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mountain biking

The Frenchman's Revenge January 1, 2007

The Frenchman's Revenge

The Now-Familiar Marlboro Country
New Year's day! What a great way to start the year by getting saddle time with the usual suspects, including the inscrutable frenchman, Aklay. It casually started out as a benign invite to ride Marlboro Country. At this point, the Marlboro trail is already familiar. After it has been graded, the once undoable uphill is now a formidable can-do. By tuning in to the ups and downs of the terrain, I now have a rhythm of bombing down the downhills to build momentum to push me up the next climb. Nailing that roller coaster ride in one fell swoop not only economizes on energy but serves as a feel-good tap on the shoulder.

The Balangagan Route
Everything was according to routine until we finished our rest stop in Marlboro Country and ready to head home. Instead of heading back the same way, Aklay took us to an alternate route that would land us in Balangagan. With the exception of Aklay, who's done it once before, no one had an inkling how to get about it.

Wrong Equipment
We started out portaging the bikes on steep descents...fine, a little price of admission. Then we portaged our bikes through thorny overgrowth, practically blazing our way through the trails. Bruised with cuts, I was beginning to think, "...when the heck do we begin to ride?". Nobody was bitching so I thought it was just me. I kept silent and trodded on. Then the trails turned into sharp pointed boulders where we had to carry our bikes over....then more thorny bushes adding more to our bruises...then more unridable steep descents. Now, I was thinking, "...shouldn't I be wearing hiking boots and a backpack for this?...instead of carrying a mountain bike on spuds?"

Did we actually get to ride the bikes? Yes, but they were short, few and far in between. The upside? In fairness, while portaging the bikes, we came upon spectacular views that spanned the Cordillera range in view of quaint distant villages. Upon arriving at Balangagan, the trail took on a long steep climb through dirt and paved roads through Suyo up to Sagada Poblacion. When you're exhausted from carrying your bike for too long, a climb like this is a killer...but that's a good thing.

Common Thoughts
By the time we got back, Joey told me, "Now you know what it's like to have an afternoon bike ride with Aklay". Steve remarked, "...another Aklay ride". Ha! It wasn't just me.

Ending Thoughts
When I first met Aklay, he remarked that he usually rides or hikes alone because people who've riden with him don't join him again. I really didn't understand what he meant until this ride.

--- TheLoneRider

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