Sunday, January 31, 2010

The La Mesa Night Ride

Last night's La Mesa Night Ride was a first for me. I have been riding at night before but not on the trail. These night rides that I did years ago were training rides in Ateneo and UP. The closest to a trail night ride that I did was at the back of the high school and in the paved parking areas using my rechargeable Cateye headlights. That was it.

Judging from the last three blog entries, I'm sure you know how excited I was with this whole thing.

So how was the ride, you ask? In one word, it was AWESOME! I was biking in La Mesa for several years already but this one is really different. Pun intended, I saw La Mesa in a whole new light!

From the Tower 11 parking area, we pedaled our way to the lake. We took the fire road first to get us accustomed with riding in the dark, but from the lake the route we took was almost all singletrack going back. (Click here to see the map)

Below are some of my learnings from this wonderful ride:

1. Make sure your lights are secure. The handlebar-mounted lights that I borrowed from Victor got knocked out of focus when we hit the trail. Good thing I have my back-up Niterider Ultrafazer ready or I would have been biking with just the helmet-mounted lights. I managed to correct it when we stopped to rest.

2. A helmet-mounted light is a must. At first I thought having two handlebar-mounted lights were OK, but hitting the trail for the first time made me realize how very important helmet-mounted lights are because they move with your head, and therefore give light to the area you're looking at. Come to think of it, if it was a choice between a handlebar-mounted light and a helmet-mounted one, I'd go for the latter.

3. Always have back-up lights. After I was able to secure Victor's light, I was riding with it and my helmet-mounted light the whole time. That is until it ran out of charge going up to Tower 5. Good thing I can turn on my battery-operated Niterider Ultrafazer with just a flick of the switch.

4. Keep a whistle handy. Actually this tip is applicable even for non-night rides. Someone from our group crashed on the downhill stretch less than a kilometer away from the parking area. We were shouting at the people in front to stop, but they couldn't hear us. Good thing my whistle was readily accessible and so I was able to get their attention before they disappeared into the dark.

5. Get ready to hammer. Riding at night is less tiring because of the cool weather. Here's the downside: because it's dark, riders tend to stick to the wheel of the person in front of them so as not get left behind. We were like roadies drafting at each other's wheel in the singletrack, and the pace was surprisingly faster than what it was at daytime!

6. Bring batteries. You may have a 400-lumen headlamp that can turn night into day, but if it's out of charge you're not going anywhere. Even if you have back-up lights, make sure you bring extra batteries.

7. Make sure your bike is in tip-top condition. If you think it's hard to fix a flat or a chainsuck during daytime, it's harder in the dark.

8. When it comes to lights, what matters is the performance more than the brand name. The Php200 to Php300 headlamps bought from Ace hardware, DIY and True Value were surprisingly brighter and more dependable than the more expensive Cateyes! I can't believe I'm saying this but I love the Sonca helmet-mounted light!

Overall, the experience was wonderful. And I thank Manu Sandejas of Knobbies bike shop in White Plains, Quezon City for organizing this. Now I'm looking forward to doing more night rides this year.

Were you part of the La Mesa Night Ride? Share your experience, too!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Am I being too praning for the La Mesa Night Ride?

I picked up Victor's light set a few hours ago. His Light & Motion Vega is now plugged in the electrical outlet as I installed fresh batteries in his helmet light and attached it to my helmet. This is is half my set-up. I also installed zip-tied the Sonca helmet lights that I bought from Ace Hardware yesterday and changed the batteries of my Niterider Ultrafazer 5.0 handlebar-mounted lights. I'm also bringing a brand-new flashlight in my Camelbak and a rechargeable lamp in my car.

Am I too praning (paranoid) for this La Mesa night ride?

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preparing for the La Mesa Night Ride

I just signed up a few days ago for the La Mesa Night Ride this coming Saturday. I went to the Knobbies bike shop at White Plains in Quezon City and got to to chat with the owner, Manu Sandejas. When I asked him what lights to bring, he said one thing: bring the brightest one you can get. Ooookkaaayyyyy.

As for the lights, I think I have that covered. Victor Paterno will lend me his lights set composed of a headlamp, a handlebar light and a taillight. He said he'll be able to give it to me before Friday, so I guess that's tomorrow. Sweet!

Just in case this won't push through, I texted Goyo Larrazabal this morning and asked if I can rent his nice Niteriders. Despite being the busiest man in the country with his new position as the commissioner of the Commission of Elections, he still managed to reply and said he'll check.

Being a firm believer of Murphy's Law, I visited ACE Hardware on my way back home from La Vista and bought replacement batteries, a flashlight and a headlamp. These are the cheap made-in-China units (I think the brand is Sonca), but that's better than nothing.

Thinking about safety, I also dropped by Toby's and bought a whistle. If you're wondering what this is for, it's actually a good way to call attention in case you get a mechanical trouble or get lost in the middle of La Mesa and it's dark.

I guess I'm ready. Now to make this cold go away before the weekend.

Related Article
  • La Mesa by Night

  • My Other La Mesa Rides

  • Map of La Mesa (well, parts of it)
  • Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    La Mesa by Night

    La Mesa Mountain Bike Night Ride

    Knobbies Bike Shop came up with a very unique mountain bike ride. They got in touch with the guys who manage the La Mesa Nature Reserve and managed to get their go signal for a... (insert drum roll)... night ride! Alright! Now isn't this the perfect time to use those Niteriders that you bought from Goyo for those 24-hour mountain bike races?

