Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Mindoro Bikepackers movie

UPDATE! Now available on HD plus extra footage from the trip!

A month after the actual ride, I finally managed to produce the movie of our Mindoro mountain bike adventure. It's a bit long (26 minutes) but I think you'll like it.

Please excuse the resolution as I have to compress the file to make it a bit easier to upload. If you want to watch the HD 1080p version, let me know.

After watching it, please do me a favor a leave a comment below. Thanks!

Read about the whole four-day adventure! Here are the links to the entries:
Day One: Batangas City - Abra de Ilog - Sablayan
Day Two: Sablayan - San Jose
Day Three: San Jose - Roxas
Day Four: Roxas - Calapan - Batangas City

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Experience with Bikematters

Yesterday was my first time to ride my mountain bike this year after having it serviced at Bikematters in Pasig. I can't tell you how wonderful the feeling is when I put my legs over the bike and started pedaling. It's like I'm back home again - something that's yet to happen with Mike's road bike.

So I waited for almost two weeks for the people from Bikematters to fix my fork. They didn't have the right seals for my Rock Shox Reba in stock so they had to order from the distributor, and that took a long time. In the end they replaced my air seal and dust seal. Together with the labor (P1,500), the whole thing cost me P5,0000. They threw in the general lubing of my bike, free of charge. Nice! The mechanic also gave me a few tips on how to care for my fork, like extending it to its full travel when not in use and lubing the stanchions after having it washed.

So how was it? Can you say "butter"? The fork now works like a dream! After the Mindoro ride, I noticed that it wasn't as smooth as I wanted it to be. After the service, I can now feel that it's working with small bumps as well. I even rode on the rougher sections of the trail to confirm. It felt really good and my arms are thankful.

So will I go back and make them an alternate place to have my bike serviced? Maybe.

I think Bikematters is in the right direction, but there are few items they may want to work on, in my opinion:

1. It would be great if I can set an appointment with them. I called and asked if I can bring my bike to them Saturday morning to have it serviced. When I got there I was a bit disappointed when they told me that I had to leave it with them. My impression was, since I called, they would service my bike at that time. Their reason for this is they don't want to rush things, especially the fork tuning, which is pretty understandable.

2. I really appreciate the updates but it could've been a bit more professional if it wasn't coming from a Chikka messenger. When I checked in my bike, they gave me with their cellphone and landline numbers, but they were coordinating with me using Chikka messenger. On their first SMS, I thought it was a spammer. I know it's cost effective for them, but I hope they realize that their customer is being charged more than the usual amount to reply to these messages.

3. They need to sell more bike components soon. They can do this themselves or partner with a bike shop and make it a satellite outlet. Whatever the decision may be, I'll leave it with the owners. My point is they can't just specialize on repair and leave the sourcing of replacement parts with the hands of the bike owner. It's like a paluto in a dampa without the wet market. It would be great, for example, to be able to choose from an array of cogsets after hearing the news that the one installed in your bike is fried.

4. Maybe they would consider closing a bit late. Their place could be a great tambayan after doing a few laps around Ultra at night. Maybe they can cross sell some products and services.

Want to try out Bikematters?  Here's their address and contact details:

Bikematters: The Specialists
Capt. Henry Javier Street
Brgy. Oranbo, Pasig City
Telephone: +63 2 584-0066
Mobile: +63 906 379-5241

If you've tried out Bikematters, please post your review in the comment box below.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We're all victims

Craw's stolen bike
Last weekend, the bikes of my friend and his ride buddies were stolen at gunpoint at the Paliparan trail. I don't know the exact details. From what I heard there were six or seven of them riding and then they were ambushed by armed men in the trail. They took the bikes, their phones and other valuables. Luckily none of them was hurt.

I know I have to write about this. I was even thinking of doing this as soon as I heard the news. But somehow I can't seem to bring myself to do so. And even now as I type this entry, I'm still having a hard time to digest the whole incident.

I feel like a victim myself.

These armed men stole more than Craw's bikes. In a way, they also stole what I love doing the most - going out wherever I want and ride my bike. With this incident, I have to be a bit cautious. Before, I feel really safe when I'm riding on the trails. I can't do that now.

I am hoping that these men be caught and brought to justice.

