The sUGOda bike trip is definitely one of the best times of my life.
Mt. Ugo is such a unique and bountiful mountain bike ride in itself… so add in the Sagada vibe plus sights, and we’ve got a winner here. The pictures presented here will not justify the majestic beauty and awe we experienced in our recent Cordillera range experience. These mountains radiate such immense spectacle that words and photographs cannot equate the magic of nature. #sUGOda2018— Northern Bike Trip (Mt. Ugo/Sagada)
A friend from London emailed us and he wanted to ride Mt. Ugo. The Mountain Goats (MG) got together and arranged the Northern Bike Trip. We sat down over a few beers and planned our 4 day bike trip. From Manila, we were to drive up North and do Mt. Ugo first, then drive to Sagada to cap off the Mountain Province Bike Trip. After much coordination and preparation, we arranged a BMC for our UK guest and got the Batangas MG to ride with us.
Ugo Day One
The five man bike troop night-drove all the way up to Baguio to have an early morning breakfast in the City of Pines. When we arrived there, the cold chill due to the high altitude was a nice welcome. We prepared the bikes, the Land Rover Defender and loaded our day packs into the 4×4. We strapped our bikes well expecting a bumpy ride ahead of us.
Our prayers for good weather was answered with a nice overcast. Not too sunny, and the wind was gentle. The trees were swaying, their leaves were waving at us. Nature was too beautiful and charming not to be photographed. The lush landscape was an overload for our senses. Our digital photographs could not capture everything in that moment— it was heavenly. All the senses were extremely satisfied.
We picked up our local guide from Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya and he led us through most of the trail. We paid our dues and gave our respect to the local community and we were off. We expected to finish our trip before night fell. Our pace was slow and well meaning, taking photographs when Mother Nature awed us with such wonderful sights. It was an overload for the senses. The surroundings smelled nice and fresh. Even if there were cow dung on the middle of the track, everything was still a sight to behold.
We drove all the way in, until our vehicle can go. When the dirt road diminished into a single track, that is where we started our trail ride.
Spending the whole day in Mt. Ugo is a biker’s dream. Kilometers of awesome single track, downhill drops plus more are presented in front of you. There are some treacherous parts due to the sheer drop on your left (where you must really be careful), just always remember not to look at the bottom. If you want to appreciate the beauty of the landscape, you must stop riding and enjoy the view. You cannot be distracted with the immense glory of the mountain range while riding.
If you are a beginner or novice in mountain biking, you should gather XP points first in the much milder mountains/ trails. Just because you have an expensive enduro MTB doesn’t mean you can ride Ugo already. Like in anything in life, you must first learn and be good at mountain riding so that you’ll be ready for the gifts of Ugo. You should learn how to choose your line, because that is the key in properly going downhill in Mt. Ugo. Know how to commit and let go of the brakes so you can truly enjoy the ride.
It was the perfect riding condition. The weather was right, the soil was not too muddy, and not dry. Our wheels stopped when we want to slow down and choose a line.
We dropped by the local village in Ugo, Sitio Lusod. This place has very warm people living in it and they are a haven for hikers and bikers. We rested and ate in the local store. We encountered some hikers who were staying in the Sitio overnight. After our short break, we continued with our ride and arrived at our rendezvous point: Itogon, Benguet.
The day was exhilarating for everyone. We had a great ride. There were no mechanical failure or flats. The most important of all: no injuries. We had a fall here and there, but our outfit and protection saved us from having any wounds. It was a great day one and we had an awesome dinner at Baguio city. We were too tired to go out, we just want to lie down in our soft bed and dream about the ride tomorrow: Sagada!
The Sagada Trip
From Baguio, we traveled to Sagada straight to the Rock Inn. It is a very cozy place off town, with nice rooms and a very neat garden. They had mountain dogs lying about. The weather in Sagada was amazing.
We unpacked our stuff and got our bikes ready for some afternoon ride. We went around town first and checked out the hanging coffins and had an easy dinner in one of the restaurants along the main road of town. We had a couple of bottles of beer and called it a night. Our headlamps were put to the test because it was pitch black in Sagada. There were no lamp posts to light our way so we had to rely on our available light. Good thing the Led Lenser had 1000 lumens, our path was well lit because of that.
It was an easy stress free day of riding for the troop on our second day in Sagada. We were hunting for Mr. Steve Rogers, the American who fell in love with Sagada years ago and decided to settle there. While we were having breakfast and coffee at Bana’s Coffee, a tall white dude showed up and said hi to us. We met the local MTB legend, Mr. Rogers. We agreed to go to his house after breakfast so he can show us around the trails of Sagada.
Steve Rogers is no Captain America but he is sure one hell of a strong mountain biker. His trusty Chumba climbed like a mountain goat. We discussed that it was never really on your bike, it’s on the will and strength of the rider. Even if you had the most expensive carbon/titanium/vibranium (joke) mountain bike, but the rider is not dedicated to riding, the experience would be different.
We climbed Mt. Kiltepan and got intoxicated with the beauty it had to offer. Then we went trail riding on some single track and he showed us his local playground. He led us to a spot where they used to have a DH competition back in the day. The boys found out that his son is a champion downhiller.
We rode some more until it was lunch time and Steve had to go back to town. He showed us the entrance to the Marlboro country trail and told us to just follow the trail. If we reached the Limestone formations, we just have to go back and retrace our tracks. So we did just that.
We had veggies for lunch at a local restaurant which served a platter with all the yummy food a biker wants. But alas, you had to order this in advance so we scheduled to eat there again tomorrow. After a filling meal, we hit the trail again for the Marlboro country.
It was our first time in Marlboro country and we were speechless. The trail was bike friendly and not too steep. There were challenging roots which one must ride over but aside from that, the track and the view was priceless. If you ever had the chance to go ride Sagada, do not miss the Marlboro country trail. It is truly world class.
From Sagada, we took the scenic route on our way home. We passed by Lake Danum for some quick photographs. We decided to use the Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabangan road going down. It was dawn so the sites and clouds, played with the sunset orange hue of the sky was a fascinating spectacle for all of us. The road was paved all the way. The zig zag and tight hairpins were quite treacherous for the novice driver… but we enjoyed it. It reminded me of the anime, Initial D, wherein the lead guy, Takume drove the mountain pass every morning to deliver tofu. This road is where you should practice your drifting skills in your car. Beware! One wrong skid and you’ll end up down in the river below.
The sUGOda Northern Bike Trip came out of nowhere. The Mountain Goats didn’t see it coming. It just happened. Props to Krishan for being the reason, but this is one bike trip that is definitely for the books. It started 2018 right; with an epic bike journey. We only imagined and fantasized about this kind of trip but now it is a wonderful memory of pictures, videos and funny stories. We did not remember that we danced before going to sleep one night because we were simply too wasted and happy (but Ohmar had a video of it). We got to ride Ugo in one day, we met Steve Rogers, and I saw my old friend, Dangwa once again. The Valleybikes crew has so much to thank for. We shall definitely do this again.
Shout out and thanks to: Team Spyder for the helmets, shades and shorts. Pao for lending us B2. N00b gamer for hooking us up with the Led Lenser. Glorious Ride Bike Warehouse for the prayers. Ohmar and the Defender of the Universe. Ryan, Manong, Candie, Remus, Mickey and Krishan. Till our next ride, Peace!
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