Monday, September 09, 2013

The Importance of Breakfast

Mt. Sinai Ride
I just can't stress enough the importance of breakfast before going on a morning ride. Similar to a vehicle, your body needs fuel. A car without petrol stalls when its on empty. A person, on the other hand, bonks.

I've had several brushes at bonking. Believe me, it's not a fun experience. It's like fading into white.

In our ride to Timberland with King and Winston, I chose to ride the basic trail and let the two enjoy Roxas. We agreed to meet by the Araneta gate. My fitness level then (and even up to now) was zilch, and I don't want to force myself and risk my health.

When I arrived at the meeting point, King was climbing up the cement section on his single speed bike. As we parked our bikes, he lost his balance and bonked. I was able to catch him and carry him to a chair. Other bikers helped out. One fanned him with his big towel to give him some air while the other one gave him a banana.

When he recovered, I asked him why he bonked. King is usually the strong, so what happened was so not him. The culprit? He skipped breakfast.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Getting yourself properly fitted to your bike

With more and more people getting into cycling in this country, the more I see people riding their bikes that are not properly fitted to them. The most common is the seatpost height adjustment - either it's set very high or very low.

I saw this very informative video on bike fitting when I was browsing around YouTube. It teaches the basic ways of getting properly fitted to one's bicycle. As I said in the Facebook page, it's not perfect as bike fit is unique per rider, but it does show you the reason behind adjusting a component a certain way. Warning lang: medyo deadma iyong nag-e-explain.

If you like it, share it on your social network feeds and inform others about it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are you with the right bike?

Bikes Cyclists: Are You With the Right Bike?

Got this infographic from REI. Thinking of doing my own version and base it from my answers to all the questions I get from the guestbook, Facebook messages, and email from people on what's the right bike for them. Until then, this will do.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Saturday in Tagaytay

The Wrongway boys are riding up to Tagaytay from Batangas City this Saturday. Since I can't join them yet because of my tooth extraction last week, I'm thinking of doing the next best thing - take my car and ride as support.

I've only climbed up to Tagaytay four times in my whole cycling career. The first was a race from Megamall to Tagaytay back in the '90s. At that time, we can still bike on the coastal road. The second time was when we did the Sta. Rosa to Calatagan in 2006. The third was when we rode the trails and backroads of Sta. Rosa and ended up in Tagaytay. The last time was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Philippine Cycling Network in 2010.

In all four instances, I haven't actually climbed from the Batangas side. (I've tried the wonderful downhill run on both the Nasugbu side and the Lemery side, though.)

As support for Saturday, I'm thinking of taking the huge cooler along and pack it with ice, energy drinks, and water. I invited Domeng to join me as well.

This is going to be fun!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Longing for an Exciting Tour de France

This year's edition of the Tour de France will be starting soon, but I still don't have a team nor a person to root for. I know that Contador and Froome will be battling it out, but I'm not a fan of either one of them.

Right now, my heart is telling me to go for the underdogs - the likes of Tejay Van Garderen of BMC or Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp. Thinking about it, it would be exciting for me to see Thomas Voeckler going on a breakaway, taking the Yellow Jersey, and defending it with all of his might till the end. Or maybe Jens Voigt would have his day.

Last year's Tour was boring. This year's Giro d'Italia was boring. I hope it would be different this time around.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Biking in Manila: The Heroes Bike Trail

Heroes Bike Trail Photos
Updates: I just uploaded the new "longer" map. It's now 3.70 kilometers from the original 2.07!
You can also view a video of the full loop here.

The Heroes Bike Trail is an excellent place to take a break from all the noise and stress of the city. Built inside the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the trail is currently 2.07 2.13 kilometers long (although the guide said that it's 2.4) and expanding. Though short, I find it fun and more presko than Aguinaldo or the Army Trail.

I think the Heroes Bike Trail an excellent place for beginners as there are short climbs and fast downhills to learn about mountain biking techniques as well as areas where they can stop and catch their breath. And if ever they need a cold bottle of Gatorade, there's a store by the trailhead. This morning, there was even a person selling taho

For foreigners, rejoice! Unlike the previous featured trails in my Biking in Manila series that are located inside Philippine bases, you won't have a hard time getting in the Heroes Bike Trail (unless you don't have the P50.00 entrance fee).

