7 Life lessons from an epic back-to-back century ride (Written December 28, 2015).

laguna bay loop

A rough sketch of my route (some errors at the 11 o’clock portion though)

This post is a narrative of my solo bike ride from Quezon city to the provinces of Rizal and Laguna, and back. Of course, no post of mine is not without its share of eternal lessons. It’s amazing how something so repetitive (turning cranks with your legs) could actually be quite reflective and profound. Warning: Allegories ahead. This will be a long post, so please bear with me. Alternatively, you could just read through the lessons.

Background

I promised myself that I’d be doing at least two long bike rides this Christmas break: one to Rizal, and the other to Laguna. This was in part to make sure that I burn all those excess calories, and maybe lose a bit of weight. I also wanted to know how hard long rides will be, so that I would know what level of fitness I have to expect from friends who want to join in on succeeding trips, or to simply help gauge myself before joining others on their trips. Back then, I had no idea that a straight ride of 100kms or more was commonly referred to as a century ride; nor the fact that century rides represent a milestone to most cyclists. You could probably say that this back to back century ride was a sweet accident, in more ways than one.

Preparations

While drawing up my itinerary, I noticed that Rizal and Laguna are connected, and I had the thought of turning my ride into an overnight loop around Laguna Lake. The ride, however, would be more that 200kms total. The longest ride I’ve done prior was from Tagaytay to Quezon City, which was 80+kms of mostly downhills and flat roads. That ride left me almost paralyzed the day after. Thus, 200kms in less than 48 hours seemed like biting off more that I can hope to chew. Then again, as a phlegmatic-sanguine-melancholic person, I was indecisive, spontaneous, and meticulous in planning at the same time. I thus left my options open for an “I’ll-prepare-and-decide-when-I-get-there scenario.”

I finally decided to do a daytrip to Rizal, targetting either Binangonan (60kms roundtrip), or the Bugarin Wind Farm (120kms roundtrip). For the first time, I removed as much weight as I possibly can from the bike (normally 22kgs or 48lbs) and myself  (73kgs + 4kg bag, on normal commutes). I removed my motobox and left only the rear carrier, which was clamped tightly to the seat post, to the point that I can no longer remove it. I also did not bring any bag, except for my 2.5L water bladder. All other stuff I had were stored in my jersey pockets and cargo hiking pants. I brought extra cash in case of a major road repair, or in case I decide to go overnight. In the end, these were the only things I brought:

  • Emergency tools: Bike tools and spare tube
  • Emergency and communication: Cellphone, cash, keys, emergency medicines
  • Illumination: 3 Flash lights (main light, head lamp, spare light)
  • Documentation: SJ4000 action cam (plus cam phone)
  • Protection: Bandanna, glasses, bike helmet
  • Nutrition: raisins, 2 nutri bars, wafer snacks
  • Hydration: 2L water, 500ml Gatorade
  • Bike attachments: Bike lock, speedometer, 2 bike horns, bike rack and basket.
  • Hygiene: alcohol, tissue paper, baby wipes

If this life of ours were a bicycle ride, then it would be best to bring only the things we really need, and focus on where we’re headed. 

Lesson 1: Let it go: stick to the bare essentials.

I was shocked at myself as I struggled to pack light. I struggled at the thought of not having my lockable motorcycle box, and of leaving all of its contents, including all but one bike lock, at home. I wanted to bring my large sensor digital camera (and not just take pictures using a 3 year old Cherry mobile phone). I wanted to bring my emergency poncho, or at least an extra shirt. Heck, I wanted to bring my whole fanny pack. I was attached to them in the same way Batman was to his utility belt. Yet I knew that those would only weigh me down, literally. The bag might also cause undue back strain on long rides, as it has been proven to do so.

