Here are some tips for first time participants of FJMMA

2024 marks the 3rd installment of the FJMOTO Mountaincross Adventure (FJMMA). For those who are not familiar with this event, FJMMA is a riding challenge that demands navigational skills, adventure riding know-how, and most importantly, teamwork. The FJMMA adventure ride spans 3 days across multiple provinces in Northern Luzon and will pass through the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples.

FJMOTO Mountaincross Adventure: tips for first timers image

Teamwork goes a long way in FJMMA

 

From the FJMMA’s humble inaugural event in 2022 with 88 riders, there are already more than 200 hardcore adventure riders who registered for this year’s edition, some coming from Mindanao that include veterans of the 2023 RedBull Romaniacs – dubbed as the world’s toughest enduro race.

Whether you’re a hardcore rider or just a simple weekend adventure rider who’s looking for something that will tickle the Charlie Boorman in you, you may find these tips that we learned over the past 2 editions of FJMMA useful:

What to bring

Since FJMMA is NOT a glamping experience, participants are advised to bring all the essentials they need to finish the event, especially since the route will traverse through remote areas in the mountains. Also, prepare your bike accordingly for the event use off-road-biased tires, and install crash bars, skid plates, and luggage rack.

FJMOTO Mountaincross Adventure: tips for first timers image

Bringing camping cookware and canned goods is cool, but sometimes it's bulky and heavy on luggage

 

From our experience, cash is king in the far-flung areas so bring more than enough cash for the trip. When I say “cash is king,” I’m referring to the fact that digital money like GCash, Maya, or credit cards are simply of no use in these remote areas and mobile phone signal are mostly non-existent.

Pro tip: Bring bills or barya e.g.: 20s, 50s and 100s in the denomination. Most of the time, local stores in those areas have no change bills.

Additionally, things to include in your checklist are GPS, bike-specific tools, tire repair kit/patch, portable air pump, basic camping gear, some clothes, and some food. Bring enough but do not bring too much as overpacking it will make your luggage and bike too heavy.

FJMOTO Mountaincross Adventure: tips for first timers image

My light and compact luggage on the Triumph 900 GT

 

Speaking of luggage, we recommend using soft panniers or dry bags instead of bulky and heavy aluminum top cases and panniers.

Pro tip: Instead of bringing all the tools for your bike, try delegating to your team who’s bringing what. For example, instead of everyone bringing a tire repair kit/patch, delegate it to one member and that should cover for the whole team. If your team rides the same bike model e.g.: R 1250 GS, then one member bringing basic tools for this model should cover for the whole team.

On camping gear, you may talk with team members about who can share a tent to save on luggage weight. Also, instead of bringing camping utensils and cookware, try bringing MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) instead, which is lighter and more compact.

Don’t forget to bring your action camera to document the whole experience. Another important piece to bring is your Cardo Packtalk (or similar) communicator so that your team can communicate all the time during the ride.

During the event

During the event, some routes/sections might humble even the skilled so preparation is a must. An off-road riding lesson from Mel Aquino or other riding schools will be an advantage.

Also, utilize your Cardo Packtalk at all times during the ride. Communicating throughout the ride not only adds fun but also adds a certain degree of safety since those in the front can warn others of potential road hazards ahead. Communicating also keeps the group intact during the ride as team members can advise the others in advance on where to turn or stop.

On some stages during the event, you and your team might find yourselves in the middle of nowhere so if you can’t find a homestay and call it a day, it is best to camp while there is remaining sunlight. Camping late and in total darkness brings another set of challenges and is sometimes dangerous. Also, it might be offensive to some local customs if your team arrives in the middle of the night just to ask where to pitch your tents.

Pro tip: If there is no other option besides pitching your tents, try to find a place where your team can camp under a roof and stay dry. Examples are the local police station or barangay hall, public school, or the town’s multi-purpose hall. Just make sure to leave the place clean in the morning.

FJMOTO Mountaincross Adventure: tips for first timers image

Ride Manila-Armscor Team

 

Think outside the box. While the organizers try their best to make the FJMMA as flawless and safe as possible, some factors are already beyond everyone’s control. For example, if the weather suddenly turns bad, some rivers become swollen, and crossing it becomes impossible and dangerous.  

Instead of sitting it out and doing nothing, ask locals if there’s another route available if waiting out the rain is not an option. Also, try to scout if there’s an available bridge nearby where your team can cross safely.

Most importantly, be courteous and smile at all times, especially when interacting with the locals. Slow down when passing through local villages and barangays. If you can, bring some pasalubong or some small treats for the children along the way. You’ll be surprised how much the locals will appreciate these gestures of kindness.

Setting up the right mindset before the event is also important. So, during the event, just enjoy the experience and do not think of it as another motorcycle riding challenge where some individuals put emphasis on best time. FJMMA is NOT a race and really, no one cares about if you arrive at the finish line first or last or how many hours it took your team to finish the event. Again, just enjoy the experience, make new friends, have a beer with fellow adventure riders, have pics with other teams, and just have fun!

A different experience

With the help of The Long Riders (TLR) – an adventure riding group who loves exploring the mountains – the route will take participants deep into the Cordilleras and will pass by the Ancestral Lands of the Indigenous Peoples.

As TLR would put it, FJMMA will immerse the participants in indigenous cultures and customs and should bring back the word “adventure” in adventure riding.