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February « 2013 « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog


Archive for February, 2013

The Peoples Park: Palace In The Sky!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Hey readers – now that im rolling into X-Terra Philippines on the first weekend of March, I thought I’d share my most favorite ride to do on a Mountain bike 8)

I was in fact a ‘mountain biker’ for about decade before I even sat on a skinny wheeled road bike! To me, mountain biking always represented freedom, skills and reaction! Most triathlete now-a-days can get very up-tight when the road is not smooth, flat and clean! Shifting gears is such an ‘inconvenience’ we now have electronic shifting, hydration systems that are hands free and of course and of course my favorite ‘sit-on-your-bike-experts’ because, ridding a bike should not be un-comfortable…Right?

Anyway, I went about 4 years without mountain biking until I moved to the Province Of Laguna where I was advised to buy an MTB and what do you know, my best triathlon season happened right after that! Of course, I ride my Cervelo on the trainer LIKE A BOSS & mix it with some off road ridding – it has made my handling skill’s sharper, gave me a better sense of pacing over modulating terrain and of course, spike the intensity of my training to a level I rarely hit on the road!

Still one of my greatest adventures - mountain biking around the Rift Valley in Kenya for almost 6 months in 2007!

Anyway, one of my favorite rides is going up to the Peoples Park: Palace in The Sky which is a ~10k partially congreted uphill road going up to the highest point on the Tagaytay ridge ~2100 feet above sea level – it encompasses all the basics for a great ride, its challenging, scenic and quiet!

Its actually a piece of Philippines History, just above the Canlubang Golf Course (the entrance) there is the old ‘weekend & guest house’ of disgraced former President: Ferdinand Marcos. In fact, this enormous mansion clearly wasn’t big enuff for all of his wife’s (Imelda Marcos) 2700 pairs of shoes and extravagant lifestyle; which earned her the nickname ‘shoe lady’.

They decided to build a house even higher up, on the highest point around, so they needed to build a road and then clear some land @ the very top!

Well, ole Marcos, who was in fact placed 2nd in the top 10 most corrupted leaders in a 2004 survey made by Transparency International. Unfortunately, The Philippines is the ONLY country to have 2 people in the top 10 and if this survey is re-done this year, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will probably sneak into the top 10 as well…

Now, during the 1986 peoples power revolution – Marcos was overthrown  and left The Philippines until his death…His new house, that was only a fraction built, well remains like that until today…You pay 50 pesos entry (~1.25 USD) to see a spectacular view with a rusted skeleton of a building with a bunch of antenna’s and 20 pesos hot dog’s for sale…

The Tagalog word for this is sayang which means what-a-waste…if not for the usual political B.S. this could be host to a prime hotel or restaurant that caters to tourists, foreign and domestic a like!

In my opinion, it represents a standing symbol that the Philippines Government has yet to make much progress in its transparency and integrity where private company’s spear-head the growth and development of this beautiful country with such hospitable people!

Anyway, here are some pics accompanied by comments – enjoy =)

A nice shot on a clear day!

Look left - the top of that mountain is where I'm heading!

Getting closer - the top is there in the middle of the picture!

Now the real climbing starts!

Canan dito - not everybody is allowed up this road...Often you gotta 'name drop' a member of the golf Club to enter the premise!

This is the old Marcos house overlooking the golf course - it still gets maintained regularly and has a STEEP climb to access it!

This is a painting on the side of the house - Marcos and his wife - clearly they had good intentions but couldn't walk their talk...

In the 1960′s The Philippines economy was apparently the 2nd best in Asia behind Japan…once Marcos took power in 1966, the foreign dept was bellow 1 billion dollars – when he fled Malacañang Palace in early 1986 (around the time I was born) the dept stood at a whopping 28 billion dollars, making The Philippines one of the most indebted countries in Asia!!!

Now, the Philippines tax payers look to pay off the Marcos dept until 2025 (if all goes well of course), 39 years after he was kicked out…

As I mentioned, its part road and part off road and been like this a while too!

My newly married buddy Colin setting the pace as we roll into another climb!

Matteo giving-er like a boss with metro Manila in the background!

Palm trees and Pine-apple plantations are a very common site on this road!

