June to October triggers a kind of “light switch” response for some folks around these parts. That rainy season marks the clearing of beaches as it gets harder to try to plan trips when you’ve got to take the weather into account. Going outdoors almost becomes a game of strategy.
When that season flip switches it’s far too easy to stay inside, fire of the Xbox or PlayStation and become a drone to electronic stimulation. That weather that so many people hide from can be a hell of a lot of fun when you mix in biking though.
There’s just something about the mist, the rain, the dampness and the drizzle that romanticizes an already existing love affair with the bike. From the retreat of nature to the tree-lined streets there are some great places to ride whether it’s pouring or you’re under the warm embrace of the sun on a clear day. Here are some of our favorites around Manila.
La Mesa Nature Reserve
The La Mesa Nature Preserve tops our list as one of the best trails in the Metro Manila area. Elevation changes provide varying degrees of challenging ascents and enjoyable downhill runs coupled with some of the most well-kept single track you can find.
While there’s a biking fee per ride, it’s worth it. Did we mention the breath taking view of the man-made lake is worth pausing to enjoy?
There’s a lot of area here to explore, as it has kilometers of well-maintained area that could take you hours to explore.
Keep in mind that during the rainy season some of the trails can be particularly tricky as they would be slick and fairly muddy. A fair trade when you get to bike under the ever-present shade of trees in one of the last remaining rainforest of Metro Manila. Unlike San Mateo that boasts a fair amount of grasslands, La Mesa will give you a long ride almost completely covered by trees.
Best for: Your favorite ride with two wheels. You’ll be able to experience a little more with a mountain bike.
Tip: Bring a camera; not the selfie kind. If you’ve got a GoPro you’ll be able to capture some beautiful footage of your ride.
Timberland (Mt. Maarat)
Timberland in San Mateo Rizal has a great spread of trails from beginner to veteran biking and it’s the site of the infamous Wall. It’s a brutal climb that’s approximately 2 kilometers of pavement that ends at Timberland estates. If you want more technical riding, there’s plenty of that with the fire roads and single tracks.
Once you've managed to climb The Wall you’re into the basic trails and can divert into the other green and blue zones for more intermediate riding. The Basic trail and Roxas trail are a great place to start building up trail riding experience, with Roxas trail offering just a bit challenge over the Basic. On the Roxas trail, newbie riders will likely have to dismount in a couple places but it’s a fantastic experience with a view that will give you a taste of what’s to come when you cross into the more challenging areas like the Blue Zone.
Best for: Mountain bikes. Expect a variety of terrain but Timberland offers trails for virtually all skill and technical level broken into zones (Basic trail, Blue Zone, Green Zone, Black Diamond).
Tip: Watch for the refueling stations where you can grab some outdoor camp food to keep your legs strong for the rest of the ride.
Marilaque (Sierra Made Loop)
For those among us who are more into scenery or want to take a break from technical riding, you can put some distance (100 kilometers give or take) on your tires and enjoy the view along the Marilaque. This stretch of winding roads begins at the congested Cogeo and will twist you through the Sierra Madre before coming to a stop in either Real Quezon or Tanay Rizal – your choice. Cogeo might not be ideal for you but we promise the experience improves just a few kilometers in and it’s worth pushing through.
Best of all you can take pause at Palo Alto Falls, which is found within the Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estates. The falls are very well maintained, are great place to get those obligatory Instagram pics of your ride with beautiful clean water. Getting there is easy with just a few moderate climbs, so it’s a great target for the rookie rider.
Best for: Mountain bikes or road bikes. You’ll encounter predominantly road terrain but there are some killer climbs.
Tip: Everyone loves the route so expect to encounter other groups including scooters, motorcycles, sport cars and other automobiles
When you’ve had enough of the casual rides and want to step up the challenge level like a true Spartan, Tanay Rizal offers a number of areas to appease the adventurous type. The rides here can be as challenging as they are scene, such as the trek at Sta. Ines – a 20 kilometer ride through some rough and rocky terrain ending at a waterfall that not too many riders know about.
Prepare to cross multiple streams to get there where you’ll be hopping out of the saddle and possibly shouldering your bike along the trip. It’s absolutely not a ride for any beginner to take because it can be punishing – more so than even The Wall. Be prepared and be careful during the rainy season as flashfloods can pop when the rains come.
Best for: Mountain bikes. There are indeed some killer climbs at Tanay but it’s a location that road bikers love
Tip: Get off the beaten path to catch some amazing scenery, even if it means carrying your bike.
Bikes were made to be ridden but to get to some of the places we love to ride you have to carry your gear a little. Sometimes a lot.
Talim Island isn’t recommended for rookie riders but it’s a great place to take the bike. It’s the closest island to Metro Manila and sports an amazing view from Mt. Susong Dalaga.
The downside is that you should be prepared to dismount and shoulder your ride for about a third of the trek. Some of the route completely lacks trails and there’s some unstable footing and rocks to pass through.
But that’s the best part of biking – going somewhere others don’t go and exploring the farthest reaches with nothing but your supplies, your riding buddies from RideNa and your trusty steed.
Best for: Mountain bikes; a street/road bike isn’t the best option here.
Tip: You’ll find regular boat rides from Binangonan as well as Calamba to various villages on Talim Island for a nominal fee.