Upon listing down the things I brought (see bullets above), I realized that they correspond to certain needs:

  • Emergency – rescue from unexpected circumstances
  • Illumination – guidance for when you are in the dark
  • Documentation – so that you won’t forget
  • Protection, nutrition, hydration, bike attachments, and hygiene – survival and sustenance

The Lord Jesus warns us of possibly turning into third-soil believers, of being Christians that have been engrossed by worldly possessions (Matthew 13:7, 22). If this life of ours were a bicycle ride, then it would be best to bring only the things we really need, and focus on where we’re headed


 

Running late

I slept a bit late the night before, and was unable to get up by 5am. To cut the long story short, I was 3 hours behind my plan, and left home at 9am. I set my dash cam to record at 1fps, and my Endomondo app to record the trip data via GPS+mobile internet. I took Katipunan-Marcos-Imelda avenue and turned left at the Ortigas extension, following the Manila East road down to Binangonan. My initial final destination was supposed to be the small port at Binangonan, but I wasn’t satisfied, and decided to go as far as I can down Manila East road by noontime, eat, and then come back. My Target Was Kata Café, still 20kms down the line from Binangonan. I got lost at one-ways around the port area, and got stuck in minor road traffic as well.

My ride was relatively uneventful until I dropped my phone 47kms into the ride, switching the phone off. It was then that I realized that mobile data chewed through my battery at a rather fast rate. This forced me to continue the ride without performance tracking (speed, elevation, etc). My dash cam also ran out of juice two hours into the trip, thus cutting my onboard visual documentation short.

I was frustrated at what happened, but then realized that at least I had enough battery power left on my phone to last until I found a charger and a socket I could use. Imagine if I used up my phone’s battery and didn’t have enough power to make a call or text if something had happened. Also, I am thankful that my phone was still working, and that it wasn’t run over by the vehicles behind me. The trike passenger behind me saw the phone and alerted the driver to not let his wheels decimate the poor contraption .


 

Lessons 2: Enjoyment over performance

While I am sad that I wasn’t able document the technical aspects of the rest of the ride (the awesome 5-km descent from Rizal to Laguna, the kids littering the country roadside asking for “pamasko” (monetary Christmas gift), the whole map of the route, total calories burned, average speed etc.), I realized that not all memories are meant to be recorded digitally. I needed to rediscover the ability to recall things from memory, and to simply enjoy the moment(s). After all, when Jesus comes and makes all things new, I’m pretty sure that will include all big data. We won’t be taking cloud drives into the new heaven and the new earth.

Lesson 3: Thankfulness

Considering the amount of broken glass (bubog) I rolled over, it was a miracle that I did not have a tire puncture during the whole duration of the trip. On a side note, I wonder why all the broken glass are always on the rightmost vehicle lane. Neither did I experience a single cramp in my legs. My phone withstood a meter high drop from a moving bicycle. All the people I encountered were extra helpful. There were no near death experiences (only trucks passing my left a foot away). These are but small things to thank God for, but we should be thankful nonetheless. I also thank God for allowing me to complete the trip, which was in itself a mental struggle.


 

IMG_20151226_134055

I reached Kata Café at close to 1pm. Tired and hungry, I was thankful that the waitress, probably seeing my state of dehydration, gave me an entire pitcher of iced water while waiting for my order. That gesture was enough for me to leave a tip – something I very seldom do in restaurants. I settled for sizzling sisig with egg and achara, plus a glass of pineapple juice. I made sure to eat slowly so as not to upset my stomach – the last thing you’d want to experience while riding in the middle of nowhere. As my headlamp is also a powerbank, I thought about charging my phone while eating lunch. Lo and behold though, I left my USB cable at home. So that means no more charging until I get home, buy one along the road, or find a place to stay.

Point of no return (Written January 2, 2016)

I had the whole lunch time to contemplate on whether I should go back the way I passed, or go forward all the way to Laguna. The former also gave options as to whether I will go home immediately or pass by Bugarin’s wind farm. Option 1 would mean reaching home by around 9pm, and, consequently, going up all the hills I went down from, either way. Option 2 would mean effectively doubling the length of my ride. Option 1 meant fast and hard. Option 2 meant slow and steady, albeit being almost twice as long. The AlDub Kalyeserye (YayaDub’s forced wedding to another guy)  playing on the restaurant’s LCD TV was by no means helping in my decision-making.

