When I started doing long distance trips in early 2015, I came across this person who kept on sharing wonderful pictures of bikers heading to Sagada in several facebook groups… This person called himself the Sagada Loopers…
Honestly, I found biking to Sagada a totally extreme (and crazy) idea-I remember taking the bus trip there a couple of years ago and aside from being nauseous, it was just plain boring as the roads seem to be winding and the hours passed just noticing all roads-high and low and I didn’t remember anything in the path…from someone starting out doing long distance cycling trips, I thought, this could be a trip with climbing punishment written all over.
Through a common friend, Jiggs Veloso, I heard about the Sagada Loopers…and if biking to the place was crazy enough, I was told that he was doing it several times-even days at an interval-I thought to myself, he must have all the time in the world to do this!
I met Edan in April 2016 when I joined Sagada loop 43 with members of the Centurion Cycling Club-he was quiet and calm…throughout the trip we had a chance to chat especially during the tough climbs (and there are many in this loop)-ranging from politics, gear (which he admits he has never been to conscious of in his arsenal of bikes) and different subjects. The group parted with him in Baguio (it was day 8 already) and all of us took the bus while he finished the loop on his own.
Again, we were reunited with the Sagada Loopers in November 2016 with a couple of new faces (Jiggs and I did it again-Buboy, Rahnel and Mark were on their first Sagada loop) and we managed to finish it this time with a lot of lessons and stories to share
From those trips I learned a lot of things from him…
Why bike all the way to Sagada?
To paraphrase, he said that a friend of his always would talk about the beauty of Sagada in the mountain province and one day his friend took him on a road trip and from there, he took note of the route…since he didn’t have much resources, he turned to cycling and from there, he would take this epic route spanning close to 900km on two wheels. Hence, making the Sagada loop- “the poor man’s ride”
Doing the route multiple times, he has met locals who have shared their homes, whatever resources they had to make Edan and his companions’ lives comfortable. In fact, this probably makes the Sagada loop similar to those epic trips done by tourers abroad-locals-total strangers become sources of strength for the rider as they contribute in many ways. Whether through food, drink or shelter, these “good Samaritans” become part of the Sagada loop experience.
Which leads me to the second important lesson. While bike touring imposes great demands on the rider physically, Edan’s loop has been a spiritual experience-one that allows you to appreciate the very little things people often take for granted. He would often say, for a few days, you sleep on the cold hard floor, take extremely cold showers, don’t get to see a 711 to buy ice cold drinks or whatever common things that are of reach to you are taken out when you do the loop…in the hope that you become much more appreciative of these when we go back home.
In a different light, he’s good at teaching his fellow riders to come into humbling terms with nature. I recall that in both trips, bad weather was always commonplace and while some may choose to risk riding under the rain to get to the target of the day, he would often choose safety and caution over the destination. Landslides, thick fog, fast cars and careless motorists are common here he claims and it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience to finish the loop sick or injured.
Moreover, his keen sense of timing is a lesson for students of the discipline. As a talented photographer, he would wait for the right time when the sun’s rays would hit the fallen leaves from trees to create the glow of autumn along the side streets of the Halsema highway or would stop other riders to witness the setting sun as clouds dance around the mountains. Using nature as a wonderful backdrop, he’d instruct his companions to pose and ride for that perfect photograph. It would seem to me that the essence of the trip can be likened to the tourist experience where Edan encourages his companions to savour the sense of place. “Minsan ka lang makakapagbike dito at dapat enjoyin mo” (you don’t get to cycle here often and you might as well enjoy the experience of this whole place) he’d say. True enough, many spots that were covered in fog last time I did the loop had been clear and very much pleasant to see!
But most of all, perhaps his greatest trait of all is his patience and encouragement to others. I recall last April during my first Sagada loop, I have been skeptical as to the kind of skill level needed for bikers to do this and he’d say, even those who have not been able to do multiday rides or long distance trips have finished the loop. In Sagada loop 45, I understood his point. While the riders that joined were not trained intensively (but love to ride leisurely), he encouraged us to endure, to take time and finish what we started. Indeed, the experience of this loop is tough yet, something you’d like to do over and over again because it has been an enjoyable trip.
To end, I think, the cycling community in the Philippines is blessed to have Edan around. A bike tourer who isn’t just riding for the sake of reaching a destination but someone who inspires others to create their own meaning in life through an epic journey on two wheels.
- feature image courtesy of Sagada Loopers