Ride of My Life

What do you get when you pair up an 8-km mountain bike ride with a girly-girl with zero cycling experience? One heck of a good time. — Larissa Joson, Writer, Women’s Health Magazine

The great outdoors and I mix like oil and water: we don’t. The only kind of mud I can get in contact with comes in scrub formula, and I prefer that interaction happen in a spa.

Bike Tour Company

But when bike tour company Beyond Outdoor Adventures invited me to try out one of their day tour bike routes, I still said yes — the whole idea of touring the Philippines on a bike had me listening. I had yet to go on a tour here that didn’t involve me taking photos behind a bus window, and it turns out, the guys behind Beyond Outdoor Adventures were thinking the same thing when they set up shop in 2011. “There are some sights that you can only access with a bike”, says managing director Hans Co, like the Hidden Falls in Laguna. Beyond Outdoor Adventure’s bike tour packagesrange from day trips in Laguna to long-haul trips in Bicol, and they prearrange your transportation, meals, and accommodations. A van follows you around in case you want out.

Ride of My Life

A few days before the trip, I attended a mandatory orientation in Beyond Outdoor Adventure’s Makati office. Managing director Benjie Lopez and operations manager Jenniffer Castro — cyclists with 30 years of experience between them — briefed me on the route location (Sta. Elena in Laguna) and the trail (8-km, mostly flat). They also gave me basic instructions on how to switch the gears on my bike (which I should’ve paid attention to more, I later learned).

My nerves went haywire on the mornings of the tour. When we arrived in Sta. Elena, I calmed myself by thinking, “If I can run 10 K, an 8-K ride shouldn’t be a problem.” But then again, I ran on treadmills and paved roads. I never had to worry about tripping over tree roots or slipping on mud.

Castro was our trail leader, and two other Beyond Outdoor Adventure team members, April Sarmiento and Allan Bantucan acted as “sweepers”, and rode behind the pack to make sure nobody got left behind. The first 400 meters or the route was on paved road. WH beauty editor-at-large Nicole Romero, who joined me on the adventure, echoed my thoughts when she said, “I think this will be my favorite part of the ride!” While we had a good laugh oer that, we were proven wrong once we hit the trail. Just on the first two kilometers, we whizzed by a scenic lake (complete with ducks), and later on, rode under a comforting canopy of trees.

The part I like best was also the most challenging part of the trail. Not only was it uphill, the terrain also switched from soft beds of grass to a rockier trail. At this point, I remember thinking that I had to switch my bike to a lighter gear — we were going uphill, and a lighter gear would make pedaling easier. The only problem? I completely forgot which gear I had to use. I ended up using the heaviest gear on my bike, which found me smack in the middle of an uphill, unable to pedal anymore. It was at that moment that I gloriously fell from my bike. I had a good laugh over that, and I made a mental note ton the right gear to use next time.

They say your willingness to give an activity another try gauges how much you enjoyed your first shot at it. If I had to do this again, I would, but I’d prepare for it more by understanding my bike’s gears better, and telling myself that riding over a tree root won’t send me flying off. Like what Castro said, “You have to build your confidence, and learn how to be one with your bike.” Who knows Maybe the next time I head to the spa, it’ll be on a bicycle.

We give credits to Larissa Joson and Women’s Health Magazine. This article is also available in Women’s Health Magazine November 2012 issue, page 81, Life Skills.

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