last year was a last minute thing - everything was assembled. The only thing I had to do was show up and do some PR work. This year I want to be more hands-on. So with King, Dandan, Bruce, Tolits and Wreachelle, we rode the whole 65-kilometer course last Saturday.

I woke up at 4:00 in the morning. After some final packing, I left the house to pick up King and Dandan. There were two things I borrowed for this trip: my brother-in-law's extra fork-mounted bike rack for the extra bike and Victor's GPS unit to track the course.

I was in King's house at 4:30 a.m. but Dandan wasn't in the Shell Ever Commonwealth meeting point yet. We're running late and to make up some time, we went down Batasan and waited for him at the corner of J. P. Rizal. It was already 5:00 and the sun's starting to come up so we hurried to Petron in the South Super Expressway to meet up with Tolits and company. After a very quick McDonald's breakfast (I think I finished it in less than two minutes), we had the usual bathroom break and drove to Batangas City.

I think it was around 8:15 in the morning when we arrived at Oca's Shop. We parked in front and got ourselves ready while I got on the phone with Oca and asked him for our guide. After a few minutes, a cyclist clad in full BMB pink kit arrived - it's Totoy Bibo.

We left the shop about 15 minutes before 9:00. We stopped at the SM City Batangas Overpass to set our cyclocomputer and started our adventure.

The first part took us to the lowland barrios and barangays. If last year started on the highway to Lobo near Hotel Pontefino, this time we used the inner barangay roads. I forgot the names of these settlements. Before when I was still here I used to know these by heart. Now, I just called it the barangay roads left of the highway.

So these were mostly rolling on cemented roads. I think it was just an additional four kilometers of road before we connected to the highway again and turned left. Then it's another few kilometers of rolling on asphalt before we turned right for the first of many climbs.

It was steep but relatively short. It was less than a kilometer and I think a lot of racers who are unfamiliar with the course would attack and burn themselves here. I managed to climb crawl this on my bike's granniest gear (a 24x32, I think) but I was trying to catch my breath and was sweating buckets. I wanted to catch up with the others but had to consciously tell myself to ride at my own pace. From that point, it was still a long way to go and bonking is something you don't want to happen.

They were waiting for me at the turn. We stopped for a while and had some power cookies which I bought from Banapple. Another rider showed up shortly - Motmot of the BMB. He caught up with us and joined us for the rest of the ride.

Everybody's Still FreshWe geared up again and resumed our adventure. We had a taste of some downhills before another round of suffering going up to the gilingan in Sto. Domingo.

Like manna from heaven, an ice buko vendor showed up as we were in the middle of a climb. Of course we stopped and treated ourselves to a round of ice buko, ube and cheese ice popsicles. Too bad Bruce, Tolits, Totoy Bibo and Motmot weren't around to partake in our small feast. After paying the ice buko vendor and telling him to come back on the 24th, we went on our way.

The course was mostly on cemented roads with about 20% rough roads. There was barely a concern for traction going up the climbs. Nonetheless, there were some parts with loose gravel so we had to be careful.

The next break was at the gilingan, which is about 3/4 the climb up to Sto. Domingo. We rested for a short while over softdrinks. Then we geared up to finish the last quarter of the climb.

Resting at the top of Sto. DomingoIt was already past eleven in the morning when we reached the top. There were some parts that are steep and I was already tired. Good thing Dandan and Totoy Bibo took turns in pushing Wreachelle and me up the road. Actually, they would be doing this for a good part of the trip.

From there it was even more climbing before we did a long downhill leading to a small stream crossing. We were descending on a potent mix of cemented roads with some loose gravel on top and some stretches of offroad. It wasn't too technical but requires total concentration.

King, Bruce and MotmotThe stream crossing was a welcome break. While waiting for the others to arrive, we shared our stories on how hairy the descent was. After taking some pictures, we continued our grind as it was another steep uphill from the stream.

When we reached the top, it was again another scary cemented road downhill stretch. This time though it ended on a river trail leading to the ocean.

DSC05431.JPGRiding this part was probably the most fun I had for the whole trip. I thought at first that it would be slippery and soft, but when I did try spinning it was like biking on water.

We thought that this was the end of our suffering. Last year they took the bayside road leading to city from here, so we thought that we're on our way home. It was right then that Motmot pointed to the top of another mountain and said that we would be climbing that one going back.

Lunch BreakWe followed the river trail going to the beach. By this time it was already 2:00 in the afternoon and we haven't had lunch. Totoy Bibo and Motmot went ahead to look for a place to eat. We finally ended up in a house by the beach selling canned goods. They cooked us rice, scrambled eggs, sardines and tocino meat loaf. We were so tired and drained that this probably tasted like the best meal we ever had.

