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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Tips on Biking to Work

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A few months ago, I received an email from one of the readers of this blog asking about biking to work. She works in Makati and lives in Taguig. She's thinking of bike commuting and would like to know if it's safe and if I could give her some tips.

Below is (more or less) my reply to her that I'd like to share with you:

To be honest with you, I rarely bike to work now, but I wish I can do it more often. :)

To answer your question on whether it's safe, I would say yes if you're used to biking on Metro Manila streets and know how to "read" the behavior of the vehicles on the road. If you haven't tried it, maybe you can do a dry run and ride to work on Sunday with the stuff that you're planning to bring.

Here are some tips based from my learnings:

1. Bring a beater bike, if you have one. As much as possible, you want to avoid your bike being noticed by thieves. Less flashy. Try to blend in.

2. Use proper hand gestures when you're on the road. Let the other vehicles know where you're going.

3. Smile and say thank you to the drivers when they allow you pass. I know we have the right of way, but that's not how they see it.

4. Bring a good bike lock and make sure you lock your bike properly. If you can park it near the guard and make friends with him. If you have a quick release seat collar, bring the seat with you.

5. Be visible. Aside from blinkers and headlights, buy reflectorized stickers and stick them on your bike, shoes and helmet. I bought about two meters of white reflectorized stickers from an auto shop and cut these to the correct sizes.

6. Bring tools, pump, patch kit, extra money, cellphone. For the tools, know how to use them. YouTube is a wealth of knowledge for how-to stuff.

7. Wear a helmet, gloves and protective eyewear. Always.

8. Have a bag cover or a trash bag that you can use to wrap your bag in case it rains.

9. Hope your office has a shower area. If not, bring lots of baby wipes.

10. Bring an ID so that people would know who you are in case of an accident. I wear a Road ID now, thanks to my aunt from the States. You can get a Life Band here in the Philippines from these guys.

11. When biking on the streets, don't be all over the road. In short, huwag kang malikot! Also, look and be aware of your surroundings before you change lanes, make turns or even stop.

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Do you have other bike commuting tips that you'd like to share? Post them in the comments section! :)

Monday, January 07, 2013

First Ride of 2013: A dip in Ibaan's Himamawo Spring

I haven't been riding that much for almost two months. I bought a CycleOps trainer and all, but that doesn't count, in my opinion. The last ride I did was a bike commute to work and that's it. Quite shameful for a guy running a blog on biking.

For 2013, my first ride was from Batangas City to Ibaan and back to dip in the Himamawo Spring. The boys discovered this last year and has been bragging about how they enjoyed it ever since. So when I heard that the first ride was going there, I jumped the gun and drove all the way to end of the expressway to see for myself this mystical swimming hole.

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Since it was raining for more than three days, we opted for the longer route and rode on the highway instead of the backroads, which were quite muddy.

I was craving for Ibaan's famous tamales for quite some time, and so we took a detour to the public market and bought some. It was worth it! I think I ate five for the whole trip, while Domeng ate eight at least. Now that's Pinoy carbo-loading for you!

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We went back to the Ibaan-San Jose road, and took a left turn on one small road about a kilometer after the STAR tollway. We saw the beautiful farmlands of Ibaan with a lot cows roaming around. From the cemented road, we made a left turn to a dirt path and pedalled our way between rice fields and mango plantations.

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After about a couple of kilometers, we took a right and stopped by a mango tree to wait for the rest of the group. Our pace was so leisurely that we really enjoyed the ride.

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When everyone was there, we made our way to a downhill section covered by a canopy of trees. And at the end, there it is - Himamawo Spring in its glory.

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At first it was just Michael and Onad in the pool, but after some time, we were all in our cycling shorts taking a dip. All of us except for Domeng, who opted to watch over the bikes and take pictures while eating tamales.

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The water felt very cold at first, but our bodies adjusted eventually. I think we stayed and dipped for about an hour before we geared up for the ride back.

Since it was lunch time, we all decided to treat ourselves with pancit guisado at Pangao before heading home.

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The meal was scrumptious, filling, and very cheap as always.

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I think we left for Batangas at about 12:35 in the afternoon.

All in all it was a nice first ride of the year. Looking forward to more adventures soon.

Want to go there, too? Here's my GPS route:
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