Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Claveria Torture, Part I

The Boss and I worked hours this evening for our Manila-Baguio-Sagada-Vigan trip itineraries. Looking at the photos posted by travelers, my memories ebb to December 2009.

The photos of the mountains on the way to Sagada, laced by their jugged and blurred ridges, and the sleeping fogs between their bosom, remind me of a trip I did two years ago. It was a mere 40km roundtrip from the town center of Claveria, Misamis Oriental to the crash site of Cebu Pacific flight 387—I will forever remember it as the Claveria torture.

Like a suspect being tortured to admit a crime, the short bike trip pushed me to the edge of my sanity and the breaking-point of my arrogance. At that time, I was at the peak of my fitness.

The Road Starts Here

In the preceding months of December 2009, I would regularly do 120-240km trips. Long trips make fatigue get used to you, so it does not bother you anymore.

I could do flatlands on my mountain bike at 40kph and I reached the farthest point at my speedometer—60 kph behind a truck. For a rider classified as a climber, both are ego-boosting experience. If you are a cyclist, you are in turbo mode if it is arrogance that propels you.

That Mindanao trip taught me that it’s one thing to be strong at sea-level; it’s completely different when you are up there. Riding on higher heights brought me back to the ground. It is a very common fact that we all know. But we are always good at claiming to know, until we tried it ourselves. The seal of the diploma was the Claveria torture.

I was in Valencia, Bukidnon before that trip. I set out at 3:30am to the town’s bus terminal to head to Cagayan de Oro, where I planned to ride to Claveria. Only a very few light bulbs lit a 12km stretch of gloom. The road was an orchestra of potholes and huge slippery rocks.

Pile up

My bus trip was cut short by a carnage of ten- and 14-wheeler trucks at Mangima. There must have been four of them. They clogged the whole road—the highway was cupped between twenty foot ridges and there is no road shoulder for vehicles to squeeze through. Traffic between Northern and Southern Mindanao was cut at that time.

The wreck of such huge machines made me feel so small and vulnerable but I had no time to stop for a death that is not my own. So I got off the Rural Transit bus I rode and started pedaling. Travelers heading south stared at me as I pedaled up the forbidding hills of Mangima.

Eyes were fixed at me for about six kilometers. Time stopped for everyone and I was glad to show them how to pedal 10kph on steep hills with a stuffed military-issued bag. My self-respect was steeper than any mountain at that time. (On this map, Mangima is the long stretch of red. Puerto is the red dot).

Breakfast a la Kart

I made a short stop in Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, at a diner that used to be my breakfast relief. Puerto Kitchenette is where my father and I would often have our day’s first meal, during that time when I was his travel buddy. I must have been six or eight then. I came back to the place a 20-year-old guy on his bike. The menu, like the place, has barely changed 14 years hence.

After the meal, I continued with my route.


Chyrel Gomez said...

where is the part two?

Bal Marsius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bal Marsius said...

next birthday. i'm so busy these days i had to file a leave to reply to your comment

Bal Marsius