The Climb going to Pulot ItaasThe barangay is called Pulot Aplaya and we left at 3:00 to climb the hellish road to Pulot Itaas. It was a steep cemented road from the beach to the top of the mountain with about four or five switchbacks.

Of course all is not over as there are still lots of uphills and downhills and it's still about 20 kilometers to go.

We're glad to find a store somewhere on top of this climb. We were so dog tired that this store seem heaven-sent. The only thing lacking would be the sound of angels singing "Hallelujah!" We snacked on cookies and fig newtons over Coke and buko. What's so cool is the buko is free. Yup, they don't sell them and you're free to eat and drink as you please. After paying and thanking the owners, we went on our way.

It was still a long way back. There were lots of uphill and downhills before the big downhill from Haligue.

When I saw that place, I knew we were near. It was where Ka Amado and I would do our afternoon rides before. Going down was fun as I knew the only "climb" we have is the one near Shell refinery and that's it.

"Malapit na!"We had some mountain dew at the store at the bottom after the bridge then took a left turn to the overhanging bridge and enjoyed The trail and off-road section leading back to the highway.

Just the sight of the highway leading back to the city gave me a feeling of accomplishment deep inside. It was already past 6:00 in the evening. And so as the boys took advantage of the flats going back to SM City and Oca's bike shop, I paced with Wreachelle and cooled down as well.

It was one hell of a ride. From my opinion, it's something that one should do at least once in his lifetime. Then again, that might be pushing it a bit. Still, it's a great bonding moment with friends as well a great way to test one's soul.

Now that I know what the course is like, I can really say when I take the stage to brief the racers on the 24th that's it's going to be long and hard.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Magic Number

After the Matuko Point afternoon ride eye-opener (that I'm not used to cycling long distances anymore), I've been doing some late afternoon-early evening training sessions in U.P. Diliman to put some kilometers in my legs. I usually ride the main oval, which is a little bit more than two kilometers, but when I do get bored I ride the outer perimeter, which adds two more kilometers to the loop. I do about 20 to 25 kilometers before I call it a day.

Spinning is quite a humbling experience if you're used to pedaling at faster speeds. The magic number I'm trying to maintain is 90 revolutions per minute at all times, regardless if it's an incline, a descent or a flat. That means that there are instances when I have to consciously get out of gear mashing (70 to 80 rpm) and shift to a lower gear to spin. When fatigue sets in, it even got to a point when my speed was only 23 kilometers per hour.

But this is OK. I know it's going to pay off sooner or later. I just hope it kicks in this Saturday, as we're going to ride the full EBD course. That's 67 kilometers of suffering, and from what I know from the Batangas Mountain Bikers, it's definitely not flat.

So why spin? Basically you're using the same amount of work if you're pedaling a heavy gear at a low rpm as with a lighter gear at a higher rpm. The advantage with spinning is you don't put too much strain on your leg muscles compared to when you're gear mashing. That means that your legs will be fresher and will last longer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Matuko Point Afternoon Ride

A View of the Batangas Bay from Matuko PointIt's great to be back in Batangas. I never realized how much I missed the biking and the people until I went there last weekend to talk about this year's EBD Barangay Tour.

We arrived in Batangas City on Saturday afternoon at around 3:30. We had my first generation Mavic Crossmax wheelset installed in Mike's bike and then, together with Totoy Bibo of the BMB, set off for a 39-kilometer afternoon round trip ride to Matuko point.

Except for a few meters, it's surprising to see that the bayside road are all cemented. Before, after the first climb, the roads were so rough that our bikes would be covered with dust by the time we got back. Now a road bike can climb up to Matuko Point with very minimal hassle.

Totoy BiboThe course is still as scenic as it was the first time I rode it. The weather was great and there were only a few vehicles on the way. The final climb was still a killer. I had to stop at the foot of the climb to rest before I crawled my way up. At the top, I was rewarded with a view of Batangas Bay - very nice, indeed.

Doing the ride, I came upon a realization - because of all the trail riding I've been doing, my leg muscles aren't used to pedaling longer distances anymore. Before I can just spin and do a good tempo on the way back, probably averaging 25 kilometers per hour at about 80 to 90 revolutions per minute. But as I was doing that last weekend, I felt my muscles slowly stiffening so I had to slow down.

Crucify Him!It was dark when we got back so there was no time for pansit as the group was ready to discuss the EBD race on the 24th. We only got to towel dry ourselves before the meeting started.

So how was it? Well, all things considered, everything went fine. Of course there was some debate on the age categories and opening it to non-locals, but after some explanation everyone was enlightened.

I'll be going back to Batangas this Saturday to ride the race course. Hope it's going to be as fun as the Matuko Point afternoon ride.
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