Operational Hours:
The place is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

When I talked to the person who's manning the place, here are some additional information:
  • It's open when it's raining except for times when it's raining too hard. I know that's pretty relative, but that's exactly what he said.
  • You can have night rides. You just need to be here before 5:30 p.m., when the bantay closes the gate. You will need to bring your lights and all your stuff as the shop is closed. You'll be left on your own. When finished, you'll exit at the main Libingan ng mga Bayani gate.

Amado Calibara: Bike Idol

Amado Calibara
Ka Amado cleaning the soles of his bike shoes after pushing his bike up a climb

His name is Amado Calibara and he's one of my idols. Already more than 70 years old, this guy's still riding strong.

When I was working in Batangas, I used to ride with him every afternoon, going up Haligue or Malalim. He would tell me that he used to ride the Tour of Luzon in his heyday. I think that was back in the '60s or '70s. Now he's spending his time at home, doing chores every now and then.

I wish that when I'm his age, I'd still be pedalling.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Setting Up the Fox RP23 BoostValve Rear Shock

YouTube is such an awesome resource! I searched for a way to properly set-up the old Fox RP23 Boost Valve rear shock that comes with the Intense Tracer VP and voila! Here it is!

Ah the wonders of the information age!

In a nutshell:
1. Make sure that the blue lever is away from the valve before you pump air into it.
2. The correct sag is 20 to 25% the length of the shaft.
3. The proper to set up for the rebound is for it to be as fast as possible without the shock kicking back or bouncing the rider.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Buzzrack BuzzRunner Hitch: My New Bike Rack

I got a new X-Trail and we named her Alex! With her comes the challenge of finding a good and secure way to transport my bikes. (Notice the "s"? Naks! Plural na!)

The cheapest would be to just fold the rear seats and just toss the bike in. It's secure and there's no additional cost. Of course when the bike is all wet and muddy, then that translates to a wet and muddy interior as well. Not a good thing.

Next option is to go with the roof-mounted bike rack. With some luck, the Thule crossbar and bike racks from the Civic might still fit. But because this is a compact SUV, it's just too high to put a bike on the roof. I also run the risk of getting my bike snagged in tree branches, electric wires, and banderitas.

I thought of getting a trunk-mounted bike rack, but I found it flimsy. Accessing the trunk after it's installed is hard, and from my experience years ago with my first rack, it leaves scratches and marks on the trunk. Nope. Next.

I saw Edmund's Sea Suckers when we biked in La Mesa a few months back. I thought about it. Once properly set-up, it was solid. It's only downside is security. Because it doesn't lock the bike to the vehicle in some way, I feel I cannot leave my car unattended in an SLEX gas station to do a quick weewee break.

This is why I chose to go for the hitch. But I have to tell you, it's so damn expensive. Alex doesn't come with a hitch receiver, so I had to have that installed first before I went shopping for a hitch-mounted bike rack.

As much as possible, I was looking for a hitch that's bolted on. I don't want one that required cutting or welding. This is precisely what the guys from OGP Hitch offered.

I have to be honest. I only found them online through Sulit, so I was hesitant to have my brand new baby handled by someone who doesn't have a brick and mortar operation. Only after reading their customers' reviews and a having a few text exchanges with Grace, the owner, warmed me up to the concept, which eventually convinced me to go for them.

My hitch costs P11,000 including the installation. They required a P2,000-deposit, which can be deposited to their BPI or Security Bank accounts. After that, we agreed on a date for the installation.

Alex's New Rack
Talk about hands-on. That's Phil, Grace's husband, getting down and dirty, installing my hitch receiver.

Alex's New Rack
There's the finished product. Clean. No cutting. No welding. That's a nice installation.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Domeng!

Here's a photo of Domeng riding a boat with his bike during his Naujan lake adventure

Today is the birthday of Domeng Magpantay, one of my buddies who join me in my bike tours (If you've seen our Mindoro Bikepackers movie, he's one of the characters there).

It's sad that he suffered a mild stroke two weeks ago a few days after doing a solo Batangas City to Trece Martires ride. As of now he's under observation and cannot bike for about three months. Regular bikers would know how much of a punishment this is.

For this special day I wish him speedy recovery so that he can go back on his feet, continue his bike adventures, and live life to the fullest.

Cheers to you, Mr. Jolina Magpantay. ;)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Parts That I Chose for the Tracer

In continuation of my Intense Tracer posts, I'd like to highlight some of the parts I chose and share with you why I picked them.

