5:00 A.M., time to get up, I can’t miss this ride. One reason is I haven’t been to the Sta. Rosa trails in a while. Another reason is I haven’t really ridden the Sta. Rosa trails, I have only been to a few. But the main reason is this is the birthday ride of one of the Backout Boys.
I send Frank an SMS asking if the ride will push through as it has been raining almost the whole day yesterday. He replied back with, “Tuloy (We’re go), rain or shine,” so I force myself to move and start preparing for the ride.
After cooking a small and quick breakfast, lubing my chain, making sure I have relatively everything I might possibly need, I kiss my wife and youngest (he was sleeping with us) before I head out the door. I set my cyclocomp to 0 (zero) after closing the gate and before I mount my bike.
As with the usual Backout Boys riding tradition I started pedaling towards the meeting place. Though the destination is quite far we pedal all the way, back and forth, as much as possible. This is one of those rides.
I get to the corner of Daang Hari and Molino road, the meeting place, first. No one from the group was there yet. After 10 minutes of waiting and feeling the drizzle start to get stronger I see 2 riders from across the street going towards me. Chris and Enet. I watch them cross and wait for them to come. But they didn’t. With the rain starting to get stronger they opted to park by the police tent. Same corner, but along Molino road. I was in the small waiting shed on the Daang Hari part of the corner. With early commuters crowding the shed they both didn’t see me. So I got my bike and start moving towards them.
Good morning’s and macho bravado’s were exchanged about riding even if it’s raining. This might just be a road trip, as the trails are all wet, we all thought. “Better than not riding at all!” we all agreed.
As we wait 2 riders pass. It was Ashkel and his friend Joy. Enet recognized them, greeted, and invited them to join us on our ride. Then the rain started to get stronger.
Chris & I started receiving text messages about the ride not pushing through, about other options of having lunch either at Tagaytay or Binondo — by car. Both Enet & I started saying we would ride whatever happens, even if we’ll be forced to stay on pavement due to the rains and the trails might be unrideable.
Frank has been sending text messages, too. He’s having second thoughts due to the rains… what happened to his first message about “rain or shine”, I thought. I reply back saying to just ignore the rain and join us. He then sends this message (unedited):
About to crank up, right foot on the pedal, pero my 2 hands keeps pressing on the brake lever.
I cracked up. I just thought I’ll let him decide for himself. So we continue to wait… wait for the others to finally decide if they’ll join the rainy day ride or not… then Chris’s phone rings. After a short conversation he tells us the birthday ride will push through! So we wait for a while, and one by one the others start arriving.
I get another text message from Frank saying he’s going to do a U-turn, go back to the house, and change into his biking clothes again. I just didn’t mention it earlier but he was already en route to the meeting place in his car to just hand out the Livestrong wristbands he ordered to be given away to everyone in the group. With the mass text message saying we’ll push through he decided to go back home and get his bike.
The excitement was mounting again. We’ll settle for a long-distance road ride on a rainy day than not have the planned trip continue. We were out of the house anyway.
After the others arrive and stories and jokes were said I felt it was getting late. The usual “Let’s GO!” battle cry already was shouted out… and the usual storytelling after the call to roll out came… damnit…
So I clipped in, got ready to push, and told Migs we should be going. So off he went with me following right behind him, and another call-out was made by me, “LET’S GO!!!” So off we go along Daang Hari… we even saw a lone rider going the opposite direction a couple of minutes after leaving the Daang Hari/Molino road corner, carrying 2 tires tied together on his shoulder, then I recognized the rider… “RODEL!” I shouted, and signaled for him to follow us. Migs then asked me, “Why does he have 2 spare tires? Is he joining the Dakar Rallye?” I had to laugh.
When we reach the adjacent corner of the Daang Hari Police Outpost we all stop to wait for Ramil. At this time the group’s count is now up to 12, excluding Ramil. A few seconds before he arrived we saw another friend pedaling his way towards us: Ronald. Now we’re 14. A good number for a ride.
