Baguio City

Cyclists take on challenging terrains as bike festival begins in Baguio

Mari-An C. Santos

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Cyclists take on challenging terrains as bike festival begins in Baguio

PEDAL POWER. Participants of Sang-at Sakbat Bikepacking Adventure 2024 make their way up to the city.

Mari-An Santos/Rappler

The Sang-atan BLISTT Bike Festival in Baguio City features a series of biking events and activities running through July

BAGUIO, Philippines – Throughout the year, the temperature in Baguio City and surrounding areas is, on average, 10 degrees lower than in Metro Manila. These conditions are optimal for biking, though the terrain can be challenging for many.

That’s what close to 60 cyclists undertook from June 15 to 17, when they participated in the Sang-at Sakbat Bikepacking Adventure weekend, which was part of the ongoing bike festival in Baguio.

They started before dawn on June 15, on a mostly uphill ride of about 30 kilometers from the Benguet Province Welcome Arch, snaking up Kennon Road, following the path of the Bued River up to the iconic Lion’s Head for lunch. Then, they continued to the Pine Trees of the World Park where they set up camp.

Cycling in Baguio
BAGUIO RIDE. Sang-at Sakbat Bikepackers pedal their way on a road in Baguio on June 15. Courtesy of LA Adriano

The following day, they played tourists, riding their bicycles early to visit some tourist spots in the BLISTT area (Baguio City and the towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay).

The day ended with like-minded cyclists from different parts of Luzon listening to live music, sharing good food, and having animated conversations during the “Sab-atan Cultural Night” at the campsite.

Cycling organizations like the Senior Bikers of the Philippines and Cycad Pilipinas were well-represented.

Blissful BLISTT 

The adventure was part of the second year of the ongoing Sang-atan BLISTT Bike Festival, which carries the theme: A BLISTTful Community: Fostering Road Sharing Towards Safety and Wellness. “Sang-atan” is an Iloko word for “uphill.”

According to Joebel Gurang, the event’s co-organizer, about 20% of the participants were new to the bike festival, which would last until July. This year is different because, unlike in 2023, Kennon Road has been opened to all kinds of vehicles, so cyclists experience how to navigate their bicycles alongside cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles.

The event officially started with a ceremony at the Baguio City Hall and a ride on June 3, coinciding with World Bike Day.

There are upcoming major events, and these are as follows:

  • June 21: Annual Bike Count in partnership with the Mobility Awards
  • June 30: BLISTT Bike Challenge, which will take teams around tourist spots in the area
  • July 10 to 14: Bike Exposition at Burnham Park
  • July 13: Hari ng Ahon Criterium, composed of 16 laps around the Burnham Park area, with various bicycle categories and age ranges

Other activities include the Bike Mechanic Olympics on June 23, the Sang-at Silaw Tour of the Lights on July 6, and on July 14, a Kiddie Race and the Shimano Gravel Adventure.

The festival will culminate in a charity ride around Baguio on July 21, a Sunday.

Sustainable cycling

Gurang said that aside from increasing awareness about the benefits of riding bicycles and nurturing the cycling community in Baguio, the festival aims to promote road safety and wellness and to gain recognition that cyclists also share the road.

Helmet, Bicycle, Cycling
CONGREGATE. Sang-at Sakbat Bikepackers congregate at the ‘Welcome to Benguet’ arch to take on Kennon Road on June 15. Courtesy LA Adriano

“These efforts align perfectly with ‘Breathe Baguio,’ our city’s initiative aimed at creating greener, more breathable urban spaces,” said Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, himself an avid cyclist.

In 2021, the Mobility Awards recognized Baguio City with a bronze award, acknowledging it as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Luzon. The Mobility Awards is organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, MNL Moves, Climate Reality Project-Philippines, Pilipinas, and the Pinay Bike Commuter Community and advocates for better road conditions for cyclists in the Philippines.

In 2023, Gurang said, the bike count results showed more than 6,300 people on bicycles in a single day in Baguio alone. –

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