The Ride to Calatagan

We were supposed to start the ride from Quezon City, but King talked me to starting at Sta. Rosa, instead. The additional 30 kilometers wasn't worth the risk going through Metro Manila traffic at five in the morning. Fine then, to Sta. Rosa we go.

So we started the ride at Sta. Rosa at around 7:00 in the morning after unloading the three bikes from the roof rack at Caltex, putting on our gear and applying sunscreen. Powered by a "healthy" breakfast of Pan de Coco, Inipit and Powerade, we started the ride up Tagaytay. There we were, three souls willing to suffer under the heat of the sun riding three different beasts - a single speed road bike, a mountain bike with slick tires, and another mountain bike with full knobbies and a pannier.

I left the Camelbak in the car. I thought I wouldn't need it in the short climb. I have a new Discovery Channel-knockoff waterbottle filled with Powerade anyway. But when Charo said that they'll be waiting for us at the top, I reconsidered and got it back. At least if I get a puncture, I wouldn't have to call them for my tools.

I was riding with arm warmers covers at first to appease my wife, who hates my weird cyclist tanlines, but I just couldn't take it. I had to take them off at the first climb or I wouldn't last the ride. It was too damn hot!

So up to Sta. Rosa we climbed. It was surprisingly easy. I was just spinning all the way. There were only two major inclines - the first one up coming from Sta. Rosa and the one at the PNPA. I had a harder time climbing Antipolo.

King was riding his single speed road bike so he was on a league of his own. At the start of the PNPA climb, he stood on the pedals and just left us without any effort. I was thinking of catching up with him but I don't want to leave Mike behind, who's having a problem with his back. Now I know how a T-Mobile lieutenant feels like when Lance breaks away and Ullrich can't respond the way you want him to.

The climb up Tagaytay was 18 kilometers from Caltex. Charo and Mang Piermo, the driver, was waiting for us at the shoulder. After stopping for a few minutes for some more Pan de Coco and strawberry bread downed with Powerade, we continued riding.

Tagaytay itself is not flat. Going to Batulao, we had to climb several hills. Knowing it's the last one, Mike broke away and attacked the final climb before the downhill to Batulao. I was tempted to chase but I was thinking about conserving my energy. So I rode on King's wheel and let him bridge the gap.

Our next rendesvouz point was at the gasoline station near the fork going to Lemery, the the car wasn't there when we arrived. The driver apparently missed it, according to Charo.

From there it was a long downhill to the Nasugbu junction with a some rolling terrain near the end. It was long that eventually the adrenalin fades and you stop spinning and just coast. My fastest speed was 63.5 kilometers per hour but Mike's was faster at 64.

The car was parked near a waiting shed near the junction. We stopped for a short while to eat, chat and drink before we started the final leg from Nasugbu to Calatagan. After doing a bathroom break at the Shell Station at the corner, the suffering began.

The road from Nasugbu to Lian is flat. And at around 10:30 in the morning, the heat was getting to be more and more intense. We drafted to each other's slipstream, doing our turns at the front.

What killed us was the surprise climb between Lian and Calatagan. It was a short incline and not so steep, but coming from a flat road without expecting this made us shift to our granny gears. The great King, of course, just rode away. Again.

After the downhill and a few kilometers of flat roads, we finally reached Calatagan's Arc. And what better way to celebrate the achievement than a minor cramp on my left calf a kilometer after entering Catalagan.

I soft-pedalled the rest of the five kilometers to Punta Baluarte, where we had lunch and stayed for the night.

The trip totalled 92 kilometers. A pretty good achievement for someone who hasn't ridden long distances for quite some time.

Now I'm thinking of doing a Laguna de Tour - a bike ride going around Laguna de Bay that starts at Antipolo and ends in Muntinlupa.