So off we go, through Victoria Homes, to San Pedro passing by the Sisters of Mary Immaculate College, then to Biñan, Southwoods, Carmona, then going towards the Laguna Techno-Park the leaders of the pack suddenly entered a gate and parked their bikes. As I follow I noticed it to be a house with the front area/garage turned into an eatery. Then I heard the others say you get “the best” (my friends’ words) binalot na lechon kawali here. Hmmm… we’ll see.
We had to wait for 20-30 minutes for our food to arrive, though. Telling us there will be a 15-minute wait would be fair on their part — not short enough that we’ll complain of the lie but not long enough for us to have second thoughts on waiting.
When the food arrived I was actually surprised to see the meat. I was expecting it to be well-done. Maybe they were cooking in a hurry. From a business (this kind) standpoint losing 14 hungry bikers would be a big blow, and maybe they thought serving the food like this would prevent them from dealing with 14 mouths complaining… and they were right. We just said fuck it and ate. Silence came upon the eatery, and one by one the banana leaves used to wrap the food unfolded. The reality of food in front of us stopped any other sounds from being uttered. It’s chow time!
Another disappointment for me was the taste of their lechon sauce. I was fully expecting it to be Mang Tomas Lechon Sauce, but then I was setting the standard too high, maybe. It tasted nothing like Mang Tomas. Oh well… We got a bonus, though. The owner gave us a free mixed vegetable dish and soup, after finding out this is a birthday ride. Thanks, Manang!
When everyone was done we rested for 5 minutes then got ready for takeoff. It was getting late. Another tradition by the Backout Boys is we always arrive and start the Cardiac Hill climb around noontime — not on purpose, that’s just how it always goes…
So we all crank up and start the journey to the start of Cardiac Hill. We regroup at Wedge Woods.
This marks the start of Cardiac Hill, just before the downhill descent. But don’t be fooled. You won’t be able to use the momentum you develop on this downhill stretch for the climb as the road curves left quite sharply and at the bottom part is a small bridge. Use the momentum and you risk overshooting. Hugging the curve/apex also isn’t an option as motorized vehicles use this road, too.
As we pass the curve we all try to use the momentum from the downhill stretch. Some have set their gears correctly, some have not. The latter paid for it, but were able to correct it immediately.
The climb continues. The stronger ones keep their pace constant… the rest get dropped one by one… curses and laughter can be heard.
We then pedal through the main road exit on the left side. From here on the road becomes less busy. Only the occasional golf kart, motorcycle scooter, and whatever vehicle pass, going up and down Cardiac Hill.
All my previous Cardiac climbs I always had to stop and walk while pushing my bike to go on forward. But now I was more confident. If I was able to conquer the Shotgun Hill without stopping I was sure I can conquer Cardiac Hill all the way. I only shifted to the granny gears on the first climb section. As soon as I got to the first recovery area (flat, slight downhill) I shifted to my middle chainring and resumed my spinning while shifting to the smaller cogs on the rear, but lightly pedaling to conserve my energy but at the same time use this gearing to develop some speed/momentum for the next uphill climb.
As I enter the climb I shift to the bigger cogs as needed. I’m more of a spinner than a masher, so the lighter the pedals are, the more chances I have of not stopping.
I continue my spinning, looking ahead from time to time but not feeling the hardship I felt during my last Shotgun climb. I take this as an indication of Cardiac now being easier than my first climbs. Oooooohh This ride also marked my first time of NOT being the last one up Cardiac Hill. Ha ha!
After a quick rest, and Enet fighting someone over the phone, we all decided to continue and rest at the bukohan (makeshift rest stop and store that sells water, Gatorade, Cloud 9 chocolate candy bars, and fresh coconuts).
While resting payment/donation was collected from those given Livestrong wristbands by Frank. What was originally planned to be given away we just all decided and agreed that a P50 (1.07294 US Dollar) minimum donation be given in exchange for the wristbands. All this will go to the collected funds for the family of a friend’s sister who is battling ovarian cancer.
