Friday, December 31, 2010

Learnings, Tips and Realizations from our Mindoro Bikepacking Adventure

On the boat, on our way back to Batangas, I started writing down the stuff that I learned from this trip. And now I'm sharing them with you. It's in no particular order.

1. Always bring a water bottle even if you have a hydration pack. You can never tell when the next store will be if you run out of water. If you ask the locals where the nearest store is, be ready. We didn't realize that the store at the corner was about two kilometers away.

2. Start your day early so you can finish early, or at least be in your destination before nightfall. Bring a headlamp and taillight in case you need to do an impromptu night ride. We arrived at Abra de Ilog at 5:00 in the morning and there were no street lights. If it weren't for our headlamps, we would have no choice but to wait for the sunrise to start riding.

3. Bring a small bottle of chain lube with you. A well-lubed and clean drivetrain matters a lot when you're doing long rides. Come to think of it, if you can bring a dirt rag, that would be great, too.

4. Bring a rain cover for your bag, or at least wrap everything inside a big plastic bag. Also, don't forget to bring extra bags for your dirty clothes. You don't want to mix them all up and end up smelling like sweat at the start of the day.

5. Bring two lenses for your eyewear: one clear lens for late afternoon and night rides, and one for riding during bright and sunny days.

6. Bring lots of change. The roadside stores don't carry change for P500.

7. Bottled water is the way to go every time, even for your hydration pack. They're available at the mini grocery stores in all the towns we passed by. As for the roadside stores, it's a bit rare.

8. Smile and they smile back to you. At least in Occidental Mindoro. This experiment wasn't as successful in Oriental. They're a bit more snobbish there.

9. Make sure you have the perfect seating set-up for the trip. Break-in your saddle months before the ride, and while you're at it, check your seatpost height and saddle position as well. I almost quit after the first day because my seatpost was a few millimeters too high and my saddle was a few millimeters too backward.

10. Petroleum Jelly is your friend. Apply it on your butt before you hit the road to avoid saddle sores.

11. Always have emergency food with you and eat at least every three hours. We brought Nature Valley's Trail Mix bars and it saved us from running on an empty tank.

12. If the hotel has clean towels, use it rather than using your own to avoid the weight of bringing a wet towel in your bag. By the way, microfiber towels rock! They're light, but they get the job done and they dry faster, too.

13. Using racks and panniers on multi-day rides is the way to go. A backpack puts too much strain on your back and shoulders. If your frame allows it, get a rack that connects to your seatstay rather than a beam rack that just clamps on the seatpost because it's more stable and allows you to bring heavier gear.

14. A helmet with a visor is better than a helmet without one. A visored helmet may suck in terms of aerodynamics, but it's quite helpful during rides under the sun or when it's raining.

15. Baggy shorts look cool and offer lots of pockets to put your stuff, but nothing beats the comfort and lightness of just riding wearing nicely padded cycling shorts. I rode with just cycling shorts on days two and three.

16. Barends are lifesavers because they helped keep my hands from getting numb. I can't imagine going through the whole ride with just one hand position. On the ride back to Calapan from Roxas (everything was nicely cemented before the Pinamalayan-Calapan mudfest), there were instances when I wished I had aerobars so that I could rest my arms.

17. Plan your rest and eating stops wisely. You can never tell when the next eatery will be. You have to rough it out and not be too picky with your food or you'll end up not eating anything at all. Based from our ride, the restaurant staples are rice, adobo, and fried fish. Sometimes there are vegetables.

18. Energizer Ultimate batteries are awesome. I never had to replace the batteries of my headlight and my Flip videocam. It would've been a different story if I used the Flip's rechargeable battery.

19. Cellphone signal on the island is intermittent, even in the towns. Despite that, I was surprised that Globe's signal was relatively stronger compared to Smart and Sun (they're my friend's service provider). That explains why I can post my pictures on Facebook in the middle of nowhere.

