2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Laguna-Lucban Historic Route

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The road from Majayjay to Lukban

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The intersection at Magdalena

I did a Pagsanjan-Lucban ride a couple of times before but I wondered if there is a good loop that can be made to further enhance the trip to Laguna. Looking at the map, yes there is a loop- in fact there are a couple of options to further expand the loop. The basic one would include- Pagsanjan- Sta Cruz- Magdalena- Majayjay- Lukban- Lusiana- Cavinti and back to Pagsanjan. It can be expanded by adding the Cavinti (Kaliraya Lake) and Lumban route before returning to Pagsanjan. It can also be shortened by going directly to Lusiana from Majayjay. Another option is to do Liliw before Majayjay but the bigger loop would be via the Sta-Cruz –Calumpang road to Liliw or even the biggest one- by adding the Calauan-San Pablo-Nagcarlan-Liliw-Majayjay routes.

Liliw

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The climb from Majayjay to Lukban

The more feasible one for beginners in this area is the one we did a week ago- the basic route outlined above. In doing the research, Google map showed a total distance of 82Kms. But when we did it- we were already at the 83Kms mark without adding the Kaliraya Lake route which we abandoned as it may already be too late for us to finish the route- a second attempt is in order, this time starting earlier. I would assume if we add the Kaliraya, the total milage would be in the 100 Kms.

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You can park your car at the Pagsanjan Catholic Church Yard (L-R Mau, Me, Angela, Deo and Gil)

I called this a historic route as these towns are some of the popular and rich towns in terms of history and culture. Interesting spots includes Magdalena Church- were Emiliio Jacinto died, Taytay Falls in Majayjay, tourists spots in Lukban and Pagsanjan and local delicacies lining the entire route.

From Pagsanjan to Magdalena- its purely flats. The climb starts on your way to Majayjay and though it seems relentless, the uphill is gradual but challenging. From Majayjay, its rolling with two more short climbs. Best to have your lunch at Lukban, known for their pancit and Lucban longanisa. From Lucban, its not entirely downhill to Pagsanjan as it seems. There are rolling portions that would also challenge you but majority would still be downhill. If you will add the Kaliraya Lake, there is one major climb to the Lake and from the Lake its downhill to Lumban and flats to Pagsanjan.

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Besides cycling- our next best skill is spotting restaurants for post rides.

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The Pagsanjan Gate

Marinduque

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The coastal road from Torrijos to Buena Vista

Marinduque is one of the best islands to start your bike exploration. Though Mindoro is the nearest to Manila, its huge size warrants a minimum of 4 days to do an entire loop (unless you will just do sections of Mindoro). In the case of Marinduque, the entire circumferential roads only totals to about 127 kms, ideal for beginners who would like to try out the experience of doing an island loop ride. The entire Marinduque loop can actually be done in a day but the best is to do it in two days- giving you a 60 kms a day ride.

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Mogpog town proper

Going to Marinduque is via Dalahican port in Lucena. You can actually bring a car with you and park it at the port parking facilities for 130+ Php per overnight stay. If taking bus, Jam liner goes directly to the port. From Dalahican, there are several shipping lines that goes to Balanacan Port in Mogpog (i.e. Montenegro, Starhorse etc). Choosing a Ro-ro and a fast-craft is not a big issue as the time difference between the two is only 30 minutes. There is another port, Cawit in Boac which is farther away and is not usually used by tourist. The ferry ride is around 230 Php plus 30 Php terminal fee. Unlike the other islands, the ferry services here doesn’t charge for bicycles which may change when there is already volume of bikers coming in. In our case, due to our number (13 riders) they tried to charge us with the same fee they charge with motorcycles which is 450 Php. They immediately realized it’s not reasonable so they just told us it’s for free, but just try not to occupy a lot of space reserved for motor vehicles. So again, in the future, they may start implementing fees for bicycles.

Travel time is around 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the winds/waves/season. First trip leaves Dalahican at around 4AM and last trip is around 4PM.

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Bella Roca

From Balanacan port, its 10 kms to go to Mogpog to access the circumferential road that goes around Marinduque. From Balacanan, you will immediately experience a short 2km climb to Mogpog. From Mogpog, the best day 1 destination is Torijjos which has good white beaches and resorts. It is also almost halfway the circumferential road so it’s the most obvious place to spend the first day. Now the question is- to do a clockwise or counter clockwise. According to local bikers, its best to do it counter clockwise- Mogpog-Boac-Gasan-Buenavista then Torrijos as there will be lesser climbs. But in our case, we did the counter clockwise- Mogpog-Sta Cruz then Torijjos. I don’t think there is a big difference between the two routes.

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Poctoy White Sand in Torrijos. Mt. Malindig at the backdrop.

