For riders, travel is usually more about the journey than the destination. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you go. Just hitting the open road, soaking in the beautiful scenery as you drive off into the sunset is an epic adventure in itself.
Whenever I travel to a different province, I try to rent a motorcycle. Usually, it’s just whatever run-down model I can get my hands on. I’ve ridden solo in many beautiful island destinations like Batanes, Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor and Cebu. On my own faithful Yamaha Mio Fino, the farthest I’ve driven is from Manila to Bicol.
But it’s not everyday that you get to ride on the expressway up to Baguio on a Harley Davidson. Oh yeah, baby! Achievement unlocked! Seriously, just sitting on this bike gives you instant 1000+ Astig Points.
RIDE ALONG MOTORCYCLE TOURS
Ride Along Motorcycle Tours Philippines (RAMTP) by Travel Concierge is the Philippines first tour operator offering this type of adventure getaway. Instead of the usual car or van rental, they challenge people to travel differently by getting to their destination on big bikes.
Travel Concierge is an affiliate of Enable Hospitality, a hotel management company responsible for operating boutique hotels in the Philippines. Thus, you can expect very personalized and professional services. In fact, my driver was Travel Concierge’s Founder & CEO himself Pat Favoreal. A member of the New and Old School (NOS) Motorcycle Club, Favoreal currently owns 13 motorcycles (including a Vespa, a Royal Enfield and a Harley), all of which are “firsts” so he can’t get rid of any of them.
Riders are usually stereotyped as gangsters or outlaws. But being friends with a lot of guys from motorcycle clubs, I know that this is not true. Many of them have regular day jobs to fuel their passion for riding and are involved in a lot of charity events. While sport bikers seem more obsessed with speed and racing, I’ve found that guys who ride cruisers are more easygoing and like to do it more for travel and touring. Group rides are all about camaraderie and sharing your passion for the open road. These are guys who would be riding anyway whether or not they got paid to do it, so they thought: why not just turn their passion into a business?
If you’ve ever wanted to get a glimpse into the riding lifestyle or fulfill that dream of riding a luxury big bike, you can get that chance by joining their tours. They offer day trips to popular riding destinations near the metro like Tagaytay, Taal and Laiya as well as 2D/1N trips further to Zambales, Pangasinan, Baguio, Baler, Bagasbas and Naga. But rather than focusing on the place, the real product here is the experience of riding a cruiser or brat-tracker motorcycles as a passenger or rider in formation going there.
I recently got invited as to try out their 2D1N tour to Baguio as a backrider. Before I learned to ride on my own, I backrode a lot with my then boyfriend (now husband) on his first motorcycle, a Kawasaki Eliminator (he’s now upgraded to a Royal Enfield). Backriding is actually what got me hooked on traveling by motorcycle in the first place.
My steed was a 2016 Harley Davidson heritage softail Classic (1700cc) which was being driven by Travel Concierge’s CEO Pat Favoreal.
My companions Marky, Jinky and Ruel were aboard a 2004 Yamaha Dragstar xvs 1100 (1100cc), 2015 Kawasaki Vaquero 1700cc and 2002 Kawasaki Vulcan classic (800cc) being driven by Favoreal’s NOS club members. All the bikes are very eye-catching, bad-ass and not to mention profile-pic worthy. In Pat’s words, these are bikes with high ROE = Return on Ego.
As much as I would like to say that I drove one of these myself, I know I’m not yet ready to drive full clutch for the first time on the expressway on a bike that weighs almost half a ton. But the experience of riding one just to head up to the Summer Capital is cool enough for me. For many Pinoys, these bikes are purely aspirational. Who wants to take the bus when you can ride a Harley, right?!
The Baguio Ride is roughly 524 kms and 8-10 hours ride time (back and forth) including all the stops. After a support vehicle picked up members of our group at different pick up points, our official tour started off from the expressway. It was an overcast Monday that day but thankfully it didn’t rain. It was perfect riding weather, plus there was zero traffic.
The backseat of the Harley was pretty comfy. It had a backrest and I felt like I was lounging on a LaZy Boy while admiring the scenery. Backriders are provided with all the necessary safety gear including riding jacket, helmet and kneepads, as well as insurance. To ensure safety, a special back-up sweeper vehicle with a trailer is also available on long rides. All runs are insured – the kind that covers adventure activities and hobbies that are usually excluded in other PA coverage in the market.
Driving in formation on the expressway is very different from the solo rides that I’m used to. I usually go through small towns, backroads and scenic provincial roads. Driving on the highway is more about discipline and riding in formation. The Ride Spearhead gives hand signals to spot the potholes and obstacles on the road to drivers behind him, which is beneficial to newbie drivers. We made several stops for photo ops, to gas up, stretch our legs, and let the bikes rest so they don’t overheat.
Puto Calasiao (a specialty in Pangasinan) in a gas station along the way
Behind the bike, I appreciated little details like how smooth and paved the roads were and noticed several waterfalls flowing from the mountains. I felt the change in climate as we drove from town to town and breathed in the fresh air of Baguio as we drove through highways lined with pine trees. I could also whip out my smartphone from an inside jacket pocket to take photos whenever I wanted to.
Kennon Road was closed because of several landslides, so we had to take Marcos Highway instead and missed the Lion’s head marker. Before approaching Baguio, we stopped by Bikers Den, a very cool place to hang out with a cold one. The benefit of not driving is you can drink beer. 🙂
We stopped for lunch at Edsyl Canteen & Refreshment, a local eatery serving budget-friendly regional specialties like pigar-pigar (beef stir-fry), pork liempo, dinuguan (pork blood stew) and sinanglaw (beef innards soup). It doesn’t get more authentic than that.
