The Unplanned Atok Ride

Atok Benguet
Rocky Mountain Cafe at Atok Benguet

We yearly rode our scooter to Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan during Lenten Season for the past 2 years (2009 and 2010). The first time we only stayed there for a few hours then rode back home. Its 440 kilometers to be exact (back and forth) and it was so tiring, that for the succeeding year we made sure we go overnight.

Atok Benguet
Stopover at Lions head Kennon Road

Then this year 2011, we went back again, but this time we (3 rider and a backrider) planned to go to Baguio first on Holy Thursday then descend to Manaoag on Black Saturday, check-in at a local hostel, and freshly attend the mass on Easter Sunday before going home. Yup, we did all that, and it all goes well. So what about the unplanned?

The unplanned Atok ride goes like this…

Black Saturday, Baguio, just after lunch, we plan to roam around and checkout some ukay-ukay’s, Burnham Park, Wright Park, Mines View etc.. but since we’re near La Trinidad, we decided to go first to Strawberry Farm.

Atok Benguet
Joaquin busy picking (and eating) strawberries

While we’re busy picking and eating strawberries. I suddenly remember stories of fellow riders at motorcyclephilippines.com about their awesome ride stories to Halsema Highway (known internationally as the 3rd Most Scariest Road in the World) and where one could find the Philippine Pali or Highest Point in the Philippine Highway System at Atok, Benguet.

Atok Benguet
Halsema Highway souvenir – by the way BBKNTR means Baguio-Bontoc-Kennon-Naguilian Toll Road

A marker at Kilometer 52 indicates that you’re standing at 7,400 feet above sea level. “Isn’t that something to brag about!” I told my co-rider (Sergs and Joaquin).

Atok Benguet
Joaquin and Sergs

That’s when we came up with a plan to have a quick ride to Atok. So starting from La Trinidad Provincial Capitol, it would take us around 52 kilometers to reach that marker and have the time of our life for a nice photo shoot at 7,400 feet above sea level. Awesomeeee!

Atok Benguet
we are floating because there’s less gravitational pull up there at Atok! πŸ˜›

Scenery are so beautiful and breathtaking as we traverse the twisties that goes higher and higher, steeper and steeper!!! We’re almost leveled with the clouds! I even recalled Joaquin saying “Wow pre byaheng langit na yata tayo haha!!” – (Seems like we’re on a trip to heaven haha!).

Atok Benguet
Atok scenery

The road is almost 95 percent zigzag all the way. And its the best twisties I’ve encountered in my entire riding career hehe! Although there were some road repairs and landslides along our journey, plus the chilly cold wind that continue to send shivers on us, I can say that overall it was a smooth ride.

Atok Benguet
how bout skydiving? hehe

Then came the bad news at Kilometer 36! We don’t suffer any spills or mechanical trouble, we still got gas, but we decided to stop and turn back huhuhu! (still 16KM more before the famous Philippine Pali marker wahhhhh!)

The reason?

Heavy rain started to fall. Good thing we found a make-shift house along the road that sheltered us from the rain and coldness of the surroundings. Baguio’s weather is cold, but here at Atok, Benguet its extremely cold! It’s quite unfortunate for us that we’re not equipped with thick jackets and rain-wears to battle the temperature. If only there’s a mobile home for sale up there we could have stayed a bit longer hehe!

Atok Benguet
all frustrated, while waiting for the rain to stop

The route going down was the best, as if we we’re on a circuit racing tracks. Just be sure you’re brakes won’t fail you, or else you’ll soon be flying high on those cliffs haha! We stopped to eat at McDonald La Trinidad while we all exchanged experiences of our failed but still fulfilling ride to Atok, Benguet.

We all wanted to go back in the near future. And next time, we’ll be ready and prepared! πŸ˜€

 

By the way. For the whole trip.Β  My Yamaha Mio Sporty covered 634 kilometers and 15 liters of unleaded fuel. Whew!

click image to view entire album

Inspiring Gel

Im having second thought of doing the run myself, but after seeing Gel, I guess I might give it a try next year haha! I salute you sir Gel! πŸ˜€

evangel mercadoThe man I’ve met that night on board a yellow BMW RS1150 served as an inspiration and invitation to everyone to go into riding. His feat was truly remarkable. I was referring to Mr. Evangel Mercado or Gel to his friends. Looking very fit at the age of 62, he just crossed the finish line at Petron Kisad, Baguio city for the AMDG-Petron Endurance & Economy Run.

Coming fromΒ  Petron C5 – The route that starts in Manila and ends in Baguio City via Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan, Ilocos, and La Union Province, approximately 1000kms overall. Riding extensively for almost 24 hours, battling fatigue, drowsiness and cold wind. Mr.Mercado actually won First Place in his class of 1000cc and up.

Gel gladly make himself available for some photo session and chit-chat. I asked him if he drinks energy drink along the way to make him awake, alert or somehow replenished his energy. To which he replied “It’s a no-no for me. Mineral water is enough”. Take note of this. He told us secrets about bringing in some “kalamansi” for this stuff truly helps.

I feel great being a rider and being able to meet guys like Gel. Riding out of town and exposing oneself to nature has definitely been gaining of a lot of enthusiasm from riders lately.

Im having second thought of doing the run myself, but after seeing Gel, I guess I might give it a try next year haha!Β  I salute you sir Gel! πŸ˜€

Teachers Camp Pages Hall

The best place for me there is when I got up to poop the next morning. Its nature at its best! Cool wind blowing at your face, while you see lots and lots of pine trees outside.

Pages Hall

I’ve been to Baguio a number of times, but this is my first time to stay at the famous and historical Teachers Camp. Its surprisingly timely since its celebrating its 100 years in existence. We’re fortunate to be billeted at the Pages Hall dormitory as the checker told us before that they were fully-booked. Good thing we waited for a couple of minutes at the lobby.

The room has ample space for 3 persons. It has 2 mini tables and 3 bunk beds that I find too comfy to sleep on, maybe because of its soft matress and springs. I actually had a hard time to sleep the first night because of its super softiness and also to the chilly weather.

The best place for me there is when I got up to poop the next morning. Its nature at its best! Cool wind blowing at your face, while you see lots and lots of pine trees outside. How? A big window is right beside me from where I’m sitting. I think from my shoulder upwards can be seen from the outside and vice-versa. I can view the whole Benitez Hall, and can even wave to the people on the parking lot haha! There’s a curtain installed but maybe some Cheap Blinds would be more classy. Overall, our stay at Teachers Camp Baguio was great! I shall return. πŸ˜€