And their journey continues…
Jake had a flat tire! Me and Herc stopped to help him out as Tito and Stampede were already ahead of us. This was at around 1 AM. As we worked hard on getting the rear wheel of Jake’s bike, Herc went off to look for a close by vulcanizing shop. As soon as we got the wheel of the bike, Herc has just returned and told us that there was a shop about 20 seconds away from where we were. What a relief! We gave the wheel and the spare interior to Herc and he sped off to get the wheel repaired. While waiting, we were calculating the time we lost from the traffic and the incident. We told ourselves that we need to push since the lost time only made it harder for us. The moment Herc returned, we immediately began working on getting the wheel installed. All three of us helped and got the wheel back on in less than 10 minutes. We saddled up and raced away.
Our first planned stop was supposed to be in San Jose before hitting Dalton Pass. But because of the traffic in Bulacan, my bike had used up precious gasoline forcing us to stop early in Talavera. We had a quick stop and went on to San Jose where we made another stop to ensure that the gasoline would be sufficient to get us to Solano. After the gas stop in San Jose, we immediately went on our bikes as Tito and Stampede were way ahead of us already. Herc had sent a text message to them while we were in Talavera that they should move on ahead. We were traversing through Dalton Pass when I realized that I had the slowest bike since Herc and Jake were nowhere to be seen in less than 10 minutes into the twisties. At this point, I hoped that the handicap wouldn’t hold the group from attaining it’s goal.
Going through Dalton Pass at night was one of the most exhilarating experience I had in night riding. I went off road at one point thinking that the road was going straight. Good thing that there was infact a run off so I was able to stop and turn around to get back on the road. Before reaching the highest peak, I suddenly was surprised by a thick cloud which I thought came from a fire somewhere in the mountains. To my surprise, it didn’t smell anything like smoke instead, it was a FOG! I have never seen such in the last 10 years of my life. Last one I saw was when I went up Baguio with my family in 1998. When I got to the peak of Dalton, Herc and Jake was doing some shopping at the stop where you can by chilli powder and garlic chips. From there, we rode all together.
The ride down was as exciting as the ride up. Several road works and nonstop potholes greeted our bikes like a person running through people in Ayala. This time, it was Herc who got left behind due to the fact that Jake and I had our HID’s. We stopped momentarily in a gas station for about 5 minutes when we decided to push on. While I was following Jake, we almost got into an accident when the truck we were following suddenly stopped in front of us. Both my front and rear tires screeched to a halt and I had the scare of my life. We gave the guy on the truck a nasty stare as we passed him and we went on our way.
When we got to Solano, it was already 5:30 AM. We caught up with Tito and Stampedeblue who were waiting by the gas station. Jake went ahead and I gassed up. A few minutes later, Herc arrived and the four of us were together again while Jake pushed ahead of us. An hour later, we were to re-group at Santiago where we had breakfast and a few drinks. We were actually making good progress at this point in spite the traffic and Jake’s flat. We stayed there for about 30 Minutes and decided to push on. At this point, we were close together during the duration of the ride up to the next few stops. From Santiago, we decided to take a different route since the bridge ahead was being repaired. We decided to go through Mallig into Enrile towards Tugegarao. On the way to Mallig, we had a good run through the towns and a few cracks on the road. Nothing heavy like the one we were about to encounter. We stopped at a gas station in Mallig for our run towards Enrile and Tugegarao. The scenery here was fantastic. With rolling hills and blue skies, I was mesmerized. It was like running through the hills of Sierra Madre but with better looking views and breathless country side sceneries. Then the road became bumpy. So bumpy infact, that I was afraid that the suspension and the tires might give out. Why do I say such? We are talking about cracks on the pavement rising as high as an inch and a half off the ground. And we are talking about square edges here. Stuff that would bend a bicycles rims in an instant. The scenes may be beautiful but the road was torture. We tried our best to keep away but we all landed a few hard bumps here and there.
And true enough, the bad roads claimed two victims. Herc lost air on his rear tire right on the boundary of Tugegarao. Here we lost at least an hour trying to get some air back into his wheels. The stop had a vulcanizing shop but the person operating it was out. We eventually forced ourselves to get a hold of the equipment just to pump in some air in Herc’s rear tire since the fix’o flat didn’t do the job. At this point, Jake decided to push on to the town to get his spare interior replaced. And that is when we realized that Jake has lost his saddlebags. Losing his tools and other gear, all we could do was learn from it and move on. Upon reaching the main town of Tugegarao, we were greeted by Herc’s friend in Petron. Since we thought it would take some time to get his tire replaced, we decided to split the group here. Me, Jake and Tito grouped up and pushed so we can continue on as scheduled. Herc and Stampeblue will have to cut their ride short somewhere in order to catch up. So we left the two brave souls and pushed towards Ilocos. This was at 9:15 AM.
