First love never dies.
My love affair with cycling started when I learned how to ride a real bike in 1985. I was 10 years old, and I learned by borrowing a bike from a neighbor. My parents could not afford to buy me and my siblings a bike at that time. In the ’80s, bikes were expensive, unlike today when cycling enthusiasts are presented with a lot of affordable options.
I got my first, real bike in 1999. It was a Rocky Mountain mountain bike. I was still studying in the seminary for my theological studies at that time. More than picking up biking as an exercise, it was really an excuse to be able to go out of the seminary walls from time to time. It was the closest thing to freedom. So, in the afternoons, instead of playing the usual basketball with classmates and friends, I biked outside. Eventually, my classmates picked up cycling too.
In early 2000, I decided to leave the seminary for good. I planned to come to Manila to look for work. I was based in Eastern Samar. But I had limited funds. So, I sold my bike to a friend to buy a ticket to Manila. I would forget about my bike and went back to playing basketball.
Ten years after, I rediscovered my love affair with cycling. In 2010, I picked up cycling once again and started biking to work. I was able to influence a few co-workers to try out biking to work too. And since then, I would always ride my bike whenever I had the chance.
Cycling has been good for me. Aside from the health benefits that I get, it helps ease the traffic in the city because when I bike to work, I am One Less Car on the road. I was able to help others by spearheading fundraisers through bike fun rides like the Higanteng Padyak sa Kabataan series of fundraisers we held in Angono, Rizal that benefited public school students at the Regional Lead School for the Arts in Angono.
During the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, when the country entered its first community quarantine, public transportation was suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This left a lot of workers, with limited options to commute to work. Together with a friend, I founded the Lend A Bike Project. This project provided bicycles to health workers and frontliners that they can use to travel to work. As of this date, the project was able to provide more than 400 bicycles to 32 hospitals and several frontliners. I did not realize that through my hobby, I was able to create an efficient and sustainable solution that helped a lot of frontliners perform their duty during the pandemic.
Let us rewind a bit. In 2019, I went home to my province for Nanay’s funeral. There, I was reunited with my first ever mountain bike. My friend, who bought it 20 years ago, brought the bike to my Nanay’s wake. Except for the tires and tubes, everything was still the stock parts when I bought it. I offered to buy it back with a new mountain bike. My friend obliged. So, 20 years after, never did I think that I will get back my first mountain bike.
I brought it to Manila and had it restored. I tried to have all the functioning parts retained and I replaced only those which were not functional anymore. Watch the video below to see how I did it.
Today, 23 years after I got the bike, I took it for a short afternoon ride. Just like your first crush, or your first love, you never forget your first bike, ever. It is not the bike per se, but the priceless memories made while riding the bike. Those memories become part of your being; it becomes a part of you. And in a sense, you and your bike become one.
Riding my bike this afternoon was nostalgic to me. I traveled back in time with every pedal I took. It brought me memories of the time when my life seemed so carefree. I am lucky that a part of my memories has been retrieved and restored.
Looking forward to creating more memories with my first bike.