The MIA Santa Cruz team set off to spend winter in the Republic of the Philippines, the south East Asian island state, located in the Pacific Ocean. Travelling with their bikes, heading for this unusual destination for mountain bikers were riders Maxime and Yohan.
The team headed for Baguio, 200 kilometres north of Manila, Baguio is a town of 300,000 inhabitants, situated in the Province of Benguet, at 1500 metres elevation. In the middle of the town, is the John Hay Camp wildlife reserve, which in the last century was where American troops stationed there, spent their free time. Today it is a place with a vast network of purpose built trails for mountain bikes, it is a little paradise for the many riders who go there. Yohan has free rein to unleash his passion for street trial riding around most of the reserve, jumping from one tree trunk to another or performing 360 nose picks from walls!
Accompanied by Jordan, a famous trail builder in the area, the team set off early in the morning for a more natural location. A three hour drive to start off followed by a four and a half hour climb on our bikes, with long hike a bike sections in the middle of the jungle with leeches clinging to their legs, in the rain. After reaching 2150 metres of elevation, a break is needed to admire the spectacular views whilst 14 km descent awaits!
The first part of the trail has an awesome flow which leads to a ridge, where the trail turns into a really technical singletrack. The morning’s efforts are being repaid way beyond expectations. Lower down the atmosphere changes again. Through a rice field, passing by cattle and horses grazing freely, until reaching the valley floor, where a high suspension bridge crosses a river. There is a dark arrival at the “excursionists’ house” in a little mountain village, where the warmest of welcomes is received.
The following day, passing the “Gold seekers “valley, the mountains are left behind and the team heads for the quiet town of Balanga, facing Manila, on the other side of the bay. News about their arrival has spread and many local riders come to join. A shuttle service is improvised and with just a few pesos, they climb Monte Samat pulled by side cars! From its peak, you can see a 90 metre high cross, erected in honour of Philippine and American soldiers killed during the Second World War.
It is time to get the bikes out and take off to discover the routes prepared by the B.E.E.R team riders. The trail, offers all kinds of biking challenges, including roots, steps and rock gardens. It twists and turns through banana and coconut tree groves. It would be hard to find anything more exotic. The trip comes to an end in the evening, with an incredible dinner of fish and seafood on the beach.
The MIA Santa Cruz Team say "If you want to cut short your winter, think about the Philippines, it was a marvellous discovery for us. We would like to thank Thiromana Yin – Adventure we like – for the logistical planning, all the riders who accompanied us during our stay, the sponsors of the MIA Santa Cruz team and Race company."
Maxime Peythieu and Yohan Triboulat
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