Category Archives: Races

Globe Cordillera Challenge 6

GCC1

Me, Jon and Jerry

In the early heydays of local mountain biking, and in support to the known fact that the Cordilleras is the best mountain biking destination in the country- we have this Baguio-Sagada race held annually (when Halsema was still rough roads) until it eventually died down. Nowadays, a newer and better race took over to further explore the Cordilleras- the Globe Cordillera Challenge. The Globe Cordillera Challenge, now in its sixth edition not only promotes the location by having new routes each year- but has a noble outreach program that benefits from the race- the Cordillera Conservation Trust. There is the Epic (50+kms) and a Mini-Epic (28+km) route. I and Jon Lloyd who flew all the way from Australia joined the Epic while Jerry Escosio and Paul Paz joined the mini Epic challenge.

GCC6

My place…

Overall, it was an awesome ride- exhilarating downhills and equally back breaking climbs. Though I miserably finished 105/167 at 7 hrs; having no real climb training from the past couple of months and the drinking the night before (excuses, excuses) forcing me to walk a lot of section (something I don’t usually do so it was  a bit humiliating), it was all still worth it and all the more gave me resolve to try again next year- this time with proper preparation.

The Globe Cordillera Challenge is one of the best mountain biking event in the Philippines to date so this is a highly recommended activity for off road bike enthusiast out there.

The Route:

GCCmap

Video Taken by Jon:

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TBT- My very first bike race…

This was my very first bike race, almost 20 years ago. The route was from Morong Rizal to Real Quezon. So next year, 2016 will be my 20th year since I have joined bike races. Well… a good way to formally declare my retirement from any form of race.

2015-03-25 10.11.54

Proof of the toughness? No…madness.

It was only 70 kilometers but it has 2 major climbs- the 14 km Bugarin and the 25 km Famy to Real mountains. It’s still fresh from my mind how we suffered that day. But not because of the difficulty of the route (but don’t take me wrong- it is indeed difficult) as nowadays, we can manage to do this route- but it was more of joining a race unprepared. And of thinking of a race as just a fun bike ride.

It was me, Rodel Palisoc, Harry (Hans Gee- former local Shimano distributor) and Chonny Chan. We just signed in without any serious preparation or training. When the race started, we tried to keep up upfront- a sign of being “amateurs” that we have depleted our life very early on the race. I remember I even slept due to exhaustion in the Famy to Real section (imagine sleeping in a race!). When we were nearing Real, a vehicle passed by the other direction- on the vehicle were the winners of the race egging us to continue and finish the race (not sure if they were really concerned or were they just heckling us). When we arrived at the finish line, people were busy dismantling the stage and other race fixtures. Worst- no more food for us. So I guess the races during that time were more liberal to even allow us to finish…and so were we- we even didn’t mind the embarrassment because if it happened today- I would have just quit.

SOGO Adventure Race….So Good!

Team MMS (L-R) MMS2 Lea Latayan and Roy Go, MMS 3 Philip Balingit and Deo Cas, MM1 - Long Henson and Heidi Sarno

Team MMS (L-R) MMS2 Lea Latayan and Roy Go, MMS 3 Philip Balingit and Deo Cas, MM1 – Long Henson and Heidi Sarno

Adventure racing, despite its popularity in the early 2000 was just like a fad that eventually died down at the end of the decade. This is despite outdoors and survival pursuits (reality shows, tv series etc) still getting stronger and even becoming main-stream these past years. The primary reason maybe because of the tremendous resources required to stage a race while only very few participants, few spectators and thus few media mileage in return making it not commercially viable. Organizers would rather do a marathon where hundreds of paying runners will join with only straight forward logistical requirements than the hassle of setting up an adventure race. The supposed to be Federation that would ensure the growth of the sports was also not effective in ensuring the survival of this survival sports. In my opinion, the community was not that mature when they thought the best people to run the Federation are the racers themselves not considering that it’s more of a strategic and management job (i.e. most

Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

national sports associations, if not all, are run by lawyers, politicians, managers- leaders, whether we like or not. Best if we will have an athlete-leader (who are both) but if not- then the former is still best than athletes who don’t know how to lead and manage). It needed more brains than brawl. Big name companies cashed in during its popularity but had no real commitments to the sports. Remember San Miguel UJAR and Enduro Series? Samsung-AXN Series? They are more of a one hit wonder. They only needed a quick fix to satisfy short term media requirements. The true hardcore events struggled to remain and were lucky to maintain even a smaller presence than to disappear- think of the Carrera Habagat.

