Marin Four Corners: Initial Impressions

I’ve had the Marin Four Corners for about 3 months now but i havent had a chance to tour with it. Recently, a couple of friends and i had a short multiday trip up north and used this bike for that purpose.

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For starters, the Marin Four Corners  (check the specs here https://www.marinbikes.com/bikes/2019-pavement-drop-bar-utilitour-four-corners) was designed for bikepacking expeditions.

Made of chromoly steel, lots of mounting points for racks and cages, the frame also features varying wheelsizes depending on the size you’d get. In my case, i got the small size with 650b wheels. In terms of drivetrain, it sports Shimano sora 3×9 components with 50-39-30 upfront and 11-34 for the sproket. For stopping power, it has the TRP spyre mechanical brakes. the rest of the pieces are typical OEM components with the exception of the tires which are wtb resolutes (650bx42)40025462_10212822169855755_7147014241277444096_n

In terms of the ride, the Marin four corners reminded me of the Surly Disc Trucker on 650b wheels-slow yet the low bb height and chainstay length gave you sure footed stability during climbs. While i haven’t loaded this much as i packed light during the tour, i felt that the bike has a livelier feel when loaded with racks and panniers.

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With regard to gearing, i felt that this was adequate giving a wide range of gear ratios, the 3×9 sora can definitely be a good option for long haul touring. while it is the first time ive used TRP mech brakes, there’s nothing really special about them. it does the stopping with fine modulation. One of the interesting things about the stock build is the compact 12 degree flared drops which to me were comfortable despite the sizing (mine had 40mm width). It reminded me of the soma condor in terms of comfort as you would prefer to stay on the drops while cruising.

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While the recent trip ive had gave me an idea of the comfort and adequacy of the Marin four corners for touring, what i look forward doing with this bike is some off road expeditions as well as loaded trips using racks/panniers.

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Overall, similar to the Marin Pine mountain, the Four corners’ specs are value for money for a built bike which may appeal to those interested in starting their own expeditions on two wheels without breaking the bank.

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Bike Adventure: Tingloy, Batangas, Philippines

Batangas, which is located south of Luzon, Philippines features one of the best diving spots in the region. Though I have had a couple of day tours and a 2 days bike trip, a couple of friends and I organized a tour on the island of Tingloy in Batangas. I’ve heard of the enticing beach in this place but what intrigued me is the bike route that lies ahead. Given the summer season, this tour was  perfect to do cycling and swimming.

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Masasa Beach, Tingloy Batangas
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meetup at Buendia, Pasay

We were 13 riders in total and met at the Buendia bus station in Pasay and left 2 in the morning to catch the first trip of the day. After 3 hours, we arrived at Batangas Grand Terminal and pedaled roughly 20km on our way towards Anilao port passing by the town of Mabini and others.

heading to the port early morning

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lock and loaded (Courtesy of Rai Reyes)
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steel forks on sea water!

 

After going to the market for food and supplies, dealing with our boat captain, loading our bikes on the boat and We got to Tingloy island around 8 in the morning and started our trip towards Masasa beach, the popular public beach in the Island. While the route was quite straightforward and mostly paved, we were amazed with the site of the beach as well as the rock formation around the area.

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mini lagoon

heading to the rock formation

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climbing back

After a long climb back to head to the town proper, we decided to proceed to another beach in the island and explore the backroads after a light snack. The road to the beach was both an exciting yet challenging one as it was a combination of paved, hardpack and singletrack paths. Though it was estimated that the backroad to the other beach was about 7km, the intense heat, varying degrees of elevation of climbs and terrain made the trip an ordeal. We arrived at the beach early afternoon and setup camp. Good thing there was a nice homestay that allowed us to stay for the night.

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another beach (courtesy of Rai Reyes)
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taking a dip (courtesy of Rai Reyes)
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as the sun sets (Courtesy of Rai Reyes)
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Grilling it (courtesy of Julie Alparan)

For the second day, some friends went to the beach for another round of swimming while others just relaxed in different areas. After meals, we were picked up by the boat at 2pm and got to Anilao port an hour later. Getting to the terminal early evening, we left for Alabang terminal at 630pm and got back to the city around 9pm.

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heading home

 

Rider Notes:

While i’d recommend Tingloy Batangas as a short get away tour for those who have limited days off and budget, there are several considerations:

 

  1. For an island trip that runs around approximately 15km, this has got to be one of the most challenging routes for me due to the heat, climbs and terrain. Aside from steep climbs on paved and trail paths, we had to contend with fist sized rocks throughout the offroad parts (about 40%) and in some of the steep descents. Though CX bikes can manage this, plus/fat bikes are very much capable of handling the terrain in the island. Of course, skills in trail riding helps.

