Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Insane Tour of Cebu 2009

Have you ever done something plain crazy and fun in your life? This is it! =)

My friends and I joined a 24-hour endurance Insane Tour of Cebu on our mountain bike. This is pushing our limits beyond anything you can imagine - bike the coastline of the Cebu island!

The race started at Minglanilla at 4am on Satuday, Nov. 28, 2009. We headed north to Bogo, then south towards Santader, then back to Minglanilla. This is a 500km route where 10% is rough road. We were on slick tires. We have four riders (Rupert, Dominique, Anklai and me) and six support crew (Lanlan, Ronald, Jun, Jam, Emily, and Ruby/my gä). A few months ago, I tried to create a team of five riders and a couple of support crew. Our fifth rider, Myles, unfortunately didn't make it to Cebu on the race date. We called our group -- Team Emily.

Every year for the past seven years, the Alliance of Mountain Trekkers and Adventurers, Inc (AMTA) have been doing this, i.e. the Insane Tour of Cebu. Two groups from the Cebu Cycling community were invited to join the experience.

The tour was a test of will, both mental and physical. To date, this is my longest ride yet. I'm also glad that gä was with the group during the race.

At 4am of Nov. 28, the riders were set. We prayed as the Minglanilla Church bell rang. Then off we went. Our team was very relaxed at first. We then started to focus on drafting. Before we knew it, we were pedalling at almost 40kph with the peleton. It was my first time to experience that speed in a pack of riders. Now I understand even more how vital it is to draft with the group. I was pedalling at a pace I'd do solo at 27kph but my speed was already 38kph when in a group. It was amazingly fast. I was too pumped up that I tried to forward myself to the third lead rider of the pack of about 40 riders. It was a non-stop fast pace 100km first quadrant of Cebu. During that time, Dominique was unable to stay with the pack after a series of traffic light stops. This took its toll in making up with the gap. 80% of the rider's effort is just breaking the wind. I phoned the group to assist Dominique at this time, while the rest of us are taking the lead at the Lugo climb. At that time, we needed the crew for us to refill our tanks. We were already out of food and water. After assisting us, our support waited for Dominique. As we moved on, we had a flat. We had extra wheelsets in the vehicle but the support is trying to catch up now that they are going back and forth to support the riders. Atop the climb, we were overtaken from our lead as we replace Rupert's tubes.

At Bogo, the support was trying to catch up. We were doing 30-35kph. At that time, I started to feel a little discomfort in my right ankle, where later I found out that my right cleats was misaligned. As the support reached us, we loaded up on food and drinks. This was the time when we realized that it was really difficult for the team to be in two places. After a century kilometer, Dominique decided to stop at Bogo. This was his first Lugo climb. Way to go Mik! I know he will return next year with a vengeance.

We continued pedalling until San Remegio which starts the 30km rough road. Along the way, my ankle discomfort was getting worse that I had to slow down. Not wanting to drag Rupert and Anklai, and so not to spoil the lead, I let them go. I told them I'll be at their tail. I thought if not for my misaligned cleats, I could have joined them tackle the rest of the route. So they were ahead, while I was doing solo. I tried to catch up with them but they were already ahead. I slowed down as the sun was full blast on the rough roads to Tabuelan. I tried to recover on my speed during the nice straight roads of Asturias. It was past noon that I needed to stop and look for a carenderia for lunch. The crew was still trying to catch up at that time, with Dominique already on board. One by one I come across lone riders as well of the race, realizing that maintaining 25kph-35kph could get me to my teammates in no time. As I stopped to have lunch, the AMTA group passed me by. I thought to myself, there is stilll enough distance to cover that we'll just see each other one way or another. As I pedalled again, the AMTA group were taking a breather. They invited me to join them instead. At first, I was hesitant, but the very cold Pepsi drinks was irresistable. =) It was at that time that the support crew made it to where we were resting. We then agreed that they go ahead and support Rupert and Anklai, while I stay with the AMTA group. This is also where my cleats was adjusted. In no time, I have recovered from my ankle discomfort.

As we passed by Balamban then Toledo, Rupert and Anklai were already in Pinamungahan area. As they rested at the Milk station with the support, the AMTA group and I were still about to tackle the Aloguinsan to Mantalongon climb. Rupert and Anklai went ahead while the support waited for me so I can get my headlamp. The support drove with us as we went to Dumanjug area for dinner. This is the last support I got, as they had to catch up with Rupert and Anklai who were biking with limited lighting somewhere in Badian, that they had to stop, eat dinner, and wait for the support. As I had my dinner, I talked with the group that I will just have to stay with the AMTA group for the rest of the route. I had to take my backpack to the AMTA's support vehicle. After a few minutes, we were all set. The support tried catching up with the long-haired steeds.

The AMTA pace at night was very fast. We were going 30-35 kph even at pitch black trusting our headlamps. It takes about a few seconds reaction time before you could notice the tires/signages along the road. The support took about a few hours before reaching Rupert and Anklai. They catched up with the boys somewhere in Oslob, while we were somewhere in Alegria.

It was during this time that exhaustion took it's turn. We were already sleepy. This was my first time to fall asleep for a few seconds, while pedalling! It was dangerous as big trucks pass by you in a swift. I had to splash cold water to my face to stay awake. Even cups of coffee weren't enough.

Sunlight kept me a little awake, which made me grateful. Upon reaching Argao, the rest of my team was already nearing Minglanilla. That last 60km was the most gruelling part. It was the last few kilometers where I had to exert my last ounce of energy to reach the finish line. Rupert and Anklai tied up at 2nd with 24:27 in their time. I was the 5th to arrive in the finish line with the rest of the pack with 27:58. I was very tired, but felt really good accomplishing this feat.

It was a priceless experience, but all worth it. I was one of the few to tour the whole of Cebu in a little over a day straight. I was glad to share this experience with friends, especially my gä.

Here are some more pics:

Check out the race result here and here...


  1. hello Mitch, glad to know what you felt on that dreaded tour and also knowing how you felt about us. I knew you have an AMTA spirit the moment we met at Balanban when you adjusted your cleats and you were shaking then but still opted to continue.I really love biker with your attitude. You have my attention. Happy biking to you...
    romy delima
    tour director AMTA

  2. Thank you so much Sir Romy! It was nice biking with AMTA, I felt confident that by just being with the group the whole time, I'll have no problems completing the Tour. I applaud you for the years of experience and most especially your family values and tradition. More power to AMTA in the years to come. =)