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Past The Century: Riding Your Bike Beyond 100 Kilometers

Have you ever wondered how cyclists can ride beyond 100 kilometers? Ciclo talks to Team Loyola about the epic, 245 kilometer Mission: Baler. We learn why they did it and how they were able to pull it off.

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

Team Loyola Before Leaving for Baler, Aurora. Wearing Ciclo Custom

Last June 1-4, 2018, we joined Team Loyola in an epic mission to Baler, Aurora. It took two days of riding, covering more than 245 kilometers and gaining 2,150 meters in elevation. Afterwards, we spoke to them and here's what they had to say about the epic journey.

Momok

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Why did you join the ride?

Two things made me do it: One is the joy of cycling itself, and the other is the pleasure and privilege of doing it with a great bunch of people who share the same passion. There is something about the joy of cycling that makes it deeper and more intense every time you do it. And there is something about sharing that experience with friends that makes one not only more human, but perhaps even more, also grateful to be human.

  1. How would you describe the route to Baler?

It’s a beautiful, scenic route, even if punishing forwards the end. There was one town in Bulacan lined with beautiful ancestral houses and made me want to stop and linger. Indeed I’d like to return to that place again to do just that. And that’s the beauty of cycling—it takes you to places that otherwise you’d probably never ever get to see, or to see a place you’ve been to before but never really quite experienced up close, like seeing it for the first time.

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Which was the most difficult segment? And how were you able to ride through it?

I did not finish the ride. It’s the first time I suffered cramps on both legs, and boy did they really hurt. Not surprising perhaps for someone 53 years of age and riding with others 20 and 30 years younger. So I stopped on the 88th km, about halfway through Day 1. On the second day I tried to give it another shot since it was shorter, though we were warned about the grade and elevation. True enough, the climb completely emptied my tank and so I stopped again before I even covered 20km, about a third of the way to our final destination in Baler.

  1. What did you learn from the Mission and would you do it again?

Maybe one that is shorter and a little kinder. Better to ride a shorter and kinder route but ride it well. Also, something I learned from the Baler mission, it would be good to do it with a buddy, someone who rides more or less at the same pace as I do.

King

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Why did you join the ride?

I always make it a point to join Team Loyola rides not just because it is fun, but also because riding with the team helps me become a better cyclist. For me, joining a TL mission is a terrific opportunity for me to test myself both physically and psychologically, not just as a cyclist, but as a person as well. Riding long distances with the team pushes me to be stronger, smarter, and simply better than my past self, which in itself is already a reward.

  1. How would you describe the route to Baler?

The ride to Baler was divided into two – 1) QC to Pantabangan, and 2) Pantabangan to Maria Aurora. The first ride was long and steady, which ended with a climb to Pantabangan. Because I struggle on the climbs, I really enjoyed the long stretches of flat roads with occasional short uphill segments. I also enjoyed the view and the towns that we rode through mainly because it was my first time there. The ride from Pantabangan to Maria Aurora was shorter, but a lot more difficult. Right from the start, the route was mainly steep and long rolling hills up until the end wherein roads have become more smooth and flat.

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Which was the most difficult segment? And how were you able to ride through it?

The hills of Aurora was the most difficult part of the mission. There were too many uphill segments which were also quite steep. What made it more difficult was that I did not know what to expect despite having a vague idea of what the route would be like. Because of that, conserving energy was so tricky that I ended up giving it my all in all the climbs while simultaneously hoping that the climbs would end soon. Upon realizing that hoping for something uncertain is futile, I stopped thinking too much, and decided focus on one question that became my mantra: How bad do you want it? Repeatedly, I asked myself that same question as I grinded and weaved through the endless uphells of Aurora. At the same time, I repeatedly answered the question with “I want it so bad.” I wanted to climb all the hills. I wanted to reach my destination as soon as possible. I wanted to be as strong as I can be. For me, that climb to Maria Aurora was all a mental battle, and I’m quite proud I won it!

  1. What did you learn from the Mission and would you do it again?

I definitely would do the Baler Mission again, but not anytime soon. Now that I know how difficult Baler is, I am excited to train and try it again in the future!

Jan

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Why did you join the ride?

I wanted to challenge myself and let the scenery surprise me. I find the experience of travelling by bike more fulfilling than getting to any place by car. When I'm riding, my eyes are always wide open, ready to take in the sights and sounds, and I was sure the ride to Baler would be very interesting.

  1. How would you describe the route to Baler?

The route to Pantabangan changed the way I saw Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. The views ranged from old Filipino architecture along small town roads, to lush farm landscapes. I was also so surprised to find rolling hills in Bulacan. I grew up driving through those provinces via NLEX and they had always felt like some boring parts of Luzon. Getting to Baler was a different story. We had to pay the price by way of intense climbing before we were rewarded with beauty. There were countless walls and dangerously steep descents. I distinctly remember the pain in my arms from trying to hold on to my brake levers. Overall, I think it did its job of challenging me and also surprising me. It was worth it.

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Which was the most difficult segment? And how were you able to ride through it?

Which was the most difficult segment? And how were you able to ride through it? The last 30 kilometers to Baler, I think. So many climbs and no end in sight. The headwinds also started getting stronger as we got closer to Baler.

  1. What did you learn from the Mission and would you do it again?

Would you do the Mission again? Yes. I felt like I was able to unlock the route but it would be nice to ride through it with more preparation and familiarity.

Brian

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Why did you join the ride?

I’d like to think that for some of us the bicycle is still more than just a recreational device. The idea of riding long distances over a few days to get to places we’ve never been before is amazing. It’s also great to be able to leave the city behind and just ride day after day with good people and a beautiful backdrop.

  1. How would you describe the route to Baler?

Beautiful. Especially heading up to Pantabangan and the crossing over from Nueva Ecija to Aurora.

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

  1. Which was the most difficult segment? And how were you able to ride through it?

The rolling terrain from Pantabangan to Maria Aurora had some pretty hairy descents as well as short but steep climbs. It didn’t help that we rode through it on our second day when some of our legs were still either recovering from the day before or adjusting to riding hard on consecutive days. It helped to have a SAG because there were long stretches with no stores to replenish food and water. And it made a huge difference how we mostly rode together whether in pairs or as a group. But it’s also hard to complain when you’re on a bike and you get to throw yourself at a few dozen hills with great people around you.

  1. What did you learn from the Mission and would you do it again?

I actually told some of the people who went that Baler feels like unfinished business to me because we initially planned to ride there and back but we only got to do the riding there part. So yeah!

Ciclo Cycling Trip Quezon City to Baler

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