Category Archives: Stories

Batangas Bisikleta Iglesia 2018

BI3.jpgBisikleta Iglesia came a long way. I would assume it all started out of convenience that long rides happen during the long Holy Week break. In-line with the evolution of the actual Bisita Iglesia tradition (from sacred to touristy)- there came a merging point when suddenly, it appears reasonable to do the Holy Week break long ride and merge it with the spiritual atmosphere of the week – and the Bisikleta Iglesia was born. Putting a noble meaning to the long ride of the Holy Week break. I don’t know who first coined this term but as far as I remember, there was no such thing in the 90s. I would think it only appeared mid to late 2000.  A quick search on the internet gives 2010 as the earliest record on this event. So the article I created on this blog regarding our own Bisikleta Iglesia experience in 2011 was a year after that claim.

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Cycling itself is a continuous reflection.

Anyways, the tour evolved naturally from rides amongst friends or clubs to those professionally organized whether by the church itself, the government via its LGU or Tourism arm or commercially by a business entity. This 2018, I had an opportunity to join a ‘commercially’ organized Bisikleta Iglesia, the second run of the Batangas Bisikelta Iglesia series hosted by Lima Park Hotel last March 24, 2018.

It was a 50-kilometer route amongst seven churches namely Sto. Nino Parish in Lipa, Marian Orchard in Balete, Divino Amor Chapel-Redemptorist in Lipa, Parish of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace in Lipa, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery in Lipa, Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian in Lipa, and the Parish Church of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Lipa.

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Raffle prizes we have won.

Overall, the experience was great. The fee was reasonable given that it includes a jersey, a breakfast and lunch buffet plus a lot of raffle prizes.  And all four of us won the raffle draw so it was a big ROI for us. The route was also challenging enough especially the climb from Balete. The only issue I have is that they claimed that its a child-friendly ride but it wasn’t. I was ok with the ride but if you have a kid with you as I did, then it’s a bit stressful. The first challenge was the long and fast descent to Balete followed by the steep climb on your way back. Then what I consider as worst is the ride into the inner city limits of Lipa where traffic was very heavy. The team was disorganized and splintered as the pace was fast (not kid friendly) so it was pretty nerve-wracking fending for your kid through the busy traffic of Lipa. I actually jokingly said- that’s the reason why the kids who joined last year were already gone this year- they found out it’s not kid-friendly. I don’t mind those challenges if they have informed us beforehand. But to claim its kid-friendly whereas it’s not is a big no-no.  The traffic near the Mount Carmel area is also not fun- as most of the time, we were navigating the sidewalks. It became an all man for himself to navigate those obstacles. The traffic in that area cannot be resolved even with an organized and escorted peloton. It’s better to avoid that place in the future.

But as I have said, overall it’s a great ride sans the kid-friendly claim. Maybe in the future, they should venture further out of Lipa to avoid the busy streets near Mount Carmel and also if they would invite kids to join, its either they have a separate group and pace for the kids if they cant slow down the entire peloton.

By the way as a side note, since I was the only one with a kid, we were interviewed by ABS-CBN. I thought my daughter’s interview would only make it in the final cut and mine was just a token interview to get my daughter’s interview but I was surprised that in the actual broadcast, mine was taken and my daughter didn’t make it.

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Ave Maldea

Bike Magazine Asia features Ave Maldea- the bike builder I grew up with living in Taytay Rizal- a stone throw away from their shop in Cainta Rizal. I remember I had my bike frame repaired by Ave when I was in college in 1990 and lately when my daughter tried duathlon, I had him create a bike frame for her since her size is difficult to find in the store-

The Birth Place of Mountain Biking

Tam2Though this is not related to biking in the Philippines, just want to share an opportunity I had last October of 2015- to visit the sacred grounds where mountain biking was born…

Hope to be back and next time around- to pedal the very same roads where the pioneers rode before us.

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Lakbay2Love

Ataxian

Loosing Maarat

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Timberland- the former Maarat

We went to Maarat (Timberland) last Sunday as I have some relatives whom I am introducing to trail riding. As we all know, Maarat is our Mt. Tam- the center of Philippine mountain biking. It was a few years ago when I last went there and though there have been a lot of changes even then, it was only on this trip that I came into realization that some of the trails we have ridden are rapidly disappearing- giving way to development. In the case of Maarat, it is still good to know that the property owner has embraced cycling and has still incorporated some trails within the development, but it is still far off from the way it was used to be and there is also no guarantee that it will remain as is- as the power of commerce will prevail once the development plan is given the go signal. We are uncertain until when the good things will last.

Starting with our way to Maarat (by the way, it was Maarat then prior to the development of Timberland and I think it is now popularly known simply as Timberland), as I now have the luxury of using Waze to navigate my way from Marcos Hi-way to Maarat, I was directed to pass through what seems to be the former AFP Trail. When I talk about this trail to the newbies, I was amazed nobody really know this place anymore as I guess this was developed (paved) much earlier on and was already out of the lists of the destinations for mountain biking a long time ago.