In the end, I decided to take the easier but longer scenic route. After all, why take two separate trips for Rizal and Laguna when you can combine them? This also meant that I had just committed to cycling almost 100kms more, with only a night’s rest in between.

After consuming my lunch and freshening up, I continued towards my next destination: the Bugarin wind farm. It was 14kms away, according to the Talk’n Text  sign that that I saw on the road shortly after I left Kata Café. I had no Idea about the terrain, except that on the map, the road turns zig-zagging halfway through the path. That could only mean that mountainous roads were up ahead. True enough, I was met with leg day mayhem. It was hard enough to make me think if I really did get enough rest during lunch. It wasn’t helping that suddenly, children were scattered in groups across the road, each one asking for money as goodwill for the holiday season. Actually, it wasn’t only children. There was even a point when there were adults playing cards by a house slightly uphill along the roadside. I heard an older woman shouting towards me, “kuya, pahingi naman, kahit pang tong-its lang” (sir,can you give us a little money for gambling?).

Rest stop selfie and a view of Laguna lake from above

Rest stop selfie and a view of Laguna lake from above

It was at this point that I had quite a few rest stops. Never mind that all eyes (from vehicles and bystanders) alike were on me. Never mind that I was using the granny ring (lowest gearing) and still having a hard time. I just wanted to reach that place no matter what. And reach it I did, after 90 minutes that felt like forever for my legs. There was finally that last Talk’n Text signboard and a guard outpost on the roadside, with a partially paved steep road pointing uphill. I had to disembark and walk about 200 meters since the path would have taken a toll on my legs, which I had to preserve from cramps at all costs.

Majestic Electric (-ity generating) Fans! 

There were many tourists (cyclists, motorcyclists, vehicles) taking pictures by the windmills. There is so far no entrance fee, only locals who sell refreshments and souvenirs (small windmill replicas). There was also this little kid, who begged me to buy his pack of four shelled quail eggs for 10 pesos (about 0.21 USD). In the end, I bought his wares and had a little chit chat. Sadly, I did not get a chance to eat the eggs as they were crushed later on- having been sandwiched between my back and  the water bladder, while inside the jersey pocket.

I did not have the liberty of finding anyone to talk to regarding the technical aspects of the windmills. All I know is that it has been completed, and that the overall capacity of the whole farm was 54MW. In layman’s terms, it could power 162,000 houses with power consumption similar to our house (~240kWh/mo). For low consumption rural houses, however, that could mean powering over a million houses, or probably a baranggay or two in the not-so-populated region of Pilillia. It’s capacity is almost twice that of Bangui’s in Ilocos Norte.

On the other hand, the windmills, which looked nice from afar, were pretty towering up-close. Every few seconds, the shadow of one of the blades would travel from one end of the road to the other, big enough to engulf whole vehicles at once. The sight was simply majestic. After some selfies and a bit of resting, I headed down towards the path to the main road, and continued my journey to Laguna.

Colossal windmills!

Colossal windmills!

Still cool from afar: just to give you an idea how big the wind farm is, this shot was taken just at the foot of one of the windmills. Nine other windmills can be seen spanning the horizon

Still cool from afar: just to give you an idea how big the wind farm is, this shot was taken just at the foot of one of the windmills. Nine other windmills can be seen spanning the horizon


The windmills looked cool from afar, but were much more majestic “up-close and personal”. I think the same is true with God.

Lesson 4: Drawing Near

The windmills looked cool from afar, but were much more majestic “up-close and personal”. I think the same is true with God. The gigantic white column of the windmill, when up-close, reminded me of Exodus, where God was a pillar of cloud by day; casting an equally gigantic shadow that shaded His people from the heat. God doesn’t change, only our perspective of Him does. This of course, depends, on where we stand relative to Him. The nearer we are, the “bigger” He appears to be. If we are too far from God, then we can of course, barely appreciate Him. Drawing nearer to God allows us to observe him gradually appearing “bigger”, until that point werein we realize how pathetically small we are in comparison.


 

 Never Gonna Give You Up

On the map, the “isaw manok” (chicken intestine) like winding roads extended about 5-10kms still from Bugarin. This meant that the battle was far from over, and I could only hope that a fraction of those were drops instead of climbs.

