Our Ultimate Ride from Manila to Baguio via Electric Scooter
The idea started while I was doing some stuff for Scooterdex. While running through errands, I began retrospecting about long rides. I thought that since I've been in long rides for quite a while, why not push myself further for more adventure. I thought of, "Why not do a Manila to Baguio ride?". It's crazy, I know, but what the heck!
I'm about to share this crazy adventure that happened last January 2020. It was a total of 360KM with approximately 28.5 hours of the trip, making this the longest electric kick scooter ride in the Philippines (for now).
Baguio was the place in mind because riders, be it bicycles or motorcycles, have made that place as a standard to how truly you can endure long rides. Nobody has ever done that before using an electric kick scooter (EKS). The risk is even greater with an EKS because uphill roads are constant and every EKS rider knows that hubs don't like uphill stretches. What's even more challenging is where to charge, no previous ride data from there, and the endless what-ifs when danger ensues.
Regardless, I was determined to do it anyway. I soon contacted one of our contributors, Jaime Limpo, to tell him this crazy plan of mine doing a Manila to Baguio ride. He's a long rider himself too so it shouldn't be music to his ears. What's interesting is upon telling him, he got all excited that we wanted to ride out the soonest. With that, I also invited one of our videographers, Maharlika Mirasol, to ride with us as an added buddy and a person who does the documentation. With a 3-man team, the stage was set.
Not to mention it was still the Christmas season so it's a perfect time to get to the City of Pines!
What's funny is planning ain't close to a round table discussion. It was just... well... throwing off ideas and relying on our instinct on how to get there. Personally, I prepared an organized itinerary but perhaps the team isn't used to being organized (not that it's a bad thing though). The itinerary was more of a "good to have". The guys are used to on-the-spot scenarios. It was proven from the past so it kinda gave me assurance that this will work.
We had to utilize connections and do some research. We had to make sure that there ain't a problem riding an EKS there too. Just so you know, booking hotels or Airbnb's won't work as they have a standard check-in time. Anything earlier or later than that would not be permissible for accommodation. Planning an itinerary with advanced bookings would limit your choice to riding only on day time, unless after charging you are okay to immediately check out, not maximizing what you paid for and have a guaranteed accommodation the next stop. Just remember that you can rarely find accommodations that would entertain check-ins at night so this can be a challenge should you wish to depart in the evening.
When we planned this trip, we relied less on booking advanced accommodations and took advantage of our connections, but most of all, instinct.
I had to invest in better lights so I installed ones that can do at least 3000 lumens. Having cheap lights for provincial rides can be dangerous so it's important to invest in good ones.
In case you don't know, 3000 lumens can project as powerful as a car's headlight on high beam. Something needed when going for this long ride.
From here, we just confirmed 2 new riders joining us invited by Jaime, namely JC Catalan and Dyann Dela Cruz. They could be of good help, especially when things get boring in the middle of the ride. More fun when more people are around!
Our planned departure time was 7PM and I haven't bought the necessary equipment. It was 5PM when I went to the mall to acquire goods for the ride. The great thing about the Philippines is malls are everywhere so last minute shopping ain't a problem.
Doing long, looong rides require a storage box, a.k.a "megabox". This is used to store equipment so you don't cramp everything in the backpack. Stressing weight on your back for a long time would be really uncomfortable so best to lay everything in the megabox.
Remember when I said that we'll depart at 7:00 PM? Well, it's 9:00 PM and we are not even close to leaving. We aren't even done with our meals yet! We're still making some last-minute planning and doing tune-ups!
What's epic is when we are about to depart, we received much of our last-minute aid. Some of which:
More importantly, Maharlika thought that when I said "We will ride to Baguio", meant that we will ride a bus to Baguio and ride from there. When he knew it was a scoot-all-the-way, we just laughed it off. Fortunately, he didn't felt threatened and even got more excited. Either way, we're getting there! (evil laugh)
Also, I'm glad everyone had their fast chargers with them. Fortunately, our other friends lent theirs. Only one of us owned it since it was hard getting them at that time. Without it, we would likely get to Baguio for 5 days. That is how important fast chargers are on long rides!
