I crossed the Ilocos-Cagayan boundary at 10AM on the third day of my North Luzon Loop Ride. I planned to take a more risky and off-beaten route into the Cordilleras and spend the night in Sagada. It’s an ambitious plan since I have none or just a few bits of information about that part of Cordillera Mountains. I didn’t worry about it when I was planning this trip and I don’t plan of worrying about it now. Anyway, it is still 250 kms away.
I still have a lot of ground to cover. One whole province to be exact. The province of Cagayan. Do you know how many bridges connects the province? We will see them later on. “Let’s cross the bridge when we get there”. Sorry, I can’t resist.
Cagayan is one of the five provinces of Region II – Cagayan Valley. It’s name was derived from the tagay trees that grows along its rivers. Catagayan means “where the tagay abounds”. That’s one version but I prefer the one that suggests it was taken from the Ilokano word “carayan” which means “big river”. That “big river” also happens to be the longest and largest river of the Philippines – the Cagayan River, also known as Rio Grande de Cagayan.
After a short, twisty road near the Ilocos-Cagayan boundary, the terrain started to change. The mountains turned into ricefields and the roller coaster-like roads became endless stretches that seems to go on forever.
I finally found a Petron Gas Station in Claveria, some 40 kms from Maira-ira Beach. I rested for a while, ate some crackers and rehydrated. I inspected the motorcycle and I was impressed with the tires in particular. I’m a first-time FDR Genzi user and the front tire has not given me a scare yet. The rear Mizzle M700 tire meanwhile is somewhat worn-out but still has good traction. It also got pierced by a nail a couple of weeks before this trip.
Cagayan, like most of the Region II is a valley. It is bounded in the west by the Cordillera Mountains and in the east by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Between the two massive mountain ranges are hundreds of thousand hectares of agricultural land. It’s one of the top provinces in corn and rice production in the country.
I was getting a little comfortable riding at top speeds on the seemingly endless highways when I saw a crowd in the middle of the road.
Good news was there wasn’t any blood or brain-matter on the road. I sure hope everyone involved was OK. I was a little shaken up so I took it easy on the stretches.
Cagayan is about 100 kms long and the river runs that whole length, completely bisecting the province from the south all the way to the north. There are many bridges in Cagayan of course, but did you know that ONLY TWO BRIDGES crosses Rio Grande Cagayan.
Magapit Bridge is the first suspension bridge in Southeast Asia opened in 1978 so it is only fitting to call it the “Golden Gate of Cagayan”.
During this time, temperatures reached around 37 degrees Celsius so instead of eating lunch, I skipped to dessert!
I pressed on for Tuguegarao City. I wish I researched more on which roads to take. Traffic was heavy on the major roads. I only stopped to ask for directions and to refuel. During my first travel up north, we spent our first night in this city.
While weaving my way through traffic, I came upon another bridge. I thought it’s just one of the numerous bridges of Cagayan.. I quickly realized it wasn’t when it took while to traverse it.
It took a while to cross it because it is the second longest bridge in the Philippines at 1.098 kms. It is narrow so stopping on the bridge was not an option even for a motorcycle. This is the other bridge of the only two bridges that spans across Cagayan River.
After Tuguegarao, I started getting an “uneasy” feeling in a good way. I know an adventure has started. I intentionally didn’t research extensively on the route to add a little excitement to the trip. Besides, there isn’t that much I can learn even if I try to.
I was ecstatic as Tuguegarao faded on the side mirrors.
I am entering Kalinga, Cordillera Administrative Region.