Monday, October 28, 2013

Kaybiang Tunnel Epic 230+ Bike Night Ride (Marikina, Cavite, Tagaytay, Nasugbu, Kaybiang Tunnel, Maragundon, Naic, Bacoor,Paranaque, Taguig, Marikina) | 23 hours | 4 am to 2:30 am | 26-27 Oct. 2013

Team Centurion Nowie, Jay, Harry. The only picture with all 3 of us in the frame.
Some fellow bikers passing through took our picture.



Are you afraid of the dark? Kaybiang Tunnel signage. Yes, it was really dark.

I. The Climb Up to the Tunnel...

And it was already pitch black by the time we reached the Kaybiang tunnel. The photo above plus a few more photos from Harry Docena and Nowie Pineda taken with our handlebar headlights for lighting was our proof of life.

It was an uneventful, scenic, mostly flat long ride in mid-afternoon from the town going to the base of the mountain then we were hit with steep inclines all the way up to the tunnel which was a surprise. After biking 100plus kilometers from Manila, Nature slapped us with a monstrous Timberland-like asphalt challenge with unforgiving elevation that stretched for miles. And it was already growing dark...

Some pics along Nasugbu-Ternate Highway on the way to the tunnel:

Have a Bloody Halloween. Goofing off at the town center before starting our journey
along the Ternate highway going to the tunnel.

If we only knew the perils of the route we were about to take,
we wouldn't have screwed around and turned back towards the way we came.
Knowledgeable bikers would attack the route in the morning.

But we didn't know any better.

In hindsight, since we got home safe, I'm glad we pushed forward.
Otherwise, we wouldn't have experienced this incredible leg of the journey.
Sometimes, I get stuck over-thinking stuff.

It was a welcome rush just
taking that leap of blind faith, throwing your hands in the air,
and saying "Fuck it, let's just do it."

No Hands Harry. Took off our helmets for awhile so we can cool ourselves down with fresh air.
Hardly any cars passing by. We were biking at a leisurely pace,
totally fucking clueless what we were up against down the long and winding road.

Nowie the Centurion. I hate to admit it, but this guy bikes faster than I do now.
Amazing transformation from a noob to a monster in a very short span of time.

It was so vividly green and lush, I just had to stop and take a photo.
My God, our country is beautiful.

Asphalt gray along a sea of green...

Harry attacking the Ternate road...

A tree-lined road.
I've traveled through farmland before,
but pedaling your way around made me appreciate the view with new eyes.

Man, look at that. Greener than green. Just a few feet from me without a windshield
obstructing the view. So close to earth.

If we turned left, we would be entering the road going to the resort.
But, we kept to the right and kept going toward the mountains and the tunnel beyond.

Nowie didn't want to waste any more time getting his picture taken and told us to move on.
I think he was the only one who realized the urgency of reaching our destination before it grew dark.

A beast of burden doing its thing.

This is me along Ternate highway going towards the tunnel.
This pic sums up what it was like - moving forward, with the looming mountains in the distance
hiding what it had in store for us...
Mother Nature in all her Majesty daring us to conquer that fucking mountain. Bring it on...

That's what an idiot looks like who doesn't have an idea
what was waiting for him several miles down the road.

Taken at the side of the Road atop Pico de Loro resort during sunset while biking our way up
towards the tunnel. Harry was already here taking pics by the time I caught up with him.

So, we hung around resting and taking more photos while we waited for Nowie to arrive.

We could hear music blasting away below at the resort. I didn't wish I was down there.
I was exactly where I wanted to be up here...sweat-soaked, aching and a big stupid grin on my face.

Nothing compares to earning a great reward after a lot of hard work. Earn it.

I love this photo. This slow, clanking mechanical beast has given me the opportunity
to really enjoy the natural beauty that I would have otherwise just glimpsed at as a passing blur
from inside an air-conditioned gas guzzler.

Harry & Nowie and the beautiful view.

The strong wind was a friend that cooled us down during our Pico de Loro stop-over.
But when we headed off, it became a formidable adversary, with strong gusts
slowing down even our descents. Pedaling downhill actually became a chore.

Harry's bike reigning over Pico de Loro resort below...

Nowie's bike at the top of the world...
We had to start moving. We were losing sunlight fast.

Just to give you an idea of how dark it was. Dangerous, foolish but got out alive.
Like what a good friend of mine said..."you need to do that sometimes...blind faith".
It was fun and we survived.