20. Don't just ride it, experience it. Mindoro's sights are just too awesome to be missed. It's OK to stop at the side of road to take pictures, appreciate the view and absorb everything. Converse with the locals. Immerse yourself.

21. Never quit. It is almost all rideable (except for the first climb from Magsaysay to Bulalacao where we pushed our bikes on loose rocks and gravel). The daily mileage may be over a hundred kilometers, but the key is to cut it down into bite-sized pieces. It's like connecting the dots from one town to the next. It's OK to rest somewhere in between.

22. Take advantage of your bikemates' slipstream. Take turns in the front and don't set the pace too high. If you're the one setting the pace, it's good if you have a cyclocomputer. Also, check every now and then if your buddies are still there in your draft.

23. I think I used almost all my gears during the ride. On the road I was using the big ring more (I wasn't a fan of it before) and on the climbs I'm thankful that the granny gear is there to save me. To whoever invented the 34-tooth rear cog, you're a genius! Now i can't imagine how easier it would be if I'm using a 36-tooth. I probably wouldn't have needed to shift to the smallest chainring. Maybe.

24. Install a bell. It's cheap and it's better than shouting at people and vehicles to let them know you're coming.

25. They sell the most delicious soya milk I've tasted at a roadside stall less than 10 kilometers from the town of Sablayan going to San Jose. It's on your right. It's sold inside catsup bottles for only P10. You absolutely have to try it.

26. This tip I learned from King Bernas: to dry your cycling shoes, stuff it with old crumpled newspapers. It was raining when we arrived in to Roxas on the third day. When we got to the hotel, I asked for some old newspapers and stuffed them in my shoes. The next day, it was comfortable and dry enough to wear.

27. Whoever created all of these is awesome. Call Him God, Allah, Bathala - whatever you want or believe in. The point is He (or She) is there and is guiding us. When I asked for nice weather, He provided. When I asked for some wind, He gave me some. When I asked for it to rain, He made it happen. It was just amazing. I don't know if my bikemates felt the same way, but I hope they did.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day before the Mindoro Ride

It's the day before the ride and I still can't help myself from checking and double checking my stuff. I went through my list one more time. So far here are what I'm bringing:

Medicines and First Aid
Aprovel - OK
Puritabs - OK
Alcohol - OK
Cleaning Wipes - OK
Bandages - OK
Tape - OK
Gauze - OK
Biogesic - OK
Imodium - OK
Antihistamine - OK
Mosquito Repellant - OK

Headlights - OK
Extra Batteries - OK
Blinkers - OK
Reflectors - OK

Bike Wear
Cycling Jersey - OK
Cycling Shorts - OK
Helmet - OK
Gloves - OK
Oakley Jawbone - OK
Soft Cleaning Bag - OK
Clear Lens - OK
Socks - OK
Cycling Shoes - OK
Jacket - OK

Bike Repair Kit
Pump - OK
Patch Kit - OK
Inner Tube - OK
Multi Tool - OK
Zip Ties - OK
Tire Lever - OK
Duct Tape - OK
Chain Lubricant - OK

Camelbak - OK

Bars - OK

Other Bike Stuff
Topeak QR MTX Beam Rack - OK
Topeak MTX DXP Trunk Bag - OK
Topeak Dual Size Pannier Frame - OK
Topeak Rain Cover - OK
Garmin GPS - OK
USB Charger - OK

iPhone - OK
Charger - OK
Water Protector - OK
Flip Video - OK
Batteries - OK

Off-Bike Clothes
Quick-dry Towel - OK
Sleeping Shorts - OK
Sleeping Shirt - OK
Flip Flops - OK
Dry Bag - OK

Soap - OK
Shampoo - OK
Comb - OK
Tissue Paper - OK
Toothbrush - OK
Toothpaste - OK

Just now I finished checking my bike's tire pressure, checking the fork's air pressure, and removing the water bottle cage and pump clip (every gram counts). I even rolled some duct tape on an empty ballpen case.

So it's T - 1.5 hours before I depart for Batangas City. I'm thinking of ordering some spaghetti from McDonald's and continue the carbo-loading.

