November 14, 2006 Tuesday
Riding Besao with UP Baguio Mountaineers
It was totally unexpected. Just the night before, I stumbled on
Bob Acosta, UP Baguio Mountaineers member. He and 4 more riders just arrived Sagada that evening, and planned on leaving for Baguio the next day. Can we schedule a quick morning ride and still catch the 1 pm bus? Of course!
These guys are as tough as they come. They have been riding for 5 days now, beginning in Baguio, then Tinoc, Batad, Banaue and now Sagada. They even climbed Mt. Polis! Even on the flats, that's formidable, but they have been riding up and down the Cordillera mountain range. That's kick-ass.
My gluts and thighs were still sore from Elle's punishing Vinyasa Yoga the day before, but I couldn't possibly pass up on this ride. The itinerary was ride out in the direction of Besao where lunch was prepared by another UP Baguio Mountaineer, André. It's a quick lunch and head back to Sagada Poblacion to catch the 1 pm bus en route to Baguio. Best ride route?
Ride to Besao
Sagada's resident hammerhead,
Steve, was da man for such an occassion. He loves being on the saddle and he knows the trails. From Poblacion, he led the way up to Danom Lake. The UP riders showed no sign of fatigue despite this climb on their 5th day. Their oil-dry chains were whining the entire time, but not them. From the lake, we headed down along
sweet single-track until the quaint village of Sukib. It was bike-portaging on the narrow village steps until the main road to Besao...then
lunch at André's.
From Besao, it was an hour's ride, going up continuously to Bangaan ridge base, and bombing down until Sagada Poblacion. The long climb was a contemplative and continuous repetitive grinding on the low gears. I was drawn inwards as I pedaled one rotation after another. Finally the plateau - time to shift to taller gears, put the weight on the rear and let gravity take its course. Whoa! It was a fitting dessert after that sumptuous lunch.
It was 12:50 when we arrived. Upon arrival, the
bikes were secured on top of the Baguio-bound bus. One guy stayed with the bikes while the others made a run to the lodging place to get their gear. In a few minutes, they were gone. It all happened so fast.
If not for the chance encounter the night before, the ride wouldn't have taken place. I haven't ridden with the UP Baguio riders before, although their reputation preceded them. I've done fun rides, 24-Hour races (in a 5-man team), cross-country races, but nothing like a 5-day cross country ride on a mountain range. The thought is intimidating (specially if you're the weakest link) and alluring at the same time. Hmmmmm.
Hey Steve, thanks for being da man. Thank you too André for that superb lunch.
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