At 6pm, the sun was gone and we were nowhere near the tunnel. No street lights, no stars, no moonlight, no civilization. Just our blinkers and the few feet of visibility our artificial illumination gave us.

I remember half of a portion of the road was closed due to a rockslide. Big boulders, branches, loose dirt. Keep pedaling...

Motorists were few and far between. Almost collided with an SUV head on at one instance since the fucker ate up my lane cornering a turn. Asshole. Grew concerned about Nowie and Harry at this point since there were portions of the climb up that we werent together.

I dont remember what time we reached the tunnel. A security guard was there to greet us. He's used to seeing riders to and fro but it was strange for him to see 3 people on bicycles passing by at such a late hour. He told us it would take several more kilometers and even more steep inclines after passing through the disappointingly short 300meter (or is it feet?) tunnel before we reached the next town. We were literally not out of the woods yet.

I was actually worried whether or not we could pull off this night ride without incident...

Our handlebar lights was the sole source of illumination in this pic.
Turn them off, and it would be pitch black.
Taken just as a vehicle was entering the tunnel from the other side. That's Nowie. I was in front of him.

The next several kilometers after passing through the tunnel was the ride of a lifetime.

After passing through the tunnel, there was a sari-sari store nearby. The surrounding area was pitch-black.

II. The Light at the End of the Tunnel...Is Still Far off in the Distance

Nowie exiting the tunnel. The store was a few meters away to the left. There were friendly locals milling about gambling, watching TV, eating dinner under light bulbs powered by a generator. No meralco lines here.

We were hungry. One of the locals recommended Century Tuna "caldereta-style" and we had that with this big piece of monay bread we shared amongst the three of us. When you're famished and tired, even the simplest, cheapest food would be both welcome and delicious. Appreciate the simple things. Everything else is just a luxury and ultimately unnecessary.I don't think we were able to take any pictures for this portion of the journey. Photo-taking at this juncture didn't seem to be a priority anymore since we were a lot more concerned about how the hell we were going to reach the next town in the dead of night.

The Start of our Ride Into the Black Emptiness...

So, after we've had our fill of food and liquid, we pedaled on into the darkness. I continued to take on point and scouted a few meters ahead while Harry and Nowie tailed me. It was important to stick together with all lights flashing. It made us a big, flashing ladybug in the dark for the few vehicles that passed by to see very clearly. And it was also safe so that we can attend to each other a lot more quickly if anything untoward happens. And a few kilometers down the road, that untoward incident happened. Nowie suffered a nasty leg muscle spasm and fell off his bike. Like any smart rider, he fell in the direction of the side of the road, and not in the middle of the road. There were no vehicles at the time so it was all good. A couple sprays of Pao liniment, and he was up and pedaling again like the true Centurion he is.
We were pedaling our way towards the stretch of road the locals told us would be an easy downhill ride all the way to the next town. We stopped only when we couldn't pedal anymore and needed a rest, but only for a minute or two. We had to keep moving and get out of the dark asap. For safety reasons.

The Dark Is Full of Terrors...

It seemed like forever, and I couldn't help but entertain thoughts of armed bandits, a machete-wielding serial killer, zombies and ghosts appearing in front of me. It was kind of unnerving. The noise of the night creatures really added to that lost in the middle of the Amazon jungle aura and all that kept me on my toes. Lots of bikers take this route, but I doubt anybody took the risk of pedaling through the blackness at such a late hour. It was just 3 blobs of light in the midst of the void. Fucking awesome.

After several kilometers of mostly uphill terrain, we reached flat ground and the start of the downhill stretch. We still needed to ride the downhill carefully. With our headlights giving us only a good 10-15 meters illumination, we couldn't be too aggressive in our attack. I was still lead scout with Harry and Nowie close behind and I swear it was an adrenaline rush attacking the downhills in the dead of night, following that faint spread of light as we took those blind curves hoping no asshole in a damn motorbike or truck was eating up our lane going in the opposite direction.

I don't know how long it took and what time it was, but finally, in the distance, we began to see electrified dwellings here and there. Civilization! We got out in one piece. But we were still in Cavite, and had to go through several more towns (Naic, Maragundon, some other towns) before we got back to our homes and families. So, we pushed on, this time, with Nowie taking the lead. He's fast and consistent on his 29'er, and we needed to make good time. So Nowie was the pace-setter, and Harry and I kept pace with him and that was a challenge in itself.

On the right back home, our pace-setter lies down during a rest-stop at a gas station.
After 180+ km, you'd look like this too.