If you have information on this incident, please get in touch with the authorities. And please don't buy hot bikes or their parts, no matter how great the deal is.

The pictures of the stolen bikes can be found here.

Thanks for sharing: The 2011 Kia Sportage Ad

The good people of Topeak shared this video through their Twitter account. After I watched it, I knew I had to share it with you guys. Thank you Kia.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Team Radioshack's new kit

Is it just me or is the new Radioshack team kit too lame compared to last year's?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PNoy: Our Biking President

Mama, if you can only see me now! I don't need no balancers no more!
For the cycling community, having a president who bikes is good news. But what's cool is this has a potential to become better news, and I'll write about it in a bit.

It's good PR for the sport, especially in a country where basketball is king. Seeing a photo of a president biking may encourage others to try it out. That means more people going to the bike shops and more people to see on the trails. Maybe.

It has a potential to become better if he gets hooked on it. He may decide, for example, to have a bike to Malacanan day at least once a week. It's going to be hell for his security detail, but through this example, he can help the Filipino people realize the beauty of the bike as a cheap and alternative means of transportation. And maybe make people in the government and private sectors come up with schemes to promote this. And maybe we'll have bike lanes -- to take us to school, work, and everywhere else. Maybe we'll get parking facilities. Maybe we'll see shower and locker room facilities.


If this is your vision, join the We Want Bike Lanes in RP movement on Facebook now.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Mindoro Bikepackers Day Four: Roxas - Calapan - Batangas City

December 30, 2010

Having breakfast at one of the carinderias in the Roxas City transport terminal
We started early because we knew it was a long day. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning and checked out from the hotel at around 5:00. We had breakfast in a carinderia near the van terminals going to Calapan. Infortunately, we had no opportunity to have our pictures taken at the town marker because we left Roxas when it was still dark and there were hardly any streetlights.

Having our pictures taken in Bongabong
This is taken from the town of Bongabong. That's Ed, Domeng and myself. I think this is around 7 o' clock in the morning.

Calapan Port in 72 kilometers
I don't know where exactly this was taken, but as you can see we still had 72 kilometers of biking to do before we hit Calapan's pier.

Bought antacids and pain killers in Bansud
We stopped by the town of Bansud to eat, drink and rest our sore butts. It was really painful. That's me buying antacids and pain relievers from the local drug store. I took the antacids while Domeng and Eric each had a pain reliever. No, they don't sell EPO. I asked.

Having some "snacks" in Pinamalayan
It was around ten in the morning when we arrived in the town of Pinamalayan. The last time we ate was around five so I suggested that we get some "snacks" -- rice and ulam together with a bottle of ice cold soda.

Posing at the town marker, as usual
This is us doing our usual posing at the town marker of Pinamalayan.

Route markers are our friends. Here it says we have 61 kilometers of riding left
Except for the long climb before the town of Victoria, this day is probably the most uneventful of all our rides. It was almost all on flat roads with lots of vehicles. What made the final stretch to Calapan interesting, believe it or not, is us riding on sticky mud because of the road construction.

On top of the Victoria Climb
I didn't know that Eric and Domeng rested at the foot of the climb before the town of Victoria. So here I am at what I thought to be the top, waiting for the two. As for Ed, we let him go ahead because his pace is different from ours. Plus, we think he's getting bored from waiting for us every time. We think he got homesick.

Taking a photo of the bike while waiting for the others
While waiting for Domeng and Eric, I took a picture of my good old steed, which took me around Mindoro for four days without suffering any mechanicals or flats. Yes, God is awesome!

Leaving the port of Calapan for Batangas City. Alright!
After 128 kilometers, we finally arrived at the port of Calapan at around 3:30 in the afternoon and boarded straight to a ship bound for Batangas City. Goodbye Mindoro, and thanks for everything!

Domeng's bike looks tired
We didn't bring the bikes to the passenger area because the boat had lots of room to spare. This is a photo of Domeng's bike parked inside the ship. It looked really tired.

Resting on one of the benches of the boat with our muddy legs
Posing at the town marker, as usual
We sat on a bench with our muddy legs, courtesy of the ongoing road construction between the town of Victoria and Calapan City.