Once everyone’s rested we gear up and continue with the ride. As the trail master was about to enter a trail some of the riders in front informed/warned him the trail will be real wet and muddy, so Mr. Trail Master opted not to enter and continued on the fireroad.
Then he enters a different trail. So much for it being a road ride… We have just entered the Website trail.
At this time the trail boasts of single tracks, tight double tracks but should be ridden as single tracks, mainly because 4×4′s of locals pass through this route during the harvest season (or for whatever reason they need) and the vehicle tracks are as deep as the bike wheel hubs, threatening to stop your pedal motion when the cranks hit ground.
Only option is to stay on the middle part of the tracks. But with the slippery and wet conditions you’d need to constantly apply “body language” while riding to compensate for the slipping and sliding of the bike on the track. The fear of either the front or rear tire sliding down to the ruts kept haunting us newbies, as unpreparedness to correct these sudden changes can spell disaster… and cake you in dark brown, gooey mud.
As the saying goes, “When in doubt — WALK!” so that’s what a lot of us did. But all-in-all I think we did good. The stronger and more familiar ones were able to ride almost 100% of the trail. Us mere mortals had to walk. But it was all good…
After the trail the leaders of the pack started discussing the route we’ll be taking. I only heard bits and pieces, and explanations to us proved to be futile as only a handful were familiar with the area. So the “followers” went back to the original plan: just follow the person in front of you.
We were told to just move forward while someone stays behind on a fork in the trail, to make sure eveyone takes the correct path. We reach a T-section in the local community, this time we’re pedaling on cemented roads. Going straight would take us to the Upak road. Left would lead us to Paseo de Sta. Rosa.
Upon reaching this T-section Frank and Rodel, who were ahead of me, went straight. So I followed suit. I asked Frank if we were going the right way. A quick peek behind and he tells me we probably were, as the rest of the guys, along with one of the trail masters — or so I thought, were all behind us.
As we pummel through a fairly rocky and muddy section in the middle of this fireroad we were plying on the so-called trail master suddenly started calling to Frank and Rodel. When I think back to it I think he suddenly realized we were going the wrong way and he was calling us all back. We should have taken the left at the T-section.
So we go back and we called Jun on his cell to find out the route they took. He informs us they went straight to Upak and was at the trailhead of the Duck trail. They didn’t turn left. So we go back and pedal through the route going to the Upak road.
As we were leaving a new group of mountain bikers exit the T-section where we came out earlier. As I was about to take off I heard someone shout, “Craw!” so I look back, didn’t recognize anyone and I thought they were calling someone from their group (“Bro!”) so I just did a friendly wave and followed my friends.
As I reach a border arch I noticed 3 friends (George, Rodel, and Zaldy) who’ve stopped. Zaldy was trying to remove something from his eye. Once done George and Zaldy start pedaling, and as I was about to push off someone from the other group arrived and suddenly stopped beside me.
“I’m a friend of Allan (QR Trailer),” he says, “He was the one who called out to you,”
We do a little small talk, with me asking him where they are headed (he answers he doesn’t know), how many they are in the group, etc. But after a while I knew I’ll be lagging behind, so I say a quick goodbye and tell them my group might leave me behind and I might get lost in the trails. I look back and the others in his group were quickly descending the track, so I pedal off and catch up with Rodel.
We reach the rest of the group waiting by the entrance to the Duck trail. Before we were able to set off the other group arrived. This group also frequents the Daang Hari trails so we kind of know each other. Jokes were passed on between the two groups, small talk, questions, quickie stories of what’s been happening on this specific ride.
As it was getting late our group’s trail leaders called out and started with the Duck trail. This other group decided to bypass the trail, don’t ask me why, so we say our goodbye’s and tell them we’ll see them at the bottom.
The Duck trail is a short but sweet single track trail going through fields of… uhm… I didn’t really notice the crops as I was looking at the track, making sure I don’t slip and checking out for natural land mines… then SQUISH!