Rappelling one of SOGO's building

Rappelling one of SOGO’s building

So what does it have to do with biking in the Philippines? A faint hope for adventure racers rekindled their passion when SOGO hotel chain staged an adventure race last March of 2014. It belongs to this category as the race was 85% done on a bicycle than any other discipline. It was a team of two with all male and mixed category. We joined the mixed, our organization fielding three teams. I was with Heidi Sarno whom I have partnered with during the Tagaytay Highlands race. The result- this was the highest place I ever reached in Adventure Racing, getting the 3rd place in the mixed category. Call it luck or maybe due to the teams who participated but a third is a third and that is enough for me. Maybe a fitting retirement as I am already contemplating on retiring from too much stressful form of sports. Overall, the race is around 160 kms, 38 control points, 10%  run and the rest bike. We started at 2AM and finished by 7PM. Here is the summary of the race (via the 38 control points or CPs):

  1. We started with a 100 meter barefoot sprint to get our shoes from the pile of shoes of all participants. 22 teams overall with 8 from the mixed and 14 from the all male category.
  2. Run from Mabini to CCP Complex. Being the first leg, everyone was still eager so that run phase was really fast. And running is a discipline I hated most- I don’t really like running. I am just forcing myself to jog 3 times a week to keep my physical fitness so this was not really fun for me.
  3. Run from CCP to MOA- this was a disaster for our team. There was a correction in the map to skip control point 2 and to proceed to control point 3 that was poorly corrected and/or communicated (one of the shortcomings of the organizer). Before we realized it- we were at the second to the last place at 21. I actually didn’t know we were at 21 but only after 2 more CPs that I realized we were at 4th place but on the second page of the log book. Though it was funny- it was a bit frustrating to know reality.
  4. Run from MOA to FB Harrison (Puzzle Game). Challenge here was an easy puzzle wherein you just need to convert letters from a chart to form words. I was charged with doing the brain challenges of this entire race.
  5. Run from FB Harrison to Tramo. On our way to Tramo, we passed by another control point only to find out that it was only after another CP. We were still at 21st place. This run section was already getting the best of me.
  6. Run from Tramo to Pasay-Taft. After reaching Pasay-Taft we were then given our bikes so I said to myself- “Ok, now were talking!”- as bike is my strength. So from being dragged by Heidi during the run part- it was my turn to drag Heidi and at the back of my mind- now you know how it feels to be the one coping!
  7. Bike from Pasay-Taft to NAIA. Still at 21st place. I was already wondering if we can or we will still catch up. We were happy though that one of our teams were in second place.
  8. Bike from NAIA to Las Pinas. This is where we went up to 19th place.
  9. Bike from Las Pinas to Zapote (Challenge- Fill Cup with Water using Spoon). Since we were not aware of the challenge, I went upstairs and did this challenge which Heidi supposed to do.
  10. Bike from Zapote to Molino Junction. This was one of the longest and going to the darkest portions of Manila. I was not familiar of the place (South) but thank God Heidi is from Cavite so I relied on her navigation at this portion of the race.
  11. Bike from Molino to San Pedro-Laguna (Challenge Drink Ampalaya Juice). Heidi did the challenge of drinking Ampalaya (bitter gourd) juice. We further had an arrangement that since I will be doing the swim, she will need to do the rest of the challenges.
  12. Bike from San Pedro-Laguna to Alabang (Stairway to 5th Floor). We were asked to take the stairs to the 5th floor. By this time we were already at 17th place.
  13. Bike from Alabang to Bicutan. We got lost for a short time but recovered just in time.
  14. Bike from Bicutan to C6. Now we are entering my turf. I am now comfortable that Iknow the shortcuts of this area.
  15. Bike from C6 to Heritage.
  16. Bike from Heritage to Guadalupe (Stairway to 5th- Math Challenge). I did the challenge here and after I saw the patterns, I didnt computed anymore and just filled in my guess so the people at the CP were surprised on how fast I answered the questions.
  17. Bike from Guadalupe to Robinson’s Pioneer.
  18. Bike from Robinson’s Pioneer to Pasig Rainforest Park (Obstacle Course). I took all the shortcut I know and when we reached Pasig RAVE, we were already on the 11th place. When I saw the obstacle course, I told Heidi, ok its your turn but apparently we were both required to do the course. I was surprised though that I can still do some stuff like the monkey bars. (Here is another weak point of the race- challenges should not be serial (one at a time) as this is the part where the better team on challenges should get the advantage of over taking if they finish faster. If we will do everything sequentially then the opportunity for a team to over take is slim).