After checking into Azalea Residences Baguio, we had the afternoon to do whatever we wanted. It was rainy and my bed was so just comfy that I ended up sleeping in much longer than expected. Thankfully, I woke up in time for a couple of beers again.
After a heavy breakfast at Azalea, my companions and I checked out some sights in Baguio. One of the newer attractions here are the colorful houses on a hillside community in La Trinidad, Benguet, just a few km away from Baguio City. The concept, inspired by the favelas (slum quarters) of Brazil, was designed by Tam-awan Village artists & painted by residents of Stobosa (short for Stone Hill, Botiwtiw and Sadjap sitios) Hillside Homes.
Then it was off to some shopping at the Hangar market for the usual Baguio staples of strawberries, coffee and fresh vegetables. After a stopover at Mt. Cloud Bookshop and Casa Vallejo, we took off for the scenic ride down back, encountering fog on the way.
When you ride, you really get up close & personal with the elements. The weather can change from cloudy to searing hot as you move from town to town. Since we left late, it got pretty hot, but when you speed through the open roads like the expressway, you really feel the breeze. I always love the feeling of going against the wind on the open road. After a late lunch of sisig and halo-halo at Razon’s along NLEX, we boarded the support vehicle again and headed back to the traffic-choked streets of Manila.
WHO SHOULD TRY IT:
These tours are suited for travelers who appreciate the journey as well (if not more) than the destination. It’s best for those who have some background in riding or love motorcycles in general. This would make a unique R & R or team-building activity for VIPs. It would probably appeal to expats and foreigners visiting the Philippines who want to ride around the country in the company of professional riders.
For those who can drive drive bikes more than 400cc, you can opt to drive one of their rental bikes so you can get the full experience of the power of the machines. Escorted riders are assigned cruiser motorcycles that they can competently handle and are required to pass the test rides before the actual date of the ride along itinerary. The tours also accept riders who have their own 400cc or higher displacement motorcycles who want to join a ride along tour to get the experience of riding in formation.
But for those who don’t know how to ride, but still want to try something new and exciting, they can still participate as a passenger behind an experienced rider. Back riders get to enjoy the ride safely and comfortably by taking in the sights and scenery. For guys who want to introduce their girlfriends or wives into the motorcycling lifestyle, I think this is a good way to start.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY IT:
We’ve all had to sit for hours through EDSA in mind-numbing traffic or endured rush hour taking the MRT. The rush of riding on these types of cruiser motorcycle on open highways is all about freedom. Even if you’ve never experienced riding, this is something that you can cross off your bucket list.
The bike models themselves are just bad-ass. If you want the experience of riding a big bike or the benefit of a group escorting your on the expressway, you will enjoy this. The tour is safe and very organized compared to riding alone in unfamiliar destinations.
If you’re familiar with the concept of “glamping”, I feel like the Ride Along Motorcycle Tours is kind of like that. These are very high-end luxury bikes. You get a very glamorous version of riding with the benefit of professional drivers driving you to your destination and rare access to photo ops on the bikes.
Drivers navigate the stretches of the road including the traffic-choked streets of Manila that you don’t want to go through. You get the freedom of riding outdoors on open roads, yet all the creature comforts, including a support vehicle for your bags, a mechanic to ensure bikes are in shape, backup drivers, insurance and even support bikes to swap in case a motorcycle breaks down. For longer rides, you can always opt out and board the car if you no longer want to ride the motorcycle (but where’s the fun in that?). But it’s still pretty hardcore.
These tours are not for everyone. You will either love riding or you won’t. If you’re the type of traveler who prefers the air-conditioned comforts of a caged vehicle, a strict itinerary and eating in fine dining restaurants, this tour might not be for you.
You still have to be willing to be exposed to the elements and endure every pothole on the road, with no fixed plans and ready to stop just about anywhere along the road when hunger strikes. But for many riders, there’s a sense of satisfaction getting to a place “the hard way.” Despite being exposed to the heat, rain and wind, the ride itself is the reward.
According to Travel Concierge’s CEO Pat Favoreal: “Riding is not a status symbol for us. It is who we are. We don’t ride for people to see us. We ride because we ride. It defines us.”
While this kind of tour is very different from the kind of rides I like to do, it’s an experience in itself. It’s a way to escape the stress of everyday life and enjoy a first class seat to nature. I only wish I could drive these bikes!
The rates for tours vary depending on the destination, length of tour (day vs. overnight) and whether you’re a backrider, a solo rider on a rented bike, or joiner on your own bike. Package rates includes use of above 400 cc motorcycle, hotel accommodation on twin sharing with breakfast (for overnight tours), gasoline & toll fees for back riders & rented bike solo riders, souvenir shirt, Adventure insurance worth 100k coverage, helmet, riding jacket, knee protector, services of a ride Spearhead, rider service fees, back-up car with closed trailer. Check out their detailed package tours, ride schedules, itineraries and inquire about rates here.
For more information and details on Ride Along Motorcycle package tours, please contact Travel Concierge directly. Travel Concierge has branches in Manila and Naga City, Bicol.
- Website: http://www.travelconcierge.com.ph/#ride-along-motorcycle-tours
- Facebook: Travel Concierge PH
- Travel Concierge. La Huerta Village Center. Aguirre Compound, Multinational Avenue, Multinational Village, Paranque City.
- Mobile: 0917-504841
- Landline: 5056151 / 3605460 / 5518223
- Travel Cafe, Zone 5 Magsaysay Avenue, Concepcio Pequena, Naga City.
- Mobile: 0917-6394509
- Landline: (054) 2383202 / (054) 4729389