From Mogpog, the route to Sta Cruz is the most challenging (unless you will take the interior from Torrijos to Buenavista- more on this later). It has long climbs but of course, equal exhilarating descent. You will reach Sta Cruz by lunch time. From Sta Cruz to Torrijos- it’s a rolling terrain which is equally challenging especially after being battered by the climb to Sta Cruz. As mentioned, Torrijos- especially in Poctoy White Beach is the best place to spend your first day as it has a couple of resorts for rent at reasonable prices (some houses rents out the house or a room within the house depending on the number of occupants).

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Marinduque and its 6 towns

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Distances

From Torrijos, the route is relatively flat with just a few portions that has short but steep climbs. There is an unmarked junction a few kilometers after Torrijos that is a big decision point.  To the left is a coastal road which is only less than 5 kilometers longer than via the interior road which has climbs much more difficult than the one in Sta Cruz. The best is to do the coastal which also offers a great view to the popular resort- Bella Roca (formerly Elephant Island). But as mentioned, this is still unmarked so you might miss it. According to locals, it is still being developed so there are no markers on it. Lunch time will be at Buena Vista. From Buena Vista, you can go straight to Boac for another night before leaving or go straight to the port if you only need to do it in two days. From Gasan to Boac- its relatively flat. But of course, going back to the port will be a reverse climb to the hills near the port.

There are no fast food restaurant in the island but there are ample stores and restaurants. The entire route is already paved so no issues with type of bike or tire to use.

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The team at Poctoy White Beach (L-R Rodel, Angela, Mau, RC, Al, Roy, Jason, Charisse, Buboypogi, Helen and Russel

Cable Guide

OC’s Guide to Cable Management (products out there to manage your cable)

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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.

Converting MTB Wheel Sizes (26 to 27.5)

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This is my carbon Merida. I hate to retire this so I decided to update it by changing the wheelsize from 26 to 27.5. I made measurements first and borrowed a friends 27.5 wheel before I spent anything on the conversion.

There are voluminous discussions on what is the best wheel size- a 26’er, a 29’ner or an in-between 27.5. This is not another article on that subject matter but this is about how to convert an existing MTB with a different wheel size. Most of the assumptions when one chooses a new wheel size is that a new entire bike will be bought. But one question is- what if I would just like to change the wheel size of my bike assuming that the frame can accommodate the change?

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There is just enough space. This is a 2.10 tire. I think it will be better to have a 1.95 tire.

In general this is not advised by manufacturers with the claim that the design or geometry of the bike will be severely affected. This pretty much says that you should not convert at all and just buy a new bike if you need a new wheel size. Fair enough, but what if its possible? What are its implications? What are the do’s and don’ts? What if due to financial restrictions, sentimental reasons, etc., you want to keep most of your bike and only replace the wheels to gain the supposed benefits of the new wheel size? Or maybe you can only afford a gradual upgrade of the entire bike as limited budget permits. Would this be possible?

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Same case as the space in the seat stay.

In reality, the bike frame from a bigger wheel sized bike can obviously accommodate a smaller wheel size i.e. a 29ner frame can be fitted with a 27.5 or 26 inches wheel diameter.  But according to most articles I have read- this is not the best conversion since the bigger frame’s geometry will have the biggest impact if it will be fitted with a smaller wheel size. In particular- the bottom bracket base will be lower that pedals might hit the ground. So I guess defacto rules will be:

  • frames with smaller wheel size can be converted to bigger wheel size only and not the other way around- frames with bigger wheel size to change with smaller wheel size.
  • convert to the next increment only and don’t jump two sizes ahead- i.e. if its a 26er- then convert to a 27.5 and not a 29. If its a 27.5 then you can do a 29.
  • Check if your feet on the pedals will not touch the front wheel when turning if you convert to a bigger wheel size.

I would think this conversion scenario is only feasible for the current people who owns a 26er bike which is a majority of us. I don’t see any reason why one with a 27.5 would convert to a 29ner. And of course I don’t think somebody will go from bigger to smaller. So given the points above, we can further simplify that this is only applicable for 26er converting to a 27.5. Or that is the only valid reason. Period.

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Just got lucky the fork also fit since the actual difference between a 26 to a 27.5 is only 3/4 inches.

Besides the foot hitting the wheel rule, another thing of course which is obvious is to see if the frame can accommodate the bigger wheel. If the frame cant, then its not possible. If the frame can and the fork cannot, then there is still hope of buying a 27.5 specific fork which is cheaper than replacing the frame. Note that there should be ample space between the frame and the tire. Sometimes this clearance can be further improved by choosing  a tire with a smaller casing like a 1.95 than a 2.10 tire size. In the end- even if all the criteria is possible, you still need to try the bike and see its effect to your handling, comfort and safety before you certify that the conversion is a success. As mentioned earlier, this is not advised by manufacturers and these are my opinion based on other articles so in the end, I also advise that you also do your own research before going this path.

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/

Ride Na!

Another attempt to create a “one site to rule them all!”

https://www.ridena.com