As what the great Freddy Mercury once sang, I’ve always loved riding bicycles. I’ve been riding for as long as I can remember. Ironically, for something that’s played such a significant part of my life, I have no memory of when I first learned how to ride. I do not remember the day I started out with training wheels or if I ever actually used them. I do not remember the moment when I finally got my balance right and actually not let my feet touch the ground. Then again, I have a really bad memory. I do remember my first bike. Well, it wasn’t actually mine alone. I shared this bike with my younger brother. It was a kiddie BMX. FYI, I just found out that BMX actually means Bicycle Moto-cross (X). Thanks Google! The bike was blue all over. It had those standard foam inserts wrapped in synthetic leather fastened to the top tube and handle bar. This was during the mid-80s. The mag rims were plastic and the tires were solid rubber. No need to fill it up with air. It was the coolest thing in the world! Those who still have memories of getting their first bicycle know what I mean. That was the first of three important moments of my cycling life.
The second moment was when I was in high school in 1991. Coming home from school one day, I found the most awesome bike parked in the living room. It was a black Haro 26” 21-speed mountain bike. And it was mine! It wasn’t my birthday nor was it Christmas. I was nowhere near being a straight A student either so I really do not recall why my parents got me the bike. But one thing’s for sure, I loved that bike a lot. I still remember most of its parts. It had thumb shifters, Shimano Deore Bio-pace chainring, Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur, and Araya rims. I would get up at 4am every weekend and ride it around the village and even get as far off as the neighboring subdivisions. Riding that first mountain bike was what got me into cycling as a sport. What followed after that was years of joining races here and there. At 14 years old, I was already riding 70kms from CCP in Pasay to Palace in the Sky in Tagaytay. But before that, I had my fair share of “What the hell have I gotten myself into” moments. I remember my first race so vividly. It was a 70km race from CCP to Puerto Azul. The race was called the Ginsana Road Race Cycling Classic. It was sponsored by a ginseng health drink manufacturer, thus the title of the race. Funny how I came into this race feeling well prepared thinking that 5 laps around the village, about 5kms in total was enough practice. To put a long story short, by the time I crossed the finish line the race organizers were already packing up. I think it took me over 4 hours to finish the 70km race. Nearing Puerto Azul, I remember dismounting several times during the steeper sections to push the bike because I was so tired. My legs simply couldn’t turn the pedals anymore. But never did it enter my mind to call it quits. After that race, I got hooked! I would join race after race with one goal in mind. Just finish it and be awarded the finisher’s certificate! With CCP often being the starting line, I’ve raced to Nasugbu Batangas twice, Palace in the Sky, Batulao and Vista Lodge among others. Always improving my time from the last. I’ve even climbed up Baguio to Burnham Park via Marcos highway from Bauang, La Union. All this I did before I turned 16. And always in a mountain bike even though these races were all 100% on pavement.
The first time I actually went “mountain biking” where my tires were actually on dirt was what I would consider the third most important moment of my cycling life. A cousin of ours who was a member of the Greenhills Cycling Club invited my brother and I to ride in Boso-boso in Antipolo sometime in 1993. That ride was one of the greatest adventures of my life! I enjoyed every moment of it. The thrill of bombing down a trail for the first time with not a care in the world (or for my own safety) was truly a feeling unlike any other. Note that this was a time when suspension was unheard of. I was then riding a fully rigid chromoly Muddy Fox mountain bike that wasn’t even in my size. It was a harsh ride by today’s standards but it was the best harsh ride I’ve ever experienced. By the end of the day, my brother and I had the biggest smiles on our faces. I wouldn’t stop talking about it to my friends for months after that.
At 33, I still love riding bicycles and I hope to continue riding until I’m old and gray. I also hope to share my love for riding with my wife and with my kids when they get a little older. In fact, my daughter and I have already started riding around the village together. Although the farthest we’ve ridden together at one time is just a tad under 1km (she was just 2 years old at the time), I truly enjoyed that moment with her. Her face was beaming during the whole ride. Come to think of it, that ride counts as the fourth most important moment in my cycling life. I hope that unlike me, she remembers that first time she learns how to balance her bike.