I struggled through the next few kilometers, stopping once or twice, and again dismounting to walk for a few hundred meters. The slopes seemed deceivingly flat, but somehow still sapped the strength from my legs. There was hardly any more civilization on the road. The only accompaniment were vehicles that were either overtaking or travelling towards me. There were also a few provincial buses plying the route. At one point, I considered hailing the next bus that passed by in either direction just to get a ride. But, no. I did not stop. Unless it’s a life and death situation, chickening out is not an option. Mental determination is equally important in cycling, as this video stresses. It’s when you feel pain that you push yourself to overcome. It’s the resistance that will make you stronger in the long run. Rest if you must. Stop for a while. But never turn back, until it has been completed.

Bulusok

I did not want to take note of the time at that point, but I think it was an hour at most, before I finally saw good news: downhill terrain! This was probably the happiest part of my ride. It was around 5 kilometers of zig-zagging downhill terrain – the transition from Rizal province to Laguna (Pilillia to Mabitac, if I’m not mistaken). Thank God for adequate V-brakes. I was travelling 35-40kph for around 5-10 minutes. There was a vehicle behind me that couldn’t overtake, which meant that I was travelling at near the maximum safe speed for slithering around corners. I also met a lone biker going uphill. We traded nods. I applauded the guy in my mind, as I could only cringe at how long (not to mention steep) he still has to climb. It’s a bummer that I wasn’t able to record a video. Perhaps that was meant for me to enjoy the memory, and maybe come back again. Probably with friends. Anyone interested?

Rice field sunset with the Laguna lake at the back

Rice field sunset with the Laguna lake at the back

The next leg of the ride was another hour of relatively flat terrain. I passed by towns from Siniloan and Pangil, all the way to San Juan. I was greeted by a sunset on flat terrain, but decided to spend the night in Pagsanjan – all the while passing quite a few lodges. Before I forget, since I was doing a Laguna lake loop, Laguna lake was always on my right hand side. You could say that I had a view of the lake from literally all sides, and a number of different elevations.

A Little Unwell

How I wished that I could have chanted “all is well” like Ranchoddas Shamaldas Chanchad, but that wasn’t the case for me. I was met with another steep slope, probably from San Juan to Lumban. It was steep enough for me to reconsider backtracking to the last lodge I passed by. Again, no. I had to go on. Only this time, dismounting would have been a more dangerous option. The right side was a canal (around 18 inches wide, 6 inches lower than the road), and the road only had two lanes. This meant that the road was not pedestrian friendly, and me walking would mean a higher chance of getting hit from behind, especially since it was already getting dark. I thus started the ascent on the lowest gears, pacing around 8kph. As I was doing so, I was passed by a group of happy, helmetless bikers from the opposite direction, something to be envious about.

After having finally cleared the hill, the next step was to see what lies after the blind curve. I was greeted with six big letters – L U M B A N – Finally, just one town away from Pagsanjan. I would have liked to do some picture-taking, but alas, finding a hotel before dark was top priority.

Room Hunt

The last leg of the ride was finding a place to stay at Pagsanjan. I made it a point to reach this place, as it was a known tourist destination for its falls and rivers. The 90’s youth oriented show Tabing Ilog was shot here. It was past 6pm and already dark. I slowed down my pace and turned on eagle vision – searching left and right for the first signboard that offered a decent and reasonable place to stay for the night. Finally, I saw a lighted sign leading towards a narrow one-way road with the word “Inn” written on it (Tropical Inn). Without hesitation, I turned left and was greeted by two male attendants. Nevermind that it was most likely a motel. All I needed was a place to sleep. The good news was, they had a room available. But wait, there’s more…

Treasure Hunt

My final mission for the night was to buy clothes and toiletries, and eat dinner. The Inn staff informed me that there was a mall (CLA town center) 5 to 10 minutes away (though by what mode of transport, I don’t know). They also reserved the room for me and encourage me to check in later after going to the mall. It was a good call on their part, as they charge extra for each excess hour or fraction thereof. The 5 to 10 minutes they spoke of was actually only 2 minutes by bike, as the mall was only a few hundred meters down the road.

