Monday, March 24, 2014

Trail Tales at Ka Vergel's

You are a true-blue trail rider at Timberland if you have visited Ka Vergel's Trail Stop. This little piece of land, located at Mount Maarat (coordinates 14.667505,121.177004), is a haven for outdoor adventurers who frequent the trails. Considered as Tatay or Father to all who stopped by his place, Ka Vergel, whose age many are not sure of, is surrounded by aura and mysticism that masks his real age. If you had seen him in the late 90s, you'd swear he looked as if he doesn't aged much. The old man is well known in the off-roading, mountain-biking, and motocross circles. So well known that you can find his place in Google maps. Someone even made him a Facebook fan page.

I went out with friends to Ka Vergel's via AFP Trail last Saturday, March 22, 2014. It is my first time to climb up Mount Maarat via AFP trail. The trail was named so because it ran through AFP housing in San Mateo.

Start of the climb - Bancom Subdivision

Going to Ka Vergel's

Technical trails that will surely keep you busy

At last, we arrived at Ka Vergel's

We ordered the famous staple at Ka Vergel's: Guisadong Mackerel with Sitao and Kamote Tops. While waiting for our food to arrive, we had a chance to chat with the old man. He talks of his life as a mountain man. How he walked for kilometers just to gather firewood, or fish on streams. He lives a simple life, his hut has no electric power. He has couple of dogs to protect him. One can observe that his dogs are trained not to bark at Mountain Bike, Motocross, or 4x4 Riders. But if you pass by at his place walking, you'd be barked at. He has a fish pond, some free range chickens, a vegetable garden where you can buy from.

Ka Vergel's favorite: Big Mac (a big can of Hokkaido Mackerel with Sitao and Kamote tops)
Ka Vergel warned us of recent encounters between government soldiers and rebel communists last March 20, 2014. He said we should never go to the Casile trail where the rebels maybe holding. He then tells of visits from Communists during the 80's and 90's. You can just listen to him speak of the colorful life living in the boondocks.

Tilapia teems in the pond.


Part I
Bike Stats:
Name: 3/22/2014 5:59AM
Activity type: mountain biking
Description: -
Total distance: 11.99 km (7.4 mi)
Total time: 1:55:59
Moving time: 1:16:40
Average speed: 6.20 km/h (3.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 9.38 km/h (5.8 mi/h)
Max speed: 32.38 km/h (20.1 mi/h)
Average pace: 9:41 min/km (15:34 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 6:24 min/km (10:18 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 1:51 min/km (2:59 min/mi)
Max elevation: 383 m (1255 ft)
Min elevation: 5 m (15 ft)
Elevation gain: 539 m (1768 ft)
Max grade: 23 %
Min grade: -14 %
Recorded: 3/22/2014 5:59AM

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Part II
Bike Stats
Total distance: 14.53 km (9.0 mi)
Total time: 1:19:51
Moving time: 1:06:58
Average speed: 10.92 km/h (6.8 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 13.02 km/h (8.1 mi/h)
Max speed: 37.93 km/h (23.6 mi/h)
Average pace: 5:30 min/km (8:51 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 4:36 min/km (7:25 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 1:35 min/km (2:33 min/mi)
Max elevation: 364 m (1195 ft)
Min elevation: -17 m (-54 ft)
Elevation gain: 551 m (1808 ft)
Max grade: 49 %
Min grade: -20 %
Recorded: 3/22/2014 9:23AM

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lake Caliraya Loop

Lake Caliraya is a man-made lake created in 1939. It is situated in the towns of Cavinti, Lumban, and Kalayaan in the province of Laguna. Coordinates: 14.29°N 121.53°E . This lake was built by US Army Corps of Engineers for purpose of generating electricity. The lake was named after the construction of Caliraya Dam
I have been to this place quite a number of times in the past and have seen the natural beauty of the lake. The  two-lane road that hugs the shore of Caliraya and Lumot lakes,  is well paved. Going counter clockwise, the road loops around the towns of Pagsanjan, Cavinti, Kalayaan, and Lumban. Total distance is around 37 kilometers. The scenery is very rural and rustic with lots of good landscapes to shoot photographs. 
Starting at the Eco-park in Cavinti, proceed to the direction of Lake Caliraya.

