How are you? It’s been a long while since I last posted a blog using this platform. In case you’re wondering, I’ve been into cycling a LOT. And I could have written a lot of riding-my-bike stories, like the one when I took the 230 km route of Laguna Loop, that one time I joined the difficult gravel race, or how I accidentally got an avalanche of followers on TikTok.
But a writer’s block is what happened to your boy here.
Anyway, after all this time of taking a break away from writing, I realized that burnout will really have you taking a pause not just weeks or months. Sometimes it takes years to mend a soul and perhaps a broken heart.
And here I am, trying to get back into writing — a passion I once really love.
The 2022 Mileage Goal
First of all, I’d like to let you all know the goal that I set to achieve at the beginning of 2022. And that is to cycle a total mileage of 15,000 km. I only needed 82.1 km when I was contemplating whether or not I’m taking this challenge. And honestly, my original plan was to take the shortest mileage which was 30 km. But then I’ve been told that I should probably take the middle mileage which was 50 km because the shortest category would be too short for me. So I said okay.
I couldn’t say that I took a good night’s sleep that night. As they say, no one looks back on their life and remembers the night they had plenty of sleep. All I know, I was already up before I could even hit the first snooze of my alarm.
My conscientious self left our house at 2:22 in the morning. I’ve only done it a few times. But riding out into the wee hours of the morning is just so extraordinary. I don’t know, but pedaling in the dark with the city lights as your guide kind of mixes your emotions up. Thanks to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s classical pieces for keeping me sane and grounded for times like this.
I cycled a total distance of 22.26 km. That’s how long the gap is between where I live and the meet-up place where I’m going to meet cyclist friends. It took me almost an hour before I reach this place we all call “Shellibee”. It’s a Jollibee next to Shell station on Marcos Highway. Probably one of the most famous rendezvous when the ride is going to Antipolo.
Taking the pinagbabawal na teknik (forbidden technique), we drove in Donn’s car going to one of my favorite coffee ride destinations and the venue of this bike challenge; Hinulugang Taktak National Park in Antipolo, Rizal.
It was already 5 minutes past 4 a.m. when we parked the car and started assembling our bikes. People probably did not expect me to arrive this early because early ride-outs are not for me anymore lately.
Anyway, Donn, Jann, and Aldrian were all taking the longest category of this challenge. And while having my name registered, I screwed the 50 km and took the 100 km instead.
Because I told myself, why not?
A chill Gran Fondo for December wouldn’t hurt, right?
The first few pedal strokes will always be the hardest
We kicked off the Taktak 100 km challenge at a chill pace. Because 1.) this is not a race. And finishing fast is not entitled to any cash prize or medals. 2.) It is completely dark. There are street lights, of course, but not enough to give me the confidence to be like butter sliding down hot toast on the descending part of the track.
After a little while of cycling at 6:18 a.m., it started pouring. It was a score between a drizzle and rain — too strong to consider a drizzle and not enough to say it was rain. But sure it was just enough to make the street wet. And I was super darn pissed because as usual, I didn’t have a fender and I was wearing a light-colored jersey.
But we cycled 34.6 km already! It’s too late to back up now.
So, we continued cycling.
The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops. Eventually.
63 km in, the gloomy mood of the Antipolo morning was wiped up with ceremonious clear skies and splendid sunrise. No trace of the showers that we experienced except for the dirty bikes packed and splashed with a streak of muddy water.
Picking any segments and doing ride repeats of it for 100 km can sound a little daunting. But it is not really that difficult unless you’re doing it alone. In my case, it was so nice to do it next to 300 more cyclists and it’s awesome to know that we all share the same goal!
On regular basis, when I was doing a Gran Fondo at Neo, for example, reaching 75 km in is when I started to get anxious about whether or not I’ll still push for a hundred.
Doing it in Taktak was different. It feels like doing it in the middle of a festival or something. Everyone was cheery, joyful, and supportive. I guess that’s something other organizers should consider when doing events like this and not just provide electrolyte drinks and easy-to-eat, high-carbohydrate options. Being supportive of participants is what really quenches every part of them.
Just keep cycling, just keep cycling.
All throughout this feat, I do not remember a single dull moment. The event was packed with bright and lively greetings. I remember listening to a lot of fantastic cycling stories of the cyclists that brought them here to this event. And boy, was I inspired by them.
Being passionate about cycling has opened a lot of doors for me. But the best part is, I met so many amazing individuals! Just like Kristoffer Martin, who is a famous actor. I remember this one time many years ago when I was still working as a barista. I was borrowed to duty at this Starbucks Store near the TV Network that he is working with. And Kristoffer was there sleeping on the sofa in the cafe. After many birthdays, who would have thought I’d be close to him?
And a lot more cyclists from different walks of life, photographers, they all make me a better version of myself every day.
Anyway, going back to the story, time seems like it quickly passed by when we were continuously cycling along Daang Bakal Road. The next thing I know was seeing 100 km flashing proudly from my bike computer. The triumphant feeling of arriving at the finish line was satisfyingly pleasing!
I felt a little pain somewhere around my knees after cycling 100 km with an elevation gain of 1600 m. And that is to say, that bike fitting is hella important! It prevents injuries and it increases comfort.
I just want to thank Team Taktak for the successful event, and for having such a vibrant cycling community that welcomes everyone home. You guys rock!
Albert Einstein said that life is just like a bicycle. To keep our balance, we must keep moving. And while wearing the 100 km finisher’s medal made me feel honored, it felt grand because it’s so nice to get back into writing.
Happy Holidays, friends!