My All Mountain Parts
Shimano Deore XT two-chainring Crank
For this bike, I chose a two-chainring set-up versus the traditional three. The reason for this is I noticed that I hardly use the big chainring when I ride the trail. It's usually the middle and small rings that get all the action. I get to use the big one when I do my touring. Since I'm sure this bike won't see that much of that, I went for the two-ring set-up. It's a win-win situation -- I get to maximize my chainrings and I also lose some weight on the bike.

My All Mountain Parts
Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus Derailleur
A trickle-down technology coming from Shimano's XTR drivetrain, just a simple flick of a switch (see that gray lever in the "on" position?) reduces chain slap and chain drops quite significantly. When activated, I noticed that I needed to put a bit more force when I push the shifters. It's hardly noticeable. Actually, the feel is a more solid shift each time you push the levers.

My All Mountain Parts
Shimano Deore XT 10-speed cogset
Just because it's hard to get a 9-speed drive anymore. I chose an 11-36T spread because I'm running a two-chainring set-up and a 34-tooth big cog isn't enough to haul this huge body I'm sporting.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Compression Calf Sleeve Believer

Compression Sleeve
Presenting my fatty legs. Oh, and the compression sleeves, of course!

Do you guys use compression calf sleeves, too? I was skeptical at first, but now I'm a believer.

To be honest, it does look like cut out from an old cycling tights. Costing more than a thousand pesos a pair, it is pricey, too.

So what made me try it? Actually, the reason doesn't have anything to do with cycling at all. We were going on a long haul flight to Europe last year and I was researching on how to prevent deep vein thrombosis when I stumbled upon compression gear. Curious, I dropped by Planet Sports at the Power Plant and bought a pair of compression calf sleeves.

When I put it on, I felt that it was tighter than the usual knee-high socks, but not too tight that it caused any discomfort. From the literature that came with the product, I read that it's supposed to promote faster blood circulation in the covered area, which in turn would make recovery faster.

Now maybe this is just psychological, but I do feel that. Now, after a long ride or a day of walking in the mall, I put this on overnight, and my calves feel awesome in the morning. It's as if my calves were getting massaged the whole time.

Got any compression stories to share? Post them at the comment section below or you can email me at jovan at bisikleta dot ph (I had to spell it so that it won't get spammed by bots).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pursuing the Intense Dream

I was supposed to sell the Intense Tracer VP, but none of the negotiations pulled through. It has been a little more than a year since I put it up for sale. I figured that since no one is getting it, and it's just gathering dust in our condo's second room, I might as well carry on.

Last Saturday, I brought it to Extreme Bike Shop in Panay Avenue to finally have it assembled. I discussed the build with Liezl the night before.

I'm building an all-mountain bike - a category I'm not familiar with. With the realms of cross country, I can pretty much navigate myself with my eyes closed. With this, I would need to go with parts that are primarily strong enough to take the abuse, and then that's the only time that I think about weight. 15QR, 2.35-inch tires, 160-millimeter suspension forks - these are all foreign to me.

Upon my consultation with her, we agreed on this set-up: tapered Fox TALAS 160mm suspension fork, Chris King headset, Shimano Deore XT 2 x 10 groupset with a 36-tooth big cog, ESI grips, Fizik saddle, Crank Brothers Candy pedals, KMC chain, a pair of Kenda Nevegal 2.35-inch tires, and Easton Haven components, including the wheelset.

I brought the frame at around 9:30 in the morning, and by around 3:00 in the afternoon, the bike's all finished.

And so without further ado, I'd like to present to you my Intense Tracer VP.

Jason of Extreme Bike Shop cutting the brake cable to the right size.

My All Mountain baby

Here she is parked in our condo's second room (pardon the mess).

Of course it didn't stop there. I had to break it in. And my friends from Batangas City took me to the boondocks to try out this baby.

At 29 pounds, it's far from lightweight, although a lot of people say that it's not bad for an all-mountain rig. Riding this bike is worlds apart from my good old KHS Alite Team hardtail. Whereas that is an efficient race machine, riding the Tracer is like riding a sofa.

Last Sunday's ride was a loop that took us up Sto. Niño and brought us back to the City via Haligue. Of course the boys had to stop and take a dip in a small stream along the way.

Below are some of the pictures I took:

Yup, that's her -- broken in and all dusty -- just the way I like it.

Here's another shot of my new baby waiting for her owner to recover.

This is the stream where the boys took a dip.

That's me, not yet laspag. Actually from this stream, it was all steep uphill going to Haligue.

These are the boys taking a dip. The water was nice and cool -- perfect to beat the summer heat.

