Bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes.
That’s all I care to talk and think about nowadays—bicycles.
This is because less than three months ago, I got myself a single-speed Bridgestone hybrid touring bicycle previously owned, used, and loved by the artist Egai Fernandez, who, in turn, was introduced to me by a mutual friend, Dennis Estopace.
I got myself a velocipede—yes, that’s what bicycles were first called—purely for reasons related to reducing my body fat, the only thing in this life which I have in excess, next to unsubstantiated global roaming charges from Globe Telecoms Inc. (Ang tindi mo, Coya, nailusot pa yun?)
But before that, to lose weight, I ran once a week, an activity that had hurt my left knee big time, leaving me eating the dust of shapely females at the University of the Philippines Academic Oval.
A friend—the same one who once advised me to wear pricey but nevertheless quality sports apparel—told me to try biking, an activity that has minimal impact on joints and lower limbs.
Good thing I heeded his advice.
Because, not long after, I was obsessed with biking, something that I never thought was possible.
Upon getting the Bridgestone touring bike, I planned on using it for trips to the gym, the occasional errand, and nothing else.
Never was I any more wrong in my whole life (which, come to think of it, has major aspects of wrongness associated with it but that’s another story).
As soon as I got The Fellow Traveler—which is what I now call the Bridgestone bike—I fell deeply in love with biking.
Everyday, I worked the pedals with relish, enjoying the cool air of freedom—however polluted—that the bike afforded me.
With this bike, I said to myself, I was finally mobile—I could go anywhere anytime.
No more waiting for jeeps to fill up, no more fare disputes with bus conductors, no more picking fights with bus drivers armed with lead pipes, and no more debates with cab drivers wielding dangerous opinions about how happy life was under the Marcos dictatorship.
With the bike, I was set free.
That freedom, however, was limited to the mean and busy streets of Metro Manila I was familiar with. And they were few.
Last June, after having gained enough confidence to ride on sidestreets, I rode my bike to a place where I haven’t visited on a bike yet.
Accompanied by two friends, I took my bike to Marikina, a city whose traffic rules were friendly to bikers.
The trip to Marikina from Quezon City and back only bolstered my confidence further.
A week or so later, I took my bike to work for the first time using a route I learned from the members of the Bike to Work Pilipinas page on Facebook.
For better or for worse, that spelled the end of my daily commute to the office. It also ended my dependence on The Fellow Traveler as my sole means of getting around, whether to the office and beyond.
Less than two months after I began to take biking seriously, I got myself a Jamis Sputnik. Primarily a roadbike, The Messenger’s configurations were altered by changing the handlebar, installing a rack, putting better pedals, and replacing the wheels with a thicker set of tires best suited for the city’s potholes and speed bumps.
With The Fellow Traveler and The Messenger at my disposal, I was now ready to take on—in the words of crime novelist Ed McBain—The Big Bad City. If one bike had a flat tire or was unavailable, I could always take the other.
So would that make me a biking addict?
I guess so.
After all, bikes are the only things I care to talk and think about nowadays.