Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bikeout: Antipolo-Abuyod-Survival

SINCE THE 24-HOUR MTB challenge was postponed due to problems securing a suitable venue, I found myself having nothing adventurous to do for Saturday. On Thursday night I made a text blast to a select few mountainbiker pals, asking if they had any plans to bike out and if I could tag along. I finally got a reply from Kram, who said to meet up at 545 am on Saturday.
Kram is one of the strongest mountainbikers that I know. His most recent accomplishment was a six-day ‘epic ride’ from Quezon City to his hometown Sagay, Negros Occidental. He may not look like an athlete but Kram is one of the strongest runners and climbers in UPM. He told me he had just graduated from UP, but was taking up Nursing this schoolyear in Bacolod (to learn to wash soiled bottoms, he would jokingly say).
After meeting up at the UPM tambayan Kram and I immediately proceeded to the Burger King outlet along Marcos Highway, which I discovered was a popular meeting place for bikers. We met up with Cece 'Daddy-O' Nepomuceno and Jun, who I learned was working for a popular donut franchise. Daddy-O brought his brightly-colored road bike, so it was obvious that he was only going to accompany us till Antipolo.

It was the first time I had climbed Sumulong Highway – in fact it was the first time I ever got to Antipolo on a bike. Soon I was stomping on my granny gear and slowly inching up the hill, as middle-aged cyclists on their road bikes overtook us. The three were obviously accustomed to ascents, as they chatted amongst themselves while I pedalled up a respectable distance behind them.

Kram, Jun and I reached the beginning of the Abuyod trail by 9 am -- Daddy-O split up from us thirty minutes before. We immediately encountered a short but very technical descent over rocky slope. I was glad that Jun advised me to adjust my seatpost height, because that enabled me to lower my center of gravity, move back off the saddle and keep my body behind my seat. During the descent, images of the endo I suffered two weeks ago flashed through my mind, but I thought to myself, ‘I can do this because I’ve learned my lesson.’ I scanned the slope, picked a line where I can safely ride through, feathered my brakes to control my descent, and reminded myself that in the roughest portions, speed is my friend.

Ten seconds may seem like a minute when you’re waiting to die. But I was able to survive the most technical descent I had ever encountered (so far). Soon I was banging through some sweet downhill runs. It felt real good.

Soon we were riding on the truck paths around the marble quarry in Teresa, Rizal. The quarry itself was an amazing sight to behold - a hillside with smooth walls of white marble was slowly being carved out of the landscape, like it were a colossal mound of white cheese being gnawed by a BIG rat. I could imagine the entire hill erased from the map within a hundred fifty years' time.

Gear Shortcomings

An hour later, we caught up with ten bikers from the pinoymtbikers forum taking a breather by one of the sari-sari stores along the route. Unfortunately I was only able to get one guy's name, Niko. Apparently they were ahead of us by about twenty minutes. They were a rowdy but obviously happy bunch of guys, and Kram had met several of them during previous rides. He suggested we ride along with them, since we all were going the same way anyway.

They were obviously MTB aficionados, judging from their apparel, their trail-related conversations and obviously their bikes. I’ve surfed enough MTB websites to identify a capital-intensive bike when I see one. I had my MTB assembled in 2003 for only P13,000, and the only upgrades I had after that probably costed me less than P2000. Bikewise, I was WAY out of my league. My bike was a dinosaur that had encountered an evolutionary deadend. At the risk of sounding gay, it was like standing in a room naked with twelve black guys – I felt so ‘under-endowed’.

Insecurities in tow, I followed these guys through the rolling terrain of the foothills of the Sierra Madre, passing mostly through singletracks alongside farms and mango orchards. They were strong climbers as well – spinning their way up some steep climbs while I pushed my bike as I lost momentum almost near the top.

Soon I had loosened up, and I was starting to look forward to the downhill portions. I was still a tad slower than the rest of the guys, but my confidence had definitely risen a notch. I was beginning to enjoy it.


It was almost 1 in the afternoon when we stopped for lunch. Because we had expended so much calories to get there, this was obviously the most-awaited portion of the trip. Mang Vic's Bulalohan is a mid-sized carinderia along Marcos Highway and a very popular pitstop for hungry bikers, scooteristas and motocross riders. For only sixty pesos, you can feast on a bowl of steaming hot bulalo and two cups of rice! Definitely worth the trip!

After about an hour, the three of us decided to part ways with the pinoymtbikers, and push on to the Survival trail further east. This 15-kilometer loop was named after an adventure race of the same name which was held in the vicinity several years back. We spent the first half-hour biking over rolling cement roads, then spent an hour and a half mostly going down clayish single-tracks, crossing several streams in the process and getting ourselves muddy.

We got back to the Marcos Highway by 330 pm, and by that time I was satiated and raring to go back home. The sky was starting to fill up with menacing clouds. My biggest discomfort was the pain i was experiencing sitting on the saddle for more than eight hours. The thought of buying a decent pair of padded bike shorts had skipped my mind, so I wore a pair of cotton boxers under my shorts.

We still had to pedal our way up Antipolo. From thereon it was generally downhill to Sta. Lucia in Marikina, then flat all the way back to Quezon City. I arrived exhausted at the gate of my apartment 5 minutes to six pm -- twelve hours and an estimated 90 kilometers later. My weekend fix was done.

Kram's Holy Week epic ride (QC-Batangas-Mindoro-Panay-Negros)
Bud's map of MTB trails in Antipolo area


kram said...

hiya naman ko sa pag tag bout one of the stongest hehehe

sobra lang siguro patience ko sa pag endure sa pag endure ng suffering ahahahah

muscle memory lang yan
try to ride every weekend
soon you'll realize na verything in biking is easy hehehe

newei nice blog
hope to ride with you again soon
ride safe

Marko said...

thanks for the tips, kram! isama mo uli ako sa susunod na bikeout mo. :)

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