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Epic Ride at the Globe Cordillera Challenge 4

The Chaser
Imagine a bike ride along the heaven-bound roads of the Cordilleras with their welcoming villages and communities, overseeing the stunning views of pine-tree lined mountain ranges, fresh breeze of air, flowing rivers, and nerve-wracking deep gorges along the sides. Also take into account the distance of 65-km combined concrete and trail mountaineous course; a lung-busting, quad-burning ride on a 1,636-masl climb over a winding road ascent; a 1,751-masl elevation drop with wheel-dragging cliffs on the side; and last but not the least -- the steep concrete downhill that should've been easy to navigate should it have not been made slippery and muddy from the recent rainshower, all of which covering a total of 3,329-masl elevation!

That was the epic ride that I, together with almost 500 other mountain bike enthusiasts experienced last Saturday, May 4, 2013 during the 4th year of Globe's Cordillera Challenge -- a yearly ride with a yearly campaign of raising funds for Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT) for the establishment of nursery seedlings for the reforestation of the surrounding Cordillera mountains.

According to Ms. Trixie of Globe, this year's ride was less technical compared to the previous year's 17-km ride with three (3) stop stations. Even without a first-hand experience nor idea about the previous year's route, I could agree that this route was absolutely less technical as only about more than 20% of the route was on a rough trail. Yet in contrast, the challenge was higher and longer! Not all of the descent was a smooth ride, the ascents were not easy either, and despite the great views along the course, I wasn't even able to indulge my eyes on the beauty of nature, the view of Ambuklao dam from the mountains, and the greeneries on the opposite mountain ranges, both during the climbs and descents.

Going down towards Ambuklao Dam (photo from

The first 1,751-masl elevation loss over an 18-km rough descent seemed endless while my butt bounces together with the bike and my arms vibrates along with the handlebar from the gravity-pulling loose gravel of the trail road. The dizzying sharp curves made me realize that I have to pay attention on the course every second, and in every turn. This was an almost hard-lesson learned when my bike almost went straight to the cliff should the road wasn't wide enough for me to make a turn. Everything happened for just about 5-seconds, when I can no longer contain the urge to take a glance on the views of the opposite mountains and down the gorge on the left side of the trail.

Auto-snapped wrong turn

It only took less than 2-seconds of stolen glance, afterwhich, it's almost too late for me to notice the sharp right-turn, and my balance no longer allowed me to make the maneuver. I was going straight and the only control I have on the bike is to either go forward and fall from the cliff, or make a full left turn and stop. I was able to pull the bike to the left side of the road, and thankfully it was wide enough for such turn and luckily also, the other biker trailing behind on the leftmost side was able to stop before he could collide with me, or who knows what might've happened next!

Ambuklao Reservoir

From that descent came Ambuklao Dam into full view, it wasn't as big as I've imagined, but looking up from where we came from, it was already a triumphant entry of making it down from that 18-km descent. After taking some photos, we're off for a smooth descent. Going out from Ambuklao dam's bridge, the second climb of 6km with 404-masl elevation began on concrete two-way lane leaving Brgy. Ambuklao and towards Brgy. Adonot. I made a complete stop here to eat some chocolate cookies and jellies.

Not long after, the third and longest ascent began as we reached the Nueva Vizcaya-Baguio road. The signage says it was only an 8-km distance with 921-m climb and max. grade of +27.4% (that I don't understand). Eight kilometers will be around 55-minutes if I run it by foot, but on bike estimate it would take me around 1-hour and 15-minutes to finish this roadway to heaven. But dang, it was as endless as the first 18-km descent! The uphill seems infinite couple it with the unnoticeable heat of the sun. My arms got sun-burned without me noticing, thanks to the still cool breeze of air.

Nueva Vizcaya-Baguio road

If I could still remember it right, there were a lot of steep climbs with sharp curves. My bike was already on the lightest gear, moving only at around 6 to 7-kph speed. The inner competitive in me kept telling me to "push". And I did "pushed" myself and the bike literally quite a few times, of which I can only manage to move at 4.5-kph speed by doing so. If in running it was my legs that easily gets tired, biking on this route made me breathe like a tired dog!

After almost I think more than 2-hours of climbing, we reached the top, but not the top-most yet as there were still some short descents and ascents of 5++ kms each. The final course going back to Tublay was all downhill on either a slippery concrete road covered in mud, or slippery mud covered in wet mud! And it was here where I had my "semplang" moment at a sharp right-turn due to the just finished rain that made the already slippery cemented road much more slippery. The next biker behind me also slid and fell down.

Finally coming out to Halsema highway, I felt my whole body shaking not because of excitement for the nearing finish line, but due to the combined fatigue and hunger. I still have my choco biscuits and jellies with me but my body was already asking for a heavier meal -- rice, lots of rice! Surprisingly, and thankfully, the people of Tublay prepared an endless, eat-all-you kanin, eat-all-you ulam, and eat-all-you vegetable salad! I wasn't expecting that biking a distance of 65-km would take me more than 8-hours, but it was all paid off after the two servings of sumptuous meal!

Through this event, Globe Bridging Communities was able to raise Php 1 million from the combined registration fees and individual donations. Establishment of the 30 seedling nurseries for the year becomes possible from this awesome bike ride. These seedlings will be taken cared and nursed by chosen schools of CCT until it is ready for re-planting and rebuilding of the forest-reserves of the Cordillera region -- where my hometown is!

Special mention and gratitude to Noelle De Guzman (KikayRunner) for giving me the opportunity to join this epic ride for an epic cause, to Sir Rob, Ms. Tina and Ms. Trixie of Globe for your support and the memory-cherishing bike ride experience!

The Globe Cordillera Challenge 4 Route

Ambuklao Dam

That heat of the sun wasn't exhausting, but skin-burning

That road below, was where we came from. About 3/4 of the climb is done!

After finishing the sumptuous meal
(no finish line photo as I head straight towards where the food was)

The sumptuous meal

Watch one of the videos I took on that exciting downhill portion going to Ambuklao Dam:

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