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Around nine weeks back, Daytripper1021 told me about an upcoming Cycling event , BGC Philippines 40k Challenge.

With non-cycling stuff to worry about, I lukewarmly agreed, forked out the Php 1500++ fee and completed the online registration for the event. 

At the time, all I knew was this ride was that this ride will run 40 kilometers within the Cycling friendly, unpolluted streets of Metro Manila (sarcasm inline). The November 17 event date was then far off in the horizon and was the least of my worries. 

Training for the ride was the last thing on my mind.

Days seemed to pass in a flurry until, lo and behold, it was November 15 and I was informed via email and SMS that our race kits were available for pickup. Realizing what commotion 2,000 cyclists can wreak in a cramped venue, Daytripper and I quickly made arrangements to pick up the items on the first day.

The Goods

Long story short, we were able to get our kit and get back to our lowly cubicles during lunch break. When we opened the bag (which, in itself, is an item of its own), we had ourselves an extremely well made dye-sublimated race jersey from F2P, a pair of RPJ Sunglasses (a Rudy Project brand), a bottle of Gatorade, reflectors, stickers and timing chip.

Photo by PTrainer JC

The fact that either the jersey or the shades alone costs as much as the entry fee makes the registration fee feel worth it. Add to that the Felt-branded canvas sling bag... sure it may be low cost, but it's useability, on two wheels or on foot, is beyond question.  

The Ride

We were part of Wave A which was scheduled to depart right after the Ride with Robbie wave. Robbie being retired Aussie pro-tour rider Robbie McEwen. Luckily, I was able to sneak in a few rides a few days before the event and shake off the rust from my semi atrophied calves, quads and hammies.

As the mass of riders assembled at the starting line at the corner of 9th and 10 avenues in BGC, i wrapped up some warmup laps and made my way to the start line to join my wave. I saw daytripper1021 looking at me from the other side of the crowd with a sheepish grin seemingly saying "Oh great! You actually woke up". I nodded in acknowledgement.

The challenge started off 5 minutes later than scheduled to give Robbie McEwen time to gauge their wave's abilities, or so the event host announced.... so, at exactly 6:10am, we were off. 

The takeoff was not without drama. Off the bat, a rider in front of me seemed to have difficulty clipping his cleats in and came to a stop, causing the rider behind to collide. Good thing, I was able to avoid them. 

As the group turned toward St. Lukes Medical Center, one rider's water bottle got detached and flew off across the road. The riders in front of me swerved to avoid the bottle and all the while pointing at the hazard. This, thankfully, was the last of the drama as far as my ride was concerned.   

As we turned right on Kalayaan, we were greeted by slow lengthy climb and as we reached the peak riders started to bunch up in order to avoid a huge unrepaired pothole. Credit has to be given to the event organizers as each and every pothole, train rail and road hazard had a marshall standing guard to warn cyclists of impending wheelset damage.

Once we passed this and started downhill, we soon found ourselves breaking right and on C5 road. Cycling on C5 has always been in my bucket list, but unruly drivers, jaywalkers, bad road patches and other stuff were always around to turn me off. Well, this was the day is when I ticked it off my bucket list as we had a lane and a half all to ourselves. 

C5 is a series of rolling uphills and descents but most enjoyable was the long descent towards The Heritage Park. With an unobstructed view of the relatively straight road, most cyclists, myself included, undoubtedly had their top speed marks set here. Conserving energy, I maxed out at 48km/h with just a moderate application of pedal power.

Taking a U-turn using the Bayani Road underpass, we made our way back to BGC with haste. Things were pretty uneventful except for the exit climbing up to Market Market where we had to do a steep 500 meter climb while avoiding some ruts and cracks. Lack of climbing practice took it's toll as a lot of guys I passed on flats and descents overtook me.   

As we made our way to the Buendia flyover, things started looking a lot better. As we started yet another short climb, we were greeted with asphalt. Well laid, smooth asphalt. As we traversed Buendia, buildings and trees provided ample shade cyclists.

The smooth goings on however, were interrupted once we passed the train rails on the corner of South Super Highway. Everyone had to slow down and pick a spot to cross the rails with minimum bumps.

Soon enough, we found ourselves in Roxas Boulevard. Which was as well asphalted as Buendia. Honking motorists greeted us with every intersection, it seemed. Fortunately, police were there to keep the restless natives from revolting.

At the halfway point in Luneta Grandstand, I stopped at a hydration point and took in a couple of cups of water. The route to the finish line was essentially tracing our way back through Roxas and Buendia.

As I approached the Buendia flyover for the last time, I had a sense that I conserved too much energy. And as I cranked my way up and finished the climb, I figured I'd just enjoy the rest of the ride and not chase a few measly seconds.

As my group approached the finish line, everyone started sprinting. I held back purposely, content with a solo finish and possibly some good finish line pics. And true enough, I had a good solo shot and finish, just a the announcer called out my time.

Out of Shape, but just look at that depth-of-field! 

Daytripper1021 was waiting when I got to the medal awarding area and we managed to get some photos with Robbie. After which, we went for a relaxed cooldown ride around BGC.

I can't express enough how satisfied I am with the BGC Philippines 2013 ride. It's well organized and, in my opinion, well worth the entry price. And of course, riding the same roads you regularly drive through daily sans the traffic and pollution is an experience in itself.

Am I looking forward to BGC Philippines 2014?

I think the question is "When do we start training?".


I asked Robbie McEwen if we can swap Foils (his being Team Edition). He said "It's not mine, go ahead!". Should've had taken him up on that. 


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