Eventually, we arrived at NAIA Road. We parted ways here, and they went back towards MOA and home while I still had a good 30 or so kilometers ahead of me. I was exhausted. My butt was sore, my arms and legs ached and at one point I was tempted to stop and take a taxi home. But it would be such a pussy move and against the PADW anthem that I shrugged it off knowing that I would ruin this experience giving up like that after enduring an epic adventure.

So, I took my time and didn't exert so much. I couldn't resist a late night snack though so I rewarded myself with my favorite hungarian sandwich at Angel's burger near home.

Eat their Hungarian sandwich. It's good.

I got home at 2:30 am. I was on the road for a little over 23 hours. I'm still amazed at what we accomplished. And there is still so much road out there to roll over. I never thought I could do anything like this at my age and lifestyle. I hardly travel. My idea of fun is playing Civilization IV on my laptop. And I work from home, for crying out loud.

And it took a fucking bicycle to get me off my ass and explore the world around me. I went to Tagaytay on a bike...twice! I biked the circumference of Laguna de Bay the other week, oh, and will do it again this Saturday with another group of friends. I pedaled my way along Ternate in the dead of night that I wouldn't care to travel through in a car.

III. From Manila to Beyond - What Went Before

I awoke, showered, geared up and left home at 4 am last Saturday. Biked my way from Marikina to Robinson's Ermita to hook up with Nowie and Harry. Arrived a few minutes past 5 am. 5 am was the call time. I was late, but not that late.

Just the three of us.

Nowie was already there by the time I arrived, and Harry showed up a minute later. No fucking around wasting each other's time waiting on each other for several long minutes or hours. It has always been like this when we go out. And it didn't matter where we meet either - at Robinson's, Masinag, Junction. When we agree on a time, we arrive within an acceptable time frame regardless of where we live and how long it takes to get to the assembly area. So if you want to join us some day, take note of that.

We had breakfast nearby.

Ninja pose. Taken as we were about ride off after having breakfast.

The ride didn't start as smoothly as we wanted.
How many stooges does it take to change a flat tire? Three.

After breakfast, we hit the road. And then BOOM! I had a flat tire near MOA. Took out my spare interior and attempted to change the tire. and then DAMN! the air nozzle got torn from the rubber interior because well, we were just fucking careless and in a hurry. So, we used Harry's spare interior and around an hour later...YEAH! We were on our way again.

Our pathetic attempt in changing my flat tire. I think an hour passed before we
figured out what the problem was and began riding again.

The mystery of the flat tire - the air nozzle tore off the rubber interior

and all the air we were pumping was going anywhere but inside the tubing. Gawd...

I don't want to spend too much time going through each and every detail of the route we took. So, here's a link to my Endomondo page. I was able to record 99% of the route using the endomondo GPS app mostly on my old Samsung Note.

Our Kaybiang Tunnel Loop. Padyak All the Way is the Only Way.

IV. What's Inside My Backpack & Lessons Learned...

It's not so much the bike, but the biker.

Something About The Bike...
- I ride a medium-sized dirt jump-type frame (Felt Straightshot), 26 x 1.75 size wheels for road travel which I change to 2.1-sized rubber for trails. Yes, its a DJ, but I don't care. The thing has over 3,000 kilometers road and trail so far.

- 3x9 (27-speed) configuration, hydraulic brakes.

The contents of my bag...

- The usual repair kit (multi-tools, spare interior which I actually ended up using on this ride, puncture repair kit, tire air pump)

- 3 Liter hydration pack.

- 7-in touchscreen tablet as my back-up GPS gadget.

- Extra cellphone battery

- 600 ML water bottle I used to store Gatorade.

- Had no more room to pack in an extra jersey and/or towel. Maybe I should get one of those Camelback-type packs so I have more nooks and crannies to put stuff in.

Fancy Gizmo...

1. Recently purchased a new Cateye cyclometer. Odometer and distance are the only two pieces of info I really care about. It does the job.

2. To map a 200plus kilometer ride, I needed multiple batteries and gadgets to pull it off. I use my Samsung Note with an Endomondo GPS app. Is it the best GPS app? Probably not, but I don't care. It does the job I expect it to do, so there.

I bought an additional battery that I would use to replace the one in the phone somewhere along the trip. On our way home, the replacement battery was already at 20 percent and I still had around 1 1/2 hours or around 30 kilometers to map ahead of me, so I wasn't sure about the remaining battery life. So, I used another backup, my 7-inch generic tablet. I ended up using 2 Samsung Note batteries and a tablet to record the route. Mind you, I didn't bring a charger. I probably wouldnt need an extra battery. Then again, I might not have enough time to adequately charge the phone anyway so just slapping a replacement battery in the gadget would be quicker.

