This wild, fanatical ride called the MTB

Like you, dear readers, I’ve ridden a jeepney, a boat, a tricycle, an airplane, a car, the MRT, a bus, a Yamaha motorcycle, the subway train, a trisikad and, yes, on one occasion, Y101’s helicopter during the Sinulog. But, among all, what is the means of transportation that I savor the most riding?



A bike. Why? Because, in my brain’s definition, these words are inscribed: Want adventure? Go biking.

It’s true. Last week, I climbed on my mountain-bike (MTB) twice. First, I asked one of the friendliest men you can encounter, Joey Ontanillas, an architect and long-time cyclist, to join me for a 6 a.m. trek.

We ascended the hills of Ma. Luisa. I relish scaling Cebu’s premier subdivision. No, I don’t savor its arduous inclination, but because, while zigzagging its asphalted curves, few vehicles pass and there’s minimal pollution.

“Sangkoy,” as Joey is known to friends, spiraled around the mountains while I labored behind. We reached the plateau near Maxcy Borromeo’s house, descended to the old “lagoon,” climbed the steepest elevation at Phase 9, exited the Busay gate then headed for Willy’s.

To Cebuanos, mention “Willy’s” and you’ll be greeted with a thumbs-up. Located meters after Chateau de Busay, Willy’s is Biking Headquarters. There, you’ll see men in multi-colored jerseys and fancy helmets who munch on hard-boiled eggs, sotanghon and banana-Q.

Why do Cebuanos inflict excruciating suffering on themselves by biking Busay? Because they believe in these words: Want adventure? Go biking.

At Willy’s, what else do you see? Expensive vehicles on two wheels—and I’m not talking of a BMW motorbike. I’m referring to an all -carbon, XTR-equipped, Italian-made bicycle that costs—get ready for your eyes to enlarge—upwards of P700,000!

Three days after Arch. Ontanillas and I biked, once more I trekked Busay. This time, Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan, one of my best friends in running, biked beside me. We left Talamban and reached the Shell Station of Past Rotary District Gov. Ray Patuasi by 6:15 last Sunday morning.

Fabby Borromeo, whom I swung tennis racquets with at Sancase Tennis Club, was waiting. But instead of a Titanium racquet—he parked a titanium bike. One of the lightest and sturdiest of materials, titanium also happened to be the same metal on Meyrick’s bike: his full-suspension MTB sporting a brand called “Seven” (which, if you ask experts, would rank as one of the most sought-after and, yes, expensive). Joining us were Bryan Codina, Mike Mancio, Jun Barcenas, Francis Israel, Franz Daga, Dave Tolegida and Prince Sevilla.

Then, Lance Armstrong arrived. Wearing the yellow Discovery Channel jersey was Raymund Lim, the only member who didn’t use an MTB—he climbed on a road bike.

We cycled. We talked. We evaded speeding Toyota Grandias. We exhaled when fumes smoked our faces. We clambered past Marco Polo Hotel. We sweated. We gritted our teeth, summoned our leg muscles to rotate, pushed that metal transport upwards. But, unlike the previous climb, this time we waved past Willy’s and escalated further without stop. Stroke after stroke, sweat after sweat bouncing off the Busay asphalt, we scaled. Shifting to the softest gear, we ascended. At that moment, friendships are abandoned; there is zero talking. Every air inhaled is siphoned by the lungs.

Finally—yes!—we reached Buak. Where is that? Like Willy’s, it’s known to all riders and is that point at the summit right before turning left and upwards to Tops. Resting for a few moments, we converged at Buak then careened downhill to Willy’s.

Hard-boiled eggs. BBQ. Sotanghon. Lift softdrinks. Ahh, isn’t life in Cebu exhilarating when you’re near the clouds? Half-an-hour of chatting later, Jacs and I tilted our bikes southward, turned left to Ma. Luisa, saw Rene Congmon biking alone, visited our running buddy Frederic Chiongbian, then, by 9:30 a.m., reached home, parked our bikes and kissed our wives.

Prefer a lazy, restful Sunday? Go sleep.

Want adventure? Go pedal.

Categorized as Cycling
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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