  19. Bike from Pasig to Cainta. Still getting further into my turf- I took the Karangalan short cut.
  20. Bike from Cainta to Santolan.
  21. Bike from Santolan to Marikina Sports Complex (Swimming Challenge). The dreaded portion. Thank God it was only for 50 meters. I did a kick from the wall to further reduce my swim to 25 meters. Ok from now on Heidi will do the rest of the challenges.
  22. Bike from Marikina to EDSA Cubao (Stairway to 11F). But both of us were asked to go to the 11F so it was a tiring walk as it was near noon and the sun was already high.
  23. Bike from EDSA Cubao to Amoranto. I was shocked when I saw the van who will take out our bikes as I though there are no more runs.
  24. Run from Amoranto to Trinoma. Walk actually as the sun and our tired legs can longer muster a run. Heidi was really dragging me.
  25. Run from Trinoma to QC Hall. Ok when will it end? We had a couple of store breaks as I was already drinking tons of water due to the heat of the Sun.
  26. Run from QC Hall to UP (Tyrolean Traverse and Tight Rope). Still both of us needs to do the challenge and I found out I choose the wrong challenge as the tight rope was more difficult than the traverse. After this we were glad the bikes were given back.
  27. Bike from QC to La Mesa Park (Puzzle Game). This was a more difficult challenge where there are mixed letters to form a word. This is where the sequential system was already absurd. There is no time limit for one team and they only had the quiz sequentially so not only that there is no way to over take- one can really stall the other team if they took a longer time to complete a test.
  28. Bike from La Mesa to SM Fairwiew. We were surprised when we were told we were already on the third place for the mixed category.
  29. Bike from SM Fairview to Novaliches Bayan. The heat of the sun was already affecting our bike speed.
  30. Bike from Novaliches to EDSA Caloocan (Challenge Eat and Whistle). This is another longer bike route. Heidi did the challenge. Looking at the list, we were still in fourth place and not third (later we found out that the first team skipped some CPs).
  31. Bike from EDSA Caloocan to Caloocan MCU.
  32. Bike from Caloocan MCU to LRT Caloocan.
  33. Bike from LRT Caloocan to Banawe (Puzzle Game). At last- this is how they should do the challenges- everyone that comes in starts the challenge and if you are faster, its an opportunity to over take. It was a guessing game on which branch of SOGO is in the picture. Since there was no limit in guessing, I wrote down all the branches until we got the correct one. We were able to overtake a team but sadly it was one of our team so it was bitter sweet. We were now at third place.
  34. Bike from Banawe to Kalentong (Ride to top of Mall- Puzzle Game). Due to the poor quality of map, we went to the SM CenterPoint first and they allowed us to rappel and didn’t informed us that we should go first to the Kalentong CP. We only found out about this when we saw we were in second place and the second team place arrived and protested. So we proceeded to Kalentong.
  35. Bike from Kalenton to SM Centerpoint (Rappel SOGO Bldg). we did the Kalentong CP with an assurance that we will no longer need to go back to SM Centerpoint. We did a simple puzzle before proceeding to the next CP.
  36. Bike from SM Centerpoint to Recto.
  37. Bike from Recto to Avenida (Puzzle Game). This was an impossible puzzle wherein you need ot count a lot of colored beads. They have precounted it and used it as a reference. But how are they sure that the numbers are still the same? Anyways, we found out that Heidi has a flat tire but I decided to forego repairing the flat since we are protecting the third place finish so she did the last CPs on a falt tire. Anyways she is not that heavy and the bike can still run with a flat tire.
  38. Bike from Avenida to KM 0 Rizal Park.
  39. Run from Rizal Park to Finish Line. Walk actually as I no longer have any power to run. Then a sack race to finish line.
Team MMS 1 Declared as Third Place Champion

Team MMS 1 Declared as Third Place Champion

After the race, the biggest no no that the organizer did was to award the first place to the first to finish team who apparently skipped the Kalentong CP (did the same mistake as we did but did not corrected it as we do). I think no such adventure race will allow a team who skipped a CP without any big consequence, if not outright disqualification. If they did disqualify this team- then we could have been second place. Similarly, if we were told that skipping is OK, then we could not have corrected our Kalentong error and eventually finish in second place. But organizers rule is final. I still appreciate that SOGO did revived adventure racing but I just hope they did not commit such big a blunder. These things are the ones I have mentioned earlier that does not help promote the sports. Just like the Fed itself- we need better management of the race than the design of the course itself. I hope this will not hinder the alleged comeback of AR as there will always be room for improvement.

