WHEN Antonio de Rosas took part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 last year, the lone Filipino in the world’s biggest bike festival felt that he should send more staff to represent the Philippines.
This year, the PRU Life UK president and CEO took the initiative of sending a four-man team to carve a path through unfamiliar territory in the 2015 edition of the race held last August 1 and 2.
The Filipinos overcame the cold and completed the 400-kilometer peloton relay event with a time of seven hours and one minute to finish in the upper half of the event’s standings.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As a CEO I can afford to go on my own to international events but for ordinary staff it’s a matter of resources and this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he told SPIN.ph.
The team – composed of Vice President for Investment Marketing Joy Cagurangan, Information Risk Manager Pedro Guzman, Senior Actuarial Analyst Joseph Michael Palisoc, and Payments Specialist Paul Andrada – is a mix of veteran cyclists who have competed in major races.
Cagurangan tackled the 160K first leg, followed by Palisoc in the 120K second leg, Andrada in the 80K third leg, and Guzman in the 40K final leg of the race that had over 95,000 participants cycling more than three million miles in five events.
De Rosas pushed for the inclusion of a Philippine contingent and the only other Asian country to have sent a team was from South Korea which the Pinoys bested.
The feat was made more impressive after Cagurangan actually crashed his bike prior to the start of the race and the Pinoys were unable to execute their drafting strategy in order to conserve their energy.
All of the team members agreed the British were very courteous and observed proper road etiquette.
“When they pass you, they go ‘Bike on your right!’ or ‘Bike on the left!’ and would say, ‘Excuse me!’ or ‘Sorry,’” said de Rosas who noted it was very different from what they are used to with Pinoy bikers who are more blunt on the road.
Guzman said he never had to bike in “very cold” weather before, with the temperature on race day between 9 to 23 degrees Celsius.
“This was the biggest race I took part in aside from the triathlons I have joined. It was also a blessing kasi first out of the country trip ko, London pa. The people, the place and the weather — all throughout the race malamig. Yung pawis ko lumabas tapos tuyo agad but the people would cheer on total strangers,” said Andrada.
“They follow road etiquette where they let you pass when you’re a faster rider unlike here where they block you,” he added.
The scenery in the countryside included places that were used as locations in movies and TV series such as Downton Abbey, the group said.
Triathlon veteran Palisoc described the course as very challenging, “Sobrang hirap ng mga hill, walang sinabi yung mga na-ride ko dito.”
At the end of the race, the Pinoys expended so much energy and were so tired that everyone, except for Palisoc, were forced to skip the post-event party.
“If you want to achieve something you have to have discipline. You have to have persistence since this is not a walk in the park. I was explaining to these guys this was not a flat course,” said de Rosas, who is planning to host more events along the active lines for his company and their clients.