For this trip, here's our roster, unit, and roles:
You will notice Dyann is using a DT MX and you might wonder why is she using an entry-level Dualtron and how can it endure throughout this ride. Dyann is lightweight and has been using her MX on other long rides. As on her benchmark, it performs at-par with the range of high-tier scoots so you'll see how weight plays a big role. AFAIK she's less than 40KG. Should you use an MX or any scoot with similar specs for a long ride, know VERY well on how it performs on your circumstance otherwise you'd be gambling.
As for our settings, everything is on default. We did not do power-saver mode and surprisingly, none of us brought that topic because I assume everyone is confident that their scoots will live up to its worth.
Anyway, off we go!
We're officially out of Metro Manila! While cruising, Jaime is only left with 54v. In case you don't know, that's less than 25% juice remaining and we're still kilometers away from our stop (approximately 20KM). We left Makati with not everyone on full juice. We had to call a stopover and make an emergency charge at a nearby gasoline station. We don't recommend doing this but what happened was a real emergency case.
I also made a quick performance check over my batteries
From here, we stayed for around an hour. It was already midnight when this happened. We're all tired throughout the day because we all came straight from our day gig. Not to mention, riding from Makati to here consumed much of our energy.
Jaime from this point has charged to 58v (approx 45%). Not much but likely enough to get to our destination. Off we go then!
After departing from the gas station, the second blood happened during the ride. Not yet even reaching our first stop, we've experienced another misfortune. Something went wrong with Jaime's rear tire, likely from the jagged pass.
We tried pumping but the tire just didn't sustain its pressure. As we feared, it is a flat tire. From this point on, we needed to move out and proceed to a safer place. We don't encourage anyone running on flat tire but Jaime needed to take that risk so we can move to a better place.
Running on flat could deform your hubs in an oblong shape, causing more damage internally. We were literally under a dark passage and doing tire replacement there would be dangerous as cars might hit us and likely some random strangers would show up and do bad stuff.
We finally made it! Time to rest and charge. Also, time to replace Jaime's flat tire.
Thanks to fast chargers, we only stayed for 4 hours. We used this time to rest ourselves as well.
From this point, note that we haven't eaten any meals since we left. So for this leg, we'll look for a place to eat. Now that everything's settled, off we go to Pampanga!
We made a quick stop at the Pampanga arch to take photos. Just a small remembrance that we made it to the next province.
We just arrived in San Fernando city. Just in time for breakfast! We made a quick stop on a nearby convenience store to restock some items then went to a nearby "karenderya"
Fortunately, the owner allowed us to charge. Great timing because our next leg is around 52KM and we have 50% juice remaining.
After staying for a while, a sudden power outage occurred!
We're not sure why but it was a sign that we had to proceed. We aren't in full charge either. The guys have 90% while I have 80%. The reason is a DT Ultra V3 has less 3ah compare to its predecessors. Whether the 3ah difference matters, we'll see it in full action on this next ride. Just so you know, our next stop is 52KM.
To be honest, I don't feel confident about this leg because I might get cut-off. In case you're not aware, we are carrying a lot of loads which consumes more power so our old benchmarks would be less from what we know.
We've been traveling for an hour now so we made a quick stop in the middle of a farm. This is around San Juan, Mexico Pampanga. If my map was correct, it should be nearby San Juan Elementary School.
While staying, we talked to the local farmers who were amazed by our scoots. He gave us a quick glimpse of their farm.
Upon checking, our next stop is still 37KM away. Now then, off we go!
Do you remember my remaining juice when we left from the karenderya? Well, the 3ah would seem to matter now. I am down to 54v (< 25%) while others are on 56.5v (approx 40%). Upon checking the map, we are still 17KM form our next stop.
From this point on, I had to ride below 30KPH. 17KM is still a long leg so every voltage counts! This is waaay out of my normal riding style but I need to keep it that way for survival.
At this point, we are dead tired from riding. The heat plus another wave of hunger is a sign we need to get to our place the soonest.