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  1. The cost of the bus from Buendia to Batangas is 160Php but we were ripped off by the DLTB bus as they charged 200 pesos per bike! Good thing the ALPS bus service going back home didn’t charge any for bike storage.
  2. Heading to the Tingloy Island from Anilao port can be tricky as boat trip schedules can be tight . Though you can take the regular trips for as little as 70 Php (which you may arrive late morning in the island as we have seen with other bikers during our trip), it is advised to go with a group and arrange transfers with other boats and negotiate the price. For our trip, we spent 730 per person for roundtrip transfers. Sure it may be pricey, but we chose our own schedules our stuff was secured by the staff throughout the trip as we were the only passengers on the boat.
  3. Since bike tours help you manage expectations, it is best that items such as cooksets, canned food and water filters are brought when you do this as stores charge higher for items in the island and there are very few them. Also, the island cuts power at 12 midnight and resumes at 12 noon.
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camp food! (Courtesy of Julie Alparan)

Check out the strava route here:

https://www.strava.com/activities/1539231565

 

 

 

Corregidor Biketour

Historically, the Philippines has been instrumental in the Second World War due to its strategic location for the western allies. Corregidor island is one of those sites that has not only been used by the American and Filipino forces to defend the country, but is a historically rich island filled with stories of valour and hardship.

Converted into a tourist destination, I’ve heard stories from friends that Corregidor Island offers bikers a chance to go and experience history on two wheels.

A month ago, a couple of friends and I availed of the Corregidor biketour offered by Sun Cruises (you can check out the details here http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/activities.html)

Leaving early morning from the Seaside terminal near Mall of Asia, the ferry trip lasted about 2 hours. Once we got to Corregidor, our guide met us and gave us an orientation on what to expect during the tour.

From different military buildings established by the Americans, to heavy cannons, the spooky tunnel to a Japanese memorial and the local museum, Corregidor island has everything to offer for the history buff. Aside from great sites, the ride is pretty straightforward-a climb here and there, a nice view of the beach and plenty of scenery!

We opted to stay for the night and had a good time going around the island the  next morning. Overall, the Corregidor biketour is an ideal itinerary for those intending to do relaxing cycling trips in preparation for longer biketours.

 

Fully loaded and all aboard

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The start of the tour

Ride Orientation

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the beach
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up the war memorial zone

Some of the Military Structures destroyed during the War

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The Cannons of Corregidor

Japanese Memorial and War Museum

 

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the  Spooky Tunnel

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Hostel and mealtime

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Lovin the Buffet
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Strike a pose
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heading home

Ride notes:

  1. The ferrytrip costs Php 2000. this includes the roundtrip fare, bike stowage fees (the staff will load your bikes), buffet lunch and guide (it’s advised to give a tip to your guide after the tour). It is also advised to book your tickets early as ferries that shuttle from Manila to Corregidor have a limit on the number of bikes allowed on the cargo. Also, you’ll need to fill out a waiver and bring the necessary gear (helmet, tools etc before loading).
  2. Sun Cruises can also help you with reservations in the hostel (good for 25 people). the hostel charges Php500 per person for overnight stay. The hostel is quite basic, a large air-conditioned room, with plenty of  double deck beds, a shared bath,  and drinking water dispenser is provided.
  3. The buffet is the only meal provided in the tour. though there are several stores around the island, it is advised to bring food with you. In our case, we brought food and cooked in the hostel

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

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
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loving all that mud!

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!

 

 

Review of Ortlieb bikepacking framebag

During a 37 day tour of the Philippines, one of the things that i took note of is particular pieces of gear used during the trip (check out the first entry here https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2017/04/05/biketouring-the-philippines-preliminaries-and-leg-1-manila-to-matnog-sorsogon/). One of which is the Ortlieb bikepacking framebag (you can check the specs here https://www.ortlieb.com/en/Frame-Pack/). Ortlieb is one of the premiere companies providing quality touring bags for decades and its 100% waterproof! Similar to their panniers, the framebag uses the same fabric -PU laminated ripstop nylon-light, strong and durable.

There are a couple of features that makes the framebag an excellent piece of equipment for tours:

  1. adjustable straps to adapt to different frame designs and uses a combination of velcro and smooth cloth protecting your frame.
  2. The straps are robustly made-assuring you that you wont have problems making sure your framebag stays in place.
  3. The single compartment design with internal velcro strap prevents complicated use and even bulging when loaded.
  4. I particularly like this framebag as it fits the small Surly Troll perfectly and other similarly sloping downtube bikes in the market (i got the medium sized version)
  5. The heavy duty zipper is not only waterproof but can be locked  when closed making sure that rain will not enter the bag.
  6. The medium size that i got can fit about 4 liters of gear. In the case of the tour, i placed all my personal stuff, gadgets, small items and even a small tab and fits perfectly.
  7. During the tour, we experienced light to heavy rain and several boat trips and my gear remained dry throughout the trip.

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I got my framebag from Green Basikal in Singapore (https://www.facebook.com/theGreenBasikal/). You can check out other online shops for this item