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    There's no better way to experience a place than on two wheels

    Jan 17, 2014

    I WAS ready to be humbled, embarrassed even. This was all I could think about the night before the Beyond Outdoor Adventures bike tour I signed up for. I hadn’t been on a bike in years. I was coming off a two-month hiatus from running because I thought I could run at the same pace as I used to, but my knees begged to differ. Swelling was their way of telling me they didn’t expect the 30-pound difference I had added to my weight, thanks to seven months of being sedentary. In short, I was out of shape and about to ride with guys who do this for a living. So I was sure I would be humbled, and I was okay with that. Or so I thought.

    A week before the actual ride, I met with Beyond’s managing partner, Tim Jimenez, and the group’s operations manager, Jen Castro, for a briefing on the details of the bike tour they had planned for me. Beyond Outdoor Adventures had been doing bike tours since 2011, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been successful. Their tours are well organized — from the orientation to the logistics, clients need only bring their ideas for their adventures and Beyond will surely make it happen.

    “We’re an adventure tour company that specializes in bike-oriented travel, but we can provide anything you want within the islands,” Jimenez says. For example, the group has successfully organized bike tours that lasted 10 days and spanned the distance between Batangas and Bicol. “Our company has a very strong logistical capability. Our strength is not only the physical assets we have, like the bikes and the vehicles — it’s [also] our people. We have conduits all over the Philippines so we can customize tours [based] on what you want to see, what you want to do, and how much time you have.”

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    Even though we settled for a day tour, the preparation done by Beyond was by no means minimal. At the briefing, they took our measurements so the bikes we’d use were fit for my height and weight. They asked about our biking background and offered options on places we could choose to ride to. Initially, we chose the BZ-Mont Bikers Haven in Zambales, but security reasons had us settling for a 7K road ride from Cabading, Rizal, to the Palo Alto Estates in Baras, Rizal. All fine with me as I’ve never biked on trails so this would be an easier transition back into the sport, I thought. Armed with a set itinerary and a list of what to bring, I was ready for the pain.

    ***

    The great benefit of a Beyond Outdoor Adventures tour is you don’t need to bring anything but yourself. “If you don’t have a car or a bike rack, you can always come to us, tell us where you want to ride, and we’ll take you there,” Jimenez says. “We’ll provide you [with] not only the vehicles, but the contacts, the trail guides, the restaurants. Even if you need a hotel when you want a four-day trail ride up north, we can arrange that.” My brain immediately latched on to the word “restaurants.” I was already thinking of the fancy meal I would have as my reward for going through what I imagined would be a painful ordeal — both physically and mentally.

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    We had a modest breakfast at Aling Valing’s Restaurant, and then we were all set to ride. Tour leader Allan Bantucan, Beyond’s website and social media administrator, rode up front, while Jimenez and a friend (who was also riding for the first time in three years) made up the rest of the tour group. After riding a few hundred meters, Bantucan told me, “Ito na ‘yung 3K straight na downhill.” I was both thrilled and anxious.

    Thrilled since this early in the tour, I’d be experiencing the joy of downhill biking — the speed, the breeze, the adrenaline rush. It’s one of the things I miss most from my days of biking to work, navigating between jeeps and tricycles on Manila’s busy streets. And anxious because, as any biker knows, for every rewarding downhill comes a punishing uphill. True enough, after a few minutes of bliss, Bantucan warned us that our first test was up ahead. 

    “Shift gear lang para di ka mahirapan,” he said at the start of the climb. And then he casually pedaled up, as if that long hill with a not-so-gentle incline was easy to overcome. I was, however, panting like a dog in the Sahara, searching for short-term goals to help me keep going. Once I hit that shadowed portion halfway through the climb, I told myself, I’d dismount and push. This was what I had prepared myself for anyway, to submit to my limits and let the others pass me by. And I recalled Jimenez even saying during breakfast that there was no shame in pushing. So I put my head down and got ready to get off the bike. But then I saw the words written on the bike’s body: “Pedal, damn it.” My competitive fire was reignited, and I reached the peak of the hardest climb in the tour second behind Bantucan.

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    For a moment there, I forgot that this was a tour. I forgot that this wasn’t a competition. All I thought about was the fulfillment of knowing that I could still push beyond my limits. And with a rejuvenated enthusiasm and determination to ride strong all the way, I was able to set aside all worries — of bonking, falling down, or getting sideswiped — and enjoy the rest of the ride, including the uphill climbs that followed.

    The tour ended at the Palo Alto Estates, where we took a side trip to the Palo Alto falls before having a sumptuous lunch. Relaxing comes naturally when you’re surrounded by lush greenery — and also when you’ve just completed a satisfying bike ride.

    This here is what Beyond Outdoor Adventures is all about. It delivers what you seek in a vacation — a relaxing and fulfilling experience, without hassle of planning. “A lot of the sights in the Philippines are accessible by national road, and the RORO system is very efficient, so you can actually take your car to any point in the Philippines,” Jimenez says. “Your bike will take you a few steps further. You can only take your car so far, but being on two wheels and being able to go on the footpaths or single tracks opens up a whole new world.”

    Beyond is even planning to take their tours up a notch. “For 2013, we’re planning gastro-tours or food tours and photo safaris, all in conjunction with the bike tours,” says Jimenez. “Our dream is, if you have two bikers in the family, say the dad and the eldest son, we want to provide something else for the rest of the family. We want the tour to be a family affair.” No more jitters then for the bike-averse. Still, experiencing the adventure on two wheels will make the tour all the more memorable.

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    “If you want to get to know a town, being on a bike is the best way,” Jimenez says. “Kasi you experience it 360 degrees. And you’re traveling green while not being intrusive to the community.” So who’s up for a bike-cation?

    BEYOND OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

    Unit GF2 Prince Plaza 1, 106 Legazpi St., Legazpi Village, Makati City

    Call them at 0917-8381624, 0917-8381604, 0917-8381602

    E-mail: inquiry@ beyondoutdoorad­ventures.com

    Visit them online at www.beyondoutdoo­radventures.com or www.facebook.com/ beyondoutdoorad­venturesphilippines

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