I catch my breath as it escapes me. It’s getting shallow. I knew I’m almost at the edge of my capacity to pedal. So I stop. They call this stretch “2 kilometers of Pain”, now I know why. First time I passed through REVPAL was coming from Tagaytay side. I was screaming with exhilaration as I descend these slopes from Mt Sungai. Going the “reverse” way and negotiating up to 15% gradient (9 degrees) incline was a different experience altogether. But hey, we’re here for the thrill right? Like any other cyclist, we’re always trying to test our mettle. Am I? I’m really here for the sightseeing.
It all started with the Palace in the Sky. The mansion the Marcoses commissioned to build atop Mt Sungai where they plan to host former US President Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, Reagan wasn’t able to push through with the trip and the mansion was discontinued.
Eventually, when they booted out the Marcoses, the Palace in the Sky was converted into a park which we now know as People’s Park in the Sky. A popular tourist attraction in Tagaytay often visited from the town itself. The road from Canlubang to People’s Park in the sky was called the baligtad na daan or “reverse” road. Hence REVPAL was born out from two words, REV for reverse and PAL for Palace.
The usual entry point for REVPAL is through Nuvali, Sta Rosa Laguna. Here’s what’s to expect from this route.
- Nuvali Rotonda Steep Uphill. Coming here from the Nuvali boulevard and that short uphill at the rotonda is already a good warm up for what’s ahead. Turning right is the Canlubang to Calamba road to the foot of the mansion.
- Marcos Twin Mansion Climb. This is a popular segment of the climb. From the start it will already test your mettle with gradations up to 12%. If you can easily ride this 650 meter long climb, I think you’ll manage to finish the whole route. It’s a good gauge to see if you’re ready for REVPAL. Some just go all the way up to the twin mansion and descend after.
- Double Ahon. Also called the double camel back. This is in Casile and is a straight road with two consecutive uphills. I would call this banayad or gradual with gradient up to 10%. From hereon it’s a continuous uphill ride.
- 2km of Pain. This is the part where the pedaling already feels heavy and the road gets narrower. For me this is the most challenging part of the route that I had several stops to rest and recover.
- Kawayan. After the steepest part of 2km of pain is the open ridge with bamboo fences on the side. It may be the reason for its name but it’s a nice rest stop as the views are relaxing.
- King of REVPAL marker. The famous KOR is beside the All is Well eatery. After going through all those climb, it feels like having a posterity photo here is a reward already. King of REVPAL is like a symbol of conquering this route.
- The Waiting Shed. After the KOR marker the climb still continues for another kilometer to this waiting shed at the intersection. From here turning left is heading up to People’s Park in the Sky and turning right is downhill already to Tagaytay.
Descending to Tagaytay
Oh it felt good to descend down the road to Tagaytay. Fleeting but exhilarating. Seeing Taal Lake, the volcano and its crater on my left side. From here people can go down to the establishments but since I had to hurry home (furry pets are waiting) I took the Sta Rosa road back to Nuvali where its still another gradual descend. I could see the traffic heading to Tagaytay from here but the road to Nuvali has nearly no traffic.
Going home I took the CALAX service road again and Mamplasan route to Biñan. I honestly enjoyed this ride. At the start I was feeling the route. I don’t consider myself as a strong rider. I’m more of a sightseeing / bike touring rider where I take time to enjoy the place more. But once in a while, I enjoy challenging myself this way. I would do this again.
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.