The First BGC Challenge

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I would say, this is the parallel attempt of “mainstream” (and upper section of society- proven by the steep registration price at 2K Php- intended for the upper-middle to upper class of Philippines Society) to go into cycling as they have successfully done in running and multi-sports as proven by the weekly weekend marathon events of different flavor. Once everyone wants to become a photographer, then everyone wants to be a runner then triathlete- now the “in” thing is cycling. I am not saying this is bad or good, as in everything there are pros and cons. But in our advocacy of environmentally sound living, this is a welcome development (I just hope some will fall to the radical side of bike commuting even within the neighborhood).

The revolution of bikes being taken by those who supposed to have cars- as there are still some who sees people biking as being poor (similar to a case in India as I have read in Bicycling Magazine) actually started mid 2000 and sadly a contributing factor is when people started seeing expensive bikes on SUV bike racks (and still I have heard from some people that the reason they bought a bike is because of the cool look of having an SUV with bike racks!). And of course in a way the lower class imitates what they see the upper class is doing. Anyways, I hope just like in running, this movement should also bring more new products at reasonable (affordable is long shot) prices. In fact the boutique-style bike shops started early 2000 with the now defunct Powerbikes in the Powerplant Mall. Though they are now numerous around Manila, the rules of numbers will still be a big boost for bike consumers.

0620_03752Going back to the event itself- though this is not a first activity of this type (think of Bike-United etc.) with full visibility, resources and target audience, such activity will be a good thing even on the other front like in sustainable transport movement. The growing population of the annual Tour of the Fireflies is a good proof of this. One good thing about this event is that you will have a change to bike around prime Metro Manila locations without any interference of traffic (see what resources can do- it can close down Manila!).  One thing is for sure though- there are a lot of motorist who were infuriated by the traffic caused. Though we can reason out- its only once a year- most of those motor heads don’t give a damn. I guess it’s would have helped if part of the pre-event campaign is to post it in newspapers and even put billboards weeks before the event so that when some motorist curse us- we can always say- You Have Been Warned!!

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/bgc.cyclephil?fref=ts

Map of the Trip

BGC

BGC Route

7-Eleven Tour 700

Last Sunday May 13, 2012, thousands of riders from Luzon participated in the 7-Eleven Tour 700. I participated in the event since its an opportunity to ride the country’s premier highway, the SCTEX. It is the best place to test how fast one can go. I did a measly 25 km/hr for the entire stretch but it was the first time I did a 100km non-stop at a supposed race speed (I did a 190+ km non-stop during the NOMADS challenge but it was an easy cruising phase with plenty of food and water).
I was using an MTB (as I dread using a road bike that might force me to push too hard and explode my heart out) but no “cheating alterations” – knobby tires, 26″ wheel size, and suspension fork. I started on the the first MTB wave, Wave F and was pretty much doing well at the start. I was at the lead pack of the MTB though that was a splintered group (I guess MTB riders don’t know the concept of a peloton). Then the Team PLDT DSL road bike riders came by and I was able to ride their peloton. I tried inserting at their center to get all the help I can get. At km 50, they stopped for the mid-way break. I was so thrilled with my performance and got too confident and careless, I  didn’t stopped and didn’t hydrated from km 20 and 50 water stations. I only have one water bottle. After 60 kms, I ran out of water and boom- I bonked big time. That ends my dream of doing the 100 km sub 3.5 hours.  Team PLDT swooshed past by and all other people I knew who I saw at the other side of the road when I did the 50 km turn around. The next water station was still at km 80 so it was really a painful crawl I even entertained quitting as the sun was at its highest. But one thing I still was able to hold on- I didn’t walked nor stopped for a rest.  I reached the water station and gulped all the water and Poweraide I can and I felt almost bloated and heavy. I continued on but was still feeling weak. Then a second station a few meters later has this Pocari Sweat 100 and after a dose of that I feel revived. Am not promoting it for am not sure if it was it or was it caused by the other previous liquids now taking effect. But one thing was sure, if you bonked, you may get a second wind but only for a short time. I was able to use that power up to the last 10 kms and then I crawled back again. Big amateur mistakes that I already know but am surprised I forgot. Come to think of it, when was the last time I raced on a bike?
Finished at 4:22.
This was the route of the race:
SCTEX