For this stop. it's the only accommodation we ever booked for the ride. We are so eager to settle down at this point but according to the address, the pin is in the middle of nowhere. We felt anxious because it felt like we're scammed. We just wanted to rest yet another challenge awaits.
Upon rechecking the details, we were surprised that it's in another city 6KM away from our point. At this stage, I don't have any juice anymore. I had no other choice but to charge to a friendly neighbor.
While staying, the other guys were double-checking the pinned accommodation just to make sure we're not really mistaken.
After minutes of scouting the area, the guys finally found the accommodation! It was just behind where we're charging. I, of course, thanked the homeowners for their kind assistance of allowing me to charge. I handed them a tip but they refused.
When we booked the accommodation, we thought it was just a humble house.
Turns our we booked an entire farm! The whole 2-hectare land! No wonder it isn't obvious!
Fun fact, this used to be a retreat house. The owners said it was occasionally booked but they opened it for the public to have casual bookings.
From here on, we decided to stay longer. We needed at least one full rest throughout this trip and that is going to be this place.
We roamed around the place, took a bath, and slept. Next thing we knew it was already evening.
The owners asked us if are we interested in dinner. They will be cooking organic food from their farm. All from rice, chickens, you name it! Of course, we all happily agreed because apart from being hungry already, we wanted to try out organic food from their farm. It doesn't come for free though.
This was the meal we needed after all that ride. Some small prize after traveling more than hundred kilometers now.
After the meal, we stayed for a while. We had kwentuhan sessions on the room and chilled before departing. Unfortunately, Dyann felt sicker that she can't continue with the journey anymore. In fact, even before the trip started, she wasn't feeling well but the ride made her excited that it didn't stop her from coming. The effects of her fatigue came into place just now. JC will also be coming along to accompany her back to Manila.
We called for a bus headed to Manila
From this point, it's just me, Jaime and Maharlika, a.k.a, The Ultra Boys. Co-incidentally, our units are V1, V2, and V3. After helping then, we left.
We're leaving Tarlac with just the 3 of us in the middle of the night. Suddenly...
While riding, I noticed a sudden decrease in speed. Moments later, my wheel stopped and felt like something was stuck. Fortunately, I slowed down before the wheels got congested otherwise I would've rolled in front.
When I checked, my tie-down chord (the one used to tie our megabox) got stuck on the wheels. It got loose during the ride not knowing how it happened.
We made a quick stop to fix this.
When detached, the tie-down chord got cut in half and it wasn't usable anymore. I used my spare blue string to tie my megabox.
If you recall, Jaime had a flat tire back in Bulacan. Given some series of misfortunes now, we're vulcanizing that interior for backup. The good thing in the Philippines is vulcanizing shops are widespread and some open 24/7. I'm assuming the ones here in the province operate that way because there are a lot of provincial travels that need maintenance along the way. We've seen some truck wheels in the shop so I assume most of their customers are big wheels.
We will be making a stopover at Jaime's best friend. Great thing he allowed us to charge and sleep. It was 12:00AM when we arrived. We also replenished some snacks at a nearby 7-11.
We woke up at 3:45AM then left afterward. Thanked our host for the great stay.
From now, we have reached Pangasinan province. We've come a long way!
Upon arriving in Urdaneta, we went for breakfast at a nearby Chowking (near that Jollibee). Maharlika told us that this was his province so he's very much familiar with the place. From here to Baguio, it doesn't look foreign to him.
After eating, we're now off to La Union province!
La Union will be our last charging stop before Baguio. For this, we never had a chance to roam since it's dark.
We need to make these preparations because the next and last leg will be the final boss. Drum roll please...
For every long rider's there headed north, we all know that Kennon road is the most challenging part of the leg. This 30KM stretch will be the most challenging before arriving at the City of Pines.
For this ride, Kennon road was on high maintenance because of it being prone to landslides. The road was only open every Friday 6AM to Sunday 6PM, allowing ONLY vehicles with less than 5 tons and uphill direction only. Downhill from Baguio is unfortunately closed unless you live within the road. If you plan to pass here, make sure you go along weekends.
We stayed for pictorial and some sightseeing.
We stopped over Bridal Veil Falls. It is a tourist destination located along Kennon road.
