THAT WAS how our new riding buddy, JM, described our extreme trail ride on March 12, 2011. I meant to caution him from making premature declarations. But who am I to contradict him? If he says it was his closest to a near death experience then so be it.
What I really wanted to tell him is that there are going to be more and even worse trails to negotiate. But that would probably scare him to bits so I kept my big mouth shut.
Descending Mt. Amaya — also known as Maya-Maya Trail* — from San Ycero Valley to Sta. Inez Valley in the mountains of Rizal was indeed the most “hair-raising” trail that the novices among us in our riding club have experienced to date.
We had lots of fun in our long ride earlier that day. We passed by beautiful back roads that gradually turned into narrow foot trails between rice paddies (i.e. “pilapil”), very long and steep ascents, narrow trails on top of windy mountain ridges, etc. All around us the scenery was fantastic!
Of course all of these were meant to mask the extreme difficulties that awaited us. For the last leg of our ride that day we were to descend the peak of Mt. Amaya into Sta. Inez. That’s where our troubles begun.
From atop Mt. Amaya, our lunch was waiting for us some two kilometers or so downhill. We could make out the houses down below and the proper road that will bring us back to “civilization” on our back-roads trip going back to Metro Manila.
What separated us from our sumptuous lunch** and some much needed rest is a continuously descending zigzaggy foot trail that is sloping 40-50 degrees in most parts. The thick foliage covering the trail concealed the huge surprises awaiting us. Once we’ve entered the “trail into the woods” there was no turning back. Gravity took over.
“Near Death” is probably an exaggeration and it may unduly give the impression that what we were doing was life threatening. That would be irresponsible of us if it was so.
We may be lunatics but we are not reckless. We scout our trails carefully and we are not going to take unnecessary risks.
But for a novice like me (and my buddy JM is a number of notches down the totem poll) it might as well be the “road to perdition.”
It was more of a psychological thriller for us more than anything else.
Imagine yourself going down a 40- to 50-degree narrow and slippery trail with your 150 pounds dirt bike (and that’s as light as you can possibly get for a dirt bike). Every few meters the trail takes a sharp turn. Miss a bend and you’ll probably overshoot and tumble down until you are stopped by a tree, if you are lucky enough to be stopped by a tree. There’s an optimal speed that you need to keep to avoid overshooting and right before the sharp bend you should have come to a complete stop. In approaching one particular bend you realized that you are descending too fast so you engage the brakes. You’re still going down way too fast. You put down both feet to stop your bike. Still you continue to move downwards. The sharp bend is now just a spitting distance away…
If that doesn’t scare you, then you should probably join us in our next ride.
But then again as I’ve said “near death” is probably an exaggeration. Sure there were real risks involved but at the end of the day we all made it to lunch in Sta. Inez. In the case of JM, there was just a 45 minutes delay, plus the fact that he couldn’t seem to remember much of the details of his almost an hour of ordeal in descending Mt. Amaya.
* Maya-maya as in “Maya-maya may tumutumba” (Loose translation: ”Every now and then somebody tumbles and falls.”)
**A sumptuous lunch after a grueling ride is typically rice with sauteed canned tuna, sauteed canned sardines, and sauteed canned corned beef. Accompanied by ice-cold beer, of course.