Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taking the day off (At least for today)

After three straight weekends of serious saddle time, I more or less decided to take a day off from riding and just bum around in the house. El Niño is upon us and the heat outside, especially in the early afternoon, is slowly getting unbearable.

There are actually two planned epic trail rides today that I know of. There's one group who's gonna do Bataan's Killer Loop and the other one in Taal-Tagaytay. I don't know if either one pushed through. Yesterday, when I checked the online sign-up sheet of the one going to Taal there were only two names.

What's on my mind right now is actually giving the road bike some loving, but I cannot shake off the thought of riding up Antipolo in this heat versus blasting down the tree-covered trails of La Mesa. With that comparison, I can't help but opt for the latter. I just have to replace the slick tires with the knobbies.

Who knows, maybe I'll ride Camp Aguinaldo tomorrow. Maybe. Or maybe I'll muster up some courage to gear up and run a few kilometers in the gym. But as of now, the plan is to veg out and watch movies on my big flatscreen TV.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I survived the PCN Alabang-Tagaytay-Alabang Ride

It's been three days since the PCN 10th anniversary ride from Alabang to Tagaytay and back and I'm still sore all over. My calves still hurt and my face, arms and legs now sport cyclist tan lines. Blame it on me for not bringing the sunblock lotion.

109.16 kilometers. I think this has been my longest ride. Ever.

Actually, I was OK going to Tagaytay. I was just spinning. It was the last part that killed me. There were several instances when I had to soft pedal because my legs were cramping. First it was my right calf, then it was the side of the right thigh, and then the back of the right thigh gave in, too. I have never experienced this type of multi-cramping before, but at least it was still manageable for me.

About three kilometers away from Tagaytay, I was worried if I still had something left to pedal back to Alabang. How I wished I had a driver.

Like manna from heaven, a truck loaded with hollow blocks passed by and it was traveling at a relatively slow speed. With what I had left I sprinted to catch up and managed to cling on the back till we reached the junction. That explains the sudden 30kph speed jump recorded in my GPS tracker.

I was happy when we reached Mushroom Burger but I was so spent already. Before the ride I was thinking of wolfing down at least two burgers, but when I got there I only finished one. I was worried. I didn't know if I could still make it.

We went down the same way. I thought we were taking Aguinaldo highway but the guys said that it wasn't safe.

Before, I would blast down the mountain and try to even outpedal the roadies. Being heavy and all, it was like my God-given talent. But not this time. I was conserving energy. At that point it was about 50 kilometers of pedaling to go, and every energy saved was something that I could use later. It was survival mode for me.

Reaching Governor's Drive after the long downhill brought me back to reality. There were still lots of kilometers to go. I was using my Continental slick tires, but even with this I can't keep up with the roadies. From here, it was like a time trial going back with a mean headwind.

I'm not going to lie. There were times when I was seriously thinking of hailing a cab, trike or any public vehicle to take me to Alabang. This was so true on the way back when the whole group was no longer in sight and I was only with Romy and another PCN member, pedaling at less than 20 kilometers per hour with a headwind along the Open Canal Road somewhere in Cavite. There was one instance when I managed to draft behind a tricycle, but for the rest of the way it was mostly me.

The final stretch of Daang Hari to Alabang was a killer with its rolling hills. It wasn't that much, but after doing 90 kilometers of riding, my speed going up was as low as 9kph. How embarrassing!

But just when my legs were giving out and my Camelbak was just drops away from being empty, the vision of the buildings in Madrigal Center lent its magic and gave me a much-needed power boost. I knew I was very near that I was hitting 31kph despite suffering some minor cramps again. I even managed to catch up with a roadie who got dropped by the pack because she's laspag, too! Naks!

We started the ride at 6:45 a.m. and arrived at 4:00 p.m. We treated ourselves to some ice cream and a couple of bottles of Gatorade before we headed back home.

What a way to celebrate the anniversary of a cycling egroup I created in a lazy afternoon ten years ago. Now I'm looking forward to even more epic rides for the upcoming years.

To those who shared in this beautiful suffering, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The PCN 10th Anniversary Tagaytay Ride

On February 23, 2010, my beloved Philippines Cycling Network eGroup will be 10 years old. To celebrate this momentous event, we'll be having a nice fun ride from Alabang to Tagaytay this Saturday, February 20, 2010.

Everyone's welcome to join the ride. Meeting place is at Honda Cars Alabang at 6:00 a.m. and then we leave at 6:30 a.m. via Daang Hari and then Aguinaldo Highway. There will be two groups: the fast and the not-so-fast.

If you're interested in joining, just register online here. Don't worry. This is just so we'll we'll know how many people are coming.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When you purchase a bike...

When you purchase a bicycle, make sure the color of the saddle is put into consideration.

The Wawa Mountain Bike Adventure Video

You're read the story of this amazing ride in the previous entry. Now watch the edited video!
Thanks to Gary and SJ for the wonderful photos.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wawa Epic Adventure Mountain Bike Ride

Yesterday's mountain bike ride was definitely epic. It was a day of firsts for me - first time to suffer climb up AFP as well my first time to visit Wawa dam.

