Infanta Loop

This past week, we had a long week vacation due to the ASEAN summit. There were several groups and individuals who had multi-day trips and a couple of friends and i decided to do the Infanta Loop in Quezon province, southeast of Luzon, Philippines.

 

Almost a hundred Kms of flats before the climb to Real, Quezon

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Starting in Alabang, we proceeded further south by traveling to Laguna until reaching Famy, Laguna early afternoon. The climb from Famy to Real, Quezon was approximately 15km and luckily it was drizzling making the climb more manageable. After descending a good distance (about 10km), we reached Real around 630pm. We checked in at the Pacific Recreation Kamp and were welcomed by a pack of white dogs (who were really nice by the way)

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Resting en route to Real, Quezon (courtesy of JT Tanangonan)
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a long way to go

 

At the Camp with our white doggy hosts

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Rates at the homestay, there is a store that serve home cooked meals as well

the long way home

We left the resort at 730 and it was nice 20km stroll to Infanta, Quezon and started our climb back to Manila (via the Marilaque highway). As far as i recall, it was a long stretch of climbs of gradual and some steep sections (around 20km in total at least). As a consolation though, weather was fair (certain parts of the route had a different climate due to the elevation and land mass-that’s why we encountered rain all day) and very few vehicles would pass…the view was stunning as well.

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along the Marilaque Highway (courtesy of JT Tanangonan)

Silent Hill Cycling (Courtesy of JT Tanangonan)

 

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more climbs over weird weather

Road Construction-what do we get to the other side?!

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Still figuring it out LOL (Courtesy of Cholo Reyes)

One challenge though is that the bridge connecting Infanta to the next part of the highway heading home was under construction and good thing is, the locals and workers helped us transport our bikes to the other side.

At Jariel’s peak heading home (courtesy of JT Tanangonan)

The road home was a bit slow and we got home quite late but the trip was well worth it.

Rider Notes:

  1. The Infanta Loop is a nice quick tour if pressed for time and for someone looking for training for longer trips, this one is a worthy challenge.
  2. The area is also connected to other off road cycling routes worthy of explorations
  3. Weather is one issue that needs to be considered as there are areas with a micro-climate. That is, it can be scorching hot in the lowlands and heavy rain when you get up.
  4. Since the area is less frequented by vehicles in the evening it is advised that you bring strong lights as there are very few street lamps on the way.

 

Cover Photo courtesy of JT Tanangonan

Infanta Loop Route

https://www.strava.com/activities/1273800814

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Lobo-Laiya, Batangas biketour

It’s been 4 month since I did a biketour and I’ve been itching to do a short one before I go from a year long break for work.

Since I started doing long distance trips in 2015, I’ve heard of this famous route among mountain bikers-the laiya-lobo loop in Batangas, Southern Luzon in the Philippines.

Perhaps what makes the ride special is the coastal route and challenging off road sections of this loop…so with some friends, we decided to do this trip in a shortened fashion by starting at Lobo and ending in San Juan, Batangas.

We left Saturday early morning and took the bus  at South Station Alabang (we took the Goldstar bus and they charged Php180-ticket and bike storage included)

Starting in Batangas City Grand Terminal we headed to Lobo Batangas and passed by a Church up the hill…the climbs and pavement were fine though we got stuck when rain hit hard…

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At South Station Alabang
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At the Batangas City Grand Terminal
heading to lobo
with the gang (L-R Fechi Fajardo, Arnel Marasigan & Arnie Herrera)

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loving the climb and view
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The Statue near the Chapel 

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Good thing it was early afternoon (about 230pm) when we reached Lobo town proper and had late lunch…we got to Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort in Lobo Batangas at 5pm and enjoyed the beach.

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at the beach

 

One of the nice things in this trip is that this was the first time that we got supplies from the town market and cooked our meals (thank goodness to our companions Arnie and Fechi for cooking our dinner and breakfast the next day!)

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a well cooked meal!
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a rare unicorn! hahaha

The next day, we headed to Laiya and this is where the (off road) adventure began…

The Malabrigo Lighthouse, Lobo Batangas

Aside from brutal climbs, we had to contend with off road terrain but we were rewarded with a great coastline view of this place. Though weather was generally pleasant there were stretches where we needed to stop and take a break from the intense heat…

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Loving that climb

Off road cycling (Courtesy of Fechi Fajardo)

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With Fellow Surly fffinas member- Jong who did a camping trip with his son
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Lunch
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Finally at Laiya!
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Loading our bikes at the Alps Bus

We were able to reach San Juan Batangas around 430pm and took the bus at the Alps Station and got back to Alabang around 730 in the evening.

