What should have been a dawn ride turned out to be quite different. The original plan was to ride to the highest peak in Samal Island, Mt. Puting Bato (White Stone), starting at 2:00AM when everything was still dark in the island. We called it “Ungo-ungo ride”. Some call it “Blair witch ride” because it was kind of creepy. I was not that convinced when the ride was planned becuase then it would have been only four riders, including me. I was already thinking of passing up. However, there was this guy, John Buno, one of the mastermind of our epic rides, who said about planning to ride ahead to camp out at the peak of the mountain. Now that got my attention.
We had already planned to ride and camp out at the peak Puting Bato in the past but we were not able to push it through because of schedule constraints. At first it was still uncertain because John had to run some errands so the others where still waiting for his confirmation. I was in a meeting when I received a call saying that the ride is already a go. Then I said to myself, I should be in this ride. I was also kind of obliged to come as my trail brothers and sister said they had already forgotten the way up to the summit. It was like a good opportunity for an S24O adventure so we went on.
What is S24O? I came by the term when we were riding to Mati. I didn’t know what it was. I became curious so I searched and read some blogs about it. S240, by Russ Roca, is a sub-24 hour overnight bike camping trip. It’s pronounced as “Es-Two-Four-Oh”, coined by Grant Peterson or Rivendell. I think it’s good for those people who are looking for a bike camping adventure but has schedule constraints. I mean it’s good because you wont be covering very huge distance and you won’t be away for too long.
I was really under prepared for this ride. It was an on the spur moment when I decided to come along. I had to rush packing my gear. I think I was only able to pack some extra clothes, bike tools, and a sleeping bag. We just stopped by a fast food restaurant so that I could buy myself something to eat. When I rode out to the meeting place the rain was already starting to pour. I already knew what awaited us at Samal.
We crossed Davao to Samal from Sasa port and then we arrived at Babak port around 7pm (fare as of August 2012 is Php13.00, that’s Php26.00 for you and your bike). Our ETA to reach the summit was around 11:3PM. We stopped at Babak port for a while to re-check our things before heading on because it was already dark and the rain was getting stronger and there where only limited spots to stop over. Our first target stop over was at Pena Plata. We took the Mambago B road because it would save us time and making more time for dinner. The road was a cut through unlike the Mambago A road. So we took our dinner at a bakeshop there. A number of people asked us and were surprised to know where were headed and while I was eating I had a thought in mind. I asked myself, What did I just get myself into? It was only there that I remembered I was using slim tires. Nevertheless we continued to pedal through a wet and muddy trail up towards the mountain.
The next stop was at the junction we call, the view deck, where you can see Davao City. You can also choose between two trails but because we were riding our bikes we opted for the bike-able trail we were familiar with. The surrounding was so dark, the only light we can see was the lights from the passing motorcycles and the ones that light some houses. All I could hear was raindrops as I was pedaling up. It was really creepy. I constantly looked behind to check on the others. I didn’t want to move so far away from the group because I only had one strobe light and the fog was already setting in. I could only see like 3 meters away from me I had to slow down on the downhill sections. Not to mention the trail was wet and I had slim tires. It was not really the weapon of choice I had in mind but seeing that I had a little amount of time to prepare I didn’t change my tires.
As we got far up we decided to stop over at Tayapok junction. It was the third stop. Tayapok junction is where you choose to between the trail towards Canibad reaching towards the coastal road and the trail towards the mountain. It was already 10:00PM upon reaching there so I had to check in with my partner before continuing the ride. From the junction the trail was till bike-able until we reached the parts where we had to hike with our bikes. It was all loose gravel and big rocks from there riddled with wet grass so we had no other choice but to hike all the way to the summit. The wet trail plus the fog was a challenge but we managed. We were able to reach the summit around 11:00PM. One quick fact. The summit is privately owned so you’d have to pay an entrance fee.
When were through the gate we headed on to find a spot for our camp. Good thing it already stopped raining we were able to setup camp on the far side of the summit. That is where my sleeping bag went into play but before I went to sleep I ate real food and checked in again with my partner. The temperature was manageable unlike the other places we went. Sure it was cold but not like the one that gives you chills. There were no stars that night or maybe I just couldn’t see one through the fog. I think I slept around 2:00AM. I had good short sleep.
The next day we went up early to see the sunrise. At first it was all cloudy but when it cleared off we had a panoramic view and it was breathtaking. We could see Mt. Apo on the right and the Davao Del Norte on the other side. We had our little breakfast at the summit while taking videos and pictures. We then contacted our trail buddies who followed the original schedule. They arrived around 5:00AM. Then there was socials and more picture-taking. We started to pack our gear and get ready for the ride home. The another batch of riders arrived just in time we finished packing. We started to hike around 7:00AM then rode off when we got to the bike-able terrain. It was still early in morning and it was gloomy so we had a bit of a relaxed ride down and back to Babak port. I arrived home after lunch. All in all it was worth it and it didn’t cost much. Till our next adventure ride.
Here is a video of our Puting Bato S24O hike a bike night ride by John Buno.