There happened to be no bicycle parking, so I just found the most immobile thing I could lock my bike to, and then went inside. I bought a USB charger, and then entered their department store, which was actually a Puregold branch. My attention was called by the guard, apparently, no bags were allowed inside. I was too tired to explain what a hydration bladder was, and went ahead to deposit my bladder bag and helmet at the package counter. Upon attempting to enter a second time, she inspected all of the contents of each of my jersey pockets. I felt like I was being singled out because of how I look. In dismay, I sarcastically remarked if they don’t even allow people to bring in contents from their pockets (my bike pump and all removable  bike accessories were all in my pockets since I did not have a proper bag with me).

I bought clothes for the overnight stay and some basic toiletries. The good news was, there were clothes on sale that fit me. The bad news was, these were either in pairs (buy one take one) on in triads. Two sandos for 99 pesos (2.15 USD), two SnS-like shorts, also for 99 pesos (2.15 USD), and a 3-pack of briefs for 107 pesos (2.33 USD), who was I to complain. The only thing that wasn’t on sale was the pair of socks. After checking out, I looked around for a place to eat. Preferrably not rice. Luckily, there was a dine in branch of Lotsa Pizza. I ate a whole medium pizza, paired with a can of root beer. Happy to find that my bike was still intact, I headed back to the inn, hoping that a room would be ready for me.

No Rest for the Wicked?

It was almost 8pm when I got back. A room with cable TV and air conditioning was waiting for me. I bought additional hydration from the counter, as there was no refrigerator in the room. The attendant told me that I could bring my bike inside the room. Sweet. Upon entering, the first task I had was to charge my digital devices. I only had one charger, and though the saleslady had tested it, the charger apparently had some quirks:  the wire had to be bent and stretched a certain way to be able to deliver power to the device. I got it to work after around 10 minutes. After solving that problem, I of course, took a very refreshing cold shower.

Let's call it a night!

Let’s call it a night!

I had to partially charge my cellphone to be able to text back home regarding my whereabouts and physical condition. While doing so, I was able to watch the ending of Big Hero 6 on TV. Afterwards, I switched to charging my action camera. I found out that I had to hold it in place during charging, because of the charger’s peculiarity. I thus decided to watch the next movie – Real Steel, while waiting for my action camera to charge to full capacity. The movie ended around 11pm, but my action camera was not even charged to 50% capacity!

The saleslady apparently wasn’t lying that when she mentioned that the charger was slow. Actually, her words were, there was a fast charger, and a regular charger. I took the regular one as it was cheaper, and the fast charger was only a cable, it did not have a wall adaptor included. It was the slowest USB charger I have ever encountered in my life. The amperage rating did not match the calculated time to full charge. This means that it’s possible to have only one of two digital devices fully charged by morning. It goes without saying that the phone is more important. I thus plugged in the phone before attempting to sleep.

I say “attempt”, as I found it hard to sleep. My body felt extra warm, and my nasal passages were both clogged. You would of course know that it’s not natural to breathe through the mouth while sleeping. To add to that, I am a person who is “namamahay” (not to be confused with the alipin class, this is an adjective for someone who finds it hard to sleep in an unfamiliar place that he or she does not consider home). I think I got to sleep past 2am. My rest was intermittent, and I finally decided to get up past 7am. The good news was, I did not experience leg cramps while at rest. That would have made it impossible for me to conquer the second day.

Day 2

Not wanting to start the day at 9am again, I quickly took a bath and got dressed (with yesterday’s cycling clothes), packed all my belongings, and went to find the nearest available employee for checking out. I think it was past 8:30am. While waiting, I saw the rates posted on the wall that I did not bother to read the night before. Apparently, the 800 pesos (17.39 USD) was for a 12-hour stay. They charged 80 pesos for every excess hour, and I was apparently on my 13th hour. The full day was 1,100 pesos (23.91 USD). I was contemplating resting some more and just paying for the additional hours, but I needed to get back home by afternoon since we were supposed to have a family pictorial, I thus paid and left promptly.

