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
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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

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
lovin mud
loving all that mud!

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/

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

Bike Touring the Philippines Leg 6: Palawan and Final Thoughts

Biketouring the Philippines: Leg 6 (Palawan & Final Thoughts)

In this final entry about our tour of the Philippine Islands, we focus on one set of islands-Palawan which is part of Western Luzon.

Days 29-31 (Approximately 40km total)

Heading back home to Manila from Western Visayas, three of us (Jiggs, Edan and I) took two boat trips to Coron (Iloilo to Puerto Prinsesa with a stopover to Cuyo & Puerto Prinsesa to Coron)

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the bunks at Milagrosa

Scenes at Cuyo

The nice sandbar/white beach in Cuyo (perfect for kitesurfing!)

Heading to Puerto Prinsesa from Iloilo, we took the Milagrosa shipping lines (Php 1,200 for deluxe accommodations 36 hours). We also had a 6 hours stopover at Cuyo which is a small island with a great white beach and sandbar-the best thing is…it’s free!

After that stopover, we boarded the ship again to head to Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan. Good thing, I had a friend (former student) who hosted us for the day and she directed us to head to Aldo’s pension Inn which was very spacious and provided all our needs. Since we  almost had a whole day, we decided to head to the crocodile farm and saw some other wildlife in the park. We were off at 8pm from Puerto Prinsesa for that 16 hour trip to Coron.

With Janet Oab of Puerto Prinsesa Palawan at Aldo’s Pension Inn

The Crocodile Farm and Conservation Center

Different stages of development

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At the Provincial Capitol and a must try restaurant “Ka-Lui”

Days 32-35 (approximately 60km Total)

When we arrived, a friend who had a resthouse in Coron requested some folks from the island to pick us up and brought us to the Kubo sa Gubat (Hut in the Forest) for our accommodation. It was indeed a very nice place as  we were surrounded by heavy vegetation. And for the next few days, we went to different islands and spots in Coron such as the Barracuda lake, Twin Lagoons, the public beach. Morover, we also hiked up to Mt. Tapyas (around 700 plus steps!) and spent a couple of hours at the Maquinit hotsprings which was a few kilometers away from the port.

At our friend place “kubo sa gubat” (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

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the chapel at the hill

Barracuda Lake

The twin lagoons

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A floating restaurant

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Kingfisher Park

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The trek to Mt. Tapyas

At the Maquinit Hotspring

 

Day 36-37

We took the 430pm trip via Superferry from Coron to Manila and arrived at 730 in the morning the next day to end our tour

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Final thoughts

 

  1. I believe that the Palawan leg is a good way to end the loop because very little cycling was done to cap off a lengthy tour. While there are many activities here, touring the island by bike might also be another option in the future though there are very few towns (and are far apart) in Palawan.
  2. Coron has that “otherworldly” character. That is, it’s landscapes and bodies of water are pristinely preserved as locals are highly engaged and very much protective of their lands.
  3. With tourism as the main industry in Palawan, expect costs of goods to be quite expensive. Therefore, it is practical to have your hosts/hotel staff cook meals for you. You can buy canned food and other meats at the public market.
  4. Overall, I felt that after several weeks on the road, bike touring the Philippines may be much more manageable if one goes around in specific regions/islands as transfers by boat can be tiresome and inefficient. For instance, boat schedules, port locations and even destinations vary from region to region which can greatly affect the scheduling of your biketour.

In sum, I believe that biketouring the Philippines has been a worthwhile experience and something others should look forward to in the future…

 

Cover Photo Courtesy of Sagada Loopers

 

We’re grateful to several people our friends as well as fellow riders from the different places we’ve visited around the country who have offered help and assistance during our trip.

Also, we’re thankful to Sorsogon (esp. Natalie Grace Gestre & Cyrk Ryan Lim), Cebu (Hillboy Honoridez), Iloilo (Del Britanico & Harvey Dhash), Leyte (Junnie & Glenda Cadiente), Bacolod (Carla Alcantara & Yvonne Velasco), Palawan (Prixie Tan-Cruz & Janet Oab).

Myles Jamito of Mount Anywhere and Sam and Anthony Lau of Ross bikeshop for their continued support.