Oct 18, 2009
Riding Taal Lake by Chance
A La Eh Mountain Bike Race
I stumbled upon a race event called A La Eh Mountain Bike Race by a Batangas-based mtb group called Team Ganit. I didn't know anyone from that side of Luzon but wanted to check out the scene. I offered to cover the race for this site and Andres, the organizer, agreed...cool!
Saturday night, instead of parying with the climbing crew at Power Up for the gym's anniversary, I opted to take it easy in preparation for the race. Lubing the bike brought back fond memories of my race-days back in Canada.
Open Road to Batangas
On Sunday morning, I was off to Batangas for the 1.5 hour bus trip. It used to be a pain going to Batangas back in the day...but now, with paved roads, new highways and comfortable coach buses, it's a breeze.
A DUH Moment
At the race site, while I was talking to Ariel of the San Jose MTB Club, I was informed that the race was on the 25th...not the 18th! HUUUWAT? I misssed it by a week? It was embarrassing to say the least. DUH! I know...there's no medicine for such oversight. Things changed when they said I could take the road straight up and I'll be going down about 7 kms until I hit Taal Lake. Really? Cool!
Lomi, Bulalo, atbp.
No longer pumped by the spectre of an adrenaline gush, I just took it easy, riding slow and leisurely, minding the views and taking advantage of food offerings Batangas is known for...lomi, bread, bulalo. Riding to the lake was a downhill run, some road sections more zig-zag than others. I couldn't help it...I hammered down and banked on tight turns hoping my tires would hold their grip...whoa! I loved it.
Before I knew it, I was at Balete...the lakeside town of Taal Lake. It was quaint, rural and friendly. Curious, I followed the coastal road passing through a few towns. I didn't really know where I was, but it was great just exploring the coastal towns and watching locals catch fish by the breakwater. This is really the fun part...just riding and not knowing where you are, or where you're headed....just riding, admiring the local scene, open to any surprise along the way. Balete, not exactly a tourist mecca like Tagaytay, charges much lower for a boat ride to the volcano...P350.
The ride back to the main highway was all uphill...payback time. With about 15 lbs of weight on my backpack, it was a butt issue after a while, but it was all good. Going slower this time, I noticed a few fortress-like gates that seemed like private farms by landed locals...wonder what goes on behind those walls.
Sinking on the Race Course
Reaching the race site again, which is really a housing subdivision site where the roads will be, I finally met Andres and some members of Team Ganit. We took a once-over on the race course. While the trails were road-wide and only 2-km short, it was rolling with the soil spongy and damp on some sections. It would prove challenging even to intermediate riders. Think: riding on semi sand. There was a constant cool breeze coming from the lake which made for a funner ride.
Casual chat with Andres revealed the origins of the team name, their vision for the mtb communities within the adjacent towns and future projects with local government. With that, I was off on my saddle again for the next bus to Manila.
This episode gave me a chance to do something I've always wanted to do but never really took seriously...riding the rural backroads, losing myself to forks on the road and just riding, not knowing where the road takes me. The journey promises one of spontaneity, surprises, and discovery. Now, ride ideas come to mind...maybe I can just load my bike on any provincial bus, get off at any point that looks interesting and ride my bike from that point, not knowing where I end up. Cool! Really...totally cool!
Additionally, it's been a while since I last strayed into a new mtb crew to check out their scene. One great thing about mountain biking is, it's not territorial. Any bike crew anywhere in the country is a refuge to anyone on a saddle...for trail talk, for a chain tool or an air pump, mountain biking is just one long chain with all its riders as links, transcending dialect or bike brand.
I'm grateful to Andres and Team Ganit for their Batangas-style hospitality, and to the San Jose MTB Club for helping out. I look forward to joining you guys on the trail at some point. When I lose myself in Batangas, I know you guys are just around the bend. Ala eh!
Comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Andres (Team Ganit)
(Nov 13, 2009) We hope that you could go back here and ride again. You're most welcome !! Salamat ulit..
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