I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…


AS a kid, my very first bike was a cross between the utility bicycle of the 1970s used by its rider to deliver newspapers or sell pandesal and those called “easy riders” complete with tussles and a back rest—the handle bars were also unique with their U-shaped designs.

Fast forward to the 1990s when the mountain bike was the in thing for riders. I had one made of steel and man, was it heavy. I repainted the frame from yellow and then light blue—prompting a neighbor to egg me that my bike could be useful for the MMDA’s blue-uniformed traffic enforcers.

My MTB wasn’t state-of-the-art, it was simply a bike, one that can get me around, give out a sweat and go where ever I wished especially on roads where the four-wheeled kind get stuck in snail-paced traffic all the time.

Fast forward to the 2000s when I got seriously involved in cycling, having been elected as a board member of the national sports association for cycling known by its alias PhilCycling.

I vigorously helped organize the return of the fabled Tour of Luzon, handled and managed the national cycling team, attended major competitions abroad, and even got schooled in a commissaires’ course in Aigle, Switzerland, home base of the sport’s world governing body UCI for International Cycling Union.

And because I got hooked with the road discipline of cycling, it was out with the MTB in favor of the road bike—that bicycle called racers in the past.

I cycled as often as I could, particularly on weekends and days off. I actually preferred the outdoors on my bike than the cool but enclosed edifice called the malls.

I sweat, I had mud and dust all over, especially on my back—I abhor mud pads or protectors—and I smelled like the sun and earth combined after every ride.

I also was a soloist in the sense that I have this love for speed. I don’t join clubs for the simple reason that joining one means dozens of stopovers for merienda or lunch or a refreshing buko juice.

Then came Covid. All are stuck at home. No cars on the streets. No buses or jeepneys. But I had my bike with me, a road bike—a medium-sized frame though that I looked like I’m pedaling a BMX.

Lucky for me, my job privileged me an APOR—Authorized Person Outside of Residence—ID card. So off to the deserted streets and even EDSA I biked with, yes, authority.

And the rest is cycling history, so to speak, of the post-pandemic era.

The government allowed cycling to be the logical mode of transportation during the pandemic because first and foremost, you’re alone when you bike and social distancing is practiced on the road and pedaling promotes a healthy body.

Thousands of Filipinos took to cycling like they took on the mobile phone, doing nothing else but look down on their gadgets scrolling no end.

The bicycle offered relief from the  months of lockdown. People on bikes agree they’ve never felt healthier. A regular routine on bikes—going to and from the office, running errands or simply enjoying the view in the company of friends and relatives—produced instant health buffs.

There are actually no accurate statistics on how many bicycles were sold in late 2020 and the entire 2021, but just by looking around, the bicycle boom hit town—viral.

With the BusinessMirror “Coming of Age” in the paper’s 18th year anniversary, and so do many who embraced the bicycle as if their lives and health depended on the two-wheeled equipment that drew one of great phrases from one great mind, Albert Einstein, who said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Cycling for me is on a par with swimming—but doing laps in a pool means you need to have a swimming pool, while in cycling, all you need is a bike. And road bikes are the best, they give you optimum control and in the advent of the carbon frames, makes cycling so easier…they make you a star on the road, too, as kids tend to call your attention when they recognize a carbon frame by saying “Carbon…loading!”

Amid the bicycle boom, I got this one chance to take a ride around Manila with BusinessMirror lensmen—hepe Nonie Reyes, Roy Domingo and ex-BM photographer Rhoy Cobilla, along with IT man Obet Rea. It was fun, we got to tour MOA and had lunch in Binondo.

The not-so-fun part, however, was they’re too slow, not my kind of pace—read back and you’ll see why…I love speed.

I have yet to ride again with these guys although going solo—read back once more—is my kind of thing. I have been to as far north as Pagudpud with my Giant, got to ride Vigan’s cobbles, toured my native Dagupan City several times, got to explore towns in Pangasinan eventually learning that they’re actually not so distant from each other.

In the Metro, my route’s always been Marikina and the western most part of Pasig City. Twice or thrice a week’s a ride to remember and savor. Never mind the belchers and the traffic with cars and motorcycles “sharing” the road by breaching the unprotected bicycle lanes.

It’s always been fun riding a bike. Like a boy getting extremely excited about a basketball for his birthday or a bicycle for his graduation, that’s how I see my bike.

I’m coming of age—three years ahead of my senior citizenship—but Giant’s been good to me—he keeps me going.

Image credits: Jun Lomibao

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