I was off the saddle for most of the latter part of the year not because I want to but because of some circumstances that were way beyond my control. Luckily, I had running to keep me busy during these times but still I have that certain longing to ride the bike again sometime soon – the question of “when” still a tough one to answer. Or so I thought.
Alas on the night of Christmas day, as if he is my Santa just late for Christmas eve, my biker friend Pol (PMTB handle : LOOP) gave me an invitation that is too good to resist. – a bike ride the following day where I was to ride from our home in Pandacan, meet up with them (Team Paco Bikers) at Paco then ride all the way to the Fort then into the McKinley Trail inside the Philippine Army Camp. Well, if that isn’t a chance too good to pass up on – a comeback ride with the promise of a taste of my first trail experience and what’s best, one surefire way to burn the previous day’s caloric excesses. I did not think twice and replied with a YES.
The ride on the way to the Philippine Army Camp at the Fort was not without the jitters naturally – do i still know how to shift gears, how would i react to the fast vehicles passing by me, will i be super intimidated by jeepneys and hey, do i still look good on a bike? That and the grumbling on my hungry stomach kept up with me during the first half. But then as I got my groove back, I realized that I am doing fine. I still have it, I still know how to ride. I just need practice…
I have been hearing and reading about the trail inside the Philippine Army Camp which have just been recently opened to the public. Bikers at the PinoyMtBiker.Org forum named it as the “McKinley Trail”, the trail being in close proximity to McKinley Hill and overlooking the McKinley area at the Fort. For now, entrance and use of the trail is free for the public, one just have to bring one valid ID to be able to enter the camp’s premises and go to the trail.
We arrived at the camp a little past 9 am, registered and had our IDs surrendered at the gate and upon issuance of a biker’s ID/pass we proceeded to the trail. As promised, it was one good trail with two different routes – the red and blue routes. Arrows/markers point to the blue route as the one for leisure/beginner bikers and the red route for expert/technical bikers. I naturally chose to follow the blue route.
The trail for beginners is one difficult trail not to mention slippery because of the previous night’s rain. Or perhaps, difficult for a first timer like me. I still have shadows of fear following my hard downhill crash during our Makiling, Laguna bike ride which left me with bike-related scars on my left elbow and knee, that I haven’t summoned enough courage to tackle all the steep and slippery uphills, downhills and switchbacks. The trail were mostly of single tracks which will keep both your hands busy navigating, twisting and turning. I kept telling myself that I should avoid the risk of injury and that I can just dismount whenever I feel like I can’t do it anymore. And after a flat rear tire, I decided not to complete the route all the way to the top. I just remained riding on the lower part surroundng the lagoon, took pictures and even tried to do one lap of running. Plus making a mental note of scheduling a good number of bike rides in the future for me to be able to practice and thus equip me in making a braver comeback to this beautiful trail.
By noon, we were back on the road all the way back home. I was able to complete some 33kms of bike ride for the day and that is enough to make me smile for now. Many thanks Pol, Roland, Kuya Toto and Litoy for letting me join your ride. Next time, Inday (that’s me in MTBiking, hehe) hopes to be able to ride with the whole gang again.
View all photos here.