A bicycle ride at the beginning of more or less a hundred kilometers can excite or scare the hell out of you. But either of the two, all long-distance cycling begins with a single pedal stroke. And I will start this blog by quoting John F. Kennedy: Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike. And that is to say what more, than knowing that you have a long-drawn-out road ahead of you.
I know this blog has been on hiatus for over a month but if there’s one update that I’d like to let you all know is that cycling is currently my happy pill. I can say that because while working from Mondays to Fridays, there’s nothing I always look forward to other than riding my bike. And I think it is slowly turning out to be one of the highlights of my 2020. That’s for sure.
The first ten feet
Just like many plans that do not exactly work and with many who backs out, it was me and down to five other people who left QC at 3 in the morning: Joyce, Daniel, and David, whom now I consider my cousins from another family, and David’s pals Cedric and Julius – the three boys standing by the globe in Mall of Asia on this blog’s featured photo only because their photo is worth featuring.
The first few pedal strokes in the early hours after midnight were phenomenal. Cycling with the fresh morning breeze against our faces and savoring the rare moment of uninterrupted silence just before the sun comes up is indeed one of the most relaxing and underrated things in the world.
It was pretty much a great shot of adrenaline to be doing what I have looked forward to so badly. Even without sleep, I almost feel like I could fly by just riding my bike. And it was this time that I was on good terms with the excellent job of my insomnia.
First stop-over: Mall of Asia
The thing about riding out in the wee hours of the morning is that you get full access to the roads of Manila all to yourself. Well not really, but most likely. It’s amazing how it gives you a different vibe at that given time of the day comparing when you cycle through it at night. With the adrenaline rush still kicking in, we made our first stop-over at MOA after riding out to recharge ourselves with dark chocolates and drinks packed with electrolytes.
Busy Las Piñas
Probably my least favorite part was when we pedal along with the busy city of Las Piñas. It was already before sunrise when we raced side by side with other cyclists, motorbikes, cars, and jeepneys. I would say that I hated it only because I don’t like much the pressure of tight roads full of cars and whatnot.
It was also where Julius accidentally fell off of his bicycle due to unforeseen circumstances. Because cycling throws up plenty of obstacles, unknown territory, and high-speed split-second considerations. Thankfully, he was okay and no harm was done.
So kids, always be careful.
Good morning, Dasmariñas!
One of the many signs that we knew we were on the right track was the Welcome to Dasma sign.
The uphill of Silang, Cavite
First of all, can I just say that bike touring this town is not for the faint-hearted? It was where when our legs screamed stop and our lungs were bursting, and we knew that’s when it starts. Silang is nothing but a long uphill and playing between the easier gears of your bike is a must all for the glory of seeing the panoramic view of Taal in the flesh.
Maybe the best rides are the ones where you bite off much more you can chew, and you live through it.
I think that’s where we spent most of our time in between the buko juice stopovers while searching for tubeless bike tire pumps. It was the bit where it was most tiring. But we knew that if we never confront pain, we were missing the essence of cycling to Tagaytay. And when it’s hurting, that’s when we can make a difference.
Arriving at Tagaytay
It was already 11:00 am when we came on the scene in front of Tagaytay Rotonda. It was incalculable in a way that the thought of something impossible became possible in the making of almost eight hours of cycling.
Even though going up from Silang to Tagaytay City was on a slow pace, the stopover in front of Rotonda gave me the same feeling when I arrived at the finish line of my first full marathon: funny, amazing, and priceless.
Along the way from Silang to Tagaytay City, we only grabbed light snacks like kwek-kwek, kikiam, and siomai from one of our stopovers to keep ourselves alive. So after some photo ops, we decided to continue cycling under the scorching lunch sun for what typical people as tourists in Tagaytay would do: fill our tummies with Bulalo and Tawilis.
It was only after lunch when we passed the arc of Alfonso to slide the long way down to Indang where we made our impromptu reservation to spend the night over. The camp was more or less 13 KM from the restaurant where we had our lunch.
Holy shit, I told myself.
But I wasn’t expecting that it’s going to be my most favorite part of the ride – you know that thing when you see someone cute and he smiles and your heart kind of goes like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well, that’s what it’s like when we were cycling downhill to Indang. Only it’s better. And yep, that’s some Rebecca Bloomwood in there.
It was a straight and long flawless road surrounded by giant trees that welcomed our spinning tires. To ride our bicycle in the shade on a fine day around verdure was perfect refreshment. Not to mention the smell of freshly cut grass with a balanced earthy aroma similar to a summer petrichor. It was perfect. And every single one of us was just so happy to be experiencing that moment of joy. Thus any bicycle you’re riding, if used rightly, can cure most troubles our spirit is heir to.
Anyway, the place is called Alta Rios Camp. We were eyeing a private transient house with a pool but with no definite plan prior to this trip, we ended up finding this lovely place online same day of check-in. The place feels like a wide eco-park with big pools and spacious family rooms. It offers camping, river trekking, and other team-building activities.
We checked-in exactly 2 in the afternoon and had the most satisfying nap while waiting for our friends Marvin, Shy, Ara, and Abe who will be joining us for the night. They drove on a pickup car carrying our bags full of clean clothes.
Cycling back home: Tagaytay to Quezon City
Upon checking out, we made arrangements with the front desk if they could send us back with our bikes to Tagaytay City via L300. Only because cycling another 13KM of uphill was something we couldn’t afford. HAHA!
By 5 p.m., the weather went pretty cold when we started cycling back to Rotonda. Since it was Sunday afternoon, it was hella traffic all around this alternative summer capital of the Philippines.
To make the long cycling back home story short we:
- Got ourselves light snacks
- Soaked in the cold rain along Silang
- Met a huge group of bikers who rescued our flat tires.
- Reached Manila at 10 in the evening
- Stopped over at our favorite Buko stop in Congressional Avenue
- Arrived back safely by midnight
(And thanks to Daniel and David for driving me back home. Love you both!)
Pain is temporary; pride is forever.
I will say this again, that while the pain in our legs from cycling comes and goes, the pride we experience from achieving such accomplishment will never fade. And I also learned that it is never precisely the destination – nor the in between water breaks, uphill struggles, and sliding downhill during the ride that makes it an interesting journey, but the company you’re cycling with.