Just the same, I should bring a battery charger. I didn't realize the ride would last 23 hours, so I didn't bring one. Only goes to show how clueless we were.

3. Five pesos will give you 10 minutes of charging time in those cellphone charging booths you see in 7-11.

4. For most of the trip, I wore those tight-fitting full gloves (not the fingerless gloves). Those full gloves provided extra support and it was several hours (actually, on the last leg of the journey), before I started to feel those hand aches I usually felt on my previous long rides holding on to the grips.

Downside is I had trouble operating my phone touchscreen during short stop-overs and it was annoying taking off my gloves just to take pics or check my GPS. It's a minor inconvenience, but when you're out on very long rides, you'd want to be as economical in your movements as possible. But hey, it's no biggie.

5. That small pouch slung around my shoulder is my money pouch. I dont like putting anything in my shorts pocket. And since we end up spending money every time we take a short stop, I wanted to easily access my cash, instead of digging through my backpack. Like I said, when you're exhausted, you'd want to move as economically as possible, and not have to take off your backpack and rummage through your shit with full gloves on looking for your money to buy that Gatorade. Try picking up 10 pesos worth of coins inside your pack with full gloves on. It's actually not that easy LOL.

However, the thin pouch strap was digging into my neck as the trip progressed, and I started to feel the burn later in the ride. So, I'll just keep my money in the backpack and quit bitching about the trouble.

6. Pau muscle spray is the shiznit! Get the spray kind. It's easier to just spray it on instead of pouring the shit on your skin and spreading it around with your hand. You'l have to take off your gloves just to do it too hehe. Pau Muscle Spray. 150 pesos worth of muscle relief. Buy it.

7. Butt soreness. No escaping it on long rides no matter what I do - padded cycling shorts under my MTB shorts, whatever fancy saddle model, saddle adjustments. Accept the pain and pedal on.

8. Good thing I had fresh batteries in all my headlights and taillights since we ended up in the dark for a couple of hours there.

9. Long rides of this nature require very careful planning in terms of time, logistics, knowledge of route/terrain. In our case, we didn't do our homework. Do I recommend you replicate what we did? No.

But we ended up doing it and we got home relatively unscathed. Lucky I guess. But this ride is done and it's history. Setting our sights on Bagiuo, Pagudpod and locations down south.

Oh, and the best way to revisit your rides? Go back, and do the reverse route. I'll see you again, Kaybiang. Hehe.

More photos from Tagaytay/Nasugbu...

This bakery is our usual stop-over before we tackle the tortuously long Aguinaldo Highway...

Along Aguinaldo Highway...

This is the landmark at the end of the long, gradually uphill route along Aguinaldo Highway
entering the usual tourist spots and restaurants of Tagaytay...
This 7-11 near the statue is where we usually stop and rest. During our first Tagaytay trip,
we waited at this spot for more than 45 minutes waiting for Nowie to catch up.

On our second Tagaytaty trip, Nowie was the FIRST to arrive at this spot. Harkor!

Somewhere in Tagaytay. If you really have to go, do it. I suppose Nature won't mind
a little bit of biodegradable organic waste. But don't be a douchebag and throw your plastic litter anywhere.
There's the trash can. Or your pocket.

Had lunch here when we arrived at Tagaytay. Simple road side eatery. Come to think of it,
I think I spent less than P500 the entire trip. Still beats any vacation spots I've been to
costing me thousands of pesos.

Inside the eatery for our lunch at Tagaytay. Don't bother with those expensive restaurants.
Grab a bike, pedal your way, and enjoy the simple things after an epic journey accomplished
with nothing more than your strength of will. If your mind says you can,
your body will make it happen somehow.

This is Harry inside the eatery...

Along a stretch of road digging construction in Tagaytay with Nowie.

Pondering the possibility of a downhill run all the way to the valley below. Death wish.

Get the hell out of your car and appreciate the view.
My signature "AYOKO NA!" pose. I try to sneak in this pose in all my long rides.

On top of the world at Tagaytay...

This bike has rolled over 3,000 kilometers of road and trail.


Nowie the Centurion

At the 100km marker...

Sacred number 100. Century ride. We ended up with the name Centurion.

And we still had several more kilometers to go in this trip.


230+ KM LOOP

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