Freeride pioneer Hans 'No Way' Rey just returned from a two-week trip to the Phillipines. On hand at the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival, one of the biggest cycling events in Southern Asia (held in Manila), Rey took time out from a schedule of trials shows to explore the country on film for his next Hans Rey Adventure television special.
"This wasn't a typical "Hans Rey Adventure Team" trip," Rey said by email this week. "It was more like a road-trip, consisting of several mini-adventures."
Accompanied by Italian photographer Marco Toniolo and a local videographer traveled north of the festival site to the Mountain Province and the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces, considered the 8th World Wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage site. "We toured to the remote village of Batad, where, for the past 2000 years, locals had carved beautiful rice terraces into the surrounding hillsides. It looked a lot like the terraced Inca hills near Machu Picchu, Peru."
Rey says the group rode the treacherous footpaths of the terraces to "a place called Echo Valley, site of the 'Hanging Coffins" a sacred burial area surrounded by limestone cliffs. After my experience with the spirits several years ago in Borneo, I was extra cautious and respectful. Some of those coffins are 500 years old!"
In a second adventure, Rey ascended the Phillipines largest mountain; an active volcano with a crater lake called Taal. "We had a fun descent to the edge of the first lake. This volcano is on and off active, and we could see the smoke from several cracks in the earth and smelt the sulfur in the air. Four local riders joined me on this trip. The downhill was a good laugh and worth the efforts."
Besides the adventures, Rey spent some time giving trials demos in support of the festival. He says he felt like a start in Manila. I did a show in one of the biggest shopping malls of Manila. The turnout was incredible, I couldn't believe how big and enthusiastic the local biking scene was. The people were so happy to meet me and have their photo taken with me - I found out, many of my past adventure team trips are constantly being televised on the Discovery Channel Int.and other TV networks. People brought all sorts of foreign, especially american, biking magazines to be autographed, it was quite nostalgic to see some of the 10 - 15 year old features and ads."
The trip left former trials world champion Rey enthusiastic about the country. "This place is beautiful," he said. "I used the opportunity for my non-profit charity, 'Wheels 4 Life' (www.wheels4life.org), and presented 12 bikes to the Bishop of Southern Leyte who will distribute the bikes to some of the survivors of the recent devastating mudslide, where the majority of the villagers (over 1000) were buried alive. I also gave some more bikes to families in need of transportation near Ormoc where we had the festival. For me it was a great joy giving these bikes out personally, especially since it was the first time since I had started my charity. I hope many thousand's of bikes will follow these ones."
Rey will next appear at this weekend's Sea Otter Classic.