It was almost pitch black. I was extra careful riding my bike as I could only see only about 6-10 feet of the road ahead of me. I was thankful for the cheap LED light I bought before flying to Batanes as I could never have ridden in this darkness. I left Basco as early as 5am so I could catch the first falowa to Sabtang island. After a day’s rest, I decided to continue biking in Batanes while I still have a group to join with, this time to bike Sabtang island. I wasn’t sure at first if I can handle the terrain but our guide Rene assured me Sabtang is a lot manageable than our North Batan Island ride to Tukon we did the other day.
Early Ride to Ivana
First thing in order for Sabtang island is making my way to Ivana first. That means I have to ride about almost 14km from my lodging in Basco down south in about an hour since the boats usually leave around 6am. Riding in the darkness is not something I was accustomed to but it’s a good thing I’m quite familiar with the roads here already, the turns, the slopes, the hills but I was still extra careful. I reached Chawa Cliff viewdeck around 5:30am and it was still dark. Rested a bit, took photos and watching early riders pass by the area. The early morning bluish light came in and it was easier to pick up my pace. I reached the sleeping town of Mahatao shortly. I saw a small store open and remembered I haven’t had my breakfast yet but I continued on as I might miss my boat.
The road to Mahatao to Ivana has been developed tremendously since the last time I bike the area. Most of them are paved making my ride faster. But the cool wind, and beautiful morning light unveiling behind the mountains just makes me want to stop for a while and enjoy this quiet moment. But I pedaled faster way past Ivana town to reach the port. I got a sight of relief to see the boat hasn’t left yet. My biking buddies aren’t there yet so I enjoyed a cup of coffee and some biscuits at the Honesty Coffee Shop.
South Sabtang Island Bike Ride
My companions rode in just in time. There were 2 boats that morning end everyone at the port were accommodated. Our bikes were securely strapped on the boat. As usual, I took my seat at the back of the boat. The ride was much faster with favourable sea as we reached Sabtang island in 30 minutes. After completing our registration requirements, we were off to south.
[pullquote]Wonderful coastal road, a mix of paved and rough trails, moderate elevations, long stretch of wide green planes then a zig-zag route by the mountain sides.[/pullquote]
The ride in this part of the island was manageable. What we didn’t expect was the occasional wind blowing against our direction which posed a little challenge on some parts where there were elevations. We passed by Savidug village, then the zig-zag road leading to the picturesque Tiñan viewpoint in Chamantad. One thing I noticed thought that the dump site on that road is already gone. That’s a welcome change.
We had our buko juice break before the most exciting part of our bike trek – the winding road to Chavayan village. This is the most scenic and the most dreaded part for me. I had to control my momentum going down or else I’ll find myself flying off the cliffs. It was a tense moment as I descended the route but I found that I didn’t have to worry too much as I conquered the route with ease just being smart on my brakes and turns. We reached the end of the road in Chavayan.
The North Sabtang Island Ride
Having reached the end of the road means we have to go back that 9.5km length our bike trekked. And that means going up that steep road back to Tiñan. I gathered momentum as I went up, changed to the proper gear setting and pedalled my way up. I was personally proud of myself in reaching Tiñan without having to walk my bike. But it was after the zig-zag road and the stretch towards Savidug when I felt my right leg was about to cramp and my hands were starting to numb. I guess I wasn’t the only one feeling the exhaustion as we made a brief stop to re-energize with snacks.
It was the added 3km after Malakdang when it felt really strenuous as it was all hills after passing by the lighthouse. I had to pedal through the cramps and pace myself efficiently until we reached Morong White Beach for our lunch. I was glad the weather was perfect for biking that day as it was windy with passing clouds. I couldn’t imagine biking under the heat. We got back to Sabtang Port just in time before our boat leaves back to Batan Island. Our boat ride was a lot rougher this time around but it was awesome to see dolphins midway our sea journey.
Ride back to Basco
Our bike trek didn’t end there. We all have to make our way back to Basco on our bike. I had to pop-in a pain reliever this time so I could ride beyond the cramps. We didn’t make stops until we reach Mahatao then surged all the way back to Basco town. We were back in Pension Ivatan by 5pm. Basing it on the map we totalled around 50km but Raffy’s cyclometer registers 55km in all on varying peaking elevations. Whichever is the correct distance, I have never bike that hard in my life. It was tiring but fulfilling and makes me want to do more biking in Batanes.
For guided Bike Tours in Batanes, do contact Batanes Grand Holidays at +639395844840 or +639062487909. You may also visit www.pensionivatanbatanes.com/batanes-tours/
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.