I parked at Aling Tina's Eatery at the foot of Maarat in San Mateo at 6:45 a.m. and came back at 4:00 p.m. It took us a little more than nine hours to finish the ride but seeing how glorious the dam was made it all worth the suffering.
The Climb Up AFP
Don't I still look fresh?
I've been biking in Maarat for a long time already but this is my first time to ride up through the AFP village. Blame it on me for giving in to the temptation of driving up the wall and parking at the Timberland Clubhouse instead of riding it. (And yes, include Shotgun in my list, too.)

I know this was going to be an epic ride, and so I let King ride his own pace as I spin my granny gear.

Going up, I've been thinking about SRAM XX's 2x9 drivetrain and how I'm so not the target market for it. How does a 26 x 36 chainring-cog combination translate to my 22 x 34 gearing? I don't know. Maybe Toots Chua would let me try it.

The first part was just all on cemented road, and so it was just OK for me. If I cannot handle the grade, I would just zigzag my way up. That technique was effective until the road transformed into dirt and loose gravel. This was the last part of the climb. It's pretty steep and I have to admit I had to walk most of the way.

We were supposed to meet up with Gary and his group at 8:00 a.m. in Giant, but it was already 8:30 a.m. and I'm still suffering up the climb.

Calling it quits?
Route to Pestaño Farm
When I got to the top, Gary, SJ and King were waiting for me. I barely had time to rest when they pedaled off. I can rest in Giant, they said.

The route was mostly downhill and connects to the route going to Ka Vergel, but I was just recovering so I decided to ride at my own pace rather than try to keep up with the three and blow up in the process. At this point I was thinking of abandoning the ride when we reach Giant. The thought running in my head was "If I'm suffering now, just imagine how much I'm going to suffer going to Wawa."

Of course, when I got Giant they said it was all downhill and that the biggest climb is over. So I decided to stick it out. My reasons for this are:
  • I've got my Camelbak all filled up anyway.

  • If I won't push through, then when will I ride to Wawa?

  • It's a nice addition to my growing GPS routes.

  • Who will eat the four bars that I brought?

  • Sayang ang pag-charge ko ng batteries ng Flip Video.

  • Reunions and Additions
    The Cannondale Super V
    My brother-in-law, Ricky, was there in Giant together with his friend Glenn. It was a big surprise when I saw what bike Glenn was riding - It was my old Cannondale Super V! It was nice to see her back in action. I sold her years ago to have funds for my wedding. They upgraded some of her parts but she still looks very good. Throughout the ride, I was wondering if her current owners would sell her back to me. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Anyway, King and I invited Ricky and Glenn to join us, and they accepted. We left Giant at around 9:25 a.m.

    It's All Downhill from Here. Not.
    Heading downhill
    They were right. From Giant, it was almost all downhill going to the river. There were two options: the wet and the dry route, and we took the latter.

    I thought it was all fun from then on. I couldn't be more wrong.

    Yes, it was almost all downhill but it's no walk in the park. You really need to be experienced and confident with your skills if you want to take this route. Made up of dust, loose dirt, sand and gravel, one mistake can instantly turn flesh into tocino or worse, take you a few hundred meters down the mountain. During these situations, I learned how to trust my equipment and skill. On the way down, there was one point where I was thinking: "No, my brake fluid won't burst! My brake fluid won't burst!" There were also many instances when I had to override my instinct to squeeze the brakes and just let it all flow.

    Thank God I was able to get down in one piece. That downhill was tense and not at all recommended for beginners.

    So where's the Panday
    The first river crossing
    When we got to the river, the sight was breathtaking. It was so amazing that I just can't imagine how something this beautiful can be so relatively near Metro Manila and yet not look it. This marvel was like something out of a movie.

    Here I go again with my thoughts and how far away they were from reality: I thought from the river, we would just be pedaling our way to the area where we'll have lunch. Yes, we would have to do some river crossings but how hard is that, right? I've done some biking on dry riverbeds in Batangas going to Lobo several times before. Well, it wasn't that simple. Batangas was rideable. This one wasn't. Here, we would have to endure pedaling on sand and stones of all sizes. And if that's not enough, add some stretches where you have to maneuver and avoid thorny bushes (known in Batangas as Aroma) and you're in for a treat.

    Ricky did a nice endo
    Our experience with the sand was OK at first. We were even joking with Gary, telling him that they don't have to go to Boracay to experience fine, white sands. But as the ride progressed, we realized that it wasn't that fun anymore.

    We walked. We biked. We crossed the knee-deep river carrying our bikes on our shoulders. For situations like these, I was thankful that I'm riding a light hardtail. It would've been a burden for me if it were the 27-pound Super V.


    Lunch was at this small store made of bamboo and coconut leaves by the riverside called Shimanong. It was a girl who was manning the store so I would think she's Shimanang.

    While waiting for them to cook our lunch of tinola and rice, we treated ourselves to halo-halo, lemon soda and buko juice. At that time, it was the best halo-halo in the world! They only charged us P15 for a large glass but I would've paid P50 at that point. It was such a refreshing way to cool down from all the walking and carrying.

