Of all his passions—as lawyer for Gov. Gwen Garcia, consultant of the Provincial Capitol, arch-critic of Rep. Tommy Osmeña—the one activity Atty. Jong Sepulveda enjoys the most is non-argumentative: Riding that pedal-driven, two-wheeled, human-powered vehicle.
“I love everything about cycling,” he told me. “Its history; the cutting edge technology of the bikes; the sights and places the bike takes you along; the pain and hardships of training and racing; the rewards of a relatively good health; and, of course, the camaraderie between, and among, your cyclist-friends.
His biking craze started early, in elementary, when Jong used to bike to school. “Quite a long time ago and we called our bikes then ‘semi-racers’,” he said. “As a form of exercise, I started in 2001 with mountain-biking. Tried road in 2005 and then joined races.” Thus far, he’s participated in dozens, including the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festivals in Ormoc and Subic, and the 3-stagings of Kia Ironlegs in Bohol.
How often does Gov. Gwen’s confidante bike Cebu City’s streets? “Everyday… weather, schedule, wife permitting,” he said. “This translates to at least 3x a week.”
For the past five years, “Jong,” as his buddies call him, has been involved with CC. “We call ourselves Cebu Cycling, a non-formal (unincorporated) association of cycling buddies that hang-out at Willy’s in Busay. The name Cebu Cycling was taken from the Yahoo group forum created by Noel Ting.
With over a hundred CC “roadies” (using road bikes) and over 3,700 members in their website (www.cebucyling.com), the core group includes JV Araneta, Miguel Flores, Jose Ontanillas, Jerome Rodriguez, Cesar Salazar, Frank Gatdula, Geoffrey Lariosa, Francis Lim, John Gayatin, Tony Codina, Art and Tyre Lambo, Raldy Vios, Brett Harrington, Noel Ting and Jong Sepulveda. They’re called the CC VIPs.
“The main objective of CC is to promote cycling – as a sport and lifestyle – here in Cebu,” he said. “As of the recent past, it is only CC that is consistently organizing road bike racing here. For lack, however, of institutional sponsors, our races are mostly small budgeted (but well attended).”
CC-organized races? Plenty. Enumerates Atty. Sepulveda: “Tour ni Frank” (a 2-stage race every Jan. sponsored by Frank Gatdula, who flies in from Stockton, California); “Danao-Lugo-Danao” challenge, held at least twice a year; “Naga-Uling-Toledo” road race; and “Greenhouse Race to the Sky.” CC also supports special events like Nob Clarke’s 10-mile Time Trial races, Al Figer’s “Tour ni Figer” and Andot Rubi’s “Copa de Cebu.”
An upcoming big event is next week. “For the first time,” he said, “we’re joining the Tour of Matabungkay this Oct. 22 to 24 at Matabungkay, Lian, Batangas.” The cyclists include… Team A (Cebu Cycling): JV Araneta, Jose Ontanillas, Mike Flores, Raldy Vios, Francis Lim, Brett Harrington, Tony Codina, Ronnie Adlawan, and myself. Team B (Team Cebu Cycling – HBC; the team out to win) has Ernie Hortaleza, Jerome Rodriguez, John Gayatin, Philip Sainz, Art Lambo, Tyre Lambo, Ramon Espinosa, Ned Revilla, and Mirko Valentin.
As to his sport’s popularity: “Cycling, specially road cycling, remains a marginal sport here. Hate to admit, but Cebu’s rapid development makes cycling in our terribly busy roads a not-so-interesting proposition. Besides, bike lanes suffer extremely low priority in our cash-starved governments. Be that as it may, due to the increased popularity of triathlon — we have seen more athletes taking up road cycling lately. As to popularity between two sister disciplines – mtbiking and road cycling – the former has way more adherents. Cebu is more conducive to mtbiking with its abundant mountain roads, trails and paths.”
Finally, he added, “The moment I throw my legs over my bike for a ride or race… I am at peace with myself and the world. Only the homicidal behavior of some drivers can sometimes disturb that peace—but, the more I ride, the more I’ve learned to ignore them.”