Spinning MTB wheels, Goyo propels the TLBF

This time last year, I published this story in Sun.Star Cebu. Since the ’09 TLBF will be from March 30 to April 5, here’s my experience from a few years ago…

Atty. Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal is to RP mountain-biking what Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III is to Cebu running. Each year, Goyo organizes one of the biggest mountain-biking (MTB) events in the country: the Terry Larrazabal Bike Fest (TLBF).

This photo and all below from www.tlbf.org

Nearly four years ago when I often climbed Busay on two wheels and skidded through our Brgy. Guba dirt roads on an MTB, I joined the 3rd TLBF in Ormoc City, Leyte. Together with Jaime Gallego (who has since moved to Canada) and many others from Cebu—Boying Rodriguez, Joey Ontanillas, Dr. JV Araneta, Mike Flores, Atty. Jong Sepulveda, Joel Concepcion, JoMark Rodriguez, Chokoy Durano, Niño and Buddy Duterte (to name a few)—we navigated through hectares of Ormoc plantations, joined the X-Country MTB race and, after, celebrated by gorging on their sweet pineapples.

Who is Terry Larrazabal? “He’s my dad,” answered Goyo, when we first met years back. “Together with my sisters Mayette, Malen, Annette, Fenny and Ina, we started the TLBF in 2002. After my dad passed away in Dec. 2000, my family wanted to do something so people will remember him. Thus, the TLBF,” added Goyo, a mountain-biker since ‘89 who looks like the former Tour de France champ Miguel Indurain.

Atty. Goyo Larrazabal

“The TLBF is the only multi-discipline cycling event of its kind in RP and in Asia, where races and other activities are held for three days in one location,” says Goyo in his website, www.tlbf.org. “The races include road, MTB downhill, MTB cross-country, trials, and BMX freestyle and jumping. For the first time ever, this year’s edition would also include a triathlon.

“The festival is a celebration of bicycling as a sport, health and environmental advocacy avenue that’s been held yearly in Ormoc City, and has also become one of the primary medium to promote Cyclo-Tourism in the Philippines.

“A highlight of the 2006 bike festival was the 3-day multi-stage road race around the province of Leyte called the ‘Tour de Larrazabal (TdL).’ The TdL was the first multi-day stage road race of its kind in RP designed for business executives who are also avid cyclists who wish to experience how it is to join a tour, just like the Tour de France.

“The TdL has generated considerable interest not only in the Philippines. The TdL for 2008 will feature scenic race routes showcasing the beautiful countryside and encourage more cyclists to travel more to the provinces…”

What’s new this year? For one: the venue. Instead of the usual Ormoc City location, the event will be held in Subic. Says Goyo: “We expect the number of competitors to reach 1,200, double that of last year. We will also be conducting the first-ever Cycling Expo, dubbed, ‘FilBike,’ the first bicycle and outdoor themed expo.”

The date: April 3 to 6. Numbers? Estimated by Goyo, there will be 5,000 participants and nearly 30,000 visitors to the FilBike expo.

Another sideshow is the participation of two MTB greats. First, Hans “No Way” Rey, the former UCI World Champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer. “Hans was one of the main attractions of the 2006 TLBF,” says Goyo. “Again, he’ll perform trials demos and clinics, and be the chief judge of the 2nd Philippine Trials Competition.”

Hans Rey with Goyo

The other is Brian Lopes, the current UCI 4X World Champion, who “has had a successful career since becoming a pro cyclist at age 17, and is considered by USA Today as ‘undisputedly the best all around world class cycling athlete.’”

Brian Lopes and Goyo Larrazabal

While the TLBF’s move to the north will leave many bikers in the south disappointed, this is a wise move by Goyo, who himself (once a Cebu resident) has relocated to Manila. He’ll cater to new groups in Luzon, who’ll get to experience first-hand the “festival” perfected by Goyo.

My only hope: Next year, to pedal at the Starting Line of the ‘09 TLBF. And after, as reward, to slice open and savor those sweet, thorny fruits that can only come from our neighbor, Ormoc.

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