At a certain point on this leg of the ride, I lost Jake and Tito. And I thought I was the slowest. Upon reaching the bridge crossing the Cagayan river, I took the wrong turn and headed up Apari. This was when Jake passed me on the Junction without me realizing. When I decided to stop at an abandoned gas station, I tried calling them up to ask where they were. When nobody answered, I decided to revert back to the junction. I asked the people there and that was when I realized that I made the wrong turn. I hurried back on the right route and continued on. I got as far as Allacapan when I decided to stop for Gas. To my surprise, Tito suddenly passed by and was able to see me loading gas. He went back and loaded up himself. After a few minutes, Herc and Stampede surprised us by arriving at the gas station. Herc decided to just carry the spare tire he got from a friend in Tugegarao and push on thinking that the road condition was the reason why he lost the air in his rear wheels. Well, at least the pressure was holding on to the wheel. So now, we were together again with Jake a few kilometres ahead. Before we left the gas station, Jake called my cell phone and told us that he was at Ballesteros and he had decided to stop for lunch. Herc told us that it was only a few minutes away from where we were and so we decided to go after Jake.
Upon reaching Ballesteros, we all decided to take a break and stop for lunch at a small eatery. We re-grouped and had a hearty meal as we prepared for the other half of the trip. The inihaw na kilawing baboy was awesome. I felt energized and revitalized for the next half. With all of us together, we re-calculated our time and decided to push on. At this point, we have travelled 561Kms and rode for 12 hours.
After leaving Ballesteros, we already knew we had to make up time. We were already past the half way time limit and we weren’t even at the half way point. Jake told us however, that the route would be a lot easier from here on. Since its all national roads with less bumps and road damage. From here, our next stop was probably the most breathtaking spot in the whole of Luzon, Pagudpud. While we were on our way, Jake suddenly stopped after a bridge. I thought it was another flat tire. Upon reaching him, he felt that the bike went wobbly and didn’t feel right. We had him go forward and looked at his rear wheel only to see nothing. So we continued on.
It didn’t take the group more than 15 minutes to disappear into the horizon. I was clearly stuck at 100KPH and at times, dropping down to 90KPH on slight uphill runs. It aint easy for a 115CC bike to carry a 250LBS guy with tools and gear that was enough to overhaul an engine. I had the biggest cargo space and an underbone bag to carry all the stuff. Slowly but surely, the air was beginning to smell different and I felt the cooling breeze of the sea. I was sure I was near ocean water at this point. After about an hour on a constant full throttle, I began worrying about my gasoline. I was past my 1/4th mark and there weren’t any gasoline stations in sight. I wished I stopped early to get gas. A Caltex station suddenly appeared as I let off a sigh of relief. To my astonishment, the darn station had no gasoline whatsoever! So I treaded on hoping to see something before I ran out of gas. At this point, I was already planning on what to tell the other four guys so that they continue on and push for the goal. Hey, I’m a big guy, and I can take care of myself. I am sure I can get help from the local towns folk.
Then came an uphill road. And this was no ordinary uphill ride. The roads bent enough to be comparable to the twisties of Infanta. It continued on and on until the roads began to break in half. Yes, more road works ahead. I was trying to get as much speed as I can to get more distance on my bike but there were sand and gravel on the corners which made it harder and made me run slower. After what looked like a few kilometres of twisties, I suddenly came upon Tito who just stopped on the side of the road. I knew he had a jerry container with 4 litres of gas which was going to be useful in case my tank dries up. He then decided to be wing man in case that happens. After a few minutes, we got to the highest point of the climb. The others were there waiting for us. Stampedeblue was also almost out of gasoline at this point.
Upon realizing where we were, we just had to make a stop and had to take pictures of the place. The view deck of Pagudpud was something out of a scene from a movie. We have reached the point where the road from Cagayan and Ilocos meets up. And the breeze from the sea was refreshing to say the least. I told myself that the next chance I get, I would bring my family here.
After discussing the next course of attack, Herc had tire concerns again since the roads we just crossed had a few bumps that may have released some air from his tires. Tito decided to stay with Herc on the way down the mountain as me, Jake and Stampedeblue pushed to look for a gas station. We then called it and decided to leave the area and proceed down the mountain. On the way down, we came upon an area where a landslide happened. It looked scary and there was a boulder big enough to swat me like a fly. I took a couple of pictures here until Stampede and Jake passed me. I then followed them to look for that gasoline station we needed so much. Upon reaching the sea floor and the town nearest to the only semi sandy resort in Pagudpud, we chanced upon a small sari-sari store that sold premium gasoline in bottles. Stampede and I decided to load up a litre each since we were about 25KM away from Bangui. After loading, we were already concerned about the time it took for us waiting on Herc and Tito to catch up. We saddled up and pushed a little further more as Jake said we could wait near the seaside bridge and take more pictures there.
coming up is the last episode…