PRURide PH 2019 - Gran Fondo 30 K


I have been biking arduously of late and competition is not in mind.  This is the reason I have not joined these bike events, as they only offer competitive races.  My passion is in biking and not into races, so it's a welcome treat when bike events like these offer fun rides.

PRURide PH 2019 offered Gran Fondo as their category for those bikers like me.  To follow the route of the Masters and Professionals but in the spirit of fun and camaraderie.  For this year, they have three Gran Fondo categories, 30, 60 and 100 kilometers.  I chose the Gran Fondo 30 as my fun ride of choice.  

I have been riding steadily 50 kilometers or more now but I haven't tried 100 kilometers recently.  it was either the 30 and the 60 for me.  As we were invited as media here, I was in Subic for the festival since Thursday.  Gran Fondo was on Sunday, so I will be working double time.  Will do some articles in my hotel and for sure I won't have much time to rest for the 60 kilometer ride.  It won't be fun as I would imagine, what's a Gran Fondo without fun?

So 30 kilometer it is and I had to hurdle another challenge.  Waking up early for the 5am call time and registration of the Gran Fondo.  I am no morning person so you see my struggle.  I need to ride with a full stomach and my hotel offers breakfast at 6am.  Another hurdle that I must overcome.  As they say, problems are situations that need solving.  I slept early (tried and failed), my hotel helped a lot here, and I bought food the night before, for early breakfast.

Donning my PRURide PH 2019 white jersey, I proudly brought my bike down from my room and cycled myself to the starting line.  5am was too early as my race or ride would be done much later.  I was excited, super excited to join the Gran Fondo that coming in early is not of a bother.  I saw there also some of my media friends came early as well.  We just took some shots of the event and made chit chat with some of the officials.  Trying to get more information for the past three days' events.

After a bit of waiting, and stories being thrown back and forth, our Gran Fondo started.  Thirty kilometers I said was easy but I didn't know the route.  This oversight led me to something to what I feared most, uphill climbs.  I was doing great for the first 10 kilometers when finally, right after passing the airport and when we veered left, it was all uphill from there till the round about at the 15 kilometer marker.

Five gruelling and steep hills I had to muster prior turning back.  I've had my taste for Tagaytay and this one was just like that, or maybe much harder.  My 25 kilometer per hour (kph) flat road pace was instantly reduced to a 5 kph.  On uphills to Tagaytay, I average 8 kph, but here it was vastly reduced.

Using my granny ring (25 teeth) coupled with my 42 teeth cog, I was at my lightest setting yet I was pedalling crazily going uphill.  A lot of riders passed me and I almost lost hope and I could have easily turned back prior to the roundabout marker.  Never in biking that I quit a ride, I can stop and walk or push my bike, but not quit.  Not this time.

With my high cadence, slowly I was going up and each stroke I make gave me hope that I can do it.  I said to pedal as much I can, and really push myself to the limit before I do walk or push my bike.  I can't remember my time going up but after focusing on my pedal stroke, left then right, then again left and right, I was up the hill all the way to the marker.  I can see the marshalls egging me to make the turn back, shouting positives, I knew then I can finish this ride.  

After making that turn back, I was headed to the finish line.  No more uphill climbs, now I have to contend with the cruising ride downhill.  More dangerous than going up, going down is scary.  I was cruising the trip back at 50 kph. 

After 5 kilometers, I back to flat roads again.  Ten more kilometers I say to myself, I can do this.  By then the sun was already up and shone upon us and the road.  The air became thin and with exhaustion, my stamina was its low now.  I forgot to bring my water bottle now and I was using a 500ml given by the organizers.  I regularly water down myself with 1 liter of water for every hour of riding so I was parched already.  Each stroke I make I always chant "Lord give me strength for one more"  a line I always remember from the movie - Hacksaw Ridge. One more stroke, one more and true enough I was over the finish line.

Prior to Gran Fondo, I was averaging at 15 kph.  So I was expecting to do this in 2 hours.  End result?  My average went up to 18 kph.  This might not be a great accomplishment for most but for me it was.  Since Gran Fondo, my pace is steadily getting faster, thanks to PRURide PH 2019.

I learned a lot of things on this ride, of this Gran Fondo and the PRURide PH event, especially on my physical capacity to do a bike tour.  And for this I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to this prestigious event.  I was able to ride the course of the Masters and Professionals and achieving personal records at best.  More power to PRULife UK for sponsoring the event and I hope to see them helping our athletes in the near future.