I know in my last post I said that was my last post before the trip. Sorry about that. I think this is my last post.

Packed for the Mindoro Trip

My bags all packed and I'm ready to go. I still need to edit out the stuff from my trunk bag to lower the weight. I think the boys from Batangas will be able to help me. Right now I'm thinking if I should bring four sets of cycling clothes (jersey and shorts), including the one I'm wearing on day one, or cut it down to just two or three. I heard that it's raining there so I don't know if we'll be able to dry out the clothes. I guess we'll decide on that tomorrow.

I won't be updating this blog until I return. I'm planning to do some video entries during the trip. That is if my Flip Ultra video camera doesn't die on me first.

I guess that's it. Please include us in your prayers as we embark on this personal adventure.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Ready to go to Mindoro

Looks like there's no backing out now. In a couple of days, we'll be doing our first multi-day epic ride in Mindoro. We'll be leaving at 2:00 a.m. from Batangas City pier on the 27th of December for Wawa in Occidental Mindoro and pedal our way down to San Jose before crossing the "border" of Oriental Mindoro and back to Calapan. Here's the breakdown of our itinerary:

Day One: Batangas City - Wawa - Sablayan
Day Two: Sablayan to San Jose
Day Three: San Jose to Roxas
Day Four: Roxas to Calapan

The stuff that I planned to bring are almost all in the bag, but I need help to edit these out and cut down the weight. The boys will only be bringing a couple of sets of cycling clothes and will just wash and let them dry overnight. That's my problem - I don't know how to wash. Hmmmm, maybe someone from the group will wash my clothes for me?

Looking at my list, I only need to buy Imodium and antihistamine. I just need to drop by the drugstore later.

Here. We. Go.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Revisiting Mount Banoy

If there is the Ventoux and the Alpe d' Huez in the Tour de France, we have our own version in Batangas City called Mount Banoy. The elevation is nothing compared to the first two climbs that I mentioned, but its status is as legendary.

Mount Banoy is where most of the towers are situated in Batangas City. There are relay stations at the top serving the country's television networks as well as telecommunications companies.

It's a monster climb. It was like climbing to hell when the road going up wasn't cemented yet. Imagine gradients similar to Maarat's Shotgun but you have to negotiate with rocks as big as human heads. That was Banoy then. Today's Banoy is relatively tamer because the road is cemented already except for the last section. It is in these last two kilometers where you can see how truly rough it was.

After more than 10 years, we climbed Mount Banoy yesterday. At the foot of the climb, we broke away from the Pidal Para sa Kapwa fun ride and took a right turn to the mountain.

The short of it is we didn't get to the top. After the cemented portion, pushing your bike on rocks was just too damn hard. We walked for about 200 meters and stopped at a waiting shed before we decided to go back. It was only 1.8 kilometers to go, but we were tired and hungry, and it wasn't fun anymore.

I figured that I couldn't get any miles in my legs if I'm pushing my bike to the top anyway. Still, I was happy with the whole ride. The view was spectacular, and more importantly, I think I'm ready for our epic ride on the 27th.

Below is the map of our ride. Will try to post pictures soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Tour of Manila

I was supposed to go to Batangas today and tackle the infamous Batangas-Lobo route through the mountains but I wasn't feeling 100% so I told the group to go ahead without me. I know my legs still need some miles in them so I did my own version of the Tour of Manila.

Here's the route that I took:
Pioneer > Shaw > Pasig Boulevard > C5 > The Fort > NAIA 3 > Roxas Boulevard > Quiapo > España > Quezon Avenue > Quezon Memorial Circle > UP > Katipunan > Marcos Highway > C5 > Pasig Boulevard > Pioneer

Instead of bringing the usual Camelbak with me, I decided to use the Topeak beamrack and trunk bag so that I'll get used to riding with it. I also installed the pump attachment to my bike (it didn't fit inside the bag and I don't want to unzip the panniers) and brought two water bottles with me.