How to get to the Eco Park:
Via South Luzon Expressway, exit at Calamba, follow the Pan-Philippine Highway to Pagsanjan, once you get to the T intersection, turn right towards Cavinti. Follow the road until you reach a fork in the road (about 8kms from Pagsanjan) take the left fork. Eco park is within 200meters from the cemetery.

Other useful information:

Eco-park at the Spillway

Pueblo El Salvador - the next destination

The shores of Lake Lumot
Japanese Garden

Inside Japanese Garden

Lake Caliraya

Preparing for the downhill rush!

The view of Laguna de Bay is spectacular
Crosswind can push you off track

Bike Stats:
Name: 3/15/2014 09:42
Activity type: mountain biking
Description: Lake Kaliraya Loop
Total distance: 36.86 km (22.9 mi)
Total time: 2:42:59
Moving time: 2:07:11
Average speed: 13.57 km/h (8.4 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 17.39 km/h (10.8 mi/h)
Max speed: 43.02 km/h (26.7 mi/h)
Average pace: 4:25 min/km (7:07 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 3:27 min/km (5:33 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 1:24 min/km (2:15 min/mi)
Max elevation: 386 m (1265 ft)
Min elevation: 6 m (20 ft)
Elevation gain: 935 m (3067 ft)
Max grade: 21 %
Min grade: -20 %
Recorded: 3/15/2014 09:42

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sierra Madre Ride

Saturday March 8, 2014 -

I was invited to do the Sierra Madre Bike Ride together with colleagues. It's my first time to ride in that area so I got excited. Woke up at 3:30am and packed my things.
6:00 am, I arrived at the staging area near Buso-Buso, Antipolo. The other riding buddies are there. Four of them equipped with road bikes. There are three of us who ride mountain bikes. I am the only one with the 26" wheels.
6:28am, we rode out, the weather was perfect for cycling. Air temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius.

Staging area - this is near Barangay Cabading in Antipolo

At Barangay San Jose, Baras, Rizal with JB in the foreground and Richard at the back

First stop at Palo Alto (km 11)
Welcome to Palo Alto

And the fun begins... approaching Mount Tarangka
Rest stop at Sierra Madre Hotel and Resort (km 25, elevation 645 meters)
Sierra Madre Hotel and Resort is a great alternative to big city hotels. The view is free!
View from the top at Sierra Madre Hotel

This is not Baguio, this is Tanay!
Beyond the mountains is the Pacific Ocean!
We reached Frankie's Eatery in Sampaloc Tanay after 2 hours and 45 minutes of saddle time. We ate two orders of lechon kawali, one order of pork steak, 4 1/2 cups of rice, and 1.5 liters of RC Cola. All for 318 pesos, reasonable price. We decided to head back because it was past ten in the morning. I was tired that I forgot to take pictures there.

Climbing back, towards Mt. Tarangka
We stopped here to fill up with water. It is almost 11 am. The sun is burning our skin
Watch out for incoming vehicles!
Great view
Photo Op

Going back

A few kilometers more...
Touchdown! It's almost 1 pm. Very tired but very happy!

Sierra Madre ride is definitely more difficult than Reverse Palace Route. Elevation gain in Sierra Madre is 2073 meters compared to 1106 meters for Tagaytay.

Date and Time: 3/8/2014 06:28
Activity type: mountain biking
Description: - Ride to Sierra Madre Hotel from Buso-Buso
Total distance: 57.95 km (36.0 mi)
Total time: 6:36:51
Moving time: 4:34:47
Average speed: 8.76 km/h (5.4 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 12.65 km/h (7.9 mi/h)
Max speed: 51.25 km/h (31.8 mi/h)
Average pace: 6:51 min/km (11:01 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 4:45 min/km (7:38 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 1:10 min/km (1:53 min/mi)
Max elevation: 649 m (2130 ft)
Min elevation: 157 m (515 ft)
Elevation gain: 2073 m (6801 ft)
Max grade: 56 %
Min grade: -24 %
Recorded: 3/8/2014 06:28

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vanishing Trails Part 2

Last year, in May, I had fun exploring the Nuvali North and South trails with bike buddies. Had I known these trails will vanish (gradually, I have no idea) I should have rode in it frequently.
Last week, February 23, I got on my bike and rode off with no destination in mind. Since it was quite late for a Tagaytay ride, Nuvali trails seems to be a right choice. I went to the bird sanctuary and Gazebo.
View deck still intact
Gazebo - check!
The dirt road that leads to the Nuvali South Trail disappeared and was replaced by an obstacle course.

