Making Friends with the Bike. Again.

Biking and I aren’t close friends. We’re like those neighborhood kids who play together only when no one else is out on the street to play, and then grow up and have hello-do-I-attempt-to-give-you-a-hug-or-do-I-just-wave-awkwardly-from-five-feet-away encounters. For me and biking, those encounters came about once every decade (which you can read about here, and here). I’m not too friendly with motorcycles either.

Some of the Specialized bikes we used during the Mountain Bike & Trail Riding clinic.

A few of the Specialized bikes we used during the Mountain Bike & Trail Riding clinic at Camp N.

 

But my sister-in-law, Rose, who is part of the group that runs Camp N  at Nuvali invited us HPs over for a bike clinic. Rather, she invited me for a bike clinic, while The Hubby and the girls could have a go at the other activities at Camp N (which I’ll get into in another post). Since the kids were raring to try out the aerial walk and give their new harnesses a workout on the climbing wall, we got up at 5AM on a Saturday and braved the weekend exodus to get to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa before 9AM (we didn’t make it on time, but that was the plan).

The 3.4 kilometer Incubator Trail and Bike Hub is the latest activity at Camp N. The coolest thing about it? You can come in with zero equipment and zero biking experience, and they will welcome you. Camp N offers bike clinics for everyone, from dummies to those who almost have wheels for legs. You can either bring your own bike and just pay the minimal trail fee, or you can rent their fabulous Specialized bikes from Dan’s bike shop for a reasonable fee (the thing about the Specialized bikes though—they spoil you, and now both my kids want one). They have five bike trails in three levels of difficulty, from a flat-ground figure-of-eight trail (where we practiced our turning and braking skills), to a relatively flat, open trail with minor bumps (called rollers) and drops, to a full-out, passing-through-a-rollercoaster-in-a-jungle trail.

 

The paved pathway to the Reception Hut is also the Scoot to Pedal training ground.

The paved pathway to the Reception Hut is also the Scoot to Pedal training ground.

I opted to join the Introduction to Mountain Bike Riding clinic (also known in my circle of one as the I Can Keep Both Feet On The Pedals And Make The Bike Move Does That Count clinic). Coach Ado de Leon and Coach Gelo Conwi gave an enlightening lecture on basics such as ideal outfits (cycling shorts are not just a Felix Bakat fashion statement, but help your butt glide over the saddle, preventing painful chafing); proper braking and shifting (I get the concept theoretically, but IRL, I always forget to shift—I obviously need more work); and how to turn, and deal with drops (get into ‘attack’ position—leaning forward, head up, butt off your saddle). We also learned terms like “berm,” “rollers,” and the “drop” family: baby drop, brother drop and mother drop.

 

We also learned one of the most helpful, most welcome of all biking tips: There is no shame in walking. Repeat after me. There is no shame in walking. If you feel that you can’t handle the height of that drop, there is no shame in getting off your bike and walking. If you feel you can’t balance on a thin slip of a bridge, there is no shame in walking. If you can’t get uphill, there is no shame in walking.

We then were matched with our bikes, according to length of leg. The ideal setup is for your leg to be straight when the pedal is at the lowest position, which is gentler on the knee. This meant, however, that there was no way I could be seated and still have both feet on the ground. I needed to learn how to mount the bike properly. Mounting involves straddling the bike, butt off the seat, one foot on the pedal, the other on the ground to give you a scooting start before smoothly sitting and putting the second foot on the pedal. Dismounting means the opposite—lifting off the seat, keeping one foot on the pedal while putting the other on the ground to keep yourself upright as you lose that balancing momentum, while gradually pressing the brakes.

All that coordination of various body parts was beyond me. So Coach Ado so kindly lowered my seat to both-feet-on-the-ground-height. Just this once.

 

Token shot of me, emerging from the talahib. Thanks to Harvey Tapan for this photo. And that's Coach Ado emerging behind me.

Token shot of me, emerging from the talahib (I blend in). Thanks to Harvey Tapan for this photo. And that's Coach Ado emerging behind me.

Next, we practiced turning, stopping, mounting, and dismounting before finally getting on the first trail. I’m proud to say that in all my uncertain, flat-footed wobbliness, I only did the Walk of No Shame once on that muddy, sinuous trail that took us through grass higher than man. It curved in such a way that you couldn’t see the trail more than two bikes’ length ahead of you, and as I rounded each curve, up the trail was another exhilarating—surprise, surprise—curve. When we came out of that trail, all 500 meters of it, I was sweating like a pig and breathing hard (mostly due to fear of toppling over rather than actual exhaustion).

 

We moved on to the next trail, which while not surrounded by Stephen King-esque Tall Grass, was full of obstacles like sand, rocks, dips, roots, rocks, and rollers. I discovered that I could not convince my body to get into attack position (which is useful for drops and downhill); my butt doggedly remained glued to the saddle. I suppose a few more biking sessions will eventually pry them apart.

The Hubby looking dapper, warming up for his 3.4km turn on the trail (he thought they biked 30km!).

The Hubby looking dapper, warming up for his 3.4km turn on the trail (he thought they biked 30km!).

We eventually took a break for lunch, before resuming our attempt at a healthy, active lifestyle. We spent the rest of the afternoon with Raine biking, me trying to teach Breeze how to bike without training wheels, and The Hubby going through the full 3.4 kilometers. Raine also tried out the second bike trail. She did better than me on the rollers. She went over them with ease—I just avoided them completely. We also tried out the obstacle course, the aerial walk, the labyrinth, and the themed gardens (more on these in another post).

Raine making figure eights on the practice track.

Raine making figure eights on the practice track.

Raine has declared that she now wants mountain biking as her PE (still trying to convince her that Cleaning the Litter Box is an Olympic sport). We will go back to Camp N. Just need to muster up the energy.

A few nitty-gritties

  • Bike rentals, with a helmet and the use of the trail, cost P280 to P480 an hour, depending on the Specialized bike model.
  • Bike tours, which include the bike, helmet, and guide, and last about an hour, cost P750 for one-on-one to P450 per head for a group of five.
  • The bike courses (Scoot to Pedal for beginners; Brake, Lean, and Turn for those who know how to balance; and Mountain Bike & Trail Riding for trail newbies) are available at the same rate as the bike tours.

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    Another great thing about the Camp N Incubator Trail--they have helpful signs all around, letting you know of the upcoming feature, and the suggested position. And that's Raine in the background.

  • Tours around Nuvali itself, which last an hour and a half to two, range from P750 to P950 for those going solo, and P525 to P700 per head for a group of five. This includes the bike, helmet, and guide.
  • There are really affordable packages for the other Camp N activities, and you can also choose to pay the P80 entrance fee, and pay per activity, which ranges from P60 to P200.
  • You can get in touch with Camp N at [email protected] or call them at 0977 842 2676.
  • While there are water stations, and a small food concessionaire tent (which served yummy food, btw), it’s best to bring your own supplies.

 

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