711 Route

Other MMS on the race were: Lea Latayan, Juboy Wilkkom, Wiwt Acuna, Buboy Serapio, Jodes Coates and Retzel Orquiza.

Ala Eh Bike Race

MOUNTAIN BIKE EXTREME CHALLENGE

Date:             03 December 2011
Venue:          Upland Barangays &   Poblacion Streets at Calaca, Batangas
Time:              7:00 A. M.

CATEGORY & Prizes:

1. ELITE (Open Pro)

1st Place – Php 10,000.00 + trophy
2nd Place – Php 8,000.00 + trophy
3rd Place – Php 6,000.00 + trophy
4th to 13th place – Php 1,000.00

2. MASTERS (Age 41 & above)

1st Place – Php 5,000.00 + trophy
2nd Place  – Php 3,000.00 + trophy
3rd Place – Php 2,000.00 + trophy
4th to 13th place – Php 500.00

3. SPORTS (Age 30 to 40)

1st Place – Php 5,000.00 + trophy
2nd Place – Php 3,000.00 + trophy
3rd Place – Php 2,000.00 + trophy
4th to 13th place – Php 500.00

4. NOVICE (age 29 & below)

1st Place – Php 5,000.00 + trophy
2nd Place – Php 3,000.00 + trophy
3rd Place – Php 2,000.00 + trophy
4th to 13th place – Php 500.00

5. ALL WOMEN

1st Place – Php 5,000.00 + trophy
2nd Place – Php 3,000.00 + trophy
3rd Place – Php 2,000.00 + trophy
4th to 13th place – Php 500.00

Mechanics & Guidelines:

Participants may secure registration forms at  Licensing Office, New Municipal Hall, or download from our website: www.calaca.gov.ph or www.alaehfestival.com. Registration is from September 01, 2011 to December
02, 2011.

Upon filling up the form, the participant may  submit the form at: The Municipal Hall, Calaca, Batangas: Thru Email – atchara4rd_cel@yahoo.com or If  submitted to a Registration Center, the  participant shall remit the registration fee. Registration  fees are:

  • Directly paid at Calaca Hall – Php 250.00
  • Via LBC with address to: Mrs. Evelyn Reyes –BPLO – OIC Calaca
    Municipal Hall Calaca Batangas, 4212 – Php 250.00 + Php 32.00 remittance charge.
  1. Upon payment of the registration fee, the participant will be given an acknowledgement receipt or confirmation number that the amount has been paid for, and the person has submitted his/her
    registration form.
  2. Registration Fee of Php 250.00 (inclusive of t-shirt, meal and giveaway).
  3. All participants are required to CONFIRM their registration ON-SITE at the Municipal Hall of Calaca the day before the event/competition. NO CONFIRMATION OF REGISTRATION IS ALLOWED ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT / COMPETITION.
  4. The organizers, will require the acknowledgment receipt / OR to be submitted plus a valid I. D. with a picture. The I. D. must contain the participants’ photo and date of birth. NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THIS IS GROUND FOR THE CANCELLATION OF THE REGISTRATION. FEES PAID IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
  5. UPON COMPLETION OF THE REGISTRATION PROCESS,
    ALL PARTICIPANTS ARE REQUIRED TO SIGN A WAIVER.
  6. Registration Center / Secretariat / Info Center is located at the Municipal Information Office, Calaca, Batangas. All questions will be addressed there.

 CONTACT: Robert B. Castro – 09209489468 / 09229422210 or Baby Arlyn P. Bautista – 09399368425

NOMADS Challenge Awards Night

Here are the final results of the NOMADS Challenge (for more information on the NOMADS Challenge, see separate blog entry regarding the NOMADs Challenge). The challenge which was supposed to be up to December 2011 was cut short by the organizers this June. The awarding ceremony was held simultaneously with the NOMADS Summit Challenge (climbing) and with the 13th anniversary of Conquer Backpacks at the Tanay Adventure Camp, July 23, 2011.

