In our previous ride in San Ysiro, we climbed a four-kilometer uphill fire road to witness its hidden waterfalls. With the loose soil and steep slopes, technique was just as important as power. And in my personal list, it was so far the toughest segment I climbed.
But perhaps my list was about to change once more when we went to the City of Tagaytay in Cavite to conquer its infamous Sungay road. With its notorious reputation, Sungay climb is one of the badges to earn for any biker/cyclist near Metro Manila. And maybe it’s about time to earn mine.
With some upcoming long rides, climbing Sungay may be our perfect preparation. So we set off to Tagaytay on a Saturday morning to finally meet this evil face to face.
Sungay, Tagaytay Loop Ride Details
There are actually a lot of route options going to Tagaytay. For this ride, we took the National Road going to Santa Rosa, Laguna. Then we climbed the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Road and turned left in Tagaytay Rotunda to Talisay, Batangas.
Distance : 147 kilometers
Max Elevation : 615 meters
Elevation Gain : 2230 meters
Moving Time : 7:49:53
Sights and Scenes
Sungay is named after the barangay where this punishing road lies. But on a more formal note, it is actually registered as Ligaya Drive, which is a complete irony of its reputation. Perhaps the people who named it were going downhill when they’ve thought of how to call this road.
On most hill climbs (as it implies), the ascend comes first before the descend. But for Sungay, the case reversed – such a joykill. First, you’ll go down from Tagaytay Rotunda to Talisay, Batangas via Talisay Road. It’s a long paved road of mostly downhills and fast descents. 11 kilometers more or less.
Rolling down at 50 kph or more can be real fun, especially with the nice view of Taal volcano nearby. But don’t fall asleep though because there are some sharp curves and slippery portions. One small mistake is all it takes and your biking career might be over soon.
Down in Talisay, was six kilometers of flats just before the dreaded Sungay climb. Just to make sure we have the energy to finish, we stopped first at a local carinderia and loaded up some fuel.
My first few hundred meters into Sungay was reminiscent of my last climb to Shotgun in San Mateo – It was scorching hot. Climbing killer slopes like this at around noontime could be really draining, especially now that it’s summer. Trees grow on the side of the road, but during midday, they can’t do anything to cover you from the sun.
Sungay surely lived up to its reputation. It’s full stretch is seven kilometers of relentless climb with an average grade of 8%, definitely one of the toughest slopes around. And to make things worst, the final 2 kilometers gets even steeper at 11% grade. Sungay could easily make the winding road of Teresa a walk in the park or the Eastridge road in Angono a child’s play.
Although our moving time still has a lot of room for improvements, finishing this obstacle without having to push our bikes was a great rewarding feeling. For anyone who wants to improve their climbing prowess, Sungay is definitely the perfect training ground.
Now, comparing this with San Ysiro, which one is tougher to climb, is a little bit difficult to answer straight up. Let’s see the details. Sungay is longer with 7 kms at 8% average grade. Meanwhile San Ysiro’s final assault is shorter with 4 kms but with a whooping 10% average grade.
Personally, I still find San Ysiro more difficult than Sungay but only by a slight margin. It is true that the former is indeed only almost half the length of the latter, and their grade difference is just 2%. But San Ysiro’s terrain of loose soil and gravel made it more technical than the paved Sungay Road. And technique should never be taken for granted.
But having said that, it doesn’t take away any of Sungay’s notorious reputation. And it is definitely one of the baddest climbs out there.
For now, I’m just glad to have finally conquered Sungay and earned my imaginary badge. But next time, my goal is to beat my own time and be better.
Did you like this post? Feel free to comment and share this with your friends! Subscribe to The opeN Notes by email or like our facebook page to get our latest articles of travel, adventure and life’s balance.