March 28, 2006 Tuesday
I've always wanted to ride the Yellow Trail trails (not the Eco Park) after hearing about it in an adventure race, but nobody seemed to have solid information on it. It was rumored to be closed to the public and very few people knew how to get there.
From the Grapevine
I learned that UP Mountaineers member and organizer for the coming 24-hour mountain bike race, Cecon Defense,
Thumbie Remigio was planning an ocular visit to identify the trail system he'll use for the event. Naturally, I asked if I can join in. Another UPM member,
Kram, got wind of it and joined as well. With
Popo, Thumbie's ultra-fit wife, we were 4 altogether.
Finding the place was tricky considering its humongous 2,700 hectare size. Along a walled stretch of the Quirino Highway is a nondescript sign that says "La Mesa Watershed". The shut gate is high and guarded. It would have been easy to miss this benign entry point. That confirmed then that this place is not open to the public - only by special permit from the Bantay Kalikasan, the environmental arm of the ABS-CBN Foundation. I can understand why. This watershed supports Metro-Manila's water supply. The place is protected by radio-carrying guards and maintenance people. Our whereabouts within the watershed was monitored by their radio relays.
MTB Potential Galore
inside the gate, practically a walled hilly range opened up with various fire trails and some single track system. It's a mountain biker's wish come true...with a little more trail building. The terrain is perfect for mtb trail building - sloping hills, river crossings, fire roads to act as main arteries and a huge expanse of real estate.
The Trail System
Some areas offered challenging granny creeper climbs with rewarding white knuckle downhill rips along
winding fire roads. There are a good number of observation towers, some offering
360 degree views of the entire landscape. The river crosssings are shallow and brief - ideal for intermediate riders. Some sections though have sneaky ruts hiding underneath a grassy lush - careful! For the most part, the trails cower under a canopy of trees - excellent shelter from the sun.
There is no mountain bike-designed trail system in the Philippines. Even guys sporting P200,000 Intense Bikes put up with dirt barrio roads, foot paths, and an occasionally single-track as their mtb playground. A lot of mtb riders don't really know what their bikes are capable off or how much more fun mountain biking can be (think Ferrari with no highways).
I'd been privileged to have riden perhaps some of the sweetest mtb trails in Ontario and New York - winding ascents, technical downhill runs, river crossings, foot bridge crossings, off-camber hammering on a slope, log hopping, ruts, drops...all within a varied trail system that went on for miles.
I've told more than a few riding buddies that there is money to the person who puts up the first mountain bike resort here in the Philippines. It's really not a Herculean undertaking. A minimum of 10 hectares with sloping hills will do - enough to house a beginner trail, intermediate and advanced. It's not capital intensive either. The only must-haves are a decent washroom facility and a bike wash.
With what the Yellow Trail has to offer, we just got a little closer.
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