Monday, May 25, 2009

TLBF – Philippines

DSCN0919So this post should have been done like a month ago but with getting the 2010 spec done and a bunch of other stuff I never really got the chance to finally write it. I knew it was going to be a big one as my 10 days in the Philippines was jam packed with events and cool little things that happened throughout.

I had already been in Taiwan for 2 months prior so there was no problem getting used to the time change – when Brian Lopes and Hans Rey arrived for dinner they were noticeably worked and you can’t blame them as its a very long flight from LA.DSCN0935

The first night I stayed in Manila before the road trip to Subic Bay where the event was being held. It was to be quite the event to as there was a road race, triathlon, XC race, DH race, 4X, BMX, DJ contest as well as festivities at night.

On the trip up we hit a bit of a snag as one of the group was in a lot of pain and had to get taken to the hospital – diagnosis kidney stones. Good thing it wasn’t too serious and Bikeman, an English Chap that runs the Flying Ball shop in Hong Kong, was able to make the start of the Triathlon – I have to say I've never seen so much pink in my life; both him and his bike.DSCN0949

When we stopped we picked up Justin from Dirt Rag and I had lunch with him while waiting for the prognosis. Justin was a super cool dude and I was surprised and a little puzzled to find out he was actually an engineer but worked at a magazine. You can’t fault him for that as I’m sure that's a pretty sweet gig and not all of us are cut out for the regular 9-5

DSCN0937 It was quite the cooker out and when we arrived in Subic I took a little pic… something must have been wrong because there's no way it could be over 50C outside and guessed it must have had something to do with the engine heat but still when we were moving the temp was hovering around 35C something this Canadian kid is NOT used to.


We unloaded all our gear [beer] where we were staying, an old military housing complex that had been and actually was still under renovations, DSCN0936and then started looking for food and went to check out where everything was going to take place.

It was quite a large convention center when we pulled up and the front was for registration and the large room in the back is where I’d be making my presentation. Of course I had nothing prepared, reminiscent of my college days when everything was always rushed at the last minute but I managed to pick a topic and banged out a decent power point presentation in a about 6 hours or so.DSCN095920090407_1952413922_mini-rimg0215edit 20090407_1409972306_mini-rimg0216

Then it was off to Vascos for some dinner, as Brian andDSCN0964 Hans had arrived and need to get some food before they passed out. Vascos was the coolest resturaunt with a Parrot out front to greet you on entry and the dinning area puts you right out over the ocean. It doesn’t have air conditioning but there were plenty of vertical waving fan things from the roof that kept the heat at bay. user_65_dsc_6341The place is owned and run by what seems to be a -now local- American treasure hunter of sorts. There a pictures all over of him pulling up stuff from the water and the place is littered with his spoils – there are canons, swords and other trinkety things super cool.

I should jump in here and say the Philippines is so western when it comes to Asian countries and its super easy to get around and figure stuff out. Everyone seems to speak English and there’s a ton of western food if you’re not the adventurous type.user_65_dsc_6342 It also has a real feel of Mexico in parts .

Marty and Paki who were with us for dinner invited us out on their boat for a quick sail around the bay at night. Man that was so much fun and all of us were so hammered… it was awesome. Not to worry about getting around completely plastered as the boat was big enough to have a 3 man crew so we didn’t have to worry about driving. I will definitely be back to party with those 2 dudes again!!! I know Justin probably feels the same.

20090407_1194847924_mini-rimg0015The Fakawi Tribe arrived in the morning of the following day and it was really good to see them again.

Nick [the Chief], Robby and Rizal flew in from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to take part and Rizal was going to be my teammate on TEAM BANSHEE where there’d be 2 of us riding Legends. It was fun to catch up and talk tech about bikes and stuff.20090407_1208618932_mini-rimg0212

At this point in the trip its starts to become a bit of a blur as I was rushing around getting things sorted for my presentation, regi for the the race, and try to get in a pre run and check the course out. All i know was I did manage to bang out a well received presentation on bike suspension. I just kept it to the basics and didn’t go into the infinite details that lie within – something that Keith would have been better off at anyway.user_65_dsc_6407 I talked about how all bike suspensions can be broken down to either being a single pivot or a 4bar and what defines each. The goal was not to make it a Banshee sales pitch but rather an instructional type of presentation.

