Everyone was delighted to reach the top without encountering any problems. The way everyone rode made everything seem easy, even Jaime was riding confidently and comfortably. So were all smiles once we reached the top, everybody was taking selfies and getting photos to prove that they were able to take their custom bikes to the top. I, on the other hand was busy taking shots and sorting out the action cams in hopes of getting something once we start heading back.
The view on top was amazing but the trail seems to go on farther. I then overheard Mel and Roe talking, if we are going to push through. I personally was curious as to what else is out there. But then Roe pointed out the thick dark cloud over the horizon, he said that it would be really difficult for us push through if it starts to rain. Given that some of us are inexperienced (me included), while others brought an inappropriate motorcycle. Pushing through might become problematic for all of us, even for the experienced ones.
Spike decided that if ever we push through, he will head back as he knows his motorcycle is not ready for it. Pongs looked at him and decided that he too will go with him. That made Mel and Roe decide that we should really head back… just after that decision was made, it started to rain. They began moving out, I was left behind because I was sorting out where to store my dslr and I was still fixing the action cams. When I was finished all of them are gone, so I started riding to catch up to them. By this time the rain eased up a bit, but it was enough to turn the brown dusty soil into brown stick mud. I was not getting any traction and I’m losing control of the bike and then I fell. One guy rushed towards me to help me pick up my XR 150 with full side panniers. I’m quite used to falling by now, It was like a regular thing for me during the PH tour. By the time he got to me the bike is up again… then I noticed it was Darwax, one of the guys who welcomed me in Davao.
He told me that my front tire is not spinning anymore due to the mud, he pointed to my front tire and said “It’s already stuck on your front fender.” He was also wondering why I looked like that because most of the time when he sees me riding I’m in complete gear. I told him this was totally unexpected and joked about how I looked like I was going to the mall. We both laughed at my predicament, then he said “They are not far, after the first corner you will see them. But your’e not going anywhere with that mud stuck on your front fender”. Good thing I brought some tools, I decided to just remove the fender to give my tires some needed clearance. After that, I was rolling again. I said “Thank you.” to Darwax for the suggestion and rode on.
I was approaching the first corner, I saw Roe going back. I asked him what he is doing here, he just said “Looking for you!”, then we both laughed. I explained to him why it took me so long to follow them, he then said the same thing. “They are not far, Jaime, Pongs and Spike are having a hard time dealing with the mud.” I just told myself “I think I will be in a similar position.”
After a couple of minutes I finally caught up with them and I was greeted by a slight incline wherein I can already see Pongs pushing his bike. That’s when I saw Roe who was behind me zip up another path. That path was almost eye level high, but it was compact. It wasn’t as muddy as the path that we are in, but it was really narrow, grassy and has some big roots for obstacles. But Roe rode it like it was nothing. Then he noticed that Pongs was really having a hard time his tires were not gripping because of the mud. He then went down and helped Pongs by pulling him up and then giving him a slight push. Then it was my turn, I got on the clutch and started to rev, I was barely moving an inch. That’s when I realized that I was in the same predicament as Pongs.
Roe quickly noticed that I was also having a hard time and told me to ease on the clutch. He then grabbed my handlebar and started pulling me up, then I started revving again. Thanks to him I got out of that situation, but at the back of my mind, I’m thinking how many more times will I be in this again.
The next couple of minutes, everyone was riding better. It seems that everyone was just warming up during the first part and now everyone seems to more confident in riding the mud. The weather was clearing up and so we decided to stop again for some photos, everyone was smiling again.
After 5 mins of riding, the sky darkened and the rain poured. This time it was a bit stronger and more consistent, this is actually better. A lot of riders have told me, consistent rain is better than an abrupt one for dirt or street riding. You might be wondering why? Abrupt rain tends to make the road or the trail slippery because it just makes the top soil loose or in the case of street roads it mixes up the slippery substances but doesn’t really wash it out. A consistent rain washes out the top soil revealing a much more compact surface to ride on. While on the street, it washes out all the slippery substances down the drain but always be cautious of hydroplaning.
I was able to catch up to Jaime, by this time her confidence in riding in the mud is increasing. You can see her managing herself well, when it becomes slippery and she keeps her legs on the bike more often rather than putting them out to balance. I asked if she remembers me, she said I looked familiar. “Wrangler True Wanderer, right?’ I replied “Yes”. I then promised to send her the video of her first ever trail ride when we get out of here.
The rain was just not letting up. It poured and poured, the mud was just sticking everywhere at some point Mel had to stop and manually remove the mud from his rear tire with a stick. The thick tires were causing the mud to accumulate just beneath the rear fender. Front fenders are easy to remove but rear ones aren’t. Mel then signaled to use to go ahead and so we did.