MANILA, Philippines – About 320 bikers from all over the country converged in Baguio and biked their way to Tuba, Benguet on Saturday, May 5, to help save Cordillera forests.
Dubbed as “Globe Cordillera Challenge 3,” the 27-kilometer uphill adventure sought to create awareness about reforestation and to raise funds for building forests in the mountainous region, a major watershed in Northern Luzon.
The starting line of the race was meters away from the controversial expansion site of SM Baguio, where 182 trees are being threatened to be cut. The finish line was a watershed area, a major source of Baguio’s water supply.
Jowie Bayle, a biker from Manila, said he joined the challenge since it launched three years ago because it “reminds you of what you’re fighting for — trees, fresh air, the environment.”
Bayle added that this year’s challenge was more exciting than previous years because bikers were made to choose their own adventure track.
With the theme, “Bike your way. Choose your trail. Save the Cordilleras,” the bikers were made too choose from three courses they could hurdle based on their level of capacity. These were:
1. Mt. Cabuyao Summit – the easiest station (11 kms from the starting line, 2,020 meters above sea level or masl);
2. Mt. Sto Tomas Summit – a difficult station (2,230 masl, 16 kms from the starting line). It involved steep grades, loose rocks, and tricky descents. But the peak gave the best view of the Lingayen Gulf, not to mention the mossy and pine forests that could be seen from this point;
3. Downhill behind the catch basin (1,600 masl, 16 kms from the starting line). Involving 2.7 kilometers of downhill ride over big rocks, loose gravel, on narrow double track road, this trail was the most difficult.
For every station completed, riders received a wrist band. At the finish line, the number of wristbands received corresponded to the number of stations accomplished.
Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT) executive director JP Alipio, who organized the event together with the support of telecommunications firm Globe Telecom, said that the event was a huge success in terms of participation.
“It exceeded our own expectations. We were planning to host only about 200 to 250 bikers, but we had about 320 who registered,” Alipio said.
According to him, the Cordillera Challenge only had 60 bikers when it was launched 3 years ago.
Ten bikers, including one woman, were able to complete this year’s race.
The first one to reach the finish line was Pangasinan’s Ralph Joseph Abolado, with a record time of 3:20:05. James Dacayanan of Baguio, the youngest in the batch, came close with 3:13:35. At third place was Boom Rabillos, also from Baguio, who finished the race with recorded time of 3:14:34.
The biking challenge raised more than half a million pesos for CCT’s Roots and Shoots program. The program seeks to build 20 seedling nurseries in public elementary schools across the Cordillera Administrative Region by the end of 2012.
“It has been an amazing journey so far,” Alipio said. – Rappler.com