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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The Gear, The Goods and the Bulky: Review of Rig for the Marinduque Loop

In an earlier post, ive described our itinerary for our trip. This time, I go into detail with the bike and gear used.

Before I proceed, some points to consider:

  1. I always believe that there are many ways to build your bike depending on your riding style, budget and preferences of components. I believe that getting something that is mid priced will be more economically valuable in the long run.
  1. I pack heavy in the belief that in the long run, bringing the essentials with you will make the tour comfortable. You don’t want to bug other riders with an extension cord or would want to risk yourself getting a parasitic infection with not wearing slippers during overnight stops (but that’s just me)

Weapon of Choice: Surly Crosscheck (Ms. Bridgette Jones)

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I currently have three bikes in my stable and among the three, this bike has three distinct builds Dr Jekyll (Single Speed Commuter), Mr Hyde (Cyclocross), Bridgette Jones (Hybrid tourer). For this trip, I decided to use the third variation and below are the build specs:

Frameset-Surly Crosscheck

Drivetrain- Tiagra Crank (170mm), Absolute black oval narrowide  chain ring 36t 110BCD, Shimano XT rd and right shifter, Sunrace 10 speed cogs 11-42t

Cockpit-Jones Loop with Ergon GP1 grips, Salsa Guide Stem (90mm, 6 deg rise)

Wheelset-Alex Adventurer rims, novatech road hubs laced with DT swiss champion spokes and panaracer comet hardpack 700c x 38 (available at Pao Bicycle Shop https://www.facebook.com/paobicycleshop/)

Saddle-Brooks C17 cambium carved

While this may be my first time to try Ms. Jones on a tour, it didn’t disappoint. In terms of adequacy in dealing with variations in terrain, the 1×10 setup proves to be satisfactory as it can speed up in flats and provides good performance in climbs. Though the Marinduque loop has its fair share of stretches of gradual elevation (as per strava, the total elevation gain is around 2600m), the setup appears to be quite responsive and didn’t wear me down during climbs.

In this build, there are two things that I found concerning though. My steerer tube is a bit high due to the differences in setup…it’s much lower when I have it setup as a CX bike and quite high whenever it’s on SS or Hybrid. And in terms of handling, the cockpit tends to be twitchy. Second, is that when dealing with dirt roads or potholes, the slender frame and thin fork of the Crosscheck may not be too adequate in dealing with road vibrations. Nonetheless, these are some minor shortcomings im fine with given that the tour has been a short one.

In terms of cargo handling, I found it quite satisfactory. While I intended this build to go rackless or (semirackless), it can accommodate an assortment of bags for the trip.  Since i decided to go semi rackless, ive used Free parable designs’ Gorilla Clips to mount waterbottle cages on the side of the fork

In the next section, I review some of the specific gear used in the tour:

Jones Loop

Ive heard many positive reviews about this handlebar and true enough, it is a versatile piece. As a curved handlebar, it simulates a relaxed arm/hand position and given that the bars allow you to use several hand positions (for climbs, aero like posture and touring), I can say that the Jones loop is a great handlebar if you intend to do extended tours in varying terrain.

Absolute black Oval Chainring

While the recent trend in oval chain rings have been mixed, I found this as a really good piece if you like a 1x setup. Though I had one instance of chain drop (too much downshifting!), the oval chain rings shines as it lessens if not eliminates pedaling deadspots during climbs.

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Revelate designs’ Straggle Check Frame bag

Designed for either the Surly Crosscheck/Straggler, this full framepack is quite roomy as I was able to fit tools, personal stuff, toiletries and even a pair of slippers. True to its producers’ promise, the bag is made of water resistant material and has kept my stuff dry amidst rain and the seawater splashes during the ferry trip. Though I felt that the bag was underutilized, riders who love to pack light will find this a good bikepacking bag. No leg rub was experienced and one interesting feature that I find advantageous in using this is that it serves as a natural “parachute” that can lessen speed during steep descents…but can also be a problem when you encounter strong headwind (what I call as a sailboat effect hahaha)

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Portland Designs Bindle Rack

I got this piece a few days before the trip and I can say that this may be the best seatpost rack in the market. As it addresses most problems of bikepacking saddlebags available in the market such as swaying/sagging, waterproofing, saddle compatibility and possibility of tire rub. Paired with the Revelate Designs Terrapin Drybag, My clothing remained dry and cargo stable. Though some may find the bindle rack as a piece of added weight, the difference appears to be minimal.

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Ostrich s2 Saddlebag

Elsewhere, ive seen riders use this as a handlebar bag and during my short commutes, ive used this as such whenever I have the jones loop attached to the bike. There are two positive things ive experienced in using this one. Much like the framebag, this allows easy access to your stuff as you don’t need to remove the bag just to get your stuff. Also, since I felt twitching due to the high steerer tube, attaching the bag helps in stabilizing your steering which made descents and climbs more secure.

IMG_0349.jpgOverall, I felt that the gear used worked well for their intended purpose of light touring and while there are several alternatives available, mixing and matching different gear will definitely be of help in attaining that perfect weapon of choice

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