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Ride to Marlboro Country September 19, 2006 Tuesday

Ride to Marlboro Country

I'd been told of a bike route to Marlboro Country but it needed a few dry days to make the trails rideable. With the rainy season, it was wishful thinking. The rains were more punctual than the postman. At its longest stretch, it rained everyday for 74 days, mostly in the afternoons.

The Old Trail
The rain relented in the last few days allowing for the trails to dry up. Particularly interesting about biking to Marlboro Country was using the newly opened dirt road. Before the road was built, this trail system consisted of steep sections that were largely obscured by overgrowth. It warranted a bike portage....and we're not even talking about the massive mud that cakes around the tires. To sum it up, it was not for the faint of heart.

Hitting the New Road
Nobody has tried it with the new road and curiosity lingered...until now. Steve text me to make a go for it. I was in. The new road was spongey at best. The clay ground dried enough to allow the tires to roll over without being bogged down, although a few minor sections were still a mud hole. The road wound and took us up steep climbs until it ended abruptly. It was a single-track through the thick of things from then on.

Trail Make over
This trail section looked very promising. With a little grooming - clearing the overgrowth with a machete, removing fallen logs, 'shallowing' some sick drops, widening cow ruts, and creating an alternate route around permanent mud holes, we're talking sweet single-track that could put a smile on any serious hammerhead. But for now, it meant portaging on muddy sections, logs and abrasive twigs and brushes.

We finally reached the peak and pushed the rideable extent of the summit until we reached the drop-off. Steve and I were discussing alternate routes for the ride back home. It didn't seem possible. The paths led to dead-end cow trails and cliff faces. He would rather pay a guide than to wing it and get lost in the process. Problem was, who? Very few people knew the ins and outs of Marlboro Country...not even the locals from Poblacion. Like an answer from heaven, we heard a loud voice - a sheppard calling out to his cows. Voila! That's our guide.

An Alternate Route
We talked to him and asked if there was an alternate route. He said yes and gave us directions on where to go. The best way was to schedule a hike and have him come with us. He agreed. He hails from Antadao. Apparently, I've already met him when I was still living there.

Sweeter Ride Back
Since the ride back was mostly downhill, it was not as taxing. Our momentum allowed us to roll over muddy areas, drops and little logs. This confirmed just how sweet this track can be with just a little work. It was screaming 'potential'. When we hit the start of the dirt road, it was time to bomb down. The wide road allowed for greater speed and maneuverability along its turns....whoa!

Lingering Thoughts
Access to an alternate route back from Marlboro Country is an exciting thought. Instead of coming the same way back, we're talking a huge circular loop that takes us to several small villages. We're talking even a full day ride. But before I get ahead of myself, it's best to know first if the alternate route is rideable.

--- TheLoneRider

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