Palawan Motorcycle Adventures – Part 2of2
Jenny and I woke up, grabbed some breakfast and decided that heading further South would be quite boring so we did a 180 and headed North! We drove all the way to Roxas in one day and spent the night there. The next morning we hit the road and went all the way to the most Northern point of Palawan, to the town of El Nido.
It was raining for a great deal of the trek and it became quite grueling. It was honestly the most challenging endurance ride I’ve ever accomplished. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that we made the trip in record time. Normally the bus from Puerto Princesa to El Nido takes eight and a half hours. But Jen and I did the 269 km trip in a crazy-fast four hours with only 30 minutes of pit stops. We were hauling butt, passing motos, trikes, buses and even cars on our Filipino version of Canonball Run!
The two lane road from Puerto Princesa is paved up to the town of Tay Tay. Then for 60 KM you’re in the dirt except for two short “teaser sections” where hard pavement temporarily gets your hopes up that the dirt has ended – only to be thrust back onto dirt after a KM or so!
On the dirt roads, the ruts can be quite deep and upon one occasion I truly thought we were going to eat it. Skilled riders know that there is a sweet spot where the bumps are minimized by going fast. You basically allow the suspension to soak up the bumps. But, get too cocky by going too fast and your suspension can easily bottom out causing you to lose control.
It’s a fine line and 3 hours into the ride I had lost my firm grasp of that balance. Nothing on my body wasn’t wet or cold and there was no end of the rain in sight. I was truly soaked from head to toe, tired and my vision was blurred. My neck was stiff, my hands felt numb and my mind was over focused on arriving as quickly as we could.
As I had done tens of times that day, I quickly passed a slow moving truck on our way to a narrow bridge ahead. As the acceleration pulled on my hands, and the piston in the engine fired away, I could feel my brittle bones being vibrated deep inside. Jenny had her hands wrapped around me but she was also tired and her grip wasn’t as strong as it was hours before. Just before we reached the bridge, the bike lurched down into a massive water filled hole.
At 60+ KPH, in rain that can be only be described as a mini-typhoon and with no time to react, there was little to be done. The front tire sunk down a good two feet and then the back tire fell into the same watery pit. I instinctively tightened my grip on the handle bars, increased the gas and pulled back as firmly as I could. The front tire then struck the edge of the pit and a brutal metal, “CLACK” noise shot out of the suspension as it compressed all the way down – past the bump stop.
Jenny screamed out and squeezed my stomach hard. The bike was out of control but somehow I managed to launch us out of the hole unscathed and ended up landing on the bridge, wheels down with Jenny still on the bike. Afterwards, I rubbed Jenny’s leg and told her that we were ok. I told her not to worry, but I couldn’t help but to think how lucky we really were.
I made the decision to slow down a bit after the incident but we still quickly pressed on. Soaking wet, hungry and exhausted after our 250+ KM journey, we arrived in El Nido, at the most Northern point of Palawan. The rain ceased and we were treated to visual thrills of gigantic limestone cliffs jutting out of turquoise blue water and perfectly white sandy beaches. Our journey had suddenly become all worth it.