The Tanay- Mabitac- Sta Maria- Tanay Sampaloc- Tanay Route is a good epic ride for beginners. It is near Manila, close to familiar and popular destinations and the route is not too easy nor too difficult. Ride can be done in less than 5 hours by experienced riders and about 6-7 hours for novice riders and/or those who would like to take their time to enjoy the scenic vistas while cruising their bikes.
The route is a loop passing by Manila East Road (the road that links Rizal and Laguna provinces) and the newly built Marcos Hi-way Extension joining Rizal and Laguna to Infanta in Quezon. The Manila East Road has long been a popular bike training destination especially during weekends as it is the nearest road to Manila with ample long stretch roads and climbs for building strength and endurance; a good environment (countryside atmosphere with little to no pollution) and few vehicle traffic to harass the rider. This is known to cyclists simply as Bugarin. While the Tanay to Infanta road is a fast becoming popular bike destination especially for mountain bikers in search of
challenging epic rides near Manila (Infanta to Sampaloc is about 65 kilometers rising from sea level of up to 800+ MASL).
Route is actually a loop from Tanay to Tanay, totaling 67 kilometers all in all but if started from Manila, the route can be as much as 150 kilometers back and forth. If starting from Tanay, service vehicles can be parked in Chowking or Jolibee in Tanay town proper or in the food stalls near the Tanay-Sampaloc Junction. Other options for parking is the DPWH office in Morong, the Coffee Shop in Baras or the numerous restaurants in Tanay and Pililia.
The start of the trip is a challenging climb to Bugarin and a steep descent to the opposite side of the mountain. Then a relatively flat route from Mabitac to Sta Maria Municipal Hall, passing by scenic rice fields. There are actually two roads to Sta Maria, the official one and a smaller paved road, a kilometer before the regular or official road. It may be more scenic to take the smaller road than the official road but for first timers, better stick to the traditional route. From the Municipal Hall, the destination is Barangay Bagumbayan. Going there, you will pass by rice fields and farm lands offering refreshing vistas. From Bagumbayan, its a very steep continuous climb to Marcos Hi Way. Note that this is really a steep climb, from sea level to 500 meters above sea level
in less than 10 kilometers. The roadside is covered with thick vegetation so it also provides a nice and pleasant atmosphere during the climb. The exit point in Marcos Hi-way is near the Barangay Alas-asin Settlement. Then from that point in Marcos Hi-way, its 9 kilometers to Sampaloc Tanay with some downhills and a manageable uphill climb. From Sampaloc its relatively downhill to Tanay town proper, with a distance of 14 kilometers.
If you would like to create a longer trip, there is another road from Sta Maria that takes you further in Marcos Hi-way towards Infanta Quezon. It makes the circuit bigger by approximately between 10-20 Kilometers.
Credits: Did this ride with Mark Santos. Photos by Mark Santos.