MORE than 1,100 cyclists ranging from veterans on high-end road bicycles to plastic three-wheelers pedaled by two-year olds gathered for the Alaska Cycleasia 2016 mass bike ride at the SM Mall of Asia on Saturday morning.
Now on its third staging, organizers were pleased with the turnout of the unique event that gives bikers of all levels the opportunity to experience the pure joy of biking with no hazards of traffic and pressure of competition.
Sunrise Events General Manager Princess Galura said there were at least 1,180 participants for the annual event that was originally slated to have routes passing through the cities of Pasay, Manila and Makati. Election-related activities such as victory celebrations and the ongoing counting of votes at the nearby PICC resulted in the ride’s permits being revoked and subsequent re-routing, but they were more than happy with the results.
“For a Saturday race… it’s acceptable,” Galura said.
But despite the changes, participants enjoyed the treats of the ride, whether on ascents of the interchanges lining the longer distances, or the thrill of riding by the Manila Bay, or witnessing kids make milestones by finishing their first bike event complete with the required helmets and prized racing jerseys.
The community ride started as early as 5 a.m. in order to take advantage of cooler, early morning temperatures. To avoid congestion, riders left the start line in several waves.
Cyclists chose from several categories depending on their skill and experience. There was a 40km Challenge Ride, with riders pedaling a stretch from Roxas Boulevard to Gil Puyat Avenue. There was also a 20km Community Ride, a Foldies Community Bike Ride and several dedicated bike courses for youth cyclists.
Participants rode in their own pace and clearly enjoyed being part of a bigger community, explained race director Neville Manaois.
“When you started biking, mga barkada mo kasama. Dito people join here, you don’t know anyone—you have different skilled riders and different strength riders”, he explained.
Everyone who finished the ride, which is meant to be as inclusive as possible and is non-competitive, were welcomed with finisher’s medals, cold drinks, a hot meal and loot bags from Alaska and its partners.
Filipino elite and Alaska Tri Aspire athlete August Benedicto, Alaska CEO Fred Uytengsu, the Borlain Sisters of young triathletes and Team Ford Forza riders Joseph Miller and Elmo Clarabal were among the notables who joined the ride.
“Ang point naming kapag naka-ride ng bike ang isang tao, merong ‘high’ – yun ang gusto naming na maparamdam. You can ride as a pack and this supports you and riding by yourself opens you up to a lot of accidents. Here you’re able to ride comfortable and with confidence,” said Galura.