Dan Brown will arrive in Cebu. No, he’s not that Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code. He’s a triathlete. And, no, he’s no ordinary biker, runner, swimmer. He’s a 15-time Ironman finisher. He placed 8th in the Hawaii Ultra Man Championships — an unbearably strenuous race involving a 10K swim, a 421K bike and an 84K run. He’s also the current national coach of the Philippine Triathlon team.
Mr. Brown will visit Cebu on Thursday to update this soon-to-be “triathlon capital” (with the XTERRA and Ironman 70.3 landing in this island) and to unveil a partnership that will involve Chris Aldeguer and his newly-relaunched brand: Vellum bikes.
What’s Vellum? “Vellum is a special kind of paper,” Chris Aldeguer said. “We thought the name was appropriate because our bikes are mainly made of carbon fiber and, just like paper, this material is very light in weight. We also liked how it sounded. Fast and Aggressive.”
With his return to competitive triathlon, Chris also formed Fish18 Sport. “Years ago, I planned to form a competitive Triathlon Team if and when I decided to go back to racing,” Chris said. “I wanted to gather a group of Triathletes that share the same philosophy and approach. That philosophy is to Race. To Compete. I believe it brings the best out of each other during Training and Racing. So, last December, with the help of Michael Flores, my partner in Vellum, we formed the team; sponsored by and called Fish18 Sport with Vellum, K-Swiss and GU as major sponsors.”
The six members: Chris Aldeguer, Leo Oracion, Eugene Sanchez, Michael Flores, Franz Baguio and Gerrie Calinawan.
“The selection process was easy,” said Chris. “Leo Oracion needs no introduction. Other than being the first Filipino to climb Mt. Everest, he has won a lot of Triathlon Races and competed several times internationally. Though he is identified with climbing Everest, and being an Adventure Racer, Leo is a successful Elite Triathlete.
“Eugene Sanchez has been doing Triathlons for nearly 12 years. He is very competitive and very accomplished. He is known to be the King of Pain.
“Michael Flores, a VIP of Cebu Cycling, is probably the top cyclist of the Team. He brings in the energy and intensity during our Training Rides and is making a comeback to Triathlon. He is also the Team Manager.
“Franz Baguio is an up and coming Triathlete. He was the second best-performing Cebuano in last year’s Ironman 70.3 in Camsur behind Gerrie Calinawan.
“Gerrie Calinawan, I believe, is the top Cebuano Triathlete today. He was still a junior when I last raced against him 10 years ago. His potential is extremely high and I believe he can be one of the favorites to win or podium among the Filipino Elites in the Ironman 70.3’s near future.”
I interviewed Chris about biking. Why is it so much more popular today? “Huge difference (now vs. before),” he said. “We can’t compare it. There are so much more people riding bikes these days. You see a lot of Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes and even Folding Bikes. The Bicycle events and races have not grown, though. It still is far from being mainstream. But what has grown are the number of recreational riders. Now, you see a lot doing the night rides in Busay, Mountain Biking in Maria Luisa, etc. Mountain Biking has always had a mix of both Recreational Riders and Serious Riders, while Road Cycling were always more of the Hardcore and Competitive riders. Today, there are tons of new and recreational guys on their road bikes. It’s unbelievable.”
Aldeguer cites three factors for the popularity of biking.
One: more people are health-conscious and cycling is a terrific form of exercise. Two: The running boom has led to a cycling/triathlon boom. “The runners either add cycling to their training or they shift because of the wear and tear and injury from too much running,” said Chris. Three: the bike shops. More bikes and parts are now available. Said Chris: “These shops are now in strip malls that are easily accessible to customers.”