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mountain biking

Market dayMay 7, 2005 Saturday

The Cordillera on a Mountain Bike - Day 9: Sagada

Market Day
I love going to the market. It's raw, earthy and unpretentious. Sagada's market day is Saturday. Vendors fill up the main street hawking their wares from small tools to the freshest harvest of the season. With more competition, prices were cheap too. I got carried away as usual, filling up my backpack with fruits until it was too heavy to lug around.

Suyo
After a hearty fruit breakfast, I was ready to ride. My destination was to take the road leading to Sumaging Cave, but go as far as the road will take me. The road was mostly paved. After the passing Sumaging Cave, I began to see the areas with fairly big houses but out of the beaten path. There was quite a bit of construction. In a sense, I felt the subtle growth taking place in Sagada. I passed by the area of Balangagan until I hit the end of the road. I was already in Suyo. From there, the only way further out was on foot along the edges of the rice fields.

Given my intrinsic curiousity, I talked to one of the town elders. I was told that beyond Suyo was several mountain crossings and I would reach Abra. However, there might be several villages along the way who may or may not be friendly. I got the feeling even the locals don't venture far out in that direction. They seemed uncertain of what lies beyond those ranges.

Balangagan Cave
From what I heard and read, Balangagan Cave is a bigger cave but less frequented by the tourists for 2 main reasons: 1) it's really far. The hike to the cave alone will eat up much of the time. 2) the guides at the tourist office are not that familiar with that cave, given that they're not from that place. It's best to take a guide from Suyo, the nearby district. During the Marcos reign, Balangagan was the cave of choice. I heard he even posted guards by its entrance.

Given my mobility on a bike, Balangagan was only minutes away. From Suyo, I backtraced and took the rough road towards the cave. However, I didn't know where the cave was, and there was no one to ask. I kept going on until the road took me down to a valley. But there was no village. I was apprehensive how far I should go considering it was pretty isolated. I seem to be the only person within miles. I pursued the winding dirt road that seemed to continue endlessly. My apprehension was also increasing. If something happened to me here, I don't even know if I will ever be found. I still rode further. I was hoping to arrive at a village where I can get a better sense how far I am, or if there's another way. At this point, I knew I already passed the cave, wherever it was.

A Defiant Carabao
Upon hitting a curve, I startled a bull carabao that was taking a dip in his watering hole. He had his cow with him. He stood up facing me, holding his ground in defiance. I guess he had to show off to his cow that he's THE MAN. I stood my ground too, hoping he'd step aside to let me pass. It was an impasse. Sensing it was going to be a long stalemate, I swallowed hard and turned back. I was actually relieved to turn back. The bull was my sign to do so.

Meeting Aklay
Upon arriving back to the Poblacion (Sagada main town), I had a chance conversation with a French guy. He invited me for coffee at his place. It turns out, he's the fabled Aklay. He rides a GT LTS thermoplastic mountain bike. This simply called for a ride. It was set first thing the following day....couldn't wait for it.

St. Jo's Café
I hooked up with Bianni and Mai at St. Jo's for some live music. The UP Los Banos peeps were also there. We all shared the famous 'cookies' made by Aklay - you gotta try 'em!

--- TheLoneRider

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | Baguio | MTB Race




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