cycling in the Philippines

Ilocos Norte spruces up bike trails to boost tourism

John Michael Mugas
Ilocos Norte spruces up bike trails to boost tourism

SCENIC ROUTE. What usually awaits bikers upon reaching the top of the popular biking trail in Solsona-Apayao road is a scenic view of lush greenery, and if they are lucky, a sea of clouds.

Photo courtesy of Zandro Ruiz.

Ilocos Norte offers 12 bike scenic bike trails

LAOAG CITY, Philippines – Bike trails have been spruced up in Ilocos Norte in the past months. Looking at how cycling has surged during the pandemic, the timing came at the right time.

Local officials and residents have started to realize how these scenic trails can become part of the tourism map as an added attraction for visitors seeking to take refuge outdoors, especially cycling enthusiasts.

On Thursday, December 17, the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched “Find the One in Region One Bike Trail” at the Karingking Serrec Picnic Grove in Solsona town and in the Lagui downhill track in the provincial capital. These are two of the 12 spruced up bike trails in Ilocos Norte.

Evangeline Dadat, DOT Ilocos chief tourism officer, said that the bike trail initiative aims to “strengthen domestic tourism by prioritizing the development of new tourism circuits in the region which adhere to the guidelines and protocols of new normal.” Aside from Ilocos Norte, trails were also  launched in La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Sur.

Dadat said that travel operators have been looking for ways to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are integrated in tour packages.

The regional tourism officer said that the DOT is trying to ramp up tourism activities following the easing of quarantine curbs to help the industry rebound from pandemic-induced losses. 

She said that tourism operators have to submit their proposals to the DOT before they could include the bike trails in their tourpackages. “This is to ensure the safety of the tourists,” she said. 

The other bike paths that were unveiled in Ilocos Norte are the following:

  • Kamadmadrian trail in Currimao, Catuguing trail in San Nicolas
  • Nabu trail in Batac City
  • Solsona-Apayao road bike route
  • Badoc Virgen Milagrosa bike route
  • Paoay Lake bike route
  • Sapat downhill track in Pasuquin
  • Payak trail in Pasuquin-Burgos-Bangui
  • Stingray trail in Pagudpud
  • Salsalamagui trail in Vintar

Dadat said that these bike trails were “rediscovered, assessed, and enhanced” through the help of local biking groups who were tapped to share their expertise. Tourism operators also partnered with local biking groups that could help invite bikers outside the province to check the trails in Ilocos Norte.

Alex Peralta, DOT bike tourism consultant, described the bike trails in Ilocos Norte as”exciting” – these trails also lead to scenic nature spots.

BIKERS RESTING. What usually awaits bikers upon reaching the top of the popular biking trail in Solsona-Apayao road is a scenic view of lush green trees, and if they are lucky, a sea of clouds. Photo courtesy of Zandro Ruiz.

The number of cycling enthusiasts in the country increased during the pandemic. In Ilocos Norte alone, there are at least 30,000 bikers now, according to Roja Burgos, coordinator of Ilocos bikers’ group TeamBurgy x Ilocos DH racing team. Prior to the pandemic, there were less than 5,000 of them, said Burgos.

Laoag resident Eugene Tan said that biking during the pandemic was his stress reliever. “It is meditative at some points and helps me to be fit and disciplined,” he said.

Tan said that he had always been drawn to biking because of his father, now based in the United States, who introduced the activity to him and his siblings. “The pandemic just made me appreciate it more. I like the kind of freedom biking makes me feel,” he added.

He added, “Bikers in the community really make you feel safe on the road and everybody I have encountered was really friendly.”

Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said during the DOT launching on Thursday that aside from helping local tourism, cycling could also help ease traffic congestion problem in Laoag, particularly in its commercial area.

“Laoag is a perfect biking city…and cycling could be a solution not only for tourism but also for daily transport. I’d like to push for bike lanes, and more biker-friendly [communities] in the province,” Manotoc said.

With the trails Solsona in the limelight, Mayor Joseph de Lara said that they “wholeheartedly welcome this transformation that allows them to develop the untap tourism potential of their town.” – Rappler.com