On our way home
From us - Eric, Domeng, me and Ed (not in the picture), thank you very much for reading our adventure. We hope this has inspired you to do your own Mindoro adventure someday, just as how two Kiwis inspired us.

This is our route for day four:

Read about the whole four-day adventure! Here are the links to the entries:
Day One: Batangas City - Abra de Ilog - Sablayan
Day Two: Sablayan - San Jose
Day Three: San Jose - Roxas
Day Four: Roxas - Calapan - Batangas City

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mindoro Bikepackers Day Three: San Jose - Roxas

December 29, 2010

First Stop is the San Jose City Marker before we crossover to Roxas
This is it - the big day where we crossed the mountains to Oriental Mindoro. After having breakfast and checking out from the Mindoro Plaza Hotel, we started the ride. Here we are at the city marker.

12 kilometers from San Jose City is the town of Magsaysay
Around 12 kilometers from the city of San Jose is the town of Magsaysay. This is the last town of Occidental Mindoro before we hit the dreaded climbs to Bulalacao.

The Suffering begins: the rough, loose and steep climb to Bulalacao
And so the suffering began. It starts as a steep cemented road similar to that of Maarat's Shotgun and the Wall, then the road disappears and becomes very rough and loose.

The Suffering begins: the rough, loose and steep climb to Bulalacao
Although you will need to push your bike in some parts, I honestly think that without the weight of the bags and with proper tires and a good riding technique, one can ride parts of this.

Resting first before we continue pushing again.
This is us resting. It's so steep and loose that even pushing your bike to the top is a very daunting task. The picture doesn't do justice to show the incline.

Trying to ride the loose terrain
That's Ed Velasques. He was able to ride his bike, but only for a very short portion. Pretty soon he was pushing it like the rest of us.

Mr. Savior: The Ice Drop vendor
This is our savior - the ice drop vendor. His motorcycle bogged down on the rocky stretch and so we were able to buy from him. Truly heaven sent!

Posing first: Goodbye Occidental!
This is not yet the top. Actually, it's quite far from it. But we stopped, rested and had our pictures taken with the plains of Magsaysay as the background.

And we push again.
After the photoshoot, it's back to pushing again. Goodbye, Magsaysay!

Me pushing my bike.
This is near the end of the suffering. After this is a nice downhill on cemented road. Then it's back to climbing again.

The Mangyan Village at the top
Having a warm bottle of Coke in the Mangyan Village
We stopped by at the Mangyan village on top. They didn't have refrigerators but they do sell soda. So we bought a couple of bottles and rested while enjoying the view.

Goodbye Occidental! Hello Oriental!
This is one of my favorite markers - the crossover to Oriental Mindoro. So is the ride finished? Not at all. Roxas is still quite far - 72 kilometers, to be exact.

Having late lunch at Bulalacao
Ed's face says it all. Here we are having late lunch in the small town of Bulalacao. This is around one o' clock in the afternoon. The people at the back are amazed at how light Ed's bike is.

A typical Mindoro "jeep"
One of the many wonders we saw in our trip is this Mindoro-style jeepney. It can haul around 50 people and their cargo over the same rough terrain where we biked and walked.

Resting at the foot of the climb. The road to Roxas isn't flat at all.
We thought it was all flat and downhill from here, but we were mistaken. The road from Bulalacao to Mansalay isn't flat at all. Here we are resting at the foot of the climb right after the bridge.

Getting some supplies in the town of Mansalay.
It's late afternoon when we arrived in Mansalay. I also had a big scare because I thought someone pickpocketed me and stole my wallet. I just misplaced it. Whew! We installed the lights and the blinkers just in case we need to ride in the dark.

In our hotel room at LYF Hotel and Restaurant in Roxas
We arrived in Roxas a little past 5:30. That was a fast ride. It was raining when we got there and so we were all drenched. We checked in at the LYF Hotel and Restaurant. This is a photo of our room. Don't you just love Ed's facial expression or lack of it?

Rice with sinigang, kinilaw, sizzling pork, sizzling shrimps and chopsuey. Dig in!
This is the best meal we've ever had for the whole trip. We had sinigang na isda, kinilaw, sizzling pork, sizzling shrimps, and chopsuey over hot, steaming rice.