Familiar trail
After wandering and wondering for the longest time, I finally chanced upon a familiar path. I took it, hoping to get to the portion where there were tree plantings with markings. I was lost for 15 minutes. I did get to the tree plantation spot, but the path was gone and covered with tall cogon grass.
It was gettng dark, I had to bail out and find my way to Nuvali boulevard. Where are the trails inside Nuvali?

Bike Tech: 2014 Shimano Alivio Groupset

Great news for all mountain bike enthusiasts! Shimano released the 2014 Alivio Groupset with technology previously used in higher groupsets like Deore.
For those unfamiliar with Shimano Groupsets, the hierarchy goes like this:
Deore XTR
DXR ( Chainring)
Deore XT
Deore LX /DX (Discontinued)
Alivio /400GS /Exage
Acera /300GS
Altus / 200GS

Deore XTR is the best and Nexus, the worst in terms of performance.


One thing noticeable about the Alivio crank is the hollowtech form similar to Deore. You can use your existing outboard bottom bracket if you want to try out the Alivio crank.
Alivio Crank in Hollowtech- image courtesy of

Rear Derailleur

The rear derailleur now incorporates shadow tech available previously on higher groupsets. This means the profile is narrower, means less protrusion.
Rear derailleur with Shadow technology - image courtesy of

Integrated Brake Levers and Shifters.

For those who like the simplicity and compact form of integrated lever shifters, Alivio has a version for you.
Compact and simple integrated lever and shifter - image courtesy of

Brake Caliper

I personally like the silver finish of the caliper which is similar to Deore's form.
Caliper - image courtesy of

Front Derailleur

The FD comes in many forms that include the top pull and bottom pull versions.

Front Derailleur - image courtesy of
This is welcome news for budget conscious cyclists like me. Go to your local bike shop and ask for the 2014 Shimano Alivio groupset.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bike Commuting 101

Heavy traffic and Manila. Two words that go together like bread and butter. Statistics from the year 2007 show that there are 5,530,052 registered vehicles with National Capital Region having 1,592,036 vehicles or 29%. That was 7 years ago. I am sure the figures have increased. Whenever we complain about traffic, our blood pressure shoots up through the roof.
The government started projects such as the elevated Skyway 3 in the hope decongesting Metro Manila. It would work up to a certain extent. Take a look at Los Angeles, California. This modern US city has many roads, yet, why does it still have problems on traffic? It's the volume of vehicles that contribute to the problem.
Buying a new vehicle will not solve the traffic problem, so what would an ordinary worker like you breeze through traffic? Use a bicycle.

I live about 34 kilometers (21 miles) from where I work. On rush hours, by car, it takes me 45 minutes to 1 hour to get there. By bus and MRT, 1.5 to 2 hours. By pure cycling, it took me 2.5 hours on an easy pace. 
Hybrid commuting (using bus and bicycle) can cut your trip to 1 hour.
It makes sense to do hybrid commuting. 

Before you go the way of hybrid commuting or bike commuting, here are some points to consider:
  1. Buy a good bicycle. Some mall bikes, cheap as it maybe, are not sturdy and maybe heavy for you. Cheap mall bikes have cheap components that may fail when you least expect it. Would you like walking halfway your trip and spend money just to hire a taxicab? Buy a decent entry level bike. Talk to your local bike shop and see the bicycles they are offering. 
  2. Consider folding bikes. These bikes can be folded to a compact size so they can fit neatly in a trunk or bag. They are fun too. 
  3. Buy a good set of front and rear lights. They provide visibility for other motorists at night.
  4. A compact tool is your friend. Topeak Mini 20 Gold Tool is a good brand. I have used it in my rides and have saved me quite a number of times. (read the review here)
  5. Get a backpack to put your change of clothes and your things.
  6. Ride with caution. If there is doubt, don't risk it. We live to ride another day.
  7. Be patient. You will get there.
  8. Plan your route ahead. Take the route used by the least number of motorists.
  9. Consider your average ride speed to calculate your estimated arrival time at your destination.
  10. Have fun. Bike Commuting makes you feel in control of your time. Instead of waiting for public transport to arrive, you are on the road, happily pedaling away.

A building casts an eerie glow. Late post #ExperimentsInLowLightPhotography #cycling #foldie #bikelife #bike

A photo posted by Gerald V (@chroniclesofthevoyager) on

Arm yourself for the Carmaggedon! Be safe and Ride Well