Double Century at Little Boracay, Part 1
Randonneuring is not that popular here in the Philippines but I hope more and more Pinoys take up this kind of adventure. It’s a mix of Backpacking, Long Distance Cycling, Camping, Epicurean cooking, Fishing, Beachineering, Outdoor Photography and so much more! There are many beautiful places in the Philippines just waiting to be explored! So come on everyone, let the adventure begin! – John Buno
Little Boracay in Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur (now Davao Occidental, pending) has been on our minds for quite some time. Images of scenic routes, white sand beach, and a little adventure kept us very interested even if it had been postponed for a couple of months; we were supposed to visit the place after the local elections last May but then some things came up and it was put on the back burner for a while.
Things were put into motion when the significant other was asking for suggestions on where to go for an epic ride for September. Almost immediately, me, John, and Gads churned out the plans for an adventure ride and we finally decided to make the trip to Little Boracay, Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur. This was all done on a Thursday night and by Friday morning, everything was all laid out for a Sunday dawn ride. With the itinerary done, there were 9 of us going, but only 5 going for the overnight trip; Me, Mae, John, Gads, and JToms.
At this point, we were no longer strangers to impromptu rides so the preparation time was minimal. We just packed our overnight bags, a basic tent and a gallon of water, strapped them all on the bike panniers and we were good to go. John had a cook-set we could use so all we had to buy was rice, fish and pork for dinner and some canned goods for breakfast. And since we knew that a marketplace was near, we didn’t have to worry about bringing anything extra, just some emergency rations in case things weren’t looking so good.
100 kilometers on open roads is relatively easy on 26-inch bikes, but using 20-inch folding bikes is a different story. It takes a lot more work to cover as much distance as the others can, so pacing was definitely crucial if we were to make it to the place with energy to spare. And the road from Davao to Digos is never easy for cyclists, 2 lane roads where trucks, buses and container cargo vans pass by with little to no regard for the safety of cyclists. You have to be really aware and alert all the time!
We already knew what we would face going to Digos, so it wasn’t much of a problem. What comes after that would be the tricky part, since we don’t know how we’d fare from Digos to Sta Maria. Good thing one of the group is familiar with the region, and he says the only hard part is the traverse from Malalag to Sta Maria, approximately 10 kilometers going uphill; no big deal really, unless you’re doing it in the middle of the day with the blazing sun showing no mercy at all…
We had decided to depart from Toril at around 0500 so that we would arrive at our destination by 1400; maps show it to be approximately 100 kilometers from the Davao City Hall, and keeping an average pace of 18kph should get us there by 1400, taking into account the expected food/rest/photo breaks. With the time and meetup place set, everything was a go.
Sunday, 0530. The group finally converged in Toril and rode out full of energy and excitement. We were keeping our pace, taking pictures along the way, and enjoying the cool morning air. We arrived at Mers, a popular food/pasalubong center just before Digos, at around 0800. We had breakfast, replenished our water bottles, and freshened up a bit for the next 50-km ride.
By 0900 we were on the road again, but this time the sun was out in force, robbing us of a little extra energy with every pedal stroke we make. The road from Digos to Sulop was, in my opinion, the most tiring since it was pretty straightforward; and by straightforward I mean a very long and straight road, 14 kilometers long, looking up ahead is not encouraged since you could imagine the road going on forever and robs you of a little more energy.
We stopped by a roadside stall selling bananas, ate a couple under the trees, and pushed on through to Sulop. At this point, JToms finally caught up with us. He decided to take his scooter for the trip since he was tired from taking a group of cyclists on a trip the day before. Good thing too, since we now have a support and gear (SAG) vehicle on our tail.
We arrived at Sulop by 1100, stopping at a bakery to cool down and drink something cold. The heat was relentless and was making it doubly hard for us with around 26-kms more to go. After some time, we finally headed out and took the junction headed for Malalag. We arrived at Malalag at around 1145, and had lunch at a roadside carinderia.
1245, Malalag. We pushed on through to the last 15 kilometers under the scorching heat, and this time the uphills started to show up, making us work extra hard to get through the traverse. It was such a relief when we got to the top, we had a great overlooking view and some trees providing shade to park our weary butts. And then the reward, a short but fast 5-km downhill ride to the town of Sta Maria.
1400, Sta. Maria. We then spent the next 30 minutes resting by the market, cooling off in the shade, buying food and drinks for dinner. After all was done, we pedaled on through the last 3 or so kilometers from the market to Little Boracay on dry and dusty roads. And finally, at 1530, we have arrived. Touchdown at Little Boracay!
Part 1 Part 2