“SHIT!” I shout. Behind me I think Frank also ran over it, so another shout from me, “SHIT!” He agrees…
Then the trail ends in a fireroad. “Left?” I ask Frank. He says to go right, as he saw the first ones of the group by the bridge, so I turn. As we approach I realized it was the other group. They missed a good, short trail, especially being informed this was their first time in the Sta. Rosa mountain bike trails. To each his own…
More small talk, and I confirm if our trail leaders passed through the bridge, so our group continued on, and stopped at the corner of the fireroad and highway, where the others were waiting for us laggers.
There were then a debate going on as to where the best route will be from this point on. I didn’t know who “won” but as the group started gearing up (others were already pedaling) I followed suit. The warning came that this route will now all be either cemented or asphalted but almost all uphill. OK, I thought, I didn’t really have a choice, anyway.
We pass by the Philippine National Police Academy, but I continue pedaling. Another new challenge I make to myself was borne here: since this road is a damn long one and climbs at a slight angle I tell myself to pedal this without stopping, only to stop where the leaders stop — since this is my first time here.
I concentrate, I look in front of my leading tire, I barely look up to see the highest point of the road, just enough to check for dangers in front of me and to scan for any signs of my friends. Nothing. Safe. So I pedal on.
During this time Joy & I alternately overtake each other. Not as a challenge, but to spin continuously and keeping the pace overtaking is essential.
As I continue on I catch sight of the leaders resting by the side of the road where locals sell handmade furniture. So I stop. Then I feel my butt go numb, the numbness creeps to my jewels, but not before I blurt out, “MANHID NA PWET KO!” (“MY ASS FEELS NUMB!”) To this one of them say, “My balls are numb.”
So we wait. We rest. We hydrate. As the others arrive we check on each other. Everyone’s good. Frank and Chris took a pit stop at one of the may fruit stands we just passed — banana break! And they didn’t bring us some!
We decide to do a proper pit stop at the next gas station, so off we go again, not waiting for the others. We see a Shell station on the left after a few hundred meters, and we head for it. The others start rehydrating with sports drinks, eating snacks, and some opted to use the toilets.
I even inquired at the Collete’s store which sells buko pie, mango pie, cassava cake, etc., as I wanted to bring home some cassava cake but I didn’t bring my hydropack with me. I only had 1 water bottle in my Deuter Nordic Lite water bottle hip pack. Next time…
We call out to others who have reached the Shell but didn’t know we did a pit stop. Mud-cleaning of pedals and cleats were done here, and I saw the salesclerk sweeping dried, dropped mud from the store. Oops.
More debate as to where we should have turned. Some say the right turn was missed, some say it wasn’t, some say there was never a right turn (tricycles mark the corner). While others were saying instead of picking the quickest route we were taking the longer one! I just had to smile as we were already here and I was thinking going back wasn’t really an option. We’d have to continue on forward.
Once we felt everyone has been properly rested to continue we all saddle up and start the departure. Another few hundred kilometers we saw a road sign. Straight to Tagaytay, right to Silang. We needed to head for Silang.
Road terrain in Silang is rolling. Cemented downhill with sudden uphill climbs. If you have fun on the downhill parts and forget to prepare your gears for the upcoming climbs you will quickly lose your momentum and, depending on what kind of a climber you are, your cranks will suddenly become impossible to turn.
In one of the steeper climbs I witnessed 2 friends suddenly get attacked by leg cramps. Ronald was in front of me. Nearing the top he made a sudden stop and dismount, I then saw him almost drop his bike to the ground and scamper to the side of the road to sit and rest. I knew it was cramps. So as I overtake him to get to more level ground, then I dismount. I hurriedly get to him and get his bike to move it over to the side, for fear of it being run over by vehicles using this road. As I check on him I hear Enet utter something. He was still on the sloping section of the road but he was straddling his bike with a pained look on his face. Another victim of leg cramps.
He calls out to Chris who helps him walk up while George gets his bike to safety.
After letting the 2 rest (and apply Omega Painkiller c/o Chris) we continue with the trip, the 2 pedaling cautiously. We reach the group and they ask how the 2 were doing, and reassures them the restaurant where we’ll be having lunch is nearby. It was 3:30 P.M., by 4 P.M. we would be having lunch.
