The Black Sabbath 2018 was the same but different.
There is totally no sense in the title for it contradicts itself. Let me explain: The Black Sabbath Ride is always on the same occasion; the Saturday before Easter Sunday. It is part of the very long holiday break for the Philippines because as part of our religious belief, the Holy Week should be a time for reflection and prayer. Thus, no classes, no work for the whole nation. Starting Maundy Thursday, work is suspended so almost everyone goes on vacation and everything would resume on Monday. People go to the provinces, spend time with their families and loved ones on the beach or wherever they want to spend their time off.
So, same day every year. But always different each ride.
The mix of riders is never constant. There would be bikers who would join, casual riders, newbies, old timers, the formula is never the same. The pace is always different.
2018 Version of the Sabbath Ride
This year, we are joined by an American living in Orange, California. He saw the blog when he was searching for mountain bike trails in Mindoro. He was on a medical mission to Mindoro (he’s studying to be a doctor) so he decided to bring his bike and ride our tropical trails. He emailed Valleybikes.net and we communicated before he arrived in the Philippines. There was an exchange of emails until we agreed that he shall join the Black Sabbath ride 2018. He was excited for the ride and so were we. We met up at Mickey D’s and pedaled off to Aling Tina’s. We were meeting our other bike buds there. Alas, when we arrived there, Aling Tina’s was closed. Thank God for modern day communication, we were able to meet up at Biker’s Cafe instead. We bought suman and had our American friend get one too. After the introductions and bike praising, we started our ascent to Timberland Heights.
Wall one is never easy. Even the most experienced and strongest riders have a hard time climbing the almost 45 degree road ascent. I gave some tips on how to breath properly when climbing and we stopped when needed. This was no easy climb so we took our glorious time and just enjoyed the scenery. It was overcast so the heat and the sun was not an issue. Issue was the wall.
Our pace was slow yet we still managed to finish the climb. Our small group was a jolly one for we always found reason to get a few laughs whenever we stopped. We reached the entrance to the Blue Zone and geared up for the trail ride ahead.
The Timberland Blue zone has a special place in my heart. It is my favorite trail for it provides the complete package for me. The challenges, berms, climbs, drops and hairpins were all delightful to ride. I especially adore the clearing overlooking the different peaks of Timberland. There have been countless revisions of the Blue zone, and the current trail now is much longer than the previous ones.
Since it is summer time in the Philippines, the soil was dry (sometimes powdery) with a few dry leaves. One should learn how to balance the body weight on the front and rear tire so as not to wheel spin on the leaves. The downhill sections of the trail are always fun and the creek side break is much anticipated.
We cooled off in the creek and continued our climb to finish the Blue Zone.
Road to Giant Store
When we finished the Blue zone, we went on our way to the Giant store to have our lunch there. Lunch was corned beef, Spam, noodle soup and canned tuna. We ordered rice and had Coke for drinks. It was a feast for hungry bikers and we ate like there’s no tomorrow. We paid for our bill and continued with our ride.
The Pintong Bukawe/ Casili downhill is a much anticipated part of the Wawa experience due to the long descent with a glorious view. The road used to be a loose gravel unpaved back road which was quite treacherous because if you overshoot and didn’t hit your brakes on time, you can possibly fall into the cliff. The descent was a good 4-5 km ride of pure downhill. We stopped from time to time to take pictures and shake our arms because our trigger finger is getting exhausted from too much braking.
The ride was a blast because the thrill of choosing your line and braking at the right moment was technical DH for all. Our “redbull DH” moment was tested in this part of the ride and everyone had a silly grin plastered on their faces. If we can do Casili DH over and over again, we would. The rush was crazy.
Wawa River Crossing
The Wawa River is part of the Black Sabbath itinerary because of our love for roughing our bikes on the challenges of the river. The baby head sized rocks provide the extra thrill of riding along the river bed. Some parts are full of pebbles which would give tires less than 2.35 a hard time. Summer time resulted to low level water at this time of the year. Though in some parts, the current of the river is so strong, that riding on the water is not possible. Yet we still rode those river crossings, not caring about our hubs and drying out. We are just putting our bikes and gear to the maximum potential. I paid for quality MTB parts so I can Rock n Roll ’em. And so we rode hard across those rivers!
Swim, chill, then ride some more. The obligatory stop at Shimanong’s daughter’s halo-halo is always refreshing. Take pictures on the cleavage valley of the twin peaks of the legendary Bernardo Carpio rock formation, and we were good to go. Short chit chat with Shimanong, and we were off to the technical trails of the local sitio.
The pinnacle of Wawa river is where the Wawa Dam is. Throngs of people from all over the region cooled off at the local swimspot/videoke/resort/tambayan/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Naturally, it was always slow moving traffic of people walking the narrow plank crossing the dam and over the river. Natural rock formations, absurd visuals would overload the senses and make you realize how puny you are in the whole picture of the universe.
In this experience, you get to think and love/appreciate Mother Nature more.
The pedal home to QC was the most intense cycling time of our MTBer friend from California. Never has he experienced how the local traffic IS here in the Philippines. He got to feel and see how the tricycles, motorcycles and jeepnies fly by our local road. We pumped it hard going back home because one of our mates had to be back by 8pm. Thus we shifted our gears and mashed our urban ride. There were no stops, all intersections were go and we zoomed through everything as if we were crazy bike messengers /riders with a death wish. We overtook everything and mashed our way zigzagging like pacman. We can’t stop, we just have to push and keep going. The last part of the ride suddenly became a game of bike tag.
That is the Black Sabbath Epic Ride 2018.
One thing is the same every year: It is always memorable.