BRB, Taking A Break is a new Cosmo series that's all about hitting the pause button on whatever's stressing you out and taking the time to rest and reflect—two things we all need to do more of these days.
To say that 2020 was a rough year would be an understatement. Personally, my mental health wasn't in a good place, and the stress of working from home was taking a toll on me. It was a set-up that completely blurred the lines between my personal and professional life. Being at home felt like an endless cycle, and it was suffocating. A small part of me felt guilty about this internal struggle because I knew how lucky I was that my company put our safety first by not requiring us to go to the office amid a pandemic.
I tried to cope by moving my work station to different places around the house—from my room, to my mom's room, to the dining table, and even to our garage. I spoke to a friend about this and it got me thinking about my life outside of work.
I've always been a creative person, but I soon realized that I didn't have any hobbies besides making art—which is, in a way, still an extension of what I do as a profession.
So I asked myself, bakit nga ba 'yun lang ang ginagawa ko? Ano pa bang puwede kong gawin?
Fueled by the urge to completely step out of my comfort zone, I bought a surfskate. I soon found out that while I love skateboarding, it has its limitations. I can only ride on smooth roads; a longboard is for cruising but I couldn't enjoy it to the fullest because the roads in my area are rough with a lot of potholes and humps. This frustrated me a lot beause it meant waiting 'til the weekend to go somewhere and skate.
It didn't take long before I became interested in biking. My boyfriend and I asked his dad, a triathlete, to accompany us to Cartimar to get our first bikes. I bought a Viper mountain bike on a whim, despite not having done any prior research. Basta gusto ko lang talaga mag-bike! It cost P9,800. I also bought a helmet for P500.
There was a time when biking was all I could think about. When will my next ride be?
At first, I was afraid to ride alone: I kept asking my siblings to go with me. Mahiyaing tao ako, in general, so I didn't want to be judged for making a mistake. I also didn't want to be alone in case there was an emergency or if I experienced catcalling on the road. But there was a time when biking was all I could think about. When will my next ride be? How can I adjust my schedule so I could bike more? I'd even squeeze in a ride before clocking in at work!
Kaya lang when I got my mountain bike, hindi ko alam na may iba’t ibang shifting and gearing pala na kailangan malaman para mas mapadali ang rides. That's when I had to forget everything I knew and relearn everything. I watch cycling vlogs on YouTube like Global Cycling Network, Ian How, and Aira Lopez. I learn a lot and ang sarap nila panoorin—parang kasama na rin ako sa rides nila! I also learn from my boyfriend, who's more matiyaga when it comes to learning about biking. Plus, there's the perk of having his dad around when we have questions.
After *a lot* of training, I became more confident about riding solo. I tried to do it alone one day kasi kating-kati na talaga ko mag-bike and wala akong mayaya! I just kept reminding myself na, go kaya 'yan, lahat may learning curve, you can do it! Sobrang sarap yung feeling of conquering one fear, one day at a time.
Eventually, I invested in a pre-loved Specialized Dolce road bike, which was priced around P28,500! Matagal din kami naghanap sa Facebook Marketplace before I got it kaya nung nakita ko yung size, specs, and color, inisip ko na meant to be talaga, para sa'kin ang bike na ito! Sobrang nasusulit ko yung bili ko because the road bike feels like I'm gliding through the air. It feels less tiring and more enjoyable when it comes to uphill routes. Naka akyat na ako ng RevPal or formerly known as People's Palace in the Sky sa Tagaytay using my road bike!
To give you an idea of how much I've invested in this newfound passion, here's a breakdown:
- Headlight + tail light = P500
- Bike wear = P1,000
- Phone mount = P1,500
- Extra inner tube for my tire = P360
- Handlebar tape = P600
- Fairweather frame bag = P2,240
- Camelbak bottle = P780
- Bottle cage = P275
- CRNK helmet = P2,170
I'll think about other upgrades some other time—I gotta admit, it's been so tempting—but for now, these are enough for me.
My usual rides
On weekdays, I bike with my siblings when we're done with our responsibilities for the day. We love going to BF Parañaque and Alabang because the roads are smoother there. Ang serene lang ng quietness at night because konti na lang ang cars, stores are closed, tahimik na ang city, the day has ended and all.
On weekends, my boyfriend and I head to Nuvali in Laguna. Sobrang lamig doon at sobrang lawak ng daan. Naiinggit ako kasi doon siya malapit nakatira. Magandang training ground yung mga uphill and downhill roads doon. We sometimes go to Poblacion in Makati and BGC kung gusto lang naming mag-coffee shop and art rides while still following safety protocols mandated by the government. Lagi akong may dalang face shield sa frame bag and suot na face mask while riding.
What I've learned through biking
A cyclist friend of mine once said that biking is more of a mental than physical thing for him, and honestly, I can relate to that so much. Although, of course, kasama na yung benefits ng exercise doon, iba yung feeling that it gives me. My heart is full after every ride. It's like I'm back to when I was a kid and I feel happy every time.
My heart is full after every ride.
What I've learned about myself is that I am self-conscious a lot. I used to be so caught up with the way I ride the bike, and not wanting to be judged, that I focused on that thought and not what was around me. I reminded myself that cycling is not entirely about the destination; it's important to enjoy the view. It's okay to slow down, it's okay look around you.
I also now have more empathy for bikers: those who commute for work, those who use bikes as their mode of transportation. While on a ride out with my brother on West Service Road in Parañaque, nakakita kami ng biker na naaksidente and wala na talagang malay sa daan. Sobrang nanginig ako sa nakita ko. I've seen how it can be dangerous on the road, kapag grabe magharurot yung mga kotse sa tabi mo, na feeling mo mahahagip ka. I see now that there is so much more to be done, and I hope that we will be given ~proper~ bike lanes. Yung mga hindi ko napapansin before na mga posts ng friends ko who rally about making our cities a bike-friendly space or making the roads safer in general, naiintindihan ko na ngayon yung sentiments nila.
How it helped my mental health
Biking clears my head. Magba-bike lang ako and I'd feel better. It helps me remove any self-doubt. Iba rin yung feeling na may na-achieve kang goal, like kunwari gusto ko maka-50 km tapos 'pag na-achieve mo na 'yun sobrang saya! Ngayon, ang goal ko is 80 to 100 km. I have a lot more riding and training to do but I hope that when I re-read this article in the future, iba-ibang places na ang na-reach ko.