As I pedaled my way to Madison Street, I realized how liberating it is to not feel any weight on my back. Yes, my bike is heavier with all the gear, but somehow that didn't matter too much. On the downside, though, I didn't drink as much water as I would have if I brought the hydration pack.

I had two rest breaks in today's ride. The first one was in Luneta near the Rizal monument. I stopped there and ate a bar of Nature Valley's Trail Mix. The next stop was in UP. No bars for me this time. Instead, I had two bottles of C2 to push down an order of kwek-kwek and squid balls. That felt good!

This experience of riding alone brought out the coach in me. There were a handful of instances wherein I was tempted to cut the route short. I could've turned right to Buendia or to Timog Avenue. I could've pushed myself to go faster and fried myself in the end. But I didn't. And I'm happy with that.

Here's the map:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Would an inner tube filled with Stan's Tire Sealant Work?

The objective of this experiment is to find out if a bicycle inner tube filled with Stan's Tire Sealant will seal itself when pricked with a push pin.

Bontrager Race X-Lite Inner Tube (26 x 1.95 - 2.21)
Push Pin
Stan's Tire Sealant
Stan's Tire Sealant Scoop
Floor Pump
Mountain Bike Wheel
Kenda Slant Six Tire
Sealant Applicator from Muji
Mountain bike

1. Put a scoop of Stan's Tire Sealant in the Sealant Applicator.
2. Unscrew the tire valve and put one (1) scoop Stan's of tire sealant using the applicator.
3. Screw back the tire valve and install the inner tube to the wheel similar to how you do it with regular inner tubes.
4. Pump up the tires to the recommended pressure. That's 40 psi, in our case.
5. Install the wheel to the bike.
6. Prick the tire on the tread area with a push pin.
7. When air starts to go out, start spinning the wheel for at least two minutes to let the Stan's Tire Sealant do its job,

Upon doing the procedure, I discovered that the air still manages to escape despite putting Stan's Tire Sealant in the inner tube. I, therefore, conclude that putting Stan's Tire Sealant in your tire's inner tube isn't effective.

The outcome of this experiment might have changed if there were changes in the following variables:
1. Instead of spinning the tire on the bike stand after the tire was pricked with a push pin, pressure could have been applied by riding the bike instead.
2. The amount the Stan's Tire Sealant used could be more than just one cup.
3. The Stan's Tire Sealant used was more than 3 years old. We could have used a fresher product.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Testing the Topeak Beam Rack and Trunk Bag

In preparation for our multi-day tour, I brought my new Topeak Beam Rack and Trunk Bag to test it out last Sunday in our Batangas Trip. I knew it was going to be a trail ride so I told myself to take it easy. I didn't fill it with a lot of stuff. For its maiden voyage, I brought my wife's Canon SLR camera, my Flip video camera, a foldable jacket and several trail mix bars.

IMG_6496Installing the Beam Rack was so easy - just put the correct rubber spacers (the package comes with four spacers) in the clamp, tighten it down using the quick release or a hey key wrench, and you're ready to go. True to what other online reviewers said, the trunk bag and the MTX beam rack is a perfect match. All you have to do to secure it is to slide down the trunk bag to the rack's rails until the lock snaps into place. Wonderful! No more bungee cords! And it was stable the whole time. I thought I would be doing some adjustments with the rack during the ride, but I didn't need to. It stayed in place.

I have to be honest with you, though. Putting this set-up (including the stuff that I brought) to my 22-pound hardtail probably increased the bike's total weight to about 27 to 28 pounds. You can really feel it, especially on uphills. It feels like I got fatter! I had to do some balance relearning with my bike to compensate for this. When you stand on your pedals and start rocking your bike from side to side, you will really feel your bike pushing from side to side. Going downhill is awesome because of the weight at the back, but you need to do more body language with climbs.

Overall though, I'm very pleased with it. I think it's going to be my best friend for Mindoro.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Batangas City San Miguel Trail Ride

Yesterday's ride was awesome, and I'm happy I brought my wife's SLR with me to document the action.

