What makes an epic ride? Is it the destination? The distance? The total elevation, maybe? How about your biking companions? Or is it the combination of all?
The label “epic” could be a subject for a long discussion. I have used the term a few times before to describe some of my rides. And if someone is going to ask me what makes a ride epic, I’ll simply say one thing — it’s the stories you get after. Is it something you’ll look back into after a very long time?
There is only one word to describe our ride last week : epic. And whatever this word may mean to you -destination, distance, elevation etc., the experience we had was one good story we’ll share in a long while. It was a two-day ride to Infanta, reaching the Pacific Ocean.
Total Distance : 275 kms
Max Elevation : 778 m
Elevation Gain : 4922 m
Travel time : 14 hrs( Day 1) + 13 hrs (Day 2) = 27 hrs
Infanta is a municipality of Quezon Province. To reach this town from Metro Manila, one needs to cross the Sierra Madre mountain range either by Marcos Highway or through Manila-East Road then Sinilioan-Famy-Real-Infanta Road.
To complete the Manila-Infanta Loop, we planned to bike via Marcos Highway going to Infanta. Then take the other route on our way back.
Both ways have relatively same distance but Marcos Highway offers a more challenging climb with elevation as high as 700 meters above sea level. The figure below shows the elevation of the entire ride.
Km 0 – 20 (Day 1)
While everybody was still sleeping soundly, we rode out from Katipunan to Marcos Highway at around 3:30 in the morning. Traffic was still light and the roads were a lot safer for bikers. We stopped in Brgy. San Jose, Antipolo to have our breakfast and load up some carbs.
Km 20 – 40 (Day 1)
The sun was already rising as we passed Palo Alto and Garden Cottages along Marcos Highway. Unlike our previous ride here last week (Padyak : Sierra Madre), the winds were calm and we were on a better pace. A few motorcycle groups having a road trip of their own passed us by.
Km 40-60 (Day 1)
Despite the long gradual ascends, we reached RGT farms and Sierra Madre hotel tired but not drained. The road from Sierra Madre Hotel to the intersection of Marcos Highway and Sampaloc Road is six kilometers of downhill with some sharp turns. This is one of the most enjoyable but at the same time the most dangerous aspect of biking. Cruising down at 50-60 kph, a minor error could lead to a major crash.
I thought this ride would have to wait for another day to complete when Jim, one of us, lost control and skid as we biked down this road. We were glad that he had no major injury and escaped only with a few scratches.
We stopped at Brgy. Sampaloc at around 10 in the morning to refuel our bodies. We packed some extra food and drinks because from hereon, there would be not much stores and establishments to buy from.
Km 60-90 (Day 1)
The weather went wild. It would pour for ten to fifteen minutes, then the sun would shine for a few. After a while it would rain once more. And this cyle repeated over and over again, I started feeling anxious that we might get sick later.
We had bike for more than eight hours now. Our leg muscles were sore and about to give up from the climb which never seemed to end. We were pedaling at around 9kph, sometimes even less, taking the battle slowly.
Km 90 – 105 (Day 1)
We couldn’t be any happier as our legs got some breaks from long climbs. It was a stretch where downhills and flats dominate the uphills. Seeing the hundred-kilometer post was encouraging but we knew that we were still a long way to Infanta.
Km 105 – 115 (Day 1)
Weather was still crazy. Rain and shine still switched within a few minutes, which we already got ourselves used to. We thought it couldn’t get any worse but then the strong cold monsoon winds started blowing.
We were on the final stretch our climb and we had the wind and gravity teaming up to push us back. Our hands were feeling a little numb due to the cold temperature.
Biking at more than two thousand feet, we were all soaking wet. Our fighting spirit was very low. Maybe the only reward we got was witnessing the unspoiled view of the Sierra Madre.
Little by little, we covered some distance as we lingered on the magnificent sight before us. We wanted to pedal faster, but our legs were too tired.
Km 115 – 138 (Day 1)
After climbing the last peak, we finally cruised down to the town of Infanta. It was already 4:30 in the afternoon. After having some nice meal in the town proper, we headed to Caminho Resort in Brgy. Abyawin where we would spend the night.
It was a long exhausting day. And we all knew that it was just the first half of our journey. For a minute, we stopped thinking about what’s ahead of us on the following day. We simply enjoyed our stay at the beach while having a few shots of the local lambanog (wine).
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