(Note: since the roads are still unpaved all throughout the intended destination, I rather classify this under the trail section rather than the road touring).
The original plan was to do a circuit ride- starting from Famy Laguna, going to Real Quezon and taking the Real-Mauban route, to Mauban Quezon and then to Sampaloc Quezon , further to Lukaban Quezon and back to Famy Laguna. We only used Google Earth and some maps for the planning. There was limited information on the internet. We were prepared for a bad to worst state on some portions of the Real-Mauban road but when we got there, it was really not passable, not even a single track trail. There was still a 25 km gap separating the two roads that would link the Real and Mauban and that obstacle right now is a steep mountain.
The locals mentioned that there were a lot of outsiders who have gone there to explore the route to Mauban, thinking it’s passable so the fault is on the roadside marker at the junction that states- Real Mauban Coastal Road. It should be replaced by Real-Pandan Road. Better yet, there should be a note that as of to date, there is still no access to Mauban. But there were talks within the locals there that it will be done this year, 2011. According to them, he same outfit that did the Marcos hi-way extension; the Sampaloc Tanay to Infanta Road will be the same group who will build this and since the Infanta road is nearing completion, everyone was upbeat that it will happen the soonest. I was tempted to tell them that they have to wait for the next election season before it happens as politicians knows how to milk for opportunities even on such situations. And the next election is still on 2013.
Anyways for our trip, we left our car in Pakil thinking that by the time we returned from Lukban, we are already too exhausted so we placed our car further towards Lukban. We started our ride at 6AM and after 15 minutes; we were at Famy and had our breakfast there. From the Famy to Infanta road intersection, it’s a 15 kilometers uphill climb. Then a 10km rolling hills and finally a 10 km downhill ride to the junction that goes to the coastal road. It totals to around 40 km which is about 3 times the Bugarin route.
The coastal road is 16 km of unpaved road. It’s not wise to use a rigid forked bike as the rough road is really difficult to ride- which was my case then. Being a coastal road, it’s generally offers a pleasant to ride, relatively flat with cool sea breeze especially in the months of Dec-Feb, when winds are strong making perfect waves for surfing.
The end point is in Barangay Pandan. There is a hanging bridge that will take you about 2 km further to the farthest rideable part. Though the last section has these round fist size boulders that are really challenging and crazy to ride on. It shows how violent the waves there that has shaped those rocks through time. From that end point, we just returned back making the entire trip around 95-100 km in total distance. I was already exhausted going back that I experienced my first cramps in my entire life. I just sat down at the road side fence waiting for the pain to subside.
If your not into climbing and has a SAG, you can either park at the summit area (junction of Laguna and Quezon) or start at the Real -Mauban junction instead of hurdling the big climb. There are stores along the way but only limited items being sold (no Gatorades and sports bars). There are also some stores in Pandan that cooks lunch food but with limited options only. Prior to going there, I was afraid of security issues, like being too isolated and encountering all sort of stuff like insurgents but the coastal road was not really that remote as there are numerous houses along the way. In fact it was really a great ride with wonderful vistas. As my particular concern, dogs on that section were also less aggressive (even compared on the Famy-Real hiway). Either their not too familiar with bikers or their immediate concern is where to get their next meal that they don’t bother anymore.
On summer months, when its safe to sail, one can actually hire a boat so that you can cross the 25km gap and ride all your way through to Mauban. Our next plan was to ride Mauban via Lukban and survey the place so that next time, we can see how we can best interconnect the two.
Credits: Did this trip with Mark Santos. Photos by Mark Santos