At first we thought it was the same route which we rode the week before - the usual Sto. Domingo climb and then right at the shed after the welcome arc. We were wrong. It started that way, but we took a right at Sitio Balisong. This connected us to last week's slippery cemented uphill. We followed the road and stopped right after the sharp left curve. We entered a path right across the road where a jeepney is parked. This is where all the fun began.

The route can give La Mesa a run for its money. Albeit short, it makes up for fast downhill leading to a small stream.

I wouldn't go too much into details. I'll let the pictures do the talking instead.

Go to my Flickr account to view the full set.

Here's the map of our ride:
My apologies. I turned it on at the foot of the climb when I saw that the distance read is still zero.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A preview of this morning's ride

I love our ride in Batangas City this morning! We rode some gorgeous trails, which made up for the heat! They should rethink the EBD route to include these. Will blog more tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Call me Pannier. Tina Pannier.

Topeak Beam Rack and MTX Trunk Bag

I finally got my order from Amazon! It's a Topeak QR Beam Rack MTX with dual side pannier frame and a Topeak MTX Trunk Bag DXP with rain cover! Isn't it awesome? I can't wait to give it a go! I'll probably do a short video on how easy it is to attach the bag to the rack as well as how big the trunk bag is. In the meantime, I'm planning to bring it to Batangas tomorrow with some stuff loaded and see how it'll affect my handling.

Check out the photos I took:
Topeak Beam Rack and MTX Trunk Bag
Topeak Beam Rack and MTX Trunk Bag
Topeak Beam Rack and MTX Trunk Bag
Topeak Beam Rack and MTX Trunk Bag

Thursday, December 02, 2010

An Invitation to Bike In Batangas

Fatboy Going Down!

Reading my blog entries and wishing you can join my adventures? Well, you can always do that. Just leave a message in the comment box of the guestbook! But for now, I'm actually inviting you to join me this Saturday, December 4, 2010, for some mountain biking in Batangas City. We'll be going to this place called Maruclap and it's going have lots of uphills and downhills over cemented road and rough terrain. I guarantee that it's going to be fun so bring your camera!

Wait! There's more! What's cool is the after-ride pansit for non-Batangas friends is on me! Why am I doing this? I just want to meet up with you and promote Batangas City as a mountain biking destination. :)

Interested? Leave a message and we can meet up at Shell South Super Highway at 5:15 a.m. No ride? Leave a message and maybe we can do something about it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I Bought Bike Magazines!

This is the first issue of Mountain Bike Philippines
I don't know what's gotten to me yesterday that made me buy bike magazines after a long time. At this day and age I'm usually OK with going online and visiting several cycling sites to get my bike info fix, but yesterday I somehow had the urge to buy printed content.

It all started with me looking for a copy of the latest local magazine, Mountain Bike Philippines. I went first to Fully Booked in the Power Plant mall in Rockwell. They don't have it, so I went one floor down to National Bookstore. They don't have it, either. And that's when I grabbed the latest copy of Mountain Bike Action and What Mountain Bike. I think it's my way of trying to satiate my craving for a glossy.

A long time ago, I used to take trips to the local bookstore and magazine stand every month to get the latest bike magazines. I even had a Bicycling Magazine subscription before, but I didn't renew it because my copies usually arrive later than the local newsstands.

In our trips to Batangas during weekends, Duff and I would read old magazines in our small room in our Shell gas station before we hit the sack. After a ride, while cleaning the bikes, we would spend the lazy Sunday afternoon in Riego's veranda, reading bike magazines he bought when he was working abroad.

Back then, reading bike magazines was a social activity to us (and no, that's not read as sosyal). Together we would dream of setting up our bikes with the latest parts, debate on the correct tire pressures, and argue on the advantages and disadvantages of triggers against twist shifters.

Maybe this is what I'm looking for now. Maybe this is, indirectly, why I bought magazines again.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...