It has been a sad few weeks for mountain bikers due to the closing down of the Timberland bike trails in San Mateo, Rizal. The usual Blue and Green zone inside Timberland Estates are closed to the public because they want to preserve/standardize the use of trails inside their property. The mountain trails inside the private land has been used by bikers since the turn of the millennium so it has been a popular biker destination due to the manicured single track and aggressive lines. Bikers maintain the trails while the land developers get free marketing exposure thanks to the influential mountain bikers who frequent the land development. Right now, there are talks that Timberland will start charging bikers a fee to use the trails. Change is good, let us just hope that this change will improve the riding conditions and trail quality inside Timberland.
Since the Blue and Green Zone are closed, my bike mate and I opted to ride the Patiis Downhill track in San Mateo. This is the famous DH track where Downhill riders test their skill. Going to the Tower required going up through Shotgun, you don’t have to pass Timberland anymore. We parked in Edong’s and prepared to ride.
We don’t have a ski-lift here in the Philippines, we adapted to the needs of the times and a whole culture of underbone motorcycles presented themselves as Downhill bikers’ Hila (pull) Service. Underbone motorcycles (125cc-150cc) secure a climbing rope on their scooters and tie that same rope on your fork/stem so that they can pull you up to the top of the mountain. The trip up to the peak is stressful already, for you have to follow the line of the driver in front of you. Be weary to follow and brake when the need arises. It becomes more tricky when you are climbing the actual single track and not fall off the ruts. This is really a test of your bike handling skills, so this is for the bikers who have unlocked the higher levels of mountain riding.
You pay 100 Php per hila up to the top. Again, this is easier than pedaling all the way to the top. The climb up in shotgun is no easy task. There are less shaded areas to stop and the ascent is grueling. There are recoveries from the 45 degree or more climbs, but the climb is not for the faint at heart. Hardcore XC riders chew on Shotgun for brunch, yet this is a 9 out of 10 hard climb. These Hila boys are a welcome subculture for the DH riders of Patiis… yet I warn you: be prepared.
Once you reach the top of Patiis, there is a jar on the rest area/ store where you can donate your 40 Php for the preservation of the track and donation to the locals. In this store, you can also chat with local Enduro and DH boys and get tips on the track.
When we were arrived there, one of the frequent patrons of Patiis was there, Ginox. He warned us to go easy on the middle section because it was still slippery. The soil was like clay and your tires will just fishtail if you brake on it. (technique there is to just point the front wheel where to go and just ride it without braking) Stories of Ugo and Mindoro were relieved and we bid farewell to Ginox and went down the trail.
Bombing down Patiis, we always had this sick joke of: “Bawal Prumeno!” (Brakes Forbidden). This track was made for Downhillers with triple clamp forks and gravity junkies. Until recently, when Enduro bikes became beefier and more DH specific, more and more bikers dare to ride the trail. There are two tracks in Patiis, the old line and the Enduro line. The old line was the foot path which was made of rocks. Loose rocks made braking a challenge so you could just go and ride it fast. There is a new line carved by the local DH riders which was made of drops, jumps and berms. Both are equally difficult so I just leave it up to you on what line to choose. (Though, sources say that the old rock garden line is down, due to the broken bridge)
We chose the new Enduro line. There are jumps and there are options to just roll it. When riding Patiis, you just have to be really BRAVE. Knee and elbow protection give you extra confidence in facing the extremely steep drops, but it all boils down to NOT BEING SCARED. Always think that your mountain bike can handle the rigors and stress this trail has to offer. Think of all the upgrades and money you poured on your machine, so it can handle the stress. But the question is: Can YOU handle the DROP?
Tips When Going Downhill
Position your body properly. Extend your arms, try to sit on the rear wheel as low as possible. Try to put the bike as forward as possible, putting your weight on the rear end of the bike.
Modulate braking. Do not leave your finger on the brake lever. The way to brake on long DH runs like these is to modulate your levers. On-off-on-off-on-off. Choose when to brake and slow down and choose when to release the lever. (If you continue pulling on your lever, your arms will tire and stress your finger, making it useless. Trust me, this happened to me)
Wear the proper protective gear. If you rock ’em full face helmets, that’s fine. You must wear gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads to give you assurance that even if you crash, you won’t be bloody. Neck braces are good also, if you do them high jumps and stunts. Gotta wear shades. Protect your eyes; (I know a legendary biker in Mt. Ugo, he got dirt in his eyes ‘coz he wasn’t able to wear his shades, so he crashed and broke his leg.)
Don’t pull on the front brakes hard. One word: ENDO.
If you’re not confident on the gaps, don’t ride it. If you want to ride the gap, pedal hard and jump!
Eat your meat and vegetables. A healthy biker is a strong rider.
You want to level up on your riding skills? Go try Patiis… Just be careful and don’t tell your Mom if you are going there. She might not allow you.