At the end I grabbed all my gear as fast as I could and loaded into the truck for the mountain so at least I could get a run in before it got dark. Seeding started at 10am and I still hadn’t seen the course yet.

user_65_dsc_6409Next morning it was off to the races. It was hot again but at least in this jungle the creepy crawlies stay for the most part on the ground, although the red ants i stepped in have a nasty bite.

I wasn’t too happy with my riding and realize i’ve spent too much time working and not enough time riding. I’m really hoping that changes the summer. Its hard to do sometimes when you travel around so much, but its good to know riding a bike is like… riding a bike… it won’t take long to get my old form back and a couple days at Whistler and i’ll be boosting large again.20090407_1862817985_mini-rimg0122

It was very cool to meet Lopes and Rey. They definitely are icons in the industry but you’d never know that when they’re bro’ing down with everyone. I have to especially say Hans is super cool, laid back, and he never seems to mind signing autographs, getting his picture taken and just being a great guy.

Brian definitely had his game face on and wasn’t taking this race any less serious then any of his other races. 20090407_1782577930_mini-rimg0330 The year prior he only pulled out first by less then a second and this year the gap got even smaller. He was friendly but you could definitely tell he had a job to do. After the race he loosened up but I guess when you’re at that calibre you have a reputation to maintain and winning or losing can directly affect your pocket book. He looked smooth and he was fast and he’s got many a year left in him racing with the best in the world.user_65_dsc_6735

user_65_dsc_6677 Race day came and I had a pretty decent run. Rizal beat me and I swore never again hahaha but the guy is fast so I didn’t feel to bad with a 12th place finish. I think the class was fielding around 40 and the course was definitely short and smooth. With a couple nasty rock gardens and sections with super steep drops and bigger jumps I’m sure I could have placed a higher but you can’t pick your courses and that's racinguser_65_dsc_6902



With racing over we all now had a chance to relax and just enjoy Subic Bay and go down and check out the BMX racing where Kid and Boss were cleaning up. Both came over from Thailand and it was really cool to meet them. Funny thing happened when we were giving away prizes as Boss had the lucky number and walked away with an Amp; however later we learned he poached Kids ticket and had to hand over the prizeDSCN0974 DSCN0997 user_65_dsc_6984 Debbie ,whose a photo journalist from Action Asia Magazine in Singapore, was there to document everything and it was super cool hanging out with her on the last couple days before she traveled south to go diving. I don’t know if after here 301st dive she finally ran into the whale sharks that seem to have eluded her for so long but hoping she did.
May 26th Update: Debbie informs me it was her 431st dive and yes she did see a whale shark but it was only a baby... but that's still a whale shark. I've also added a link to her pics from the festival below

L – R: Boss, Debbie, KidDSCN0995I think the highlights of the trip for me was meeting new people, experiencing the hospitality of the riding community there, and seeing some familiar faces again. Of course I could go on and on about lots of other cool things during the trip but as I left it always comes back to the goodtimes with special people.20090407_1291730227_at_vascos

I want to thank the guys from Fakawi for showing up because it just made the trip all that cooler.

L – R: Robbie, The Chief, Goyo, Me, Rizal20090407_1329922193_img_0479 The biggest thanks goes to Goyo for organizing everything, always taking time out of his busy schedule to make sure all of us “foreigners” were well taken care of, and just being a great guy. This was an amazing way to remember your late father Terry Larrazabal and I know he’s looking down on the event with a big smile on his face.DSC_2899

Not all photos are mine so big thanks to Justin from Dirtrag and the Fakawitribe for letting me poach more then a couple

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