The first National Bicycling Day assembly of the Philippines took off in Pasig City in a venue named ‘Tiendesitas’. Bicycle riders of all ages and genders were there to celebrate the love and passion of the cycling outdoor sport. They were about 20,000 who filled the large parking road , and you could see the myriad of bicyclists waiting for the sunrise, all taking their time on a warm Sunday morning. With security surrounding the vast congregation, different cycling groups from all over the city and the provinces gathered for a long grand ride –a first ever to make the National Bicycling Day a momentous occasion.
All types of bikes were present–simple folding bikes, commute bikes, childrens’ bikes, the majority of both mountain bikes, road bikes and vintage bikes were widespread! It was massive to observe the use of all types of electronic gadgets every minute–smartphones, digital point and shoot and professional cameras, tablets, ‘Go Pro’ helmet cameras ( the rage of gratuitous quick focused riders everywhere), The riders of all mixes seemed to know it was a memorable event for all and souvenirs are social media viral topics–both videos and photos are what online “streaming” on the web is all about.
The traffic marshalls were all the required bodyguards of the peloton people. They were quite a horde,to make the entourage free from roadside hazards–accidents are to be avoided as much as possible. As you glide along the highways when the ride already rolled, you’ll see the marshalls yelling to wayward riders who speed on two-way routes, and the guiding of the travellers in detours and sharp turns.
Without them, the cyclists would lose sight of their paths and discipline would have not been enforced.
With all the concerns of the security, the whole trip was brilliantly covered. Participants saw the different virtues of bikes: from expensive bicycles with their ease of maneuvering and lightweight luxury to the cheapest commute bikes looking dirty, heavy and with pretty much old school gears. Some had the latest models–full suspension bikes that could handle the awful terrain on some parts of damaged asphalt while Italian imports displayed high-end components and cut through the throngs of riders like a blur. It wasn’t a race–it was a thrill ride for all, as all viewers would have seen. Joining here was not a Tour de France thing nor some Olympic BMX challenge–it was a pedal to the metal joyride.
The ride ended with a lesser number of riders that reached their destination safe and sound. Others seem to have bailed out due to the 75 kilometer radius of the ride. It didn’t faze the finishers at all–no trophies, no medals nor grand prizes. But the event was a statement to the crowds along the pavements and the vehicles who saw the sweat-drenched riders –that bikes on the road will always be symbols of zero emission machinery. Bicycles are pure human power–no gas stations, no rollbacks, no diesel headaches at all. Despite the trends like electric bikes, pocket bikes (little sportbikes in dwarf sizes) and Chinese so-called “underbone” motorcycles’ which have sold like hotcakes everywhere, the presence of bicycles have shown support from the people. You can ride more races, have more fun rides, more track competitions, and more participants with the pedal-powered citizens. It won’t be until next December when this event will happen again. We all can look forward to another trek with social impact.
By Alberto, Jr. Fernandez Purugganan