Sagada Mountain Biking

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mountain biking

Birthday Ride October 16, 2006 Monday

Birthday Ride

Having the Cake and Eating It
Okay, I woke up knowing I'm a year older. Birthday in Sagada? Cool! However, not having my Dad or Mimsy to celebrate with, I didn't feel like throwing a party. Instead, I ordered cake from Aklay planning I'd gobble the whole thing myself. Who cares about downing 3000 calories? It's my birthday. I can be sinful once a year.

A Burning Question
There was a burning question I could not ignore. "Do I still got da juice?". As vain as it is, it was a compelling issue that needed to be addressed. While my workout remains regular, it no longer has the frequency or the intensity I used to bring to it. I needed the validation for my psychological well-being...at least for the next 365 days. Hmmm....last year, I spent my birthday on top of Mt. Pulag. How do I top that?

Dantay
Nothing came close, so I took on the most immediate challenge that I had been putting off - bombing down on my mountain bike on the continuous downhill run from Sagada to Dantay (Bontoc) as fast as I can without losing control (read: coming out in one piece). The planned ride back up was the actual challenge - grind its equally steep and unforgiving uphill climb...non-stop until I reach Sagada. Would I be able to make it?

Downhill Prep
In prepping for the gravity plunge, I set my tire pressure to its lowest recommended setting to max-out traction, set my air-shock pressure to a 25% sag to give me barca-lounger comfort, vertical compliance and greater control. I also load-barrel-adjusted my derailleurs to give me that snag-free shifting. I wish I could also put my seat down, but the interrupted-seat-tube design of this four-bar linkage dualie didn't give me that option. It was 9 a.m. and I was off.

Sagada-Dantay
The first 5 minutes was very controlled, sizing up the winding rough road, and acclimatizing with my bike all over again. With built-up confidence, I let go of the brakes on straight-aways, even passing a few motor vehicles. They were cool about slowing down or veering close to the edge, allowing me more room to pass. Even with full suspension, the jarring was intense - not only to the hands but the entire body.

Old Ghosts
As I was letting it rip, I couldn't get my mind off the crash I had in Banaue when I pulled out all stops going down from Mayuyao to Ducligan. I was shaking the thought off like I was shaking off an annoying fly. For a while I was afraid the frame may not hold up with the continuous battering - afterall, I'm not riding on a beefed up downhill-specific bike or even a freeride bike. I was on a lightweight and nimble cross-country bike, more designed to climb than to bomb down.

26 Minutes
I was too focused on keeping control and lost track of time. Before I knew it, I was already in Dantay. The time was 9:26. Wow! 26 minutes of pure downhill run. The longest I've had, and I'm still in one piece.

Dantay-Sagada
After hydrating on a 10-minute rest in Dantay, I re-adjusted my bike for the climb - pumped up the tire pressure to minimize rolling resistance, and pumped up the air-shock for greater pedaling efficiency. It was 9:45 and I was off. The sun was higher this time, but not scorching. I was careful not to bonk so I spinned instead of mashing on taller gears. Passing buses and jeeps were a downer with their nocuous emissions. Thanks for bar-ends my steering wasn't wandering all over the place on steeper sections. It also gave my numbing arms alternate hand positions. On steep rocky sections, it wasn't enough to just shift on the granny. I had to attack as well, building up momentum to roll over, being careful not to be forced to dismount and default to a rest. I had to ride it without stopping. Close to the tail-end, the issue wasn't fatigue but butt-burn. It helped a few times pedalling standing up to move my butt a different angle. I passed by my old address in Antadao and my mind was flooded by my one month stay there. A few more minutes and I was back safely in Sagada. Time was 11:15. It took me 1 hour 30 minutes to finish the climb, but it felt forever.

Ending Thought
With that climb, I got my bill of good health, my validation and my peace of mind. My psychological well-being is placated. A la Desiderata, I can now take kindly, the counsel of the years - but heck, I'm not surrendering the things of youth. I can't conceal the smile on my face. Yeah baby, I still got da juice!

--- TheLoneRider

Comments? Email webmaster@thelonerider.com

Reader Comments:

Ann-Marie Boudreau
(Oct 24, 2006) ...a belated Happy Birthday to you! Sounds like that was quite a ride down the mountain for you. What adventures you've been having! It was great to read about so many of them. It does sound as though that part of the world is treating you well... good journey to you on the other side of the world. Sending you 'good vibes'!

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