If you want to ride where I rode, I'm sharing my GPS reading:

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Bags are packed. The Camelbak's filled with ice-cold water. The slicks were replaced with knobbies the night before. All geared up, I take out the bike to load it up and discover this.

You can't win 'em all, I guess.

Enjoy your weekend rides, guys.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Tips on Biking to Work



A few months ago, I received an email from one of the readers of this blog asking about biking to work. She works in Makati and lives in Taguig. She's thinking of bike commuting and would like to know if it's safe and if I could give her some tips.

Below is (more or less) my reply to her that I'd like to share with you:

To be honest with you, I rarely bike to work now, but I wish I can do it more often. :)

To answer your question on whether it's safe, I would say yes if you're used to biking on Metro Manila streets and know how to "read" the behavior of the vehicles on the road. If you haven't tried it, maybe you can do a dry run and ride to work on Sunday with the stuff that you're planning to bring.

Here are some tips based from my learnings:

1. Bring a beater bike, if you have one. As much as possible, you want to avoid your bike being noticed by thieves. Less flashy. Try to blend in.

2. Use proper hand gestures when you're on the road. Let the other vehicles know where you're going.

3. Smile and say thank you to the drivers when they allow you pass. I know we have the right of way, but that's not how they see it.

4. Bring a good bike lock and make sure you lock your bike properly. If you can park it near the guard and make friends with him. If you have a quick release seat collar, bring the seat with you.

5. Be visible. Aside from blinkers and headlights, buy reflectorized stickers and stick them on your bike, shoes and helmet. I bought about two meters of white reflectorized stickers from an auto shop and cut these to the correct sizes.

6. Bring tools, pump, patch kit, extra money, cellphone. For the tools, know how to use them. YouTube is a wealth of knowledge for how-to stuff.

7. Wear a helmet, gloves and protective eyewear. Always.

8. Have a bag cover or a trash bag that you can use to wrap your bag in case it rains.

9. Hope your office has a shower area. If not, bring lots of baby wipes.

10. Bring an ID so that people would know who you are in case of an accident. I wear a Road ID now, thanks to my aunt from the States. You can get a Life Band here in the Philippines from these guys.

11. When biking on the streets, don't be all over the road. In short, huwag kang malikot! Also, look and be aware of your surroundings before you change lanes, make turns or even stop.


Do you have other bike commuting tips that you'd like to share? Post them in the comments section! :)

Monday, January 07, 2013

First Ride of 2013: A dip in Ibaan's Himamawo Spring

I haven't been riding that much for almost two months. I bought a CycleOps trainer and all, but that doesn't count, in my opinion. The last ride I did was a bike commute to work and that's it. Quite shameful for a guy running a blog on biking.

For 2013, my first ride was from Batangas City to Ibaan and back to dip in the Himamawo Spring. The boys discovered this last year and has been bragging about how they enjoyed it ever since. So when I heard that the first ride was going there, I jumped the gun and drove all the way to end of the expressway to see for myself this mystical swimming hole.


Since it was raining for more than three days, we opted for the longer route and rode on the highway instead of the backroads, which were quite muddy.

I was craving for Ibaan's famous tamales for quite some time, and so we took a detour to the public market and bought some. It was worth it! I think I ate five for the whole trip, while Domeng ate eight at least. Now that's Pinoy carbo-loading for you!





We went back to the Ibaan-San Jose road, and took a left turn on one small road about a kilometer after the STAR tollway. We saw the beautiful farmlands of Ibaan with a lot cows roaming around. From the cemented road, we made a left turn to a dirt path and pedalled our way between rice fields and mango plantations.


After about a couple of kilometers, we took a right and stopped by a mango tree to wait for the rest of the group. Our pace was so leisurely that we really enjoyed the ride.





When everyone was there, we made our way to a downhill section covered by a canopy of trees. And at the end, there it is - Himamawo Spring in its glory.



At first it was just Michael and Onad in the pool, but after some time, we were all in our cycling shorts taking a dip. All of us except for Domeng, who opted to watch over the bikes and take pictures while eating tamales.




The water felt very cold at first, but our bodies adjusted eventually. I think we stayed and dipped for about an hour before we geared up for the ride back.

Since it was lunch time, we all decided to treat ourselves with pancit guisado at Pangao before heading home.


The meal was scrumptious, filling, and very cheap as always.


I think we left for Batangas at about 12:35 in the afternoon.

All in all it was a nice first ride of the year. Looking forward to more adventures soon.

Want to go there, too? Here's my GPS route:
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