“Adjust your seat higher. It would help.” Our bike-tour guide Rene told me as he saw me struggle on our uphill ride towards our last stop for the day, the Vayang Rolling Hills. With my armpit at level with my bike saddle, I stretched my arm towards the crank center to determine the proper height for my saddle. I adjusted my saddle accordingly to let my legs fully extend on pedal. We continued our ride and I felt more at ease to somehow find my right cadence. Wow! They could have told me this earlier when we were trekking from Tukon Hills to Valugan Boulder beach. As we near the day’s end of our bike trek in Batan Island, I thought biking in Batanes is the most fun I had on the island on wheels.
Steep Climb to Tukon Hills
Coming back to Batanes, I was really looking forward to more biking in the scenic roads and trails of the island. Things fell into pieces when our friend, Joaquin, a certified-guide in Batanes who has been with us during our Backpack Photogaphy tours, lent me his brand-spanking new and handsome bike to use while I’m here. While working on a client in Batanes, they had a couple of guest who flew in their bikes and was set to do some biking in Batanes islands. I was invited to tag along and was delighted to join. Father and son, Raffy and Armand, had been biking for two years already and it’ll be a great opportunity to learn from experienced bikers.
Our guide, Rene, oriented us on the day’s route which is going up Tukon from western side of the national road then traverse the sloping hills of Tukon, then descend towards Valugan Beach. After which, we’ll head back to town and bike our way up to Vayang Rolling Hills. I said I’ll try to keep up and if I can’t make it, I’ll head back. A thought that almost crossed my mind while we climbed up the steep hills of Tukon. Many times I just wanted to go on foot but I wanted to challenge myself in this tongue-dropping and energy-draining route. But I made to the high point of the hill just after the Tukon Chapel and my companions congratulated me for making it that far. From here on, it was a joy ride, the slopes of Tukon was a roller coaster thrill as I let myself ride on the force of gravity with me at the helm to navigate the directions.
The Japanese Tunnels to Valugan Beach
Even if I’ve been to Batanes several times, it’s the first time I’ve been to the Japanese Tunnels, a hideout by the Japanese during the World War II. While the branching tunnels are a feat in itself, they are a product of forced labor by the Ivatans under the Japanese soldiers. We ventured part of the tunnels but didn’t go down the descending steps.
After the exhausting climb at Tukon, the descend and ride to Valugan Beach was a breeze. We had time to relax at the beach and have a little snack while enjoying the view. We headed back to town shortly.
Sundown at Vayang Rolling Hills
I had an inkling the last part would be another challenge as well and I wasn’t wrong. Going up to Vayang Rolling Hills is another exercise in exhaustion especially at the latter part of the route. As much as I want to be on the bike all the way, I had to walk this one out on the steep ascend near the hills and rode again downhill to the viewpoint overlooking Naidi Hills. Done with our sightseeing stop, going down was much faster but I was careful with my descend since it was getting dark. A quick stop at the Basco Lighthouse for the sunset and we capped off the day’s ride. I was pretty proud of what I accomplished for that day. We biked about 19km from west to east over Tukon Hills then back. I haven’t biked that long and hard in my entire life. I’ve only biked around the city and was surprised I could almost keep up with them (or maybe they were slowing down for me to keep up). Despite the exhaustion, I wanted more biking in Batanes.
Bike Route: Basco Town proper > National Road to Tukon road > Valugan Beach > Basco Town Proper > Vayang Hills
Distance: 19 km
Max Elevation: 750 ft
Duration: 3-4 hours
Diffculty: Easy to Moderate
For a guided Biking in Batanes tours and packages do contact Batanes Grand Holidays Travel and Tours at +639175859288, +639357697918 or email [email protected]. Also like our Batanes by Bike facebook page at www.facebook.com/bikebatanes for tour updates.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.