Realizing that I had to make a lot of frequent stopovers, I decided to mount my dash cam on my helmet instead. I was barely able to use it though, as it had little charge left. It did serve as a good deterrent from vehicles that may have otherwise acted haphazardly in my presence. I also received many looks from  bystanders, especially children, one of whom even exclaimed, “CCTV!”.

A random encounter

I rode from Pagsanjan towards the neighboring towns of Laguna via the National road. I was passed by a couple of cyclists. Apparently, it was customary for most cyclists to either wave, nod, or ring a bell to fellow cyclists along the way. As I was contemplating where to eat breakfast (fast food would be a safe bet, for food safety reasons), another lone cyclist, who introduced himself as sir Errol, pulled up beside me and engaged me in small talk. When he found out that I was travelling solo and doing the Laguna loop back to Quezon city, he quickly offered me a nutri bar and some tips on where to have breakfast. He mentioned “Iskargu” (short for Isda, Karne, Gulay, no kidding, it was the actual name of the restaurant), which was apparently still an hour or so away. We pedaled at a pace of 15-20kph while engaging in conversation. I later found out that he was already on his way home from a morning ride, and that he was a mechanical engineer working for the local water district. He also had a daughter who studies in UP Diliman under one of my faculty friends. He used to ride to work before, but now only does so on weekends and free time. It’s cool because he also rides with his wife every so often (relationship goals? J). After about 10-15 minutes, we reached his house by the roadside, where I was greeted by his family members. They offered me a cold water refill and another nutria bar for the ride. As I am a person whose love language is “acts of service”, being served by strangers is always a delight for me. After thanking them, we parted ways, and I continued on my hunt for breakfast. Not surprisingly, I found and FB request from him by the time I got home later.

Photo op with your neighborhood Samaritan on wheels, sir Errol

Photo op with your neighborhood Samaritan on wheels, sir Errol


If such small acts could touch my life, how much could I touch others’ lives by doing the same?

Lesson 5: Being that stranger

Thus far, I had been blessed with encountering 3 strangers whose small acts of kindness contributed to making the trip better and more memorable: the waitress at Kata Café, the Inn attendant, and sir Errol. There were times that I myself wanted to be the good Samaritan (see my other posts: Jumpstart and A Modern day Parable) to strangers (like a couple of kids seemingly lost in their commute), yet I let my introversion get the best of me. Being a believer is not limited to being bold in sharing God’s good news of reconciliation to man, but also in initiating acts of kindness (or good deeds, Ephesians 2:10). If such small acts could touch my life, how much could I touch others’ lives by doing the same?


Food Hunt

Spontaneity and indecision kicked in while I was looking for a place to eat. I saw a 7-11 branch about 10 minutes into the ride and decided to have my breakfast and restocking there. It has been my habit to grab a bite (hotdog/siopao/donuts) and proper hydration (sports drinks like Gatorade) at 7-11s whenever I had inter-city rides. As expected, I grabbed a hotdog sandwich and filled the largest cup with lots of ice and Gatorade. After paying, I sat down and started consuming my food – all the while watching my parked bike outside. After sipping my drink, I realized that it tasted like water. I knew that they usually stock Blue Bolt in the dispenser, but that didn’t stop me from not asking the store personnel upon seeing that the color was closer to that of water. Upon informing the counter personnel, he suggested that I just dispose of the contents and refill it with another beverage. Thank God. After eating, I emptied the liquid contents of my cup into an empty Gatorade bottle and placed it on my bike rack. I also stuffed all the remaining ice into my water bladder to hopefully extend my cold water supply until lunch time (cycling lifehack J).

After “breakfast” I traversed the flatlands of Santa Cruz and Calauan, all the way to Los Baños. I saw the UPOU to my left just after entering Los Baños’ vicinity. There was a group of three bikers that almost match pace with me while traversing through parts of Los Baños with moderate to heavy traffic. We were alternately overtaking each other.The scorching heat took its toll, and I took a break under one of the waiting sheds along the highway in Calamba. A few moments later, I was again overtaken by the three young cyclists. I ate one of the bars that sir Errol gave me, and drank from my hydration bladder, which by now was already warm. It was past 11am, and I was already wondering where I would eat lunch. I was not really feeling hungry, so I decided to pedal for about another hour or so.