We continue on after Enet devours a pack of energy gel from Migs, and after a few turns and questions asked to a local policeman we reach LZM, the restaurant near The Riviera along Aguinaldo Highway.
Migs put in our order while the others made use of the washroom to clean up.
Food was great! We had chicharon bulaklak (deep-fried pork intestines) as appetizers. Then the main course arrived! Humongous fried bangus (milkfish) and bulalo (boiled beef bone marrow; but I only get the soup, veggies, and banana)! But in the middle of all the chaos (of eating, by a hungry horde of mountain bikers) there arrived a few more viands to be devoured: pinakbet (mixed vegetables cooked in shrimp paste) and calamares (fried breaded squid)! Pushed down by 7-Up and Mountain “Juice” (Enet’s version of Mountain Dew).
Once done some went out to smoke, to stretch, to rest, to watch over the parked bikes, and Ashkel noticed his rear tire to be flat. Good thing he noticed it just now as he now had the energy to change the flat.
Around 5:20 P.M., when the flat has been fixed (changed the tube, courtesy of George), we all start to pedal slowly. As we were riding down Aguinaldo Highway we all fell into a single file line, not daring to tempt fate and bus drivers plying this route.
Someone felt the group was riding too slow. I wouldn’t blame them. After eating a very late and hearty lunch after going through the route we just went through who would be all too excited to pedal hard and fast? “Someone should just break away and let all the others follow,” I heard. I chuckle, then as I was starting to get warmed up I then notice how slow we were going.
Looking back to check for oncoming vehicles, seeing the lane clear, I break away and call to Enet to pedal faster as he was at the lead position. I then felt the others following me, letting me tow them, good thing we were going downhill.
Leaders changed, with Migs holding it the longest. Jun encouraged me to keep Migs’s wheel, so I try to do as told, with Jun holding my rear. With the unpredictable (and stupid) stops of jeepney drivers Jun then overtook me and we switched places. I also notice someone at my rear. Frank. We keep the line and distance steady as much as possible. We were going 38-40kmh along Aguinaldo Highway. Unsaid we just decided to pedal fast to get home as soon as we can.
I don’t condone it, and I don’t think it’s good practice, but on the areas where traffic was congested, or where the public utility vehicles aggressively stop to take in passengers, we were almost all over the place, finding areas where we can squeeze through to minimize delays. Normally we wouldn’t do this, but it was starting to get dark and not all of us had lights. Some didn’t even have rear blinkers.
As we reach the corner of Pasong Buwaya & the route going to Pasong Buwaya, along Daang Hari it was getting real dark. We let the others continue on as they were taking a different route from this point on. Jun, Ronald, and myself wait for the others as we were all going the same route up. It took them quite a while. We started to worry.
Then I see silhouettes of bikes from the oncoming vehicle headlights. There they are. It seemed Zaldy had a flat tire… in the dark! But was only a few meters away so he walked to us. Good thing there was a vulcanizing shop just in the corner. Though, he’s fully capable of fixing a flat Zaldy welcomed the help from the vulcanizing shop.
Once everything was fine we went on our way. Between the 5 of us (Frank, Zaldy, Ronald, Jun, and I) only I had blinkers on. So I took up the rear. We enter Camella Homes along Molino road, very near where we rendesvouzed at the start of the day. Along the way this is where we said our take care’s and goodbye’s as we had to split up.
I got home around 7:10 P.M. With my family looking at me funny because of the time I was able to come home and how I looked: muddy, tired, satisfied. It was a fun and fullfilling weekday ride!
Again? Let me recover first. Ha ha! Then I checked my cyclocomp to find out how many kilometers I pedaled: 104.39KMDid you like this story? Buy me a coffee!
Possibly Related Posts:
- Back to Insanity, Part 2
- Shotgun: The Hill, now a crime scene
- Back to Insanity!
- Welcome back, sir!
- Philmofo XCM-MIM 2011