Here's our route for day three:

Read about the whole four-day adventure! Here are the links to the entries:
Day One: Batangas City - Abra de Ilog - Sablayan
Day Two: Sablayan - San Jose
Day Three: San Jose - Roxas
Day Four: Roxas - Calapan - Batangas City

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Mindoro Bikepackers Day Two: Sablayan - San Jose

December 28, 2010

First stop: Mercury drug to buy some water
We woke up late at 6:00 a.m. and had to rush to leave Sablayan before the sun gets too hot. First stop was at their local Mercury Drug store to refill our hydration packs and bottles with water.

Having breakfast at the corner carinderia
We had breakfast at the corner carinderia. I don't know if the guys noticed but it seems pork adobo is a staple in these parts. Notice that I'm drinking the bottled water that we bought from Mercury. During the whole trip we didn't attempt to drink from the tap to be sure that we're free from any possible stomach bugs.

The soy milk stand 10 kilometers from Sablayan
Just ten kilometers from the town of Sablayan is a soy milk stand where I drank the most delicious soy milk I've ever tasted. What's so cool is they make their own soy milk with only some salt and sugar added - no preservatives. It sells for only P10.00 a bottle.

The rough road to San Jose
The road to San Jose is a mix of this type of road and cemented roads. It seems easy at first but it can get pretty tiring after riding on it for kilometers and kilometers on end. Add to that the heat of the sun plus the dust coming from speeding jeepneys, trucks, buses and SUVs. In this stretch, there are only a few trees, so what I do is I time trial from one tree shade to the next, trying to imagine that I'm riding the Paris Roubaix. Weird, I know, but it helped me finish the ride.

The Road to San Jose
This is a short stretch of wet pavement before we hit the bridge that's near the gate to the Sablayan Penal Colony.

Getting some sodas from a roadside store
Here's us having some softdrink and trail mix bars at a roadside store. They thought we were from the military. I guess it's because of my tummy. Those washboard abs are a dead giveaway.

The Road to San Jose
We were laughing at how some roads were cemented and some were not. It was as if only the favored barangays were able to get a small percentage of their elected leaders' pork barrels and the rest were just left behind.

Lunch in a carinderia in Concepcion
We had early lunch in this roadside carinderia in Concepcion. They weren't expecting a lot of customers so they had to buy some rice from a nearby competitor. We stayed here for about 45 minutes before we continued riding.

The view
People ask us what made us do all these things. Well, this picture tells it all - we're fans of those electric poles and hi-tension wires. Oh! And the wonderful scenery adds some value, too!

The uphill after the Patrick bridge
The locals said that there were only a few climbs for this stretch of road and they were correct. The problem is when they said climbs, they're not short at all. Here is a shot of the climb after Patrick Bridge and we had to rest in the middle to recover. Why hello granny gear!

Domeng Resting on the street, literally
We are no supermen. Here we are resting at the side of the road about 10 kilometers away from San Jose.

Enjoying some watermelons in the outskirts of San Jose
Ed was craving for watermelons since Sablayan. So when he saw a store selling watermelons when we arrived at San Jose, we just had to stop and enjoy some. Just look at that happy face of his.

Having the bike washed after two days of biking in Mindoro
After eating at Jollibee and checking in our hotel, we brought our bikes to a nearby carwash to have them washed. Eric, being an owner of a carwash himself, supervised the washboys and taught them the proper way to wash a bike.

Going up to our hotel rooms
With the bikes washed, we went up to rooms in Mindoro Plaza Hotel to shower, rest and get a massage.

Domeng and Eric go online to check out what the folks back home are saying
While I was having a massage session in our room, Domeng and Eric went to an internet cafe to check what the folks back home are saying on Facebook.

At the San Jose town plaza
Here's the three of us at the town plaza after we had dinner at Macky's Lechon and Restaurant. Ed didn't join us because his foot was swollen from drinking soy milk and eating string beans.

Check out the bikes from San Jose
Check out bikes from the locals of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Far out! Can you say lowered?

Check out the map of our ride:

Read about the whole four-day adventure! Here are the links to the entries:
Day One: Batangas City - Abra de Ilog - Sablayan
Day Two: Sablayan - San Jose
Day Three: San Jose - Roxas
Day Four: Roxas - Calapan - Batangas City
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