Overall (Total mileage from February to June)

1st – Ronald Laranang (Baguio) 7,288 Kms

2nd – Vinz Ripani (Baguio) 5,532 Kms

3rd – Boy Ballestros (Baguio) 4,911 Kms

4th – Avan Atiwag (Baguio) 4,161 Kms

5th – Long Henson (Manila) 3,282 (yes that’s me)

Shortest Time for Manila-Baguio-Manila or Vise Versa

Avan Atiwag (Baguio) – 24 hours and 25 minutes

Longest 24 hour Ride

Avan Atiwag (Baguio) – 532 Kms

Longest Non-Stop Ride (No Dismount)

Avan Atiwag (Baguio) – 205 kms

(Note: I am second here with 197 Kms)

Most Century Ride (160 Kms)

Ronald Laranang (Baguio)

Most Consecutive Century Ride (160 kms) – 3 Century Rides (Tie)

Ronald Laranang, Laurence Toledo, Vinz Ripani, Alex Oliveros, Boy Ballesteros, Steve Young Toledo, Boyet Faraon, Benjamin Rimando, Tristan Santos, Avan Atiwag, Long Henson, Anthony Zaldivar.

Most Epic Rides (100 Kms) – (Tie)

Ronald Laranang, Laurence Toledo, Vinz Ripani, Alex Oliveros, Boy Ballesteros, Steve Young Toledo, Boyet Faraon, Benjamin Rimando, Avan Atiwag, Long Henson, Anthony Zaldivar.

First to Achieve the 1000 Km

1st – Mark Santos

2nd – Ronald Laranang

3rd – Robinson Laxamana

Special Prize for June (Double Century)

  1. Long Henson
  2. Ronald Laranang

Congratulations to All!

MMS Bikers- Deo Cas, Lea Latayan, Mark Santos, me and Oyie Margallo

Photos at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/longhenson/sets/72157627265276840/

Team MMS Reunion Ride

Team MMS Reunion Ride (01)Team MMS Reunion Ride (11)Team MMS Reunion Ride (19)Team MMS Reunion Ride (05)Team MMS Reunion Ride (16)Team MMS Reunion Ride (20)
Team MMS Reunion Ride (25)Team MMS Reunion Ride (12)Team MMS Reunion Ride (07)Team MMS Reunion Ride (09)Team MMS Reunion Ride (17)Team MMS Reunion Ride (04)
Team MMS Reunion Ride (26)Team MMS Reunion Ride (21)Team MMS Reunion Ride (08)Team MMS Reunion Ride (13)Team MMS Reunion Ride (18)Team MMS Reunion Ride (22)
Team MMS Reunion Ride (14)Team MMS Reunion Ride (03)Team MMS Reunion Ride (02)Team MMS Reunion Ride (27)Team MMS Reunion Ride (24)Team MMS Reunion Ride (10)

Team MMS Reunion Ride, a set on Flickr.

Team MMS Version 1 (Circa 2001) Reunion Ride on May 21, 2011. Mark Santos, Edwin Serapio and myself. To the tune of “And I feel I’m growing older…(Soldier of Fortune)” We did this 100km ride to Jala-jala. After the ride, it was party time at Station Seven- My 40th B-day.

Rock On !!

This was one of our races back in 2001. Yoko is already back in Japan. Nolan is busy with other sports. I was 30 Ibs lighter then. This was during the Guimaras Survival Challenge.

A bad look but a good finish- 1st Twilight Duathlon

Nice Hat!

Madeline calls his neighbor’s hat a BAD hat, while Barney crafts a song about silly hats. I had mine both- a bad and silly hat! One of the most embarassing experience I had riding my bicycle- competing in front of spectators with my helmet worm the wrong way. I was not sure if it was part due to anxiety before the race (I often experience butterfly in my stomach immediately before the race; a feeling of vomiting which immediately disappears after the gun start) or maybe because I am already too much used to wearing MTB helmets with visor that wearing a road helmet without one dis-oriented me. But one thing strange about it was the fact that nobody pointed it out to

Team MMS - me and Heidi Sarno

me. Not even my two daughters who bid me good luck minutes before gun start. Maybe the other contenders thought I had some sort of a race superstition or a good luck charm that they did not dared question. But then again, thats the reason why I recall some spectators looks at me in a stange way and yes, there was quite a handful who gave the signal but I was too confused what they were telling. I just learned about it after the race, at the finish line. But maybe it was indeed a lucky charm, for this was the highest place I got in a competition- fourth place. I could have exerted more effort to win the 3rd place and receive my first ever medal in a race for its not too often that I had that close an opportunity- and maybe few real contenders to garner that place.

