BORN to a showbiz family, Oyo Boy Sotto has been charting a different path that is so far away from the bright lights of show business.
The journey the 30-year old model-actor (Vittorio Mari Sotto in real life) chose takes him through muddy ground, forest canopies and the occasional ‘semplang’ - all in a day’s ride for an avid mountain biker.
“For mountain bikers it’s a whole new world. Imagine everyday you’re in the city - you’re inside a car just driving in traffic around buildings," said the son of popular comedian and TV host Vic Sotto.
"For mountain biking it’s different - you find yourself in a forest. Tapos minsan you encounter waterfalls, malinis na ilog. Mga ganun!”
Biking almost all his life, Oyo said he only developed a serious streak for mountain biking last year. It didn’t take long for the Sotto scion to bring it to another level and has since used his celebrity status to help promote the sport.
“Malaki ang MTB community, hindi lang sila nalalagay sa mainstream sports. Philippine cycling is medyo quiet.”
To give the sport a boost, the actor and a number of his fellow MTB enthusiasts decided to play the role of drumbeaters by starting Victorious One Media, a company that aims to address the need for mountain biking to be highlighted as a sport and to generate a big enough buzz to a wider audience.
“Me and my wife (Kristine Hermosa-Sotto) started biking last year and we got to meet some friends who are into cycling for so long na. Nag-usap lang na let’s try to form a production group that will handle an advertising company that would focus on biking and its events. We were able to mount an event this year (the Trail Bike Challenge in Filinvest City) and the Nuvali Dirt Weekend will be our second,” said the actor, who is president of Victorious One.
This year, his group is focusing on holding the national championship to be followed in 2015 by another event where international bikers will be invited to compete against local riders to gauge who the Philippines can send to the World Cup.
A part of their plan is for schools to lend their support to the sport, who he said is also in need of government backing.
“Kung baga if yung UAAP merong basketball, gusto namin sana sa mountain biking meron ganun din,” he explained.
Oyo Boy said he is not the only member of his famous family who is an avid biker.
“My wife was active before she got pregnant. Wahoo,my cousin na anak ni Val Sotto (is also into biking and is also one of the people behind Victorious One). I also take my kids biking pero siyempre hindi sa trails, road lang muna sila,” he said.
Another famous member of the family into ‘two-wheel drive’ is his brother-in-law, Gilas and San Mig Coffee player Marc Pingris, who he said actually bikes to and from basketball practice.
“Malakas si Marc. Nagba-bike si Marc kapag wala silang laro,” said Oyo Boy who added that good friends John Lloyd Cruz and Ryan Agoncillo are also into MTB. “Sa mga artista si Ryan ang isa sa malakas. Andaming bike nyan. May lote siya sa tabi ng house sa village nila kung saan naka-park more than 20 different bicycles and big bikes niya.”
When asked if his father is also into cycling, the younger Sotto chuckled, saying ‘Bossing’ prefers to play golf.
“I invite my dad to bike but he declined since matanda na daw siya and (baka) sumemplang kaya ayaw,” he answered.
As a mountain biker, Oyo Boy admitted he has had his share of falls, something that is common for those into ‘padyak.'
“No close calls pa naman. May kaunting semplang. Tumatalsik. (Pero) wala pa naman yung sobrang grabe. Hopefully huwag naman.”
Depending on the availability of his friends, Oyo said he usually bikes solo two hours every weekday from his home in Alabang to the surrounding areas, longer if in training mode. He rides as part of a group every weekend on longer four- to six-hour trips that take them to the trails of the popular MTB playgrounds that include Nuvali, La Mesa Ecopark, San Mateo, Batangas and Silang.
“I bike everyday as long as I have no work. Solo rides for weekdays and I ride with friends during the weekends,” Oyo Boy said.
He said his first bike was bought ‘asi-is’ while his second is a full custom job.
“All-mountain bike which I built. Isa-isa kong binili yung frame, brakes, handlebar. I realized kung bakit mahal yung bike. A full suspension na bike hindi ka bababa ng 100K. Nung una ang sabi ko ang mahal naman masyado niyan. Bike lang yan e! Pero kasi may R&D so nakikita mo pinag-aaralan nila talaga yung geometry ng bike kaya ganyan."
Asked about his fascination for MTB, Oyo Boy flashes a knowing smile.
“Iba e. Nakita ko kasi kung paano nila mahalin yung sport. Hindi naman siya mahirap mahalin. Madali lang mapamahal sa biking. Kahit beginner ka makikita mo kung bakit 'yung mga tao very passionate sa biking. Masarap mag-bike e.”