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Pamulinawen Festival, MTB Race.

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Nice start time 1 PM. And this is a regional event attracting riders from all over Nth Philippines, cash prizes, and the race is in it's 15th year. Tough course, but a novice could ride it. Mostly problems with patchy sand. Four big hills came late and 2 of them were steep, and I saw most of the riders walking up.


We got up there in a truck, 16 riders, 16 bikes, 3 guys on the roof.


Categories. Open, Novice, Executive, Veterans, Ladies, BMX. Executive in the Phils means 42 and up. If they have enough Vets, they will run 50 and up. Here there were about 15 Vets, my category.


We did a lap of this beautiful city. Marcos money still flows here up north, and it shows in the roads, and the amount of support they will give to events like this. This is a one month Fiesta, with a downhill bike race next week.


Staggered start, BMX off last. My category before the BMX, good because I got mixed up with them in 2 previous events.


Off we go and I'm dropped immediately Ladies and Vets, 24-25 riders and I can't go the intitial pace, dropped before I even got in the big chain ring. WTF? Nah, they can't all be that good 27 km, that's a sprint, but let's see how they handle the course. So we are on a city road first km, so I get profiled down and ride TT style, and I have to ride hard as I can to get up behind the last rider.


We got on the off road, It's a sort of canal bank, I think, a bit a loose gravel, but follow the line and no problem. Passed about 4 in this section, and I can see all the riders ahead of me. Go along there and turn up R, going up and down but not severe. Sections of trail, like secondary roads, and bits of tarmac. And a few bits of sand and seen a few riders getting in trouble. So that's about the first half of the race, excellent course, well marshalled all the way. I got with a girl here and she was 3rd later, stuck on her for a while and vice versa, but eventually got away, and passed a few more and a few must have abandoned, seen them walking back.


I did pass quite a few, but there's a lot of riding back and getting passed by the same riders, so only marginal improvement in my overall position.


I found some good lines off the track and now for the first time since I started the sport, I can see I'm competitive. Nowhere near last and mixing it up with my category, And the ladies. I had the 2 elite ladies ahead of me, and I was consistently riding up behind them. I was faster on the tarmac, but they had more skills and would get away on the off road.


So the course flattens out, and we hit the main sandy patches. There's a lot of walking and some attempts to run. It's around the halfway point and now I see 7-8 people walking over a 200m section of deep sand. I get an idea to get way off the line and bisect the angle and run a bit. And it works and I get ahead off them, and up behind the 2 elite ladies again, right behind them. But a small hesitation on the remount and the run took a bit out of me, and lose 50 m on that. But now my position is improving. Back on tarmac and I had a thought. These hills are not so severe, stay on the big chain ring and spin up road bike style.


So I do that and again it works out. The ladies get ahead, but now I'm racing 3 guys in my category. Getting ahead of them, but somehow they tacked onto me.


Somewhere here missed a gear change and had a short walk up, and lost places again. But rode back onto the same group, again using my rode bike skills esp when cornering. And watching the race marshall where he's pointing to get into the turn early.


Now we are I in the hill section. But my big chain ring strategy is working. As long as I can see the top I can ride over. And this now is my race. I'm racing the guys, 7th-10th in Vets and I feel at least equal and maybe stronger. But now it get's technical, going down to single track and forced to ride on the steep bank. And a few riders in trouble (novice cat?) blocking the track, so have to shout at them to get off the line. Lost some ground here and can't see the other guys briefly. But back on level, ride them down again. And now it's getting closer to the finish, hills will follow.


We also had downhills this section, one was a bit severe, and although no passing, I lost a some ground. And made it up climbing, even passing the 2 others doing high RPM work, while one guy was standing.


Going into the hills I regain the lead over these riders, only 3 of us now. Sharp right and sharp up across a big pipe and no momentum, so have to walk up. But I got ahead and I thought if I get up first they won't catch me....but dam, the 2 guys close the gap and get right behind me again. So we run like that over the hill sect, I think walking up one more.....and 3 km to the finish we are told. Getting onto tarmac and immediately dropping one rider.


The guy with me was well ahead of me last race, so I know I'm going well. He's got 50 m on me, but I think he can't see me, so I TT back again. I know I am stronger and I know now I will ride over him, but where's the finish? I hold my place and check my gearing, I have one gear to work with, but he did see me now and starts sprinting.


Finish line came unexpectedly and I did not make my move.




FILIPINO ADDENDUM (they read this in several forums)


My teammates, 14 16 riders under the LAPOG CYLING TEAM banner.


1. John "The Animal" Burgos...ex local pro, always wins his category.


2. Oren V...got in the Vets on the top end of the A/G...on the new 29 'er, 2nd place, still improving, will have a few more good results this year.


3. Manong/Adding Valentine...3rd place vets, also top end A/G, local fisherman, speaks no English. Rides a $50 junk pile bike and rides it like a piece of gold.


4. Johnny. Looks like a kid in short pants and Nike shoes, 6th place not sure which category, novice?


5. Ian Lagasca. Club Chairman, gives me a few thousand pesos free bike service ansd sets up my 2 bikes. Novice category, but on a Fat Bike. Moved up nicely, Top 20, but the Fattie wouldn't be fast enough at this level


6. Arnel. Bike weighs a ton and the rider is a a big strong guy, riding novice and pulled out everything he had. See him on a decent bike he will move up.


7. Jimmy "The Cop"...talented rider, too heavy right now and level of competition here too deep in the Exec Cat.


8. Arrowsmith...my best race but realistically the skills are not yet there. Improving.


9. Rex "Bottles" Fernadez, big talent previous podium this event. Did well in the free brandy consumption race, and by luck we dropped into his Auntie's restaurant later on. Still has abillity, but Open Cat..more younger riders coming through.


10. Jr...and Kaloy's brother..now you know how hard it is out there and how fast they go up front.


11. All others, sorry guys, didn't see you but everyone finished. As a club, we had a bike win today, 4 podiums, plus the coveted oldest rider.


CHB LIMITED (my comments back at you) Race Management Team.


Pesident Eng Ellis Corpuz. Race Director and Master of Ceremonies, Uncle Diomy Gayban. The "Man in Black"..guest of honor and..not sure his position, but man of powers, ingats, be careful. Maybank Officer and theother Engr who talked to me....thanks guys, awesome 10/10 this race. If anything too generous, really. My Aussies are shocked, cash and prizes all the way down the line.


Emperidor Brandy...wow..nice touch, free drinks and free giveaways plus bottles for the winners.


Race Marshalls 10/10. Best I have seen, on every corner, 4-5 arms pointing well in advance.


The Course; nice track. a combination of novice to intermediate, advance riders naturally had the advantage, but a novice could go round if riding cautiously. 9.5/10...I am going to nit pick and say there could have been a marker thee about 200-300 metres from the finish, it was hard to judge.


Awards Function: I know all those girls were not out there just for me, but I like to believe that. The food, the venue, the atmosphere, every thing...10/10.


I racing triathlon up here 28 March...hope to see everyone.


City Of Laoag. I'm from Vigan (Magsingal), and Canberra, Australia. Have lives in USA, England, Sri Lanka, Saudi...I was in Laoag once before, I did not pay attention. Sweet city, a subtle blend of Old World blended into current. A lovely place, a place I would live. I have friends coming up. one a biker, will tour them. Laoag and Vigan...equal, Cebu City...mate, where is that? Nth Philippines for me, the undiscovered north. 10/10 Laoag.

Edited by Kamal2
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