(Note: This blog post is intended for Shotgun and Timberland newbies. I’m sure most bikers in Metro Manila have been here. Just feel free to comment any other info you might want to add to help out our fellow bikers enjoy their Shotgun/Timberland experience!)
It just dawned on me the idea to write my personal reviews of the routes I’ve been taking in my rides. And so voila! My Ride Review blog posts are born! This first one is one personal favorite. Enjoy! 🙂
I just recently turned into a brand new spanking dad almost four months ago, and because of this, I don’t have the luxury of time anymore to go out into whole-day long rides far and wide like before. I could only allot a few hours of my weekend mornings for my solo padyak sessions. Good thing I just live a 15-minute ride away from Timberland Heights.
This morning’s ride took me again to one of the nearest uphill routes in Metro Manila. The day being a Monday, it was natural for the place to be deserted from bikers, most of them having had their taste of Timberland Heights the weekend before. As such, at six in the morning, I actually had the entire venue to myself. For those who aren’t familiar with the place, here’s a Google Map to the venue:
Riding my trusty Trinx XC3, I left home by 5:30 a.m and started pedalling to Timberland Heights. Upon reaching the fork, it was a matter of eenie-meenie-miney-moe to choose which route to take. The verdict? To take the road less travelled – Shotgun.
Since it was forever til I last climbed this route, and since I was also puyat for the past almost-four months due to nightly daddy duties, I know that this ride will be quite an effort-ful one. I put my gears into the lowest setting, and psyched myself “Slowly, but surely, makararating din ako dun sa guardhouse!”
According to my Strava recording, the Shotgun route is a more-or-less 4.4-kilometer uphell route with an average grade of 7%, starting from the fork to the guardhouse, but don’t let this number deceive you! We could actually split the entire Shotgun route into three different segments, with significant differences in uphill grades.
The first segment is a winding 2.5-kilometer-long ride and has an average grade of 12%! You will pass several hills here, with one of them having a sweet little spot at the top, complete with benches and all. There’s a trail right beside the road leading to it. You just have to take the 1-minute trek to the top. The view here is also exhilarating. Just let the magnificent view of the Sierra Madre mountains take your mind off while you huff and puff and inch your way to the top.
Though straightforward, it also contains several elbows, such as below:
Maneuvering through these elbows is quite a challenge especially since these all possess the average steepness grade.
The next segment is about 1.3 kilometers long beginning from “The Ledge.” Here, you will find a few locals residing right beside the roadside, with their shanties and even one small store. From what I’ve heard, the entrance leading to the Patiis trail is somewhere here. I haven’t tried that trail yet. Maybe one of these days when I’m ready for some downhill fun.
The uphill here now gradually lessens, and you will actually be rewarded with your very first downhill ride! Ahhh! Give your legs a rest! Nothing like cool wind hitting your face! But this happiness is but a fleeting instance of time! Let my selfie explain why:
At the end of this downhill starts the last segment of the Shotgun route – about 600 meters of 15% grade!!! I just let my speed get the best of my during this downhill to get enough momentum for this last uphill stretch!
Finally! Once you get to the end of the route, you will see a guardhouse, and a mannequin which also serves as a “scarecrow” to the bikers:
Surprise! A family of pigs roaming around the guardhouse area!
See, the Shotgun route is actually a road leading towards one big massive dumpsite. The biking and running public is only allowed until this point, thus the need for a guard.