Going back to Maarat- here are some observations I had comparing it from  yesteryear’s:

  • The paved portion has now creeped all the way to the former junction to the Roxas-Antenna Area. Before the rough roads starts at the now gate of Timerland. Then it advanced to the Timberland Resort. One of these days, this main route called “Basic” will be fully paved.
  • Most of the existing trails are newly built specific to riding. More of sections of trails rather than one continuous system. Its more of a bike park than a natural trail. Gone are the routes called Roxas, Yes-No, Ka Vergel and other places I have also forgotten now.
  • From the backdoor (coming from Antipolo), the alternate road that goes to Roxas is already blocked and is no longer passable.
  • During the earlier days- the destination on the Antipolo side is a store we call Mountain Dew which was eventually replaced by Giant after some boycott movement within the cycling community due to an alleged mobile phone theft by the store. Then there was Pestano and now there is Sandugo.
  • The alternate wall- the road to the left prior to the steep ascent to the wall  (shot-gun?- it was non existing on our heydays) is now also paved.
  • And before there was Aling Tina’s store (if you don’t like Tropical Hut (which is the very first stop-over-jump-off) or Jolibee or later on- Chowking) and now some more decent cafes and a bike store- i.e. All Terra sprouted along the road prior to the wall. The left side, which was the former Divine Mercy Track where the cross country races are held are now dotted with houses. The “tambays” on these cafes on a busy weekend shows the growing social dimension (or status?) of cycling whether its good or bad.
  • And of course- the SUVs and trucks lining up the road on a busy weekend- in contrast to our heydays- wherein even if we have cars, we didn’t even consider bringing cars on a bike ride. We rode from home to trail head, do our adventure, then ride back home again. Hope this is not a setback for bike-environmental advocates (the increased carbon footprint of riding a bike).

Most biking destination in the Philippines are private property. The public ones are usually not intended/designed for riding. In the US some mountain bike groups has even raised money to buy properties to ensure the trails will remain open but that is something impossible here. For private lands- we are at the mercy of the owners. For public- we need further advocacy to share the park, create bike specific trails and make it an official mountain biking destination.

Similar to any developments, the question of whether progress is better is always debatable. Looking at the bright side- this Maarat may have inspired newbies and started people into cycling. But for those who have ridden this in its earlier days, there is something missing riding it nowadays- the feeling of adventure and exploration. Of being close to nature. So the newbies who will eventually graduate riding Maarat- you better drive farther down the road to experience the exhilarating experience of real mountain biking.

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(L-R) My brother-in-law- Dondon Roan, and his cousin Paul Maralit. Me in the foreground.

My First Bike Clinic

As requested by members of our Outdoor Group- I held my first bike clinic this May. Here are pictures of the said event:

We started the day with a short ride that has some technical portions to assess each one’s skill.

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Yuri doing the jump

The first exercise was how to change a flat tire.

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The most basic skill

A lecture on parts of the bike.

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Hard Tail

More technical stuff.

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Full-sus

Bike tuning/ tune up.

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Tuning the derailleurs

Bike fitting.

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Che being “measured”

Advance mechanical work.

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Crankset Installation

Added bonus: Bike weigh-in.

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Looking who has the lightest bike

We did another ride the next day as the second day focused more on bike handling skills.

Here are the participants of the bike clinic:

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L-R me, Arin Desembrana, Cherryl Delos Reyes, Helem Jamilla, Jomai Cumpa, Paulo Marasigan, Angela Alejandro, Psyche Verano, Anna Labao, Joenas Biocarles, Mau Romarate, Yuri Desembrana, Tan Montales

The First Woman to Bike The Philippines

Lea and Andeng made it! Lea Latayan being the first woman to bike the entire Philippines! (see previous similar post). Congratulations!

TourPhil

For more information, visit the Tour Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/259558600881432/

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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.

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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.

First Pinay to Bike the Entire Philippines

There are already a handful of Filipinos (male) who have biked the entire Philippines. When I say entire country, there is no set rule yet of what constitute biking “the entire country”- as long as one rides the major islands of the archipelago from end to end, covering majority of Luzon, Visayas and some portions of Mindanao (due to security reasons) – it is already considered biking the entire Philippines. But no Filipina (female) I know as of this writing who have done this feat. Though there are already some women foreigners who have ridden a couple of islands, none yet fall to what we consider as the entire Philippines as defined above. A fellow MMS members of ours- Lea Latayan is currently attempting to be the first Filipina (and maybe the first woman of any race) to ride the entire Philippines. She is expected to finish the feat by end April to early May of 2015 [As of May, Yes she did it- see later blog entry].

She is doing this without any sponsors or external support except her riding buddy Andeng. For security reasons- no real time updates of the ride are available until she finishes it. They are recording the trip to their Facebook page- “Tour de Filipinas 2015” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/259558600881432/

I had the opportunity to ride with them on one of the legs of her ride- from Angono Rizal to Pagsanjan Laguna.

Good Luck Lea!

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(Lea- Left)