Mumbled words by John Buno
It’s been years that I have been thinking…contemplating if Ugo is ridable at all…A while back I stumble upon a photo in a mountain bike forum that a group had successfully rode the single tracks of Mount Ugo. This fed an idea of doing my on attempt on the pine boondocks too. But it took years until this idea was realized.
It took me few tireless rides around Montalban Mountains to realize that this is going to happen now! If not, it will only dwell into just another of my single track wet dreams. In no less time! I Got our team of four bus tickets bound for Bambang, Nueva Viscaya. For which we will charter a van on the way to Kayapa, Nueva Viscaya. A highland town. Where we will start our Epic journey into the Gates of Cordillera.
Our team consist intrepid characters. That will form into an undeniable team-up of crazy and fun hippie folks. Allan Buno, my brother. An experienced mountain biker down south and has been over few mountain bike races in and around Davao City, A registered nurse that I had to convince to join our trip whilst reviewing and taking his nclex exam. Lorenz Zapanta a highskul friend back from Davao and happens to be my photo and bike buddy here in manila. This guy is no newbie in exploring vistas in the Philippines and has been accompanying me in my photo safari trip all over the Philippines. And last but not the least, my long lost friend Sir Enteng Obcemea, no words can describe this high spirited fellow, a great company and never a dull moment with this seasoned mountaineer who has practically climb all major mountains here in the Philippines. Where he’s looking for a different kind of high thru “mountainbihiking”.
Morning, 19th of November. Approximately 0930 hours our team arrived at victory liner bus station. Loaded our bikes in the underbelly of the behemoth and hop on to a long journey towards Bambang. Estimated time of arrival 1730 hours we chartered a van enroute to Kayapa. Where we stayed there for the night in an abandoned hut nearby a police station.
The Day of the Reckoning…
Early morning 20th of November we started our way thru the narrow steps of Kayapa village. It was very difficult to climb the stairs, let alone carry our bikes but we made it through. Wonderful views fueled us inch by inch to our first stop. The Ever Misty Indupit Village, were prepared our lunch and filled our empty water bottles for some serious trail riding ahead of us.
At last! Mountain bike heaven!
Just after our lunch area. It was all ridable going towards the waiting shade of Mount Samiento. Sky is the Limit! Pedal like Crazy! From there it was all biking bliss! I could not explain the feeling of riding the single track while stuck on a nirvana. This was it! I have been dreaming and thinking about this, during my daily work cubicle routines. Surfing the net, viewing photos who has successfully ridden the spine of a cordillera red soil. I can’t believe it! That I am now in this place, one with nature, feeling the cold breeze that the northern mountains has to offer. At last I am in a Mountain bike Heaven! But you also have to be mindful since just a few meters of the track is a rough cliff that goes way way down to the lowlands. It was about 1600 hours we reached the last rest area before the summit. We took some few snacks before heading out again to the last stretch of the day.
The Last Bid
Being caught up on gust of wind during the ascent of the summit makes its difficult for us to haul our bike on to the top. As the night goes near and darkness swallowed the red setting sun we had now called it a day. We Camped near the summit where there are low lying trees covered and protected us from gust that measure head winds about 40mph. just enough to breaks tent poles through the night. So overwhelming…after short socials we hit the sacks and turn the lights out.
Early morning 21st of November about 0330 hours, our wake up call. We prepared breakfast and our packed lunch for another big day. This time our spirits are high as we saw good weather coming our way. Plus our resident nurse found out the he had successfully passed the Nclex exam while at the summit from a brief SMS from our sister back home. We took the vanity shot up on the summit marker and descended via saddle and thru the pines of Mount Ugo. This time we had a different challenge to take. It was all pretty hard just to go down on a steep hill with a bike. We had to Wheelbarrow our bikes to safety slowly pushing down, negotiating the rough terrain the mountain has to offer. So we took time and got to our lunch area. A water source just right after the dreaded downhill Ugo allowed us to experience…
We thought we would be riding along stretches of tracks after our brief lunch, But we were dead wrong. Yes it’s a single track but it’s just too narrow, that one false move and you’ll be pummeling down to a steep hill and there won’t be any retries, ‘its game over for you baby!’ Now we carefully negotiated the twist and turns of the mountain each corner has its own surprise.
That It may be ridable only for just few meters and then back to pushing your bikes. Uphill…downhill…pushing…pulling, it was a never ending task. As we went near to our last difficult section. We had to push our bikes on a 45 degree angle slope with no traction as the trail got powdered by the last two typhoons. We had to push on. We were going up on a steep climb wishing that the next corner will be all ridable…unfortunately…it was all too dangerous to ride the bike on these part of the mountain. Fresh from the typhoon it was evident that there are a lot of landslides on this region. We just had to push and portage the bike on these section. Come early night fall. We desperately found our way down to Lusod and Tinongdan. At last we saw the light post leading to our chartered jeep waiting for us patiently at the end. We were all tired but happy! It was one hell of an epic ride!
Two day Itinerary is just not suited for a bike/hike trip on Ugo. I suggest having a three day itinerary for this type of riding conditions plus deviating on the kayapa to indupit assault bid. A better route is riding via ansipsip leading to mt. samiento for more of a pleasant ridable trail. I suggest opting for a lighter meal plan since it’s difficult to ride with a heavy pack, it keeps your balance off. Over all it was a successful bike/hike trip and I am proud of my team we all went along great! Great company! A ride I will never forget!