Riding Sagada-Banaue-Sagada for the Pinoy Ultra Runners

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mountain biking

Lift Off!February 8, 2008

Riding Sagada-Banaue-Sagada for the Pinoy Ultra Runners

In support of the ultra marathon runners, I'd be biking from Sagada to Banaue to hook up with them, and be one of the support bikers as they complete their run from Banaue to Sagada - a total of 68 kms along the Cordillera's mountain range, the highest point crossing over Mt. Polis pass. I had some compelling reasons to do this:
  • it will be my first epic ride. I've always been a technical single-track rider but epic rides have long teased me.
  • I'll be supporting not just your average runner, but the Pinoy Ultra Runner, most of them UP Mountaineers members.
  • I'll be riding with Bambi - a Bontoc local who went far and wide out of his geographic sphere to scale the mountain passes of China, Thailand and other SouthEast Asian countries. I was curious to hear about his tales.

Off For Banaue
Bambi and I started out from the Sagada church bell at 6:30 am. It was a fast downhill run to Dantay (think 30 solid minutes of pure white-knuckle!). Breakfast in Bontoc and we were off to the next village, Talubin. We took a quick snack and started our climb to Mt. Polis. I was distracted from the difficulty of the climb because I was all ears hearing about Bambi's travel stories. Furthermore, we weren't pushing it...the scenery was simply too majectic to be passed off.

Street Lunch
As good fortune would have it, we came upon a street lunch by workers who just finished a planting conservation project. They were heading off the rapid expansion of pine trees by planting local herbs. To celebrate, the boss requested a hunt for a wild pig. They had it roasted with the usual green onion and vinegar....whoa! The pig skin was thin and the fat was thinly layered with meat...excellent 'pulutan'. Kicking it up a notch, we washed it down with rice wine (tapuey)...not the touristy type of tapuey, but the genuine article...rice and all! I might as well be feasting at a lavish banquet.

Mount Polis
The highest point of the ride was Mt. Polis, where we rested for some hot coffee, cookies and balut. We took our time...no rush...we talked...we ate...we just chilled. When it got cold, it was time to head out for Banaue. It was all downhill from there. I'm not sure, but maybe 1.5 hours of chill downhilling? We arrived Banaue around 4pm, where we checked into Banaue Hotel Dorm where all the support crew and runners were booked.

It was good for me to see familiar UPM faces, meet new ones, and get acquainted with the other support crew, videographers, sponsors, etc - the whole night was a pre-run social. There was an air of excitement in anticipation for the 5am morning start.

Run Day
Wake up call was 4am for breakfast at Las Vegas. Warm-up was at 4:40, and the runners started hitting the pavement a little past 5. It was still dark - lights came in handy. I felt privileged to be supporting 2 of the strongest athletes I know of: Bobby Acosta (he was invited to join the Everest team but had to turn it down due to teaching engagements) and Danny Dematera (Mr. 100K marathon himself). The pace was fast. It was amazing how much ground they covered in so little time. Had they pushed it with no long rests, they would have reached Sagada before noon.

Adobo lunch stop was in Bontoc where Paul joined the runners. I would be supporting Paul as well. It's not everyday I get to support one who scaled the 3 highest peaks in the country within a 2-week time frame. Paul is Da Man. Gawani surprisingly showed up too. Hey, the UPM Sagada (me, Paul and Gawani) were all there...how cool is that? From Bontoc, it was a short run to Dantay, and the long steep climb to Sagada begins. One thing about the Cordillera is that there's hardly a flat area. You're either going up or down...sometimes very steep, and sometimes very long.

Upon reaching Sagada, we gathered at the Rock Inn junction to make for the Poblacion en masse. Pictures...pictures and more pictures. I guess everybody was tired too. I just went home, showered and got ready for Aklay's dinner buffet. Yeah...I can pig-out. I've earned my calories.

Ending Thoughts
Many new things happened for me here...a 2-day epic ride, supporting the Pinoy Ultra Runners across the Cordillera range, seeing Danny "If you're not drooling yet, you're not pushing it" Dematera push the boundaries...even if he had to take pain killers!, being a part of a bigger collective (not being a lonerider), meeting new people, perhaps opened up new possibilities and opportunities, and overall, getting a glimpse of something a little on the unfamiliar side.

Being a private audience to Bambi's travel tales was an added treat. He exudes an openess to what the rest of the world has to offer. He knows what he wants and not afraid to pursue them. It's a paradign I try to sustain myself, and being within his orbit was a good validation.

An added bonus was getting to bond again with my UP Mountaineers brethren. This org is choc-full-of idol materials. We're talking super-fit, super-strong athletes who have developed iron-willed determination to do what others just dream about. I'm honored to be riding and supporting guys I admire and respect.

Yeah, 2 glorious days!

--- TheLoneRider

Comments? Email webmaster@thelonerider.com

Reader Comments:

Remy GaurinoRemy
(Feb 18, 2008) I downloaded the link and I was super impressed and amazed with your story. Your website is fantastic and the articles caught my interest and fancied my thoughts..naks. bihira lang akong magbasa ng blogs nyan ha!!.

Paul Villegas
(Feb 17, 2008) nice article :) thanks for being a great support sa run.:) ayus!:)

DennisDennis Lopez
(Feb 10, 2008) Go UPM Sagada Branch! Thanks again for hosting us this weekend. It was short but definitely sweet. I hope I could find a spare 2 weeks and stay in Sagada to get fat and lazy. hehe

Boy Siojo
(Feb 12, 2008) I would like to thank the whole support crew for a job well done. I have talked to some of the runners and they have nothing but praises for you guys. Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tulong nyo. Till the next run.

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