Though we only traveled 110km in total, the off road section which spanned about 20-25km was a great but physically challenging experience and I look forward to doing more off road tours in the future.

Ride Notes:

  1. Many recommend the full loop which is about 270-300km if coming from Manila (distance depends on where you’re coming from) but I believe the off road sections will definitely be a test of physical endurance as the terrain can vary from light to harsh (fireroads, rocky paths filled with goatheads which are notorious in causing flats and even unfinished pavement). Therefore, it is strategic to get to Batangas City or San Juan via bus to conserve that needed energy for the climbs and off road sections.
  2. Very few stores can be seen along the way and therefore it is important to stock on water and small snack items to keep you going.
  3. Punta Malabrigo Beach resort charges 2500 for a night good for 4 people in its cottage. You could also camp for a cheaper rate as they have a wide variety of options. We just got a room since weather wasn’t really all sunny.
  4. There are very few restaurants along the way and it’s advisable to get food to cook from the public market in Lobo Town Proper.
  5. Suspension forks will be a great plus as the rocky terrain will definitely shake your body during the trip.

Here’s the strava route of our trip if you’re interested in doing this as well

https://www.strava.com/activities/1143153528

Cycling Yogyakarta, Indonesia

This was one trip where i regret not bringing a bicycle…I was fortunate to attend a conference in Yogyarkta, Indonesia and on the side, i was able to take a stroll around the city on foot and on two wheels. Luckily, the hotel where i stayed (Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel. http://www.royalambarrukmo.com/) had bikes to use for free for guests (Ms. Awalia, one of the hotel staff helped me out with my route and other concerns during my stay).

Since traffic was heavy in the city, it was manageable to stroll through roads considering that vehicles were slow (had to be careful though with motorcycles and most of the streets are one-way)…from the hotel, i got to Malioboro Street, the popular tourist location where many key sites are found.

 

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one of the few bikeshops in Yogyakarta
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the ever busy Malioboro Street
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riding on two wheels with the conquer top tube bag for gadgets and small stuff

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If you intend to visit Yogyakarta, you can’t miss the temples at Borobudur and Prambanan as well. I wasn’t on a bike but these massive sites will definitely give you a great workout as you walk through these structures.

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Perhaps next time, i’ll bring my rig and tour Indonesia as it is definitely worth it!

Some tips:

  1. Cycling may be a bit of an adjustment since vehicles move with a left hand drive orientation (it’s right hand in the Philippines).
  2. Uber works in Yogyakarta! since Borobudur and Prambanan was about 40km away from my hotel the driver struck a deal with me to drive me on both sites and bring me back to the hotel on a lower price.
  3. If you visit Borobudur and Prambanan, consider getting the combo ticket (about usd 40 to save 10 dollars)
  4. Food is cheap but very spicy so dont forget when you order to say ‘gak pedas’/’tidak pedas’ or not spicy

Surly Troll Single Speed Trail Build

After touring the Philippines by bike (which you can read stuff about the tour here by the way https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2017/04/05/biketouring-the-philippines-preliminaries-and-leg-1-manila-to-matnog-sorsogon/), i decided to take a rest from long distance cycling and for three months, I’ve taken shorts trips around the metro.

Since 2012, i’ve ridden exclusively in paved roads (well, except for occasional unpaved ones in routes we’ve done) and curiosity of doing trails bit me. Since my Surly Troll was an off road touring bike by design, I had the bike reconfigured into a single speed off road rig.

 

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setup courtesy of Ross Cycles
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Grimace the Troll with his pet Fleegle the Beagle!

Specs:

Frame: Surly Troll 2013 model

Fork: Epicon 2011 model, 100mm travel

Wheelset:

Araya TF840 rims, 32 holes, Surly Ultra New Hubs (Front), Hope Pro 2 Trails Single Speed Specific Hub (Rear), Origin 8 Spokes, WTB Race Nano Tires (26×2.1)

Drivetrain:

Truvativ Firex 1.1 with Hope 36 chainring, surly cog 18t

Brakes:

Avid BB7

Cockpit:

Stem: Ritchey 90mm, Handlebar: On One Fleegle, 25.4 clamping

So far, ive tried this rig at the Filinvest and Malipay Trails down south and handles quite well in the xc portions and the bike is stable with climbs and some jumps (not to high though!). In the future, i look forward to doing tours on the off road path and for now, this build is helping me develop a new skill set for exciting new routes in the future

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Got Goat?
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At the Filinvest Trails
lovin mud
loving all that mud!