Come 12:20, I was already feeling the dehydrating effects of the sun’s heat. Sadly, there were not many restaurants around as I was in the less busier parts of Cabuyao. Thankfully, another 7-11 was in sight. Ahh, thank God for air conditioning! I didn’t want to eat rice, and obviously not another hotdog as well. The only not so snackish option left was their siopao. This time, they also had blue Gatorade in stock. I took the largest cup, and added a chocolate milk drink as well, for some variety and protein.  All in all, I took a break of around 30 minutes, and continued on my way.

Memory Lane

Passing by Santa Rosa made me all nostalgic, as I worked there from 2010 to 2012. I also realized that I was no longer as familiar with the place, being slightly disoriented upon seeing the supposedly familiar landmarks. This was partly because of the fact that I was rarely plying the highway back then, since we were on the side of Santa Rosa that was closer to Tagaytay.

Detour into the Unknown

On the map, I realized that there was a road with many names somewhat parallel to Manila South road, but was disturbingly close to Laguna Lake. This road could be found from Laguna, and continues all the way to Pasig, ending as it meets perpendiculary with Ortigas avenue. I decided to take a detour on this road somewhere along the way, as the Manila South road was veering further and further away from Laguna Lake. Furthermore, I didn’t like the thought of passing through the East Service Road. Upon stopping over at another 7-11 in Muntinlupa, I decided to take that detour. I took a right at Bruger street, and a left at San Guillermo. This was a minor road that was somewhat parallel to the PNR railway, and at some points along the road, you could see Laguna lake on the right side. There was also a very large factory there with smokestacks that towered probably more than 30 storeys high. I found out later on from my dad that the road I passed would often be flooded because of its proximity to the lake. In contrast, it was bone dry when I passed by, to the point that there were people customarily tossing water onto the almost steaming-hot asphalt road.

I passed by Muntinlupa and Alabang, stopping by a roadside store for another snack break. The safest bet I had were fried foods. Just my luck, they had freshly cooked Turon (fried plantains in caramelized spring roll wrappers?) at 5 pesos each. I ate one piece, together with a bottle of carbonated lime soda. I think this helped prevent cramps for the last leg of my ride.


Lesson 6: Taking the Road-less-travelled

Growing up, I was not one to try new things, or at least not alone. I only took up photography and Taekwondo because my brother did too. While at some point, I did learn to value exploration, I’d say that among us siblings, I was the least explorative. The fact that I pushed through with this ride is an *achievement unlocked* in itself. To add to that, the detour I took at 7-11 Muntinlupa was another symbolically monumental decision: it was a road that I had utterly zero knowledge or expectations of. I knew what provincial roads looked like, but this one? I didn’t even know if it had one lane. My largest fear was that I made a wrong turn and it ended up as a road directly beside the railroad tracks. I took it simply because I knew that distance-wise, it would be a sort of a shortcut compared to taking the service road.

In life, there are many decisions that would lead to uncertainty. Many Old Testament heroes had to follow the unknown. They had to blaze the trail, and make one where there was none, or travel along a dimly lit path. Of course, that’s where faith kicks in.


 

Final Stop

Upon reaching Pasig, I took another detour and found my way out to C5. I crossed an uphill bridge that traversed the Pasig river, and eventually came out under the Rosario/Kalayaan flyover. I was running low on fluids so I decided to take another stopover. There was a gas station with a Mini Stop prior to reaching Eastwood. Sadly, they didn’t have a Gatorade dispenser. I decided to take an energy drink instead, to help me climb the last set of ascents leading up to Katipunan and UP Diliman.

Into the “Home Stretch”

The ascent from C5 to Katipunan is a place where I often see riders dismount and either walk, or take a break altogether. I made it through without walking, but then, there was still the ascent across Blue Ridge, and finally, the Katipunan flyover. I can feel all of my reserves being depleted, and the lactic acid building up like a brewing storm. Nonetheless, seeing how relatively close I was to home, the sense of relief and comfort dominated my other feelings. I was travelling quite slowly at this point, and perhaps half a dozen cyclists zoomed past me within a few minutes, especially during that climb along UP Town Center.