    We waited more than an hour for the tinola. When it arrived, I have to say that the taste was disappointing. It's still lunch though, and so we ate and carbo-loaded as much as we could for the final stretch to the dam.

    Looking back, for a wait that long we could've had some halo-halo and then have a monstrous lunch at one of the stores at Wawa. Maybe we'll do that next time.

    We left the place at 1:30 p.m. It was hot as hell. Thank God we were blessed with every now and then with some cool mountain breeze.

    We're here Frodo!
    Doesn't that look like a scene from Lord of the Rings?
    From Shimanong, it was a mix of riding, walking, and river crossing again.

    The fun started on the last part of the trip leading to the dam itself. It was a hardpack track that's used by the locals. It was semi-technical and was partly covered by trees. Truly awesome!

    The Wawa Dam
    Then the fruit of our labor slowly showed itself in front of our eyes - the Wawa dam.

    This wonderful sight reminded so much of the Lord of the Rings. It just needs the two monuments of the ancient kings and it's good to go!

    Seeing this made everything worth it.

    I know that we could've cut hours from the trip if we opted for the dry route, but I'm glad we took the wet route because it made this enchanting place more beautiful.

    From here, it was an 11-kilometer ride on the highway to San Mateo.

    I arrived in the condo at 5:00 p.m. and took my dirty bike up our flat. I didn't bother going back for my other stuff in the trunk.

    As I blog a day after the ride, I'm happy that I joined and didn't flake out.

    Unlike the previous weekend, I'm surprised that I don't feel as tired or as sore as I should be. These crazy rides are starting to help build my fitness level. But that's not the whole of it. Somehow, these rides gives me a glimpse of who I am - my character, what I'm made of - and I'm happy with what I see.

    Thanks for reading.

    All photos in this blog was taken by Gary and SJ. Thanks guys!

    Here's the full map of our epic route:

    There are more pictures of the ride here.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    A Camera for Bike Rides

    I'll be going to Singapore next month. If I can afford it, I'm thinking of getting myself a nice portable digicam so I can take pictures as well when I go on my biking adventures. The Flip Ultra HD is cool at taking videos but sometimes a photo just has more impact and drama. Besides, photos occupy less drive space than videos.

    The 5-megapixel Sony PSC92 that we bought back in 2004 is dead despite my effort of reviving it using fresh batteries. This time, I'm thinking of getting myself a rugged camera that's shockproof and waterproof. That way I don't have to worry about it if it suddenly rains or if I crash during rides.

    Since I have no specific model in mind, I'm very open to your suggestions. Please feel free to leave your message in the comments section of this entry.

    Thanks in advance!

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    In Search of Bernardo Carpio: A Wawa Mountain Bike Ride

    I just chatted with King Bernas and it seems something's brewing - an epic ride that will finally take me to the legendary site where Bernardo Carpio, the King of the Tagalogs, rests.

    I don't have the details yet but I'm excited already. I've heard how enchanting this area is. I saw the pictures and even logged in to Google Maps to view the route. This is going to be one helluva ride. I'll see if I can bring the Flip video camera so I can document the adventure.

    Saturday, February 06, 2010

    The incredible lightness of being laspag

    La Mesa: Going back from Tower One

    I'm officially laspag. We rode all the way to Tower One. Thank God I brought the iPod with me.

    I think it's been more than a year since I last visited Tower One, and today's ride reminded just how tough the climbs were. If you look at the map here, you'll realize that it's actually the highest point of La Mesa with a 241m above sea level elevation. The total climbing that I did for this ride? 565m! That's more than half a kilometer!

    I wasn't in tiptop shape for the climbs and so I was in my granny gear most of the time. The iPod helped me maintain a steady pace and kept me company during the climbs.

    One day has passed but I'm still sore despite getting a massage and having a few hours sleep. I'm not complaining, though. Invite me for another Tower One ride and I'll still say yes. This time I'll bring an extra water bottle and more Double Stuff Oreos.

    Some new discoveries:
    1. All those riding in Camp Aguinaldo helped hone my handling skills. I was pleasantly surprised at how more relaxed, confident and smooth I was in the singletrack sections.

    2. There's a nice singletrack downhill section from the Tower One "Wall" that leads you to the foot of the semi-cemented climb up to Tower Four.

    3. Going back to the parking, the singletrack on the right is shorter than taking the fire road.

    Here's the map to La Mesa's Tower One:

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Longing for another La Mesa Night Ride

    OK Ba?

    It seems I'm not yet over my La Mesa mountain bike night ride experience as I've been going through all the event pictures posted on Facebook. I've lurked in several cycling forums to read the experiences of those who joined. It's been almost a week since and I silently long for another one.

    This weekend, I'll be coming back to my dear La Mesa for a ride to welcome back Gary and SJ to the Philippines. It's a not a night ride but at least I'll be back on the trails. The weather will definitely be hotter but at I'm not scared to be left behind this time. :)
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