Frontliners with donated bicycles from the Tulisan Bikers. (Image: Jessie Tiangco)

What started as an impromptu quarantine transportation for frontliners became a popular alternative for the working class.

With the expected lifting of ECQ, workers are now allowed to go to their respective workplaces. But there is still the impending transport problem, with limited seating on buses and trains because of social distancing, add the absence of jeepneys along smaller thoroughfares.

Many citizens are now looking for other means of transportation. While the more affluent ones bought second hand cars or motorcycles, others have decided to go to the cheaper bicycle option, and for good reason; its affordable, easy to maintain and you can take it virtually anywhere.

We at StreettalkPh want to give our unsolicited advice to all newbies out there. While biking is child’s play, going the distance with two-wheels is more than a joyride.; it takes patience and hardwork. Here are some pointers:

Physical Fitness

Have yourself checked by your physician. Are you actually fit for the strain of pedalling a few kilometers? Pre-existing conditions like Asthma, Hypertension and Diabetes can be a hindrance, if not outright dangerous. One good way to find out is take a treadmill test in a reliable medical facility. From there your cardiologist can say if your heart can tolerate biking. The good news here is that regular exercise, like biking, can actually help minimize the effects of those conditions. Please make sure that your body can absorb the burden.

Proper safety equipment

This is non negotiable. Safety equipment is a must, whether going to the corner store or ride to Antipolo.. Wherever your destination is, wearing of safety apparel is mandatory.

  1. A good brand of helmet. (Always buy brand-new)
  2. Gloves (either half finger or full finger)
  3. Shoes (Should be made of semi-stiff sole to help pedaling)
  4. Biking shorts with thick padding
  5. Biking glasses (with or without tint) to protect from road dust and debris)
  6. Baclava (for half face cover)
  7. Bike Jersey or Dri-fit shirt.
  8. Headlight and rear light for illumination
  9. A good brand of insulated water bottle. (Hydration is important)
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Bike lock
  12. Tools
  13. Tire patch kit

All available from both Cs168 and PAO Bicycle Shop

Picking a Bike

Although high-end models will require actual measurement of your frame (i.e. height, weight, arm and leg lengths) first-timers will have to settle first with what is readily available. Determine your budget and work your way from there.

Folding Bikes

The folding bikes are asy to maintain, small and compact, storage is a cinch. There is an abundance of tire sizes with corresponding frame dimensions, but stay with 20in wheels, as parts are plentiful and are similar with BMX bikes.

Also, most folding bikes have weight limit, so see if you meet the maximum weight. Otherwise, get a full frame variant. Ask around for recommendations.

Mountain Bikes

The most popular bike nowadays, it combines ruggedness and ease of use. Parts combinations are limitless, depending on what you want. MTBs are perfect for any road conditions, and the road clearance is beneficial on potholes and curbs. Tire size is bigger so there is little danger of shooting into sewer drainage bars. It’s also the cheapest to assemble.

Road Bikes

While these bikes are faster on the road, the small diameter tires are not suitable on potholed roads. Roadbikes (or popularly known as racers) are best for riders with more experience. However, the road bike is very light and very maneuverable.

Executive Vic Viola bikes to work often, from QC to Paranaque on his Specialized Roadbike. (image: Dennis Dancel)

Plan your trip.

As much as possible, stay away from major roads, especially the ones that trucks utilize. Use side roads or any shortcuts that cut through the metropolis.

For example, the author goes to Makati from QC via Lacson Ave., up to Mabini Bridge (Nagtahan) then left to Pandacan. The road leads to Pasong Tamo Extension. This route is safer than traversing South Super Highway). Sounds far, but it its only about 9km one way. I can usually cover that trip around 1 hour, with leisure pedaling.

Also, you can install the Strava app on your phone to monitor your progress.

Don’t be a hero.

  • If you feel tired, stop at a safe place, never on the road. Do not force yourself to finish the trip earlier.
  • Don’t feel pressured with other riders that may be faster or stronger than you. Each rider has his/her own pace and cadence. Stick with it. You will improve in time.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Drink lots of water, especially when it’s hot. If possible, do not ride in the middle of the day. Heatstroke is very dangerous, sometimes lethal.
  • Eat properly. Your energy will rely on what you eat. Do not starve yourself. Carbo-building is usually 2 days before trip.

Join a Bike Club

As a member of a local biking club, I received pointers and recommendations from fellow members. From doctors, businessmen, and politicians, they offer a well of knowledge that a typical biker will treasure.

Lourdes School Quezon City Bike Club (image: Andre Demaisip)

Here are some priceless information from the “elders”.

Louie Bordador, MD:

Have yourself checked if you are healthy enough to bike to work. Usually, it’s a gradual process; short trips first to acclimatize your body and have a better sense of balance. For those who wear eyeglasses full tie, have a pair made of plastic, for less weight and minimize injury in case of an accident.

Philip Tan, Proprietor Coolstuff168ph Bike Parts and Accessories (CS168)

Get a folding bike with at least 3 gears, helmet and headlight and tail light. Folding bike is the best for city rides. “Mabilis makatalon pag pininahan” Always stay on the right side, giving way all the time. And more importantly, follow road regulations.

Pao Chua, Owner, PAO Bike Shop:

  • For first time bike user, make sure you get the proper bike size for you.
  • Get proper gears like helmet, gloves etc.
  • Water bottle is a must, Keep hydrated.
  • Know the proper road etiquette. Never ride in the middle of the road and be sure to follow road rules specially traffic signal and traffic flow.
  • Mentality kasi ng bikers nowadays napansin ko is feel nila pedestrian pa din sila pag may bike sila so ang dami ko nakikitang nag counterflow which is very dangerous.”

Nestor Gulapa, MD. With this pandemic, it is still safer to use masks, although breathing is compromised, so take frequent breaks as much as possible. Sanitize after every trip.

It really depends on your preference and need. Determine by your location, destination and distance. Also consider if your workplace or office provides parking or storage if any.

*Also, if possible refrain from wearing restrictive masks. Breathing will be labored if both mouth and nose are covered. If it’s very necessary, do not overtax yourself and stop more often to catch your breath.

WARNING: Bicycle riding (Scientific name: Upgraditis)is a dangerous hobby! It’s a disease that has no cure! It’s always upgrade time!

Our sponsors!

We would like to thank the LSQC Bike Club, the Tulisans Bike Club for their valued inputs and stories of (mis)adventures in biking.

Special mention to Mr. Philip Tan of Cool Stuff 168 , for his generosity in imparting bicycle wisdom as well as reasonably priced bike parts. Newbies and old bikers feel at home here. This is where you can pick your preferred bicycle from a wide selection. Folding, Mountain, Road and even Cyclocross bikes, It’s all here. What’s more, they have a full-time mechanic that can service your unit while waiting.

FB acct: Cs168ph

Mr. Pao Chua, owner of Pao Bicycle Shop, for imparting knowledge and tall tales. This is where you can find high-end bikes, parts and everything in between. He also has a mechanic that will install and modify anything bicycle. Pao is also an avid “jalimao” biker, so he knows what he’s talking about. Visit his shop at 73 Simoun St. Brgy. Sto. Doming, Quezon City. Tel: (02) 529 9584 FB: @paobicycleshop

Text and images by Earl Manalansan (Unless otherwise indicated)

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