OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Serpentine Climb

They say beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.  Well that’s exactly what I was set to do that weekend, a Saturday morning.  And what better way to get lost than thread the road less traveled with my mountain bike.

To prepare for the ride, I bought extra pairs of tire tubes and patches for good measure.  I also bought a high pressure tire pump with its complementary contraption that holds it to the frame.  The checklist was long with things I may not even have a need for; but what the hell, I’m already in for it.

It was still dark and soggy at 5AM when I woke from a fitful sleep.  I staggered out of bed and switched on the light.  I plugged on the kettle and fix myself an extra strong coffee to evaporate the cobwebs of sleep left in my head.  Outside, the tree leaves and shrubberies, sagged by the weight of mist bearing down on them, appears to meditate in solemn repose.  And the sky is queer to be awashed in an amber shade of the dawn light.

The place I lived, an island riddled with beach resorts and hotels is a mountainless, boring flat piece of a land with terrain that doesn’t appear to change for kilometers on end.  On occasion I half think of it is a giant sea monster in supine posture and perpetual sleep.  The fertile imaginations or frustrations, I suppose, may have stem from a mountain biker’s disdain for all things paved and manicured.  And that described much of our “vacation” island.

After donning my gear, I hit the road by 5:30 AM to start the 13 kilometer grind to mainland Cebu.  Along the way is our picturesque four-lane Marcelo-Fernan bridge, which on ordinary circumstance is a relaxing drive with view of horizons left and right.  Today however, it is a herculean hurdle of a climb.

By 7:00AM I was way past Busay Hills, on top of the highest peak of the mountain that can be seen from Lapu-Lapu City.  From thereon it is all downhill affairs.  I had gravity working for me, powering me down through serpentine highway to Ayala Heights Nature Park.  It is there that I took a right detour off the highway down to the wilderness.

Willy’s

The single track trails had a couple of small drops; it has rain rots and rocks formations at some point but not much.  I can also tell a lot more riders have gotten through this route.  And the place is redolent with the keenness of freshly cut grass and, well, the subtle niff of composting pit.  Hehehe …

Sometime later, I must have made a wrong turn as I suddenly was on an undisturbed patch of grassy meadow.  Interestingly too, the trail (or lack of it) is sloped and twisty with berms and switch backs every so often.  There were also a couple of hair-raising steep descents that I wished I had my knee wraps on.  This section’s really for the adrenaline freak mountain biker.

At this point I don’t know where I am.  I figured I’ll just follow this fire road and hope to see civilization downstream.  And oh I’ve seen them all:  the verdant rolling hills, the fog crested hilltops and as some said it best: “the real-life version of windows XP”

For as long as there is daylight, food and drinks at my backpack, I don’t mind getting lost; if only to discover once again, the beautiful paths along the way.

My take.