Mud from the trail

Anyways, the race was a great one- the Batangas back roads and trails were awsome- not too technical yet not too boring. There were also challenging hills that will either give you an opportunity to catch up or be left behind. It was the first Twilight Off Road Duathlon, held at Tagaytay Highlands and sponsored by Mizuno, Grantrail and Tagaytay Highlands. I must admit, though there are the usual minor glitches, overall it was one well-organized event and Tagaytay Highland is one good host for such an event. The race route was organized by Ige Lopez and it was participated by multi-sport enthusiast, runners, cyclist and moutaineers as off-road duathlon has this wider scope of audience. I firmly believe there is future to this off-road sport in our country.

Helmet caused aero dynamic issues that slowed me down.

We actually joined the relay event (Male-Female) and I admit, majority of the work was done by my partner- Heidi Sarno, a co-member at MMS (I think I have dragged her down into fourth place rather than pushing her up into it). She was also with me, Lea Latayan, Deo Cas and Edwin Serpaio when we joined the Laguna Lake 200km Relay. And I am proud to say, these women are stronger than us. I dont have qualms about the battle of the sexes thing. A Spade is a spade and this time, we are just the handle of that spade and were contented about it. After this event, they hosted a bike only race to the top but I was not able to

Pit Stop Bands

join it. Maybe this year, they will still hold the same event as there are only few of these- the other ones are the Nuvali series.

 

 

 

 

The Laguna Lake Ultramarathon Team MMS.

Jeyps Pelingo, Edwin Serapio, Lea Latayan, Deo Cas, Heidi Sarno, me and Mark Santos.

Maarat of Yester Years

Puray

You will not be considered a “veteran Metro-Manila mountain biker” if you haven’t been to the San Mateo and Rodriguez Mountains. Some just simply call it Montalban despite the fact that it bounds within 4 to 6 territories depending on the route you take. It includes San Mateo, Rodriguez, and Antipolo in Rizal; San Jose in Bulacan and Marikina and Quezon City in Metro Manila. This is actually where my first off road- trail experience happened back in 2001. Before that, I just consider a mountain bike as a type of bike that you use in your usual road trips and not really a bike for “the mountains”! The first experience happened when we entered the mountains within the Wawa Gorge area. We don’t have any guides and any references for directions, we just followed our mountaineering instinct. We just rode the trails we saw as ride-able. It was my first exhilarating downhill experience and at the end, my first off road crash. I still don’t know the do’s and don’ts of mountain biking then so when I saw this knee high drop-off, I just pulled the brakes that sent me flying ahead of my bike. But instead of developing a phobia for downhill, it made me more exited to search for more trails that lead to our discovery of the other routes within the Maarat area. Speaking of Phobia, it was in that first ride that we encountered this unsual horse with “bike phobia.” He actually went berserk when he saw us in the trail. Our hunch- he fared in an accident with a motorcycle which, by the way was the pioneer users of the Maarat trails.

Sierra Madre- Dindo and Retzel with Mao

I started mountain biking with Mark Santos, Nolan Debuque, then joined by Buboy Serapio, Jun Medrano, Robert Arevalo and Yoko Ito. By 2002, we were joined by the MMS 2002 riders- Dindo Narciso, Vince Rodriguez, Yell Cambri, Retzel Orquiza, Rudy Causing, Jerome Licup, Cary Regaspi and Deo Cas. There were also old members who joins us once in a while like Edsel Moscoso and Ding Prudencio. Juboy Willkomm, Jojo Romero and Wiwit Acuna joined us later on. There were also non-MMS riders who became part of our group like King Bernas. We were also able to ride with other groups like the Montalbikers, the Onda-Bag, Firelfybrigade, PCN riders, AllTerra cyclist and other adventure racers of that time. We also met individual people like Bud  (who is the pioneer in recording the trails within the area- http://www.padyakbud.com). So those riding days also introduced us to other people whose same interest with mountain bikes bonded us together, some permanently and some even briefly.

