Friday, October 16, 2015

Short Stroll: XRCP Uragon Sorsogon Loop

Sorsogon is a province next to Albay, down the southernmost part of Luzon. It's a beautiful, mostly laid-back place with lots of sights and experiences to offer. Our group decided to loop the province, passing by most its towns. It was our first chapter ride this year, done last January 25, 2015.

It was a clear Sunday morning, we thanked our lucky stars that the weather cooperated. Last Friday it was bad, to say the least. Our group gathered at the Peñaranda Park, in Old Albay District, waiting for our members from Camarines Sur to arrive. Of course, there is an obligatory photo session.

We took off at about 8:00 AM. The plan was to loop Sorsogon clockwise. Our first short stop is, of course, the Sorsogon Arc. It's my nth time here, so I let the other guys have their moment to take their pics and selfies. After which, we moved on.

We took the diversion road to veer away from the city proper, and after 10 or so kilometers from the diversion, turned left to Gubat. This is our second short stop. It was around 75 kilometers from our take-off point in Legazpi to this location:

We pushed on, and arrived a bit later in Barcelona. This town has nice tourist spots, including Spanish-era ruins and a park by the seaside. I've been to Matnog many, many times, but it was my first time here. We were much awed and refreshed by the view that our planned 10-minute stop turned to an hour of chatter, photo-ops and plain old kulitan with other members.

It was about 9 kilometers from Gubat town proper to this location:

 Below: Spanish-era ruins that this town is most known for:

[Above] We here having too much fun taking "wacky" pics of ourselves in the ruins.
[Below] Entrance to the ruins park. Entrance is free, at least in our visit.

It's a seaside park with free Wi-Fi Wo-Fo access. Unfortunately, this is a 
clever ad for a local politician.

For lovers of antique churches, Barcelona has many, including this one (St. Joseph Church) just in front of the Ruins Park.

Of course, I would not miss the chance of having my photo taken here...

 ...and in the main "entrance" of the ruins that used to be a fort or church, 
or at least it looked like it.

We had to move on, as we have a long ways to go. We pushed forward to the slippery, twisting paths of Bulusan. This was our next stop: Bulusan Volcano Natural Park. It was around 21 kilometers from Barcelona Ruins Park to this point.

Entrance to the Park. Entrance fee is PHP25.00, and another PHP25.00 for parking (MC)
It's another 3 kilometers or so of VERY slippery road after this arc to the park itself.

 That's Raymond, the Bicol South OIC, taking his fill of pictures.

 These are some of the members of XRCP Bicol Chapter, the "Uragons"

Let's take a little paddleboat ride! I did not get to ask the rates for these. Too bad.

It was around 11:30 when we reached the park. We asked the lady in charge if they served lunch. Unfortunately, they did not cook lunch yet, they could only serve instant pancit canton with rice. We declined, and started heading out to look for a place to take lunch.

We arrived in Irosin at about 12:15 PM. We took our lunch here. It was around 11 kilometers from Bulusan Volcano Natural Park up to this point.

Before heading on to Matnog, we stopped by this town's other landmark - the biggest cock this side of town. No, really, it's a big*ss cock. Here it is:

After a bit of laughs due to some cock puns, we pushed on to Matnog. The twisties here are great. But be careful, as some curves here are deceptive, first leading the rider to believe it's just a slight curve, only to let them know later it's an elbow. During my second visit to Matnog with sir Emil and my other riding pals, one of our buddies crashed because he underestimated the curve and went at it in speed. Good thing the rider and the bike both survived, and went home with just minor scratches.

It was another 20 kilometers or so before reaching Matnog. Finally we did. This is the riders' mecca in the south, as it is the southern tip of Luzon island. Also, this is the last checkpoint of the yearly M3 (Manila-Matnog-Manila) Endurance Challenge. Well, geographically it's not the southernmost point of Luzon, but as far as the Pan-Philippine Highway goes, this is it. It was another 25 kilometers from Irosin to this point.

 Our buddies lining up to have their pictures taken at the Matnog Port arc.

We did not stay long in Matnog, as we were only about halfway through our loop. We backtracked up the Pan-Phil Highway back to the junction to Bulan Airport Road, where we turned left to head to Bulan. It was another 30 kilometers from Matnog Port arc to Bulan town proper.

This is the junction we passed-by earlier. If you turn left, it leads to Matnog. Go back and turn left (right in this viewpoint) to head to Bulan.

We did not stay long in Bulan. After refilling our gas tanks, we headed straight for Magallanes. I only had the enough time to take this one pic before we left:

We just went by Bulan because we are to stay longer in Magallanes, where one of our clubmates reside. But, I stopped the group (I forgot to mention I was the spear during the group ride) whenever I see picture-worthy sites along the road. These are some of them:

Finally, after about 20 kilometers more of riding from Bulan, we reached Magallanes. We did not go to the town center though, as we stopped over our pal's house, near Bucal-bucalan Spring Resort. We contemplated on returning to this spot to swim at the spring resort, as it piqued our curiosity.

It was almost 3PM. We stopped over, had some snacks, and planned our next ride here. After thirty minutes of break, we were on our way back to complete the loop. Our next stop: Juban, about 25 kilometers from this spot.

The road to Juban was another mountain pass, and we strolled to take in the view. We stumbled upon a historical site here in Gibalon, Magallanes. According to the town's claim, it was where the first mass in Luzon was held in 1569.


We took these photos somewhere in the Magallanes-Juban Road.

We did not stop at Juban. There were also places of interest in Juban like the old, ancestral houses (similar to those in Vigan), but we moved on as we were chasing daylight - some of our buddies will still travel back to Naga City. Those having underbone MCs gassed up in Juban, and from there it was a straight ride back to Legazpi City. It's a 90 kilometer trip which took about 2 hours. We reached Legazpi about 6:30 PM.

That's it! Our Sorsogon Loop is complete. We were not able to visit Donsol and Pilar as it was out of the way, but next time, maybe when the whaleshark season is back, we will come and visit.

Approx. total distance travelled from the loop: 320 kilometers.

Thanks for the read. 'Til the next one!

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