To kick off the start of summer, I said yes to Patrick Joson’s invite for a Fondo Manila recon ride last Saturday. It was to be my first bike ride outside of the secure village we’ve been training in the past weeks. The only other time I ever rode out in the open was at Subic during last year’s Next Step Tri Camp. Never again until last Saturday.
Here are 5 things I learned from that day:
1) Don’t look stupid. You’ll never know who’s watching.
It was my first bike out in cleats. I thought we were going to be three or four in the group, but when I showed up at Starbucks Alabang, we numbered around 30. 30! And they all looked like pros. Crap!
When everyone started to take off chatting and laughing, I was almost back in kindergarten replaying everything Pat had taught me about the basics: Step 1: pedal down, Step 2: two lock in, Step 3: pull pedal up…skate, skate, skate… (See the look of confusion on my face below)
Unbeknownst to me, it was oh no one but Richard Gutierrez on my left with perhaps this thought bubble in his head: “This girl is perfect for comic relief on Survivor!”
2) Ride like a school of fish…even if you feel like you’re drowning
A lot of people won’t believe me when I say this, but it’s the truth: I’m anti-social. I’m a solo flight kinda girl. Don’t get me wrong. I like you! I like meeting people! But, most of the time, I enjoy my independence, the solitude, and my time alone.
I learned from Pat that day that, to keep safe from vehicles, cyclists always ride as one, like a school of fish or a flock of birds. And, if you’re lagging behind—which, in this case, I was—then you must always try your best to catch up. Pedal away even if you’re tired, or out of breath, or dying of thirst because you still can’t let go of the handle bars to grab your bottle.
3) Biker dudes…or cycling dudes…or cyclists…whatever you call ’em are a friendly bunch.
Strangely, I always thought cyclists were a cliquish bunch. They always biked in groups and always had shades on. (Who would’ve known shades were used to shield them from the sun and dust and not to keep potential friends away?)
Most of the time, I kept to myself. Riding alone on the road even when the others biked in pairs. But, every now and then, a friendly biker would pass by and exchange a few words of encouragement or friendly chit chat. My next goal is to be able to chat while occasionally looking at the person I’m chatting with. Methinks it was quite impolite for me to talk to them with my eyes directed straight towards the road the entire time.
4) Saddle f&#@!! sores are a major bummer. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. Okay, maybe I would since it’s just extreme pain in one day that goes away the next.
I have never screamed so many curse words in my head in such a short period of time. As we were climbing up the road (I think towards Amadeo. I have no clue really because I was going insane by this time), I could not think of anything else but the pain down there. Saddle sores are a soft word for such awful, excruciating, hellish pain. I would rename it to: saddle f&#@!! sores.
I used thick-padded bike shorts. I used petroleum jelly and a bit of Hammer Seat Saver. But oh noooo, nothing was enough to prevent saddle sores that day. Friends said I just need more saddle time. If that’s what it takes to drive this problem away, then let’s do it.
5) Have fun.
Despite throwing in the towel at 30k to prevent brain hemorrhage from the pain of saddle sores, I enjoyed myself that day. I checked the time as I was headed home: 8 am. I spent two hours out on the road. My mind instantly thought: I should’ve used those 2 hours for a 21k run instead… But, I caught myself and realized that it was all in great fun. Looking forward to my next bike ride…hopefully with a new saddle!
Thank you to Peter Capocao and Patrick Joson for the photos.