The last hazard I had to face was veering left while there were speeding 18-wheelers to my left. It would have been sad if I were to get hit by a truck barely a kilometer away from home. I had to sprint up to speed and aggressively take the lane so as not to be overtaken by the speeding vehicles behind me (this is the only stretch of the Katipunan avenue no longer controlled by traffic lights, so the vehicle do speed up quite a bit). Thankfully, the energy drink did the job in giving me that final boost. I was finally able to turn left towards the UP Diliman Magsaysay guard house, and coast half of the way home.

I got home a few minutes past 5pm, logging in almost 103km for the day, and 210km for the whole trip. What’s most surprising was that my legs were still ok. If there was anything that was more sore, it would be my arms and butt. Both are points of contact with the bicycle, and consistently supported my body weight throughout the ride.

Double century: numbers don't lie

Double century: numbers don’t lie

 

Unbelief

When a friend first mentioned that they did the 120km Bugarin windmill trip in a day (12 hours total ride time) I seriously doubted that I could accomplish a similar feat. I guess I just proved myself wrong. The fact that I did a loop (ending where I started) means that my total ascent technically equaled my total descent. Essentially, that meant I eventually climbed up as much as I descended, or that in a way, I was able to climb up all those steep descents. What makes it more amazing is that I made this trip using a heavy 40 pound bike with pretty small 20 inch wheels!

So, that’s the story of my unplanned epic ride. The mere fact that this post has exceeded 6,000 words just means that it really was memorable for me. Overall, I do not regret having used up 34 hours of my life (and 2 days of vacation leave) for this. Add to that the more than 8 hours I spent writing this article. Both the ride and writing about it was meditative, contemplative, and exhaustive at the same time. It was actually like some sort of spiritual retreat on wheels.


We cannot love what we don’t understand. How can you love God if you don’t know what pleases and displeases Him. Would your special someone feel special if you gave him/her an article of clothing in a cut and color that he/she abhors?

Lesson 7: Love/understand your body

The body of the believer is said to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. We honor God with our bodies. That also means we have to maintain our bodies properly. God made our bodies with many feedback mechanisms, all of which are essential to proper functioning. Pain keeps us in check, and discourages us from damaging our bodies. Hunger and thirst allow us to refuel before we go on running on negative.

I realized that the reason I often had cramps at much shorter distances (<40km) was because I pushed my legs beyond their limit. I felt the pain from lactic acid building up, bud did not react properly. From this ride, I realized that the way I ride made each leg prone to different types of craps. The left leg was prone to cramps above the calf and behind the knee, while the right leg, on the calf itself. Thus, upon starting to feel pain, I would reduce speed, use the painful leg less, and do stretches while riding.

Looking at my ride time, I also realized that I could have saved probably 30 minutes to an hour if I did not stop while eating snacks (100-300 calorie carbohydrate rich foods). Most cyclists learn to eat while riding. This often meant using only one hand to navigate and operate the brakes. This is something that I have not mastered yet, and obviously cannot do while being overtaken by trucks or being surrounded by pedestrians from all directions, including those descending from public transport vehicles that make sudden stops in front of you. Safety is more important shaving off half an hour.

We cannot love what we don’t understand. How can you love God if you don’t know what pleases and displeases Him. Would your special someone feel special if you gave him/her an article of clothing in a cut and color that he/she abhors? If this applies to God and our other relationships, then this also to our bodies. Are we prone to certain lifestyle diseases? Do our physiological patters (sleeping, eating, working) allow for the healthy maintenance of our bodies? We only have one life to live, and one body to live it in, so we better make the best use of it. We will be accountable to God for it, in the end.


 

Sorry for the very long post. I hope I did not waste your time

Here’s a cycling potato!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Lessons, life in general and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 7 Life lessons from an epic back-to-back century ride (Written December 28, 2015).

  1. ykw says:

    Nice long read, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s