For most of us, a trip to Baguio is a six- to seven-hour bus ride or five-hour drive. But for 24-year-old nurse Bernadette Mae Aguirre, it was roughly a 16-hour bike ride. No, we’re not kidding. Read on if you’re looking for inspiration to finally get off your butt and ride that bike.
How did you become interested in cycling?
I've been biking since I was a kid, but I got addicted to it just after my reign [as Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism 2013] was over. I was asked to host a fun ride event, and I asked the owner if I could join the bike ride. The rest is history! I bike whenever I have free time.
How expensive is it to start cycling?
In terms of brands, I only go with Trinx. It’s the most affordable and efficient bike I have. A mountain bike is around P7,000 unless you want to upgrade its parts. If you prefer other bikes like a road bike, a folding bike, a fat bike, a fixie, or even a Japanese bike, those cost around P7,000 to P10,000. When it comes to equipment, it’s important to have a helmet and a hydration bottle. Other equipment like sleeves, dri-fit clothes, shoes, gloves, and shades are some of the stuff every biker needs.
What do you like most about it?
It allows me to go to places I never thought I’d reach—like the beautiful places of Bulacan, the mountains of Rizal, and the hills of Bataan, Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna. Biking has also helped me promote the importance of protecting and preserving Mother Earth; it’s the most eco-friendly form of transportation. Physically, biking maintains my health. I’m a diabetic and now, I’m more aware of what I do and what I take.
What do you hate about it? Don’t ~girl problems~ bother you?
I’ve never used my period as an excuse for me not to ride my bike. In fact, the only problem I have is finding more time to ride.
Why did you decide to ride from Bulacan to Baguio?
My dream has always been to ride my bike all the way to Baguio’s Lion Head statue. I've been to Baguio many times but never with my bike, so last February, I asked my teammates to ride PATW (padyak-all-the-way) with me to Baguio. We freed up our schedules and decided to go just two weeks before the Panagbenga Festival.
Tell us about the trip.
At midnight that day, we started our ride from Balagtas, Bulacan. We had our breakfast and first stop over somewhere in Tarlac. By 4 a.m., I had to ask for a stopover because I was already tired from biking along the seemingly endless stretch of Pampanga. After a much-needed break, we continued our journey and reached Rosario, La Union at 10 a.m. (an hour ahead of schedule). We ate there for lunch and I fell asleep shortly after.
I really needed to make my legs work as fast as possible for me to keep up with the guys and not get left behind. I was the only girl in the group, and for the most part, I was the last one to get to our designated stopovers. All throughout the ride, though, I was with my very supportive boyfriend. We were also with our coach and he led the group through the entire journey.
At exactly 11 a.m., we started our descent to Lion’s Head. Everyone was so excited. The group was divided into three, and I was in the last group. At Camp 2 [of Kennon Road], we noticed that it was a one-way path, since the other side of the road was newly paved. But since we were on our bikes, the traffic enforcers allowed us to pass by.
When we reached Camp 3, some people from DPWH stopped us and took us to the nearest police station. Because of the incident, we were delayed for almost two hours since we had to carry our bikes from Camp 3 to Camp 4, then bike to Camp 6 where the police station was. The man from DPWH was really mad at us; I volunteered to speak for the group. Eventually, I made a report and had everyone sign. We included all our contact information. As soon as we finished the whole ordeal, we headed back to our climb. Around 4:30 p.m, we arrived at the famous Lion's Head statue of Baguio City, where I was finally had the chance to take a photo while carrying my bike.
Unsurprisingly, people who noticed me—a girl biking with guys—had an all-too-familiar incredulous look on their faces. They were amazed by how I managed to keep up with the other bikers. I usually hear people saying, “Uy, babae!” or “Ang galing mo naman, ma’am!” or “Idol!”
How do you find time to train?
Aside from biking, I also run, swim, and go to the gym regularly. I just want to have a fit, healthy body.
I'm an ER nurse; my schedule isn’t exactly normal. I try to go on afternoon runs or short bike rides before my shift at the emergency room. When I have a 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, I do a morning run or a half-day bike ride. When I have an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, I do a three-kilometer run and a two-kilometer swim. During my days off and if I don't have any hosting job or other events, I go trekking or enjoy a whole-day bike ride.
For anyone interested in cycling, start with the basics. Obey traffic rules, stay safe, and wear protective gear. Face your fear, one step at a time, and always think positive. ‘Pag may hirap, may sarap. You may get tired sometimes, but rest when you need to then continue pedaling until you reach your destination.
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