Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Solo Bike Ride to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines | 17-19 July 2015

The original plan was to bike solo back to Zambales. But after asking around, I learned that a pretty nasty storm was battering the area so for a while, I was at a loss on how to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Then I remembered Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. I did a Mindoro Loop last February but I bypassed Sablayan due to lack of time. So, I made up my mind. It's off to Sablayan and I started making preparations for my bike trip.

THE GEAR

- Surly Troll touring bike

- Deuter rear pannier bags
- Larga handlebar bag
- Deuter frame bag
- Top tube bag
- Multi-tools
- tire repair kit
- Bicycle locks
- Blinkers
- Wireless cyclometer
- H-bar mounted action camera
- Mini-speaker
- 120GB iPod
- 3 power banks
- Assorted clothing, rain jacket, cycling shorts, fingerless gloves
- Cycling helmet
- Head scarf
- Safari hat
- Assorted food items
- Portable butane stove and butane canister
- Samsung tablet
- Nokia Lumia for phone & SMS, Endomondo app
- Sony handy cam
- Vitamins, medicine
- Wallet, money, IDs
Selfie inside the CR at Batangas Port.











All my bags are packed, and I'm ready to go...



I left home before dawn and headed towards the bus terminal at Cubao, Quezon City for the bus ride to Batangas Pier. It was an uneventful trip, and I spent the time taking a power nap. I disembarked at Batangas before 10 am, fell in line, and waited for boarding time for the next ferry to Abra de Ilog.

By the time I reached Abra, it was 2 pm. I didn't waste anytime since I still had a long ways to go. As soon as I left the boat, I began pedaling south. It was really slow-going since I was battling a headwind.


The roads of Mindoro are mostly excellent! Vehicles were few and far between. The rural scenery was a very welcome sight.

Later that afternoon, it started raining, which eventually became a torrential downpour and I was forced to stop and take shelter underneath a waiting shed. I was growing concerned with the dwindling daylight I had left, so I decided to keep on pedaling in the rain.

Fortunately, the rain stopped, but it was growing more and more dark and I was nowhere near my destination.


I've done night rides before, but this Mindoro ride was especially eerie. I did not have the benefit of moonlight nor stars, so it was pitch black, with nothing more than two blinkers to provide illumination a few feet in front of me.

Stopped to rest underneath this lamp post.
Any source of light is a welcome sight
after a long ride in total darkness.

There were long stretches of utter darkness between barrios, and there were hardly any more vehicles to share the road with so late at night, so I was very much alone in the black expanse for the most part. Just the same, I was crazy enough to turn off my blinkers for several seconds at a time and pedal in absolute darkness before I switched my lights on again. I don't really know why I did that, but doing it was an adrenaline rush. It was really scary and exhilarating at the same time. The darkness was really foreboding. It was always a relief to see even a faint pinpoint of light from a burning candle or light bulb in the far-off distance. I didn't feel so lonely every time I see a sign of civilization.
The half-finished waiting shed
where I slept overnight.


At around 10 pm, I decided to pitch camp at the next barrio. I stopped around 20 kilometers short of Sablayan, parked my bike at a waiting shed in front of an elementary school and called it a night.



I woke up the next day and started pedaling again at around 5 am. It was a good thing I stopped last night. The last remaining kilometers was quite void of any people or dwellings and there were a couple of climbs that would have slowed me down. I don't think I would've reached Sablayan and I would be so exhausted that I would be forced to stop in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, with no safe place to rest.
Anyway, I eventually reached the beach resort at Sablayan, and I spent the rest of the day and night just soaking in the waves, sun and sand.
The journey home. Early morning
as I headed back to Abra de Ilog Pier.
I started my journey back to Abra de Ilog Port very early Sunday morning during an electrical blackout. It was around 4 am, and the town was virtually deserted. It was especially eerie riding through the town during the power interruption. I had quite a scare with dogs on the loose jumping out of the darkness chasing me.
As soon as dawn broke, I had already conquered a major climb, and the rest of the way was easy. I arrived at the port at 12 noon just in time to board the ferry back to Batangas.


I don't remember anymore what time I arrived home. All I know is I was thoroughly exhausted, aching all over, and happy.

I can't wait for my next ride...