The term meant that the waterfall looks like a veil worn by a woman on who's about to get married. Apart from that, there seems to be no historical context from the falls. I guess it's more of a picturesque view.
Since this stretch is all about uphills, we stop for every 10KM to rest our hubs. If we keep going on, it will exhaust our hubs to the point it will overheat then melt the internal wires.
After our cooldown, our next leg is at the Lion's Head.
We stayed a bit to rest again our hubs and took some photos. We looked around the place and ate some strawberry taho.
This is going to be our last stopover for the entire leg. After this, it's Baguio or nothing! Now for the REAL final boss, drum roll, please!
For cyclists, this trail is called the Killer 7 because this is the last remaining 7KM before reaching to Baguio City proper. It starts from Lion's Head until the "Summer Capital - City of Baguio" arch. As such, this will be the most unforgiving path of the entire Kennon stretch because this will be mostly uphills with minimal flat grounds, consisting of a lot of curves.
To show you how steep this is, you can see from below that I am leaning in the ground with no vision in front. I needed to shift my weight to balance properly uphill. I would approximate the road to be 45 degrees or so.
I would say we're using mostly dual hubs from this leg.
We've got through the Killer 7 trail at last! Now, for the moment we've all been waiting for...
After all those hardships, we made it to Baguio! What was "impossible" with an EKS became possible. There you have it folks, a myth has been debunked!
From here, we stayed for a few days. We didn't want to just arrive and leave. Of course, we wanted to maximize our stay as a reward for all that. As you recalled as well, it's still Christmas season here so might as well explore!
Locals were amazingly staring at us because an EKS is new to them. To be the only people using EKS in the place felt like a mobility revolution has begun.
There's plenty of info from this point so might as well make a separate article about our ride around the city. There are more stories from our stay (like Camp John Hay suddenly not becoming EKS friendly and some places not single-hub-friendly) so stay tuned.
During our stay, we heard the news that Taal Volcano erupted. We were keen on the news and asked our friends/family in Manila how are things going. AFAIK, it was already alert level 2 when we knew.
For our trip back to Manila, we just used the bus instead of riding our scoot all the way. The bus we rode is EKS-friendly and even assisted us to put the scoots on the trunk.
So that's it! We're wrapping up our Manila to Baguio ride from here. Our overall mileage was 360KM, making this the longest electric kick scooter ride in the Philippines (for now). It was fun yet tiring. You can check out the Facebook post from the EKSPH group by clicking here (you need to be a member first)
We learned so much about the provinces. Personally, I appreciated the Philippines even more after the ride! The country has so many hidden gems that can only be appreciated when you do such ride. For sure, there are plenty of rooms for improvement, given all that's happened but that made us even more prepared for longer rides!
How much did our trip cost? Approximately PHP10,000 per head. Note that this is JUST the trip itself like accommodations, food, and city attractions only but NOT yet including our pre-trip preparations such upgrades, fixes, spare items, gears, apparels, etc. Take note as well that we've already divided the cost to make it cheaper. Doing it solo or with fewer people will make it more expensive.
We thought it wasn't going to be expensive too but upon auditing the cost after the trip, it surprisingly went through that amount.
Months after this ride, we've seen an increase of presence in electric kick scooters around the city. Some of these are DT Eagle Pro's being donated to the Baguio police and new EKS shops are opening. An EKSPH - Baguio chapter has also been established since. Our ride was just the start of a new beginning!
Would I recommend you'd do this? I can't say for everyone but if you are into long rides while having the guts for a challenging one, go ahead! Some of our members filed leaves before this (in fact, exhausting all leave credits for the entire year) so consider that as well. Don't forget, it's not going to be easy and cheap.
Lastly, what would be my key takeaway? It's always better to be overprepared than underprepared. We'll never know what lies ahead. We never expected to have flat tires, having tie-down cut, and all. Fortunately, we brought spares and people prior to the trip helped us. It's important to know too the ins & outs of your scoot and how to fix it your own. You can't always rely on someone to do this so know at least the basics before heading out. Hope you enjoyed our story!
'Till the next long ride!