Because of the mountainous and overlooking scenery of the Rizal province, it has become the typical route for bikers and cyclist looking for a weekend spin near Metro Manila. This combination of beauty and madness gives a great appeal to the cycling community.
But if you like to have a change of scenery from your usual weekend route, a good alternative is going further south of Metro Manila to the first few towns of the Quezon Province. Not only that the scene is fresh and new, but challenge-wise, it could also match some of the notorious uphills in Rizal.
Lucena, the capital city of Quezon Province, is around 130 kilometers from Metro Manila. While biking all the way is doable in one day, I would recommend especially to beginners to skip the city and start the ride somewhere in Laguna. Not only that you save some time and energy, but you can enjoy your tour even better.
For this ride, we planned to pedal our bikes from Los Baños, Laguna up to the city of Lucena in Quezon Province.
The route totals to 80 kilometers and is good for a whole-day ride. The first twenty kilometers is relatively flat, but as you enter the town of Nagcarlan, elevation starts to rise. The most challenging segment is the uphill stretch from Majayjay to Lucban which will definitely test your mental toughness.
Distance : 80 kms
Max Elevation : 471 m
Elevation Gain : 941 m
Moving Time : 7:45:44
*map and data by Strava
Sights and Scenes
Around 5 in the morning, we gathered up in Buendia-Taft to catch a bus bound to Laguna. There are at least three bus line terminals going to the south in this area and I would suggest to take either Jam or Jac Liner. They charge fifty pesos for each bike loaded in the compartment which I think is fair and affordable.
Travel time is less than two hours, so before 7 am we were dropped off in Los Baños where we reassembled our bikes and prepared for another long day of touring.
We took the usual way of the counter-clockwise Laguna Loop route traversing the National highway. As we reach the main intersection to Nagcarlan, we turned right taking the provincial road.
The first 20 kilometers was almost all flat, but as we progress towards inner Nagcarlan, elevation starts adding up a bit. The toughest segment so far was a 3.3-kilometer stretch of around 5% steep grade, still mild and bearable.
Bunga Falls (Twin Falls of Nagcarlan) – Kilometer 30
After an early workout, reward awaits in Barangay Bunga where the magnificent twin falls of Nagcarlan is located. Also known as Bunga falls, this freshwater wonder has is gaining attention from tourist near Laguna. And mountain bikers are just as welcome as anybody else.
The trail going to the falls is not bikeable so we had to leave our bikes at the parking area. After paying the entrance fee of PHP 5, we started heading to this hidden gem. Bunga falls is 5-10 mins trek away from there.
- Notes : Entrance fee is only 5 pesos!
Bunga falls has a drop of fifteen meters with a catch basin that is wide and deep. Non swimmers should always take caution. Floating devices are available for rent.
The twin falls got its name from the pair gushing water that almost seem symmetrical. Surrounded by the thick vegetation, the Bunga falls is such a relaxing view.
Visitors can rent the nearby cottages where they can have their picnics.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery – Kilometer 37
After a quick swim at Bunga falls we were re-energized as we go to another known landmark in town, the Nagcarlan underground cemetery. Built in the mid 19th century, this place was a burial place among elite Catholics.
During the Spanish revolutionary period, the catacombs became the venue of secret meetings among Katipuneros.
San Bartolome Apostol Parish (Nagcarlan) Church – Kilometer 38
The rich history of Nagcarlan is very evident because just less than a kilometer away is another structure straight from the Spanish era. The San Bartolome Apostol Parish was esblished in 1578. The building as it stands today was a result of incremental renovation and upgrade over the centuries.
Saint John The Baptist Parish (Liliw) Church – Kilometer 40
Just on the next town of Liliw is another old church of Baroque architecture. Also know as Lilio (or Liliw) Church, it was initially just an annex of the Nagcarlan Church but later on became an independent Parish.
The statues of saints situated right in front compliment the overall aesthetics making the Lilio Church truly a grandeur of the town of Liliw. Having a stop here is definitely worth the time.
Majayjay highlands – Kilometer 46-53
The ride so far was relatively moderate. We weren’t exerting much energy as freewheeled our way out of Liliw. But that was about to change when we got near the town of Majayjay. Given its mountainous reputation, we knew that it would be the start of the tougher climbs.
With Mt. Banahaw just peaking to our south, we tackled the steep slopes of Majayjay. And as we finished the last few hundred meters our big sigh of relief was just an affirmation of the unique name of this town.
The Town of Lucban – Kilometer 55
After some long climbs in Majayjay, we finally reached the town of Lucban in Quezon, already late in the afternoon. This municipality is famous for the Pahiyas Festival during the month of May. It is a colorful festivity that showcases houses adorned with fruits, vegetables and other goods of the region.
Lucban is also known for the Pansit Habhab, a noodle dish usually served on a banana leaf. As its name implies, you eat it without using any utensil. And by all convention, you have to chow it down with your mouth. Of course, having biked almost the entire day, this was the best refuel that we can have.
Pansit habhab are sold just on the side of the streets and you can get one for as low as ten pesos.
The San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church is the town’s popular landmark. Established in the 16th century, it also shares a long rich history among the people of Lucban. Partially destroyed during the second world war, it was renovated and repaired. Today it is one of the oldest churches around Quezon.
Lucena – Kilometer 80
The sun has already set as we make the final push to Lucena City. After Lucban was Tayabas where we still had to face a few more moderate climbs. The final twelve kilometers was a smooth downhill where we practically freewheeled our way to our last stop.
Lucena is known to have a big central terminal where our bus to Manila awaits. Not all trips are available all day and we were fortunate to catch a last trip bus at around 8 in the evening. We quickly bought some dinner on the go, then hopped on the bus.
I guess, our luck still haven’t ran out, another epic ride with the team.
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