Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Challenge Subic Philippines Half Ironman 2014 - bike route danger zones

Danger Zones: the not so fun part of the Challenge Philippines Subic 2013 Triathlon.

While everyone at this point is aware of the challenging bike route that awaits triathletes for the Challenge Philippines Subic 2014 Half Ironman triathlon, those who haven't had a chance to do a recon ride should be aware that more than being physically demanding,  several portions of the route pose serious hazards.

Here are portions that I think merits our attention. 

These photos were taken on February 18, 2014 - 3 days before race day on February 22.

Downhill Descent from Subic gate.

As you exit Subic gate, the road offers a winding descent. Around 3 kilometers or so, the steep downhill starts to gradually flatten. At this point, you should be very cautions as there are several large potholes scattered on both the left and right lanes of the road. Here are the large ones I noticed.
Photo 1
Photo 2

Photo 3
Photo 4

Photo 3 is a zoom out version of Photo 1, it provides a bigger image of how large the the rough section of the road is. The whole section of the road, essentially the left as well as the right side lanes are littered with deep potholes, several of them measuring at least 2.5 cm deep.

You really have to go slow to navigate this section of the course. It is almost impossible to notice the potholes while approaching from a distance, the overcast shade of the trees' foliage on both sides  makes it difficult to spot them.

Photo 4 indicates some repairs made(notice the relatively pale colored patch of fresh cement). When I did a recon ride in Dec, there was a huge pothole here that measured at least 3 cm deep and over a 1 meter long. Good job! But  you asks, "Why not fix the rest?"

These potholes are just right before you approach the arc marker of Barangay Mabayo, which is about 3.9 kilometers from the Subic gate.

The Anvaya Cove Nightmare

As you pass the Anvaya Cove gate, another downhill leads you to a long section of terribly worn out road surface. You could easily burst a tire here or two, lose control and perform a deadly "somersault". The rocks that stick out of the worn out road are very very sharp. You wouldn't want hitting this pavement going fast. This tire buster is over 25 meters long. It ends roughly just  where the MDC concrete  aggregates plant is. 

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

Photo 9

Photo 10


Photos 5 to 11 highlight the 25 meters long stretch. Photo 8 gives an idea how sharp the rocks are. These are the aggregates used when concrete was poured on the road, unfortunately hard breaking as cars/jeeps/buses/trucks hit their breaks while they navigate this downhill has cracked and eroded much of the surface cement exposing the rock aggregates.  There is no escaping this rough surface as it spans both the left and right sections of the road.

The Morong "Welcome"

Before approaching town proper, you will notice a gasoline station(Petron I think) on the left side of the road. You will pass this same section going back but you will instead take a different route which leads you to the Bataan Techopark.  

From the gasoline station the road leads you to a bridge that crosses a river. Not far straight ahead is a T junction where race route turns left.

Beware: this T junction is another killer. Just take a closer look of  photo 12 bellow. Notice how the front wheel of the bike on the photo got stuck between the slots/spaces of the metal grate that covers the canal on the road.

Photo 12 : A metal grate that covers the canal that spans the width of the road has spaces between the metal plates big enough to swallow your bike wheels.

The only sure way of avoiding getting your wheels stuck here is making a full stop, dismounting the bike and carrying it over the grates. Hopefully, the  whole section will be covered at least temporarily for the race day.

Challenge Subic 2014 offers a very exciting course for the triathlon community. Just be aware of the potential dangers along the way, ride safely and have fun!

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