Biking has really taken off in the country in recent years, but for the uninitiated, it may seem overwhelming — there are so many different types of bikes and events that it’s hard to know where to start. The experts break down the basics, beginning with mountain bikes and road bikes.
“The easiest comparison would be that mountain bikes are similar to 4×4 vehicles and road bikes are our usual sedans or sports cars. As the name implies, mountain biking is done off-road, in steeper, rougher and technical terrain,” says King Bernas, an avid cyclist who has organized several races in the past.
Jong Narciso, a race director behind numerous mountain biking events and a former PhilCycling commissar, adds, “It is easier for someone new to biking to gravitate first to mountain bikes as they are cheaper than road bikes, but more [than that], it is easier to ride a mountain bike compared to a road bike.”
The popularity of mountain biking has led to the development of trails in such places as Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal, and La Mesa Watershed Reservation in Novaliches. There are also great trails in Baguio, La Trinidad, Tagaytay, Tarlac, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, to name a few. Aside from having mountain bike trails scattered across the country, the Philippines also hosts some big biking events, such as the recently concluded 7-Eleven Trail 2019, which had nearly 3,000 participants. We’ve also hosted events for our ASEAN neighbors.
Jong’s tip for those who are just starting out: Choose a trail that’s relatively flat. “The La Mesa dam eco-trails are good beginner’s trails,” he says.
Backpacking + Biking = Bikepacking
Intimidated by mountain biking? Then perhaps you can start with bikepacking. Pamela Angeles and Pattoys Miranda, the owners of Bikeary Bicycle Lifestyle, give us the basics:
What is bikepacking?
“For us it means spending more than a day on your bike going through or around a certain route. Bike tours as a business aren’t common around the Philippines, but BamBike, for example, conducts bike tours in Intramuros.”—Pam
What kind of bikes are used?
“Any bike can be a touring bike, as long as you are able to carry your things. Ideally, it has to be one that you can rely on. You are able to mount bags or racks onto it. It’s much [more] comfortable to keep your bags away from your body.”—Patoys
Any suggestions for newbies?
“Try to bike within an enclosed or semi-controlled place, like Intramuros, the University of the Philippines [or] Nuvali. One can also join groups [to] practice biking [on] open roads. There is strength in numbers, so when you ride with a group, other motorists are able to spot you easily.” —Pam
This story first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Smile magazine.