Build, Ride, Inspire: Dean and Dang’s biketour of the Americas

In the Philippines, it’s very rare that you get to hear fellow Filipinos doing biketours outside the country. I first encountered Dean Cunanan and Dang Huervos’ adventures in bikepacking.com (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/oh-boyaca-colombia/)  and crazyguy on a bike (https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1mr&doc_id=14353&v=1jx). I was really impressed with the amount of detail and generous advice given by these two in their entries and it was a fine treat to actually meet them in person in a talk organized by Lagalag Store Manila. (https://www.facebook.com/lagalagstoremanila/).

 

IMG_3406.JPG The placed was packed with people and aside from descriptions of their adventures, we were treated to wonderful photos of their exploits of their trip from Canada, Alaska to the Mainland US and parts of South America.IMG_3409.JPG

What i found interesting is the pieces of advice i got from them such as running tubeless for tours, keeping costs at minimum, taking the lesser known routes, knowing the mother tongue of the place your heading to and anecdotes of experiences that shows a nuanced and fulfilling experience.

For those who may be experienced in doing tours locally but are still clueless on how is it like to go on two wheels in a foreign land, Dean and Dang’s experiences paves the way for most of us dreaming of going out of the confines of home on a bike.

A visit to Decathlon Philippines

I first visited Decathlon earlier this year when i was in Singapore. A friend told me that this superstore had a range of sports gear for different activities at friendly prices. Since ive been on the look out for small parts for touring, i wasnt disappointed with Decathlon’s inventory (got my bikestand and cage mounts here!). This month, Decathlon opened its first branch in the Philippines and didnt disappoint. Occupying a large area on the second floor of Festival Mall, Alabang, a couple of friends and i visited the branch.

True enough much like their Singapore counterparts, Decathlon Philippines had a wide variety of sports items (even horseback riding!) at friendly prices.

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They carry the Quechua brand for camping and outdoor gear

For the bike tourer/cycling enthusiast, the house brand called BTWIN has decently priced bikes with satisfactory specs (i predict these can even rival the budget friendly Trinx brand that’s popular in the Philippines). What appealed to me is the large inventory of small items for the bike tourer-bags, accessories such as bike stands, pump, and even cages as well as racks. In addition, the camping gear section also has budget friendly items -sleeping bags, tents and hammocks which may be expensive in some stores.

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What i found also appealing is that the staff were really courteous and spent time talking to us about our gear and cycling trips. hopefully, in the years to come, the staff will maintain this to attract more customers.

While i cant say that the cycling/touring gear will be topnotch as opposed to established brands (dont look for ortliebs, revelate designs or a Surly here), Decathlon addresses the needs of those wanting to try bike touring or even bike to work at very minimal cost…so go check it out!

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the hundred peso bike pump!

 

 

A long term review of the Surly Troll

After 15 months and close to 6,000km of bike touring and commuting using this rig, I offer my long term review of the Surly Troll. While other riders have written similar reviews with more distance covered in varying terrain, I focus my review on the observed strengths and shortcomings in a range of purposes.

The Troll shines in three areas: versatility, comfort and cargo hauling

Dubbed as an apocalypse bike, the Surly Troll is a 26er touring bike made of Chromoly steel. The beefy build is complemented with a versatile set of dropouts that can accommodate a variety of drivetrain builds (Single Speed, Geared, Rohloff/IGH) as well as ample clearance for wide tires (as wide as 2.75). Some have even used 27.5/29 wheels for this build.

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Using for touring and commuting, ive setup the troll as geared and single speed. With the capacity to accept different parts, I didn’t experience problems with using existing parts from previous bikes (when I got the frame early 2016, I simply had the parts transferred from my old Cannondale badboy-which makes this model an economically sensible purchase).

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As regards comfort, the Troll allows you to ride in a relaxed position. Whether you’re cruising or tackling steep climbs, the frame geometry allows you to securely position yourself for a much more enjoyable ride. Moreover, the solid construction of the frame assures you that you’re ready to deal with a variety of terrain as the chromoly steel material can take a lot of punishment and satisfactorily flexes for more comfort. Personally, with the 26/27.5 and 29 configurations, I felt that the Troll was perfect for me as I didn’t experience toe overlap and  climbs have been more manageable as opposed to using a 700c/29er bike.

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Finally for cargo hauling, I believe the troll is perfect for those doing lengthy tours, bike commuting and carrying light/heavy stuff using your bike. With a lot of bottlecage, rack and fender mounts, you’re sure not run out of attachment points for your racks and others.

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Overall, though I believe that any bike can be made into something to fit your purposes, the Surly Troll’s features obviously makes conversions easier to meet your expectations.

you can check out one of builds i used in a tour here

https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2016/12/10/the-gear-the-goods-and-the-bulky-review-of-gear-for-sagada-loop-45/