Sunday, November 23, 2008

I finally got myself a road bike. I have been wanting one since my last mini-triathlon in Alabang, where the rest of humanity whizzed by me while I eat their dust on my mountain bike. Over post-race breakfast, one old-timer told me that from his experience, time difference between riding those two bike types can be as big as 15 minutes for a 30km sprint leg. I am already a slow biker; I do not need to further lag behind.

So after months of window-shopping in R.O.X, Bike King, Bike Town, MT Pro Bikes and almost all the shops in Cartimar/Leveriza, I finally got my first roadie. Nothing fancy, but good enough for a newbie like me. I wanted it to be my reward for doing the New Balance 25K. Weeks before the race, I already placed an order for a specific model in R.O.X.. Shipment arrival seemed to take an eternity so Friday before going to Clark, I found myself going back to Cartimar/Leveriza. Lo and behold, I found a model very similar to the one I ordered, so I had it assembled in a jiffy to my specifications and liking. Friday night I found myself skipping the Nike Running Orientation to test-ride my new toy.

My God, the first time was painful. The high seat- low handlebar combination was totally alien to me. And what's with those special pedals? I know they are supposed to hold the bike cleats eventually, but what does a greenhorn do with them in the meantime. To make matters worst, the bike was so sensitive (the experienced ones will probably say responsive) that my whole body tensed up just so I can have a firm grasp of the bike. Even making a simple turn was excruciating as I tried to find dynamic balance. Haaay, I was relearning how to bike in my 30s. Fifteen or twenty minutes into it I gave up. I shall live to fight another day. Hours later I would feel aches on my body.

The roadie is still my 25km gift so I brought it with me to Clark, hoping I can savor it after the race. Except for a 2-minute up-down ride along the villa street after the I unloaded the bike from my vehicle, I pretty much avoided the gift. Scared of running with an aching torso, I contented myself admiring my new toy as it leans on the wall prior to the race. My hope of riding my bike in Clark dimmed further when my heels hurt after the race. Even after a massage my body still has dull aches. What a waste! Clark is so perfect for riding, and here I was good as invalid.

As our party set out to go back to Manila, my new-found friend Karen shouted from her car - "Just try riding it." Like a robot I followed her advice. Gingerly I rode it, fidgetted slightly with the pedal and the handlebar, and then I found myself cruising the streets around the villa. Surprisingly, my body aches disappeared, and slowly I discovered the secret of riding it. I cruised along nearby streets and came back within 30 minutes. I had logged on enough kilometers of happiness to take home with me. For now.

Saturday (Nov 22) was my next bike ride. I went to my favorite village to try it. I came in late afternoon, with hopefully at least an hour of biking left before the sun hides away for the night. I was not even 20 meters away when the first raindrops fell. Darn, my plans are being sabotaged again! My new bike was just a week-old but it already faced the prospect of rusting/corrosion from rain. The credit card billing cycle was not even completed!...Hmmmph, what the heck. To hell with the rain. So what if my bike gets wet? I can always dry it. I am the master of the bike, not it's slave. My bike wouldn't be some expensive Chinaware wasting away in a cabinet.

And so I biked with youthful abandon. I took the side streets to quietly explore the powers of my new machine. She didn't disappoint. She rode like a dream. I would smoothly race through the downhills and attack the inclines with fervor. The rustling leaves, wet asphalt roads, headwinds and raindrops threatening to blur my vision just added to the thrill. Why, I should I have brought goggles!

As a smart-aleck kid I would often wonder why my grown-up neighbors have that tall, thin bike they called racer. They should be old enough to know that they could see better if they were not crouched down on low, curved handlebars. And what's with those thin tires? Won't they easily get flat tire from that? As I crouched down to grab the handlebars, I looked at the thin tire in front. I chuckled inside and sped away in my racer.


The foreign runner November 23, 2008 at 5:55 PM  

Just keep on biking, I promise it gets better...

Rico Villanueva November 25, 2008 at 12:18 AM  

Thanks, Philip. I believe you, just as I believe you will eventually place in your age-group in triathlon. Halimaw is in your genes!

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