An abandoned 'house' with a priceless view!

The view is worth the effort!

Pwede umihi dito ;)

The final pitch gets very steep - I figure above 15% for at least a kilometer and thats after almost 30 minutes of climbing!

Me, the road and nature - LOVE IT!

Who's a little hill monster?

An edited version of the final bit of the main road - its actually nice and smooth asphalt!

An un-edited version...

We are NOT allowed to ride our bikes to the top of the hill…But, for some reason’s they allow loud, polluting and rude Jeepney’s to go up! I have offered up to 500 pesos (1000% of the entry fee) with no love…And I thought this place symbolized corruption?

An aerial view.

Has not been upgraded since I was born...

A view from the inside...

I drove my mother up when she came to visit - she enjoy the view!

A nice view of Taal Lake/Volcano!

My mommy with a big pine-apple! The Tagaytay area has some of the tastiest I have ever eaten!

A great view of Tagaytay Highlands!

Father leading - son following on the exilerating ride back down!

Maraming Salamat!

Subic Bay NAGT Race Report.

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Hey readers – last Sunday I competed in my first road triathlon since the Cobra Ironman 70.3 in Cebu City last August! Yes it was a very small race, nothing was at stake, simply giving it my all on the day over the given distance to get a no-bull-shit test on where my fitness is as im prepping for X-Terra Philippines on the first weekend of March!

Some of my athletes would also be kicking off their tri-season as well - Looks like Joyette need more coffee ;)

Races like this brought back some nostalgia when I saw the youth race going on and then saw them attentively staring at the ‘older’ athletes racing after them! Thats how I started into triathlon, ripping over a very short distance, and then getting exited watching the adult race, see how’s strong the adults, if my friends mom is hammering the dad of that kid I dont like or how my older club mates are fairing against the top athletes!

Regardless how small this race is, I still went through my usual race routine, what I ate the 24 hours before gun start, visualization and going over my usual pre-race workouts. The only difference is, I did not use any of my ‘race toys’ for this race, because me and Joyette would be in Subic Bay for almost 10 day and were tight for space in the car…

The swim course @ Dungaree beach.

Me and Dhill running on the beach to start the 2nd lap of the swim!

This would also be my first race using my new x-mast toy, a GoPro camera mounted on my helmet which will help me taking my blogging and coaching to a new level =)

Side view - its a bit heavy...ah well thats is life!

As a disclaimer, I put the setting to take a shot every 10 seconds – so it be ‘hand-off’ photography where I would simply move the lever up/down to get different angles. Now the issue with the GoPro is that I get soooo many pictures to chose from, its hard to pick which one put on my blog – just so you know, I do have some pictures of athletes drafting or ridding way left – however, I will keep these to myself…JUST BE WARE OF ANYBODY RACING WITH A GOPRO – MUAHAHAHAHA!

Frontal view - not very aero but you know...

The first part of the bike was in the Subic Bay forest.

Close up view of my cock-pit in racing action!

WOAH - I almost got T-Boned by a motorist on the fist U-turn (in a t-ish-junction) on the 2nd loop - pretty scary moment but all @ low speed!

Racing against my shadow all day...

Time for a flying DISMOUNT!

Running is T2.

Relieved to be finished!

Now time to giver a bend over ;)

When I showed up on race morning, it was dark and the air was tense with combined pre-race-nerves...I could NOT find my transition spot, I mean, for like 10 minutes I SEARCHED! My race number was 111 - well turns out it was put between 239 and 241 - ahahahahaha - In Canada 240 goes between these 2 numbers, NOT 111 ;)

Traditional Pinoy breaky with Lugaw, Pancit, Adobo stuffed break and a touch of Americanism for the race location - BANANA BREAD!

All in all it was nice to race back-2-back weekends – I saw that my run fitness needs to be stepped up, as I struggled some on the 21k and then on the 10k run of this race, I felt like a ‘one speed wonder’…A feeling I know very well…Anyway, still got 1 month before X-Terra Philippines!

I can honestly say, im much fitter than I was last year at this time and have a clear idea what I need to do to get fast-ER – the tricky part, is finding time to train and recover between my coach obligations…Ahhhh the drama’s of my life ;)