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First Bike Ride In Manila Streets : It’s the Ride that Counts

I didn’t actually notice people in bicycles, until I started to learn how to ride one.

Before, there were only jeepneys, cars, and buses in the streets—with frequent motorcycles suddenly appearing in my line of sight.

And then, there they are: pretty two-wheels and riders in helmets.

Amazingly, these bikers brave Manila traffic, without bike lanes in most parts—just being there taking up their spaces with the jeepneys and buses. And to my surprise, a lot of them seem to do the rides as convenient and “functional” means of transportation, mostly men going to work—and not just show-off cyclists who do bike rides for a hobby.

Still convinced that biking is fun (thanks to my Japan trip bike ride experience),  I wanted to try to bike around in Manila streets and see if that is possible (with the non-existent bike lanes in almost all parts of the city).

Bye Old Bike, Hello Red Wheels

First step though is to get a “more capable” bike for my ride. A friend who are re-selling bikes helped me sell my first yellow bike bought in Cartimar. Then I got a new one, still a folding bike (now in my favourite color – red).

Then I also got a helmet and bike tail lights. Aiming for just a fun, “trial” bike ride, I am good to go.

I was particularly fussing about how to bring my water bottle and cellphone (for pictures!) and small towel, and decided to ask Jaycee to bring it for me in his backpack (just for this ride).

Deciding our destination, we opted to go South for a relatively shorter route: to SM Mall of Asia and Roxas Blvd and CCP.

Off to a Bumpy Ride

We started very early in the morning at 530am, ahead a bit of the sunrise, hence the need to put on our tail lights. I was really anxious about hitting the road, with all the cars passing by me. And yes, I panicked a lot too, causing me to a bruise in my right foot at one time.

But it was just a matter of overcoming my fear, I figured. It always is, isn’t it?

After a while, I was enjoying the ride!

Coming from my experience in Japan streets, I realized how bumpy the ride is (especially for beginners like me who still has to figure out how to swerve a lot avoiding street bumps!). This made my ride more interesting and challenging, I guess.

grabbed from internet - http://www.girlsguidetoswagger.com/wp-folder/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SwaggerGirl-Biking-01.jpg

Route: Makati-CCP-MOA-Makati

  • Yakal Street (Makati)
  • Crossed Osmena Highway (I was actually scared to cross a highway such as this, but hey I didn’t have a choice)
  • Emilia Street
  • Buendia Street
  • Crossed Taft Avenue, still in Buendia Street
  • Crossed Roxas Blvd to Diokno Blvd
  • Turned right going to Manila Film Center – Here, I started to see LOTS of bikers in complete cycling outfits. Cool.
  • Coconut Palace
  • Harbour Square – A lot of morning activities taking place like Zumba classes, morning runs, or just simply morning walk. It was nice to see people just enjoying the morning sun in a healthy way 🙂
  • CCP Ramp – A lot of people were here! They were jogging/walking in the ramp, and the energy was just contagious. Here, we decided for a stop and ate Taho and just enjoyed the people-watching. After a while, we decided to go to SM MOA to extend the bike ride.
  • Passed by Harbor Square and Coconut Palace again
  • Seaside Blvd (SM MOA) – Here, I enjoyed the “Walk Your Bike Zone”, watching Zumba classes, and enjoying the seaside (with stray cats on the side!). MORE bikers are here (the intimidating ones, complete in gears and outfit), I assume most of them are training here for long bike rides. Bike groups were everywhere! At one point, someone from one of the resting groups made a comment on how our bikes are the same, but too bad I was so focused in my biking that I wasn’t able to stop and had a friendly chat. Next time, I’ll make sure to make friends 😉
  • Went back to CCP for our way back to Makati
  • Crossed Roxas Blvd to Pablo Ocampo Street (formerly Vito Cruz)
  • Crossed Taft Avenue, still in Ocampo Street
  • Crossed Osmena Highway to Ocampo Extension
  • Turned right to Kamagong
  • Turned to Sacred Heart Street, going to Bagtikan
  • And we’re back in Yakal street!

It took us around 3hours for the whole ride. We left quarter to 6am, and back in Makati at 9am—with a lot of rest and sightseeing in between.

For the Next Ride

Of course, my first ride wasn’t perfect.

Here are few lessons learned that I’ll make sure to do in the next ride:

  • Exercise days (or weeks) before a long ride, as it will be physically demanding than your usual workout. I actually had muscle sores for almost 3 days for doing the ride without pre-conditioning. Ouch!
  • Water bottle is a must! If water bottle holder is not yet installed in the bike (like mine), make sure to bring water in your bag.
  • Bike ride attire should be comfortable and suitable for the weather. I had the mistake of wearing cotton long sleeves, and I was sweating the whole time. Next time, I’ll make sure to wear dry fit clothes. If this is something you would want to invest in, a good cycling shorts (with pads) can be very helpful to avoid butt pains.
  • Bring a small backpack bag for few of my stuff (cellphone, money, key)—if a bike mounted bag is not available.
  • Wear rubber shoes, if cycling shoes is not yet available.
  • Wear shades, especially if it will be sunny day.
  • Someone told me (after seeing my picture) to lift my seat a bit so as to lessen the stress in my knees and make the ride more efficient. I actually tried this with Jaycee’s suggestion, but was still scared not being able to reach the ground (too high for me). Next time I’ll slowly inch my seat higher until I get used to it.
  • Don’t panic. It doesn’t help, at all.

Where to Next?

My red bike is parked and waiting for its next ride. I look forward to reaching a new destination with it.

On second thought—it’s not really about the destination, it’s about the ride 😉

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