    The ride fee is P500 per rider and inclusive of the use of the trails, guides and after-ride food and drinks powered by Wham! Burgers and KNB. Aside from bringing the usual bike, helmet, water and trail food, bright headlights and taillights are required.

    Interested? You need to register on or before January 29, 2010 at Knobbies Bike Shop, Unit 106, 94 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City. They're open Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Call them at (+63 2) 911-1499.

    Join the Facebook event by clicking here.

    Looking for pictures of the Cecon 24-hour mountain bike race they did in La Mesa a few years back? Click here to visit my Flickr photo album.

    Go! Go! Go!

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Stan's Tire Sealant: Take Two?

    My first experience with Stan's tire sealant wasn't exactly ideal. Going up the Roxas trail in Maarat, I tried to ride on a deep rut and the rear tire blew out. My bike was covered with sealant mixed with dust. Needless to say, Caloy, All Terra's wrench, wasn't too happy when I brought it to the shop for a bike wash. After that, I went back to good old dependable tubes. I placed the bottle of remaining sealant on the top shelf of our bookshelf and was never touched since.

    I was partly to blame for this mishap. Despite reading from NoTubes.com that my IRC Mythos tires aren't recommended to be converted to tubeless, we still pushed through. In hindsight, we should have heeded the warning, but we were young and carefree then. How can something wrong feel so right? Right.

    I think that was more than a year ago.

    Enter 2010. The IRC tires are long gone; replaced by the Kenda Nevegals that were endorsed by John Tomac. With all the wonderful dirt tracks of Camp Aguinaldo and Fort Bonifacio on top of the usual haunts of Maarat, La Mesa and Licao-licao, I looked at the bottle of Stan's sealant gathering dust and thought: maybe it's time to try this again.

    I think the mountain bike gods are trying to tell me a message when I bumped into this instructional video while surfing Singletrack.com:

    I think it's time.

    Saturday, January 23, 2010

    A brand new domain!

    I've been meaning to buy a domain for this blog since I've started it, but I've been putting it off primarily because I'm tinatamad. There, I said it. Actually before, I was hiding behind the reason that domains are expensive, but when I saw that somebody already bought bisikleta.com.ph, I knew I had to immediately pull out my credit card and buy this one before someone else beats me to it.

    So welcome to www.bisikleta.ph!

    What now? With the new domain, do I have to take this blogging thing seriously? Well, not too serious that I blog just because I need to have content. That definitely won't happen. It's more of pushing myself to get off the couch and discover places with my bike together with you. It's a new year, anyway.

    So strap on the helmet and get ready for adventure.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Biking in Manila: The Camp Aguinaldo Mountain Bike Trail

    Camp Aguinaldo Mountain Bike Trail

    The Camp Aguinaldo mountain bike trail is a gift from the mountain bike gods for those living in the Quezon City-San Juan area. No longer do they have to drive or pedal to Maarat, La Mesa or Licao-Licao just to satisfy their thirst for some mountain bike action. Inside this military camp is a 2.54-kilometer playground composed of singletracks, jumps and switchbacks that will surely test one's mountain bike skills. What's great (or maybe not, depending on what you're looking for) is that there are hardly any climbs. That said, it's perfect for beginners who want to hone their riding technique and skills.

    The trail is open every day (unless there's a red alert in the camp) from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Wear a helmet and bring water. The caretaker sells cold Gatorade but his stocks are limited. It would be best to reserve one before you hit the trail.

    Taking photos and videos are officially not allowed.

    P50.00 per entry

    Trail Map :
    Click here to view the full map of the trail.

    How to go there:
    Coming from EDSA Ortigas area, take a right turn at Santolan Road and then turn right at the gate after 20th Avenue. (I think that's Gate 6, but I'm not sure). Go straight till you see a guard post.

    Coming from C5, here's a map from Club 650 to guide you.

    Nick Ojeda's Multiply Camp Aguinaldo Photo Album

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    Looking for more places to ride in Manila? Check out these other trails:

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    First Ride of 2010: Testing the ISO Link mountain bike

    My first ride of the year wasn't as fun as I hoped for. All the eating I did for 2009 made me suffer like a newbie and I was barely able to catch up with the group. I am now the real fat cyclist, and for 2010 I need to get my fat ass off the couch and do more rides.

    But the first ride of 2010 wasn't all that bad. Behind all the suffering I experienced was an unexpected treat - I was one of the few lucky people to get a first-hand look at the first Philippine designed and made full-suspension mountain bike called the ISO Link. King Bernas was one of the few people asked by the designers to test it in the hills of Maarat, and I happily tagged along to take videos.

    In a nutshell, this bike shows a lot of promise. The prototype steel frame weighed 11 pounds but it didn't feel like it was that heavy at all when you're riding this baby. It was awesome.

    I hope that we'll be able to see this bike go to production. After years of riding hardtail, I'm considering getting a full-suspension mountain bike. If this is available, there's a big humongous chance that I'm getting this.

    I can't wait.
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