The slimmer Buboy and Yell traversing Puray

My first Maarat Wall actually happened unexpected and by force. It was part of the route of the San Miguel Light – Urban Jungle Adventure Race (UJAR) leg of 2002. I was with Vince Rodriguez and Robert Arevalo as part of Team MMS-Studio 23. The worst thing about it is we had to do it twice as the third control point after QC Circle was atop Maarat and we went there skipping the second control point in Ever Gotesco Commonwealth so we have to go back to Ever and ride back to the top of Maarat. It was really disheartening; the worst I had in a competition, but I am glad our team spirit didn’t broke with that big error and we were still able to continue on with the race. During that race, I crashed in the tight section of “the wall” where most crashes happens. It was so far the worst crash I encountered in my life that it literally broke my helmet and my sunglasses but miraculously no scratches except for bruised ego. The crash happened in slo-mo while seeing the big boulder I was to land on. My

Me and Dindo at AFP

bike was falling behind me and it landed right on top of me (ouch!) thus it suffered not even a scratch. It took me a while to stand up, scared that some blood would spurt out when I move. But it has a lasting effect in me that up to now, I had my limits in terms of fast descents. Thus I said- even if I would be given the same power of Lance Armstrong in terms of climbing, I will still never be able win the Tour of France for I can only manage a 50 Km/hr descent at its best. 80 Km/hr is already crazy! Another justification to abandon competetive road cycling (but surprisingly not cross country racing!)

An oldie from the Rodriguez Mountains would know these simple facts:

    1. Mountain Dew was the rest stop after Maarat and not Giant.
    2. Jolibee was the jump-off to Maarat and not Aling Tina’s and not even Chowking as there was no Chowking then. Tropical Hut will also do.
    3. AFP was an off-road destination, now it is already paved. Same as with Timberland.
    4. Maarat was not yet commercialized. No Pestano Farms, No AllTerra EcoTrail.
    5. The term “Basic” was not yet heard of.
    6. There was no “bail-out store” in the middle of “the wall” for an excuse stop over, not even the Divine Mercy Shrine. Only the Divine Mercy Track.
    7. People those days don’t bring bikes by car or SUV; they ride from home to Maarat. Rides then were done whole day!

Juboy and me in one of the Divinve Mercy track races

    The old places have already slipped my aging mind. I can only mention names that comes my mind like Puray, Seven Rivers, Tamagochi Falls (where I watched President Bush’s Airforce One flew by; escorted by fighter jets while celebrating the birthday of Sir Milo), Kaingalan, Yes or No, Boy or Girl, Shotgun, Roxas, Helipad, Grotto, Licao-licao, Macabud, Este Del Sol etc. These are now names. I still vivdly remember the places but I can’t recall their names.

At Toyang. With the group- Mark, Yell, Dindo, Buboy guest- Tolits.

Our after ride hang out place have also evolved from Danny’s Grill, to Countryside in Katipunan (with unforgettable drunk biking from Katipunan to Angono) and lately right there at the Cycling Park in Bosoboso immediately right after the ride (oldies gets impatient waiting for their beers); when coming from the Sierra Madre side or Gerry’s Grill in Riverbanks when coming from Rodriguez. Or sometimes at Bamboo Grande.

Nowadays, despite its ever increasing traffic as Maarat still maintains its premier status as mountain biking destination; we seldom go to that place anymore. The last time we did was during my brief unemployment episode of 2009 and that was every Tuesday, Dindo and me; the same day John Lloyd Cruz rides his bike making us sort of a stalker. But not a wimp! (a funny anecdote: we were eating at Giant’s near the group of John Lloyd when Ann Cortez came in to catch up. We asked her where she started her ride and she told us in a loud voice “Of course at Timberland (not from the base)- coz I am a wimp!”  And the group of John who started out at Timberland heard that bold proclamation.)

At Phil Rock

But it has been a while since then that we have returned. Maybe because it’s already too far off as there are other alternatives. Maybe we got over it. Maybe because it has already been developed. Maybe because it has been commercialized. But once in a while it is still nice to go back down this memory lane… err- memory trail. Either ride the trail physically or if not, were glad we have all these notes of the good old days recorded in our yahoogroups- at least we can read it when we get old and incapable of riding there anymore.

MMS Bikers V2: Robert Arevalo, Jojo Romero, Lea Latayan, Nina Singcol, Deo Cas, Juboy Willkomm and Me