Why is it called the Shotgun? I myself have been wondering the origin of its name, and thanks to bestfriend Google, here is one definitive answer:
“When I started biking at Mt. Maarat, there was no Shotgun trail. I have heard from the news that a dumpsite will be built here. The dusty trail became a road for the massive dump trucks that will deliver the Metro-Manila garbage. This dumpsite was not welcomed by environment-loving people and bikers, thus, it became controversial. A security guard was assigned to guard the area and no photography was allowed. This guard was riding a horse and is brandishing a pistolized Shotgun. I think he did not mean to pistolize the shotgun, it was just too old. Just imagine, a horse-riding, shotgun-slinging security guard, pretty funny. Thus, we started calling the place Shotgun with caution. I even salute the guy when he passes. Wheww…”
Pinoy Adventure Rider (from https://pinoyadventurerider.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/the-shotgun-trail-in-san-mateo-rizal/)
The Shotgun route actually ends here, but I decided to take my ride a little further. There’s a trail to the right of the road leading to the peak of Mt. Mataba, which also connects the Shotgun route to the Roxas Loop of Timberland Heights. This entrance was closed for a time, but recently, I heard it was (forcefully? intentionally?) opened again. Since I still have enough time before my 3.5-hour biking window ends, I decided to give a go and look for it.
The first part of the trail is a relatively easy uphill now. Wide trails, slightly loose gravel, iron oxide-rich earth – a trail biker’s delight! Two good pictures I took en route while looking for the entrance to Roxas Loop (blurred kasi yung iba eh haha!):
Apologies as I did not have any pictures of the entrance to the Roxas Loop, but it’s easy for anyone to see once you get there. You won’t miss it! Just consult your friendly Google Maps for reference when in doubt. Anyway, since it was not my intention to go around Timberland Heights this morning, I decided to make a u-turn and start heading for home. Here’s my Strava elevation profile and Relive video of my ride:
Some notes which I might help you out:
- For newbies, scaling Shotgun is not a race. Pace yourself. Shift to lower (if needed, your lowest) gear settings. The goal is to finish the route. It was already my third time but still I’m using my lowest gear setting – smallest in front and largest in the rear. Next time na ako makikipagkarera kapag kayang-kaya ko na! Sa ngayon, anino ko lang ang kakumpitensya ko!
- Again, there’s completely nothing wrong with going down to stop for a quick rest! Unless you are one harkor biker, chances are, most bikers scaling Shotgun (including myself) will also do a quick rest stop at least once, even for just a minute. And while you’re at it, enjoy the view! Take a selfie! Most of the elbows in Shotgun have some grassy area at the sides. Pwede namang umupo muna at magmuni-muni!
- Be cautious of the dump trucks which will regularly pass by. Since the Shotgun is their route to the dumpsite, you will encounter these all the time. They will blow their horns from afar, so whether they’re coming down or going up, you’ll have a head start of where to expect them from. My advice: stand down for a moment. Step aside and let them pass. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Baka masagi ka nila.
- Since you’re near the dumpsite, especially during the summer months, the stench of the trash will be more noticeable, even if you’re still about three kilometers away! It’s not that strong, but for those who have sensitive noses, the scent might be unbearable. Just imagine, you’re panting while pedalling uphills, and you’re inhaling all those air. Saraaaap!
- Do not, at all circumstances, go easy on your brakes when descending the route! There are less reported injuries here in Shotgun than in the Walls, mainly because not everyone dare ride this route, but the danger when descending it is the same. Know your own limits in speed. The thrill of hurtling down at 50 kph is exciting for all we know, but make sure you and your bike can handle the need to stop at any point in time. I actually noticed my brakes were somewhat weaker while descending the Shotgun route; I almost overshot in one of those elbows. For safety, I decided to stop fully somewhere a little past The Ledge and inspect my brake pads whether these were already worn or not. Well, it was still okay, but look at how hot my rotors were:You heard that?!! Curiosity got the better of me and I tried touching the rotors to see how hot it was. Big mistake. Napaso ako!!! Maybe I’ll try getting those bigger rotors, or the ones with Icetech technology.
- It’s better to climb the Shotgun route early in the morning or late in the afternoon as there is no shade anywhere along the route, no trees to give a shady respite from the effortful climb, nothing.
And that’s that! Next time, I’ll try to complete a Shotgun-Timberland ride!
Feel free to comment any other helpful tips or trivia to help out our fellow bikers! 🙂