In cardio

Once in a while I bump into people I would have never come across in real life through cycling. One is a hustler – a dog breeder who also manages events – in his mid-forties: he had a big scar on his left leg, which he alluded to when he mentioned he had two cycling injuries. He used to race in his younger years and gave me advice in the rare chance that I would be cycling to Baguio, as he has done in the past: when going down to Baguio via bus, try keeping your bike upright by tying it to any stable part of the cargo area. Last Saturday, after climbing Tagaytay, I met a construction worker in his early-fifties who cycles every other day from his home to his work (about 35 kms) for about a decade. With a bag on his back, he rides ridiculously fast with his road bike, a hand-me-down that he’s only started using two months ago. He said his son, about 19 years old, has once cycled from Laguna to Bicol in a single day, and has been joining official races, with an upcoming race the day before Christmas with Php 150,000 as cash prize.

I noticed that it’s easy to tell apart the snobs from the most approachable cyclists just with their bike builds: theirs is modest and utilitarian, a nod to their so-long-as-it-works ethos. They never talk about the latest gears or debate about the merits of carbon frames. These cyclists have shed all pretensions and have committed to cycling, may it be for work or for pleasure, for the rest of their lives. Another thing I noticed is that cyclists would first size you up through your pace – half of it I suppose is machismo, half of it pragmatic: both cyclists should be on the same pace to be able to talk to each other. They would always start their conversations with Saan ang punta? (‘Where are you heading?’) and ends with ‘Ingat!’ (Ride safe!)

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