January is the coldest month in the Philippines. It’s that time of the year when wearing jackets outside during daytime makes more sense. And most of us would be guilty, myself included, but this is also the period when the only exercise we wanted to do is wrestling with our pillows. Because we have to admit, cuddling is nice on a cold weather.

January is also one of the driest month in the country, the chances of rainfall is very low. Which means, you can schedule any activity you want without having to worry much about any downpour to spoil your plans. And because of the cold winter breeze, the sun is more bearable during this season.

Making most of the cold weather, we went out for our first long ride of the year – a hundred-kilometer ride to Sierra Madre Hotel.


Sierra Madre Hotel is located in Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, residing on top of the great mountain range from which it is named after. Standing at an elevation of almost 2,000 feet, a bike ride to Sierra Madre is among the first major medals a newbie biker from the city can bag.


Early Saturday, we rode northbound of C-5 from Taguig City. There are different routes to Sierra Madre and each offers a unique challenge and experience. You can choose anything you want, but one thing is for sure – the long uphill climb in inevitable.

For this ride we chose to take the simplest. From C-5,Libis, we turned left to Marcos Highway. From there, we simply followed the main road.

    • Notes : Sampaloc/Sierra Madre Route Options :
      1. Marcos Highway 
      2. Manila-East Road -> Sampaloc Road
      3. Manila -Tanay Loop : Marcos Highway -> Sampaloc Road -> Manila East Road 
      4. Manila -Tanay Reverse Loop : Manila East Road -> Sampaloc Road -> Marcos Highway

Our route, thanks to Strava. The green dot was the starting point of our ride, while the black one was where my phone died and stopped recording.

Sierra Madre mountain range is a great wall separating Metro Manila to the east coast of Luzon. Getting to the hotel is one tough battle. The figure below shows the elevation of our route. Sierra Madre is at around kilometer 57.


The changes in elevation. Sierra Madre Hotel is at kilometer 57 stands at more that 600 meters.


Road Scenes

From Libis all the way to Sierra Madre is fifty kilometers of paved road. The first fifteen, that is until the Cogeo Market, is a familiar city road scene – moderate to heavy traffic, air pollution and an orchestra of road noises. But once you get past the chaos of the city, you’ll start appreciating your ride.

The ride would be a long slow battle against gravity, but the scene on the road are more than enough to keep you going. Here are just some of them.

1. Overlooking view of Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Sitio Boso Boso

Along the Marcos Highway in Sitio Boso Boso is an overlooking view of Sierra Madre. Car drivers, motorcycle riders and bikers who happen to pass this part of Antipolo for the first time usually stop and take some pictures. Just like this one.



2. Mang Vic’s Bulaluhan

This eatery in Brgy. San Jose has become a household name among bikers and riders. With very affordable menu, it is a popular stop among travellers of Marcos Highway. There are actually two of them, the original and the extension, probably to accommodate more costumers.


this one is the extension


3. Garden Cottages Natural Park and Residential Estate

Garden Cottages is located at Brgy. Cuyambay in Tanay. It is a residential area with beautiful natural and man-made landscape.




4. Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estate

Palto Alto is another residential area you’ll pass by, located in Baras, Rizal. Within the privately-owned land is a lesser known waterfall and another set of adventure for the nature lovers.



5. RGT Farm

Before your final uphill climb to Sierra Madre, you’ll get pass the RGT farm, another private land in Rizal. The grassy hills of this land is a head turner.



6. Sierra Madre Hotel

With an overlooking view, the Sierra Madre Hotel is a nice place to take your lunch and recover. You can order from a variety of items on their menu or you can pay a fee of P100 and bring your own food and have a picnic.



7. Tired bikers taking a break and enjoying the peaceful road of Tanay.

Getting to Sierra Madre is a tough climb, but the cold breeze helped us cover more distance and recover faster.



January is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. A few months from now, we will be entering summer, and just like the previous ones, it will be another hot season for the Philippines. So before the direct sunlight becomes nearly unbearable, let’s take this opportunity to enjoy and play under the sun. Let’s go out, move our muscles and sweat!


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Lyra · January 13, 2015 at 6:06 am

I enjoyed this post! We named our bike group in Ho Chi Minh City, Padyak Oi! 😀 “Oi” is kinda a term of endearment here. When we’re back in Manila, we’ll be sure to check out your routes!

    Neps Franco · January 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Thanks Lyra! Wow, that’s very nice name of your bike group. I am actually going to Ho Chi Minh City later this year, and I’m hoping to bike around there as well. 🙂

Agatha Christa · January 13, 2015 at 5:57 pm

I enjoyed looking at the photos of your bike ride. I use to ride regularly before I had 3 children. 🙂 You inspire me to get back on my bike.

    Neps Franco · January 14, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Hi Agatha, I think that phase comes to most of us where we have to lay low from biking to give time for the more important things. But I’m hoping you’ll find time to get back on your bike. And maybe thins time, you’re biking with your kids. 🙂

boy · March 31, 2015 at 1:27 pm

nice pic on your fun bike ride Neps ,try the road route here in Nueva Vizcaya situated bet. sierra madre range and caraballo mountain range ,i know you will enjoy the beauty,the landscape of northern luzon

    Neps Franco · March 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks Sir Boy. Sound like a real nice place for mountain biking! We have plans on a northern Luzon bike trip and hopefully we could sort that out soon.

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