At a tourism workshop, a non-Ilocano tourism student asked me, “What is the best way to enjoy Ilocos?” Without thinking twice, I shot back, “Do you bike?”
I’ve been hanging out with local bikers in the last two decades. It was through them that I took roads less traveled, mastered sleeping on any feasible surface, woke up to an exquisite countryside underlined with unaffected smiles, immersed in outdoor culture and gained fresh perspective.
“You make your own trail,” says a visiting biker, “the only difference, from place to place, will be the people you meet, the local culture and the sights along the way.” From time to time, I tumble upon seasoned globetrotters on two wheels, the likes who will find pleasure in things that are mundane to most Ilocanos — like a “kurong-kurong” filled with pigs, the antiquatedness of the dap-ayan, the sarusar and the tobacco pugon, the tricycle meant for tiny people, a cup of native brew with the locals — it is in those things that defines Ilocos.
David Luxford, a Tubbataha Reef adventure expert visits Ilocos Norte, meets up with the LEAD Movement and hangs out with the Batibols and Karyutero bikers.
At present, there are no bicycle outfitters in the province. But because Ilocanos are genuinely hospitable, in their own unique way, the Batibols and the Karyutero cross-country bikers will gladly welcome visitors wanting to explore the rugged terrains of Ilocos. Also, for maximum adrenaline rush, only a few kilometers from Laoag City, are international standard XCO tracks, with steep climbs and technical drops, both natural and man-made, established by downhill pioneers in the province, says biking devotee Jackie de la Cruz, MTB Commissair.
Biking on flat roads through scenic, quaint towns is a leisurely alternative .
Contact Batibols Bikers (+63 09176214265) or Karyutero Bikers (+63 09173212542) for free guided bike tours. Bring your own bike or bike rental can be pre-arranged.
With special thanks to Jackie de la Cruz, Joey Dumayag, Batibols Bikers, Karyutero Bikers and Lester Susi for their contribution to my story about the fresh ways to enjoy Ilocos in PAL’s Mabuhay Magazine October 2014 issue. Likewise to Reny Tan and David Luxford.
Photographed by David Luxford and Blauearth
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