It was a month after my surgery when I was informed of a cycling activity to be held on the 8th of August in a province next to where I am working. I immediately said yes because I got so excited and relieved that finally, there’s something to look forward to on the next month. However, at the back of my mind, I was hesitant as I don’t know if it was safe for me to do something as strenuous as cycling a 20km distance by the time of the event.
2 weeks passed and I was able to find the website for the details of the event in English. I found out that the initial 20km I thought I would be joining is a pretty much like a fun ride event for families or for anyone who just wants to enjoy themselves around the place. It was not very easy to decide whether I would really register for the event or not because I was thinking of my health too. Geez, being hospitalized is just so terrifying! But I really really seriously wanted to join after being static for more than a month. Because it’s stressful to consult a doctor here, I asked a soon-to-be doctor who’s currently doing her internship whether it’s already fine for me to do such activities. She consulted her boss and told me that it’s fine as long as I can handle it. That’s it! I made up my mind and decided to join the 44km. I informed Carl, the owner of the Red Beast I am using who also told me about the event, about my decision and he was surprised. Being a cycling addict, I thought he would register in the 88km but it turns out we both registered in the 44km.
We were in different categories though. I belonged to the Female Open Category while the Men’s Division was categorized by age bracket.
The race was a Saturday which meant that I would be skipping one Saturday class. One day absence, salary deduction, bad record (yes, having an absent record at work is bad, according to the standards I set for myself), but the event was a once in a lifetime event I would not just let go. It was the One Ride for ASEAN organized my AMA-Events sponsored by CIMB Bank. The date of the event, August 8, was also the date when five leaders – the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand signed a document which gives birth to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations back in 1967. This, I only learned while reading through what the event is all about. Or maybe not. Maybe I read it back in 2nd year high school in Social Studies but didn’t pay much attention to it so I just don’t know.
Verification of Payment: uhmm. I was quite worried about this because two days before the event, Carl received his verification e-mail but I didn’t receive any. We’ve been checking the website whether our names were included but to no avail. We were getting anxious. And I couldn’t personally go to the venue a day before to get my race kit because it’s a school day. Carl promised he would take care of it. So he did. The day before, he went to get our race kits and roamed around the venue. I was hoping there would be no rough trails as I know I am not well prepared for that. Though I was up for the adventure, it still scared me a little to do rough trails as I haven’t had enough training/exercise/practice for the event. I was relieved when he told me it would be all along the highway but he said there’s a lot of big hills.
The day came and I was all so exhilarated and giddy. I didn’t know what to expect. I was about do my first cycling race!!!
I woke up very early and prepared. I had some oats to serve as my fuel throughout the travel time and the race. We had to travel for an hour to get to the venue. I was in his place at 10 past 5. The taxi was already there. I wondered how two big bikes would fit in the car.
The two bikes were almost on top of me and I was hugging them throughout the travel from Rayong to Nongyai, Chonburi. It was fun and I would just charge it all to experience. I was just thinking about whether I could survive the race or not.
We arrived at the venue and I was quite awed by the beautiful and luxurious bikes the participants have. They all looked like a pro to me. Complete gears, and they all looked so ready. Few minutes after, the 88km riders were asked to assemble. At 7:30, they started to pedal. There were just so many of them. When most of them have left, the 44 km riders started to join the queue and so did we.
I was happily pedaling and was thinking of a lot of things. I was racing with myself and not with anyone else, Carl told me this before we hit the road. I was taking it slow and was enjoying the great view of the country side. I remembered how I felt when I did my first ever 14km trail run. The view then was also exquisite! When we got to the mountain part of the run, I had to stop running to simply feast with such beautiful landscape. Looking at the countryside during the ride was nostalgic. I wanted so much to stop and take a photo but I didn’t want to lose my momentum of reminiscing, besides, what I saw would forever be etched in my mind. I was ecstatic with what I am seeing that I just kept going to see more of the place. I didn’t mind the hills at first as i was so full of energy. But then, I am no superwoman and I started to feel a bit tired. I realized I’ve been pedaling for a long time already but I didn’t know how much distance I covered already. Until I saw the signage along the road that says 15 km. I was like, ‘what?? only 15 km.’ I checked my time and I realized I covered 15 km in 35 minutes. My goal was simply to finish the race before the cut off time. Cut off time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. I did a little math in my mind and figured, I would still reach the finish line if I continue with my pace.
No pressure. So I went on, trying to not mind what my body was feeling. I was honestly tired but I just wanted to keep going and savor that ecstatic moment on the bike. A lot of bikers went ahead. Sometimes, I get to pass the same people who left me behind earlier and sometimes they get pass me too. I knew I was just doing my pace exactly how I should do it.
That was me after a few minutes off the bike. Carl was munching some carbs and I just had some slices of pineapple and watermelon plus a bar of Snickers. The lunch buffet they offered looked so delish but I didn’t have the appetite to dig in some. We had a little rest and we went back to the taxi to prepare to leave. We didn’t wait for the announcement of the winners and the raffle as we were already contented to what we felt during the race.
While on our way to Rayong, I was thinking about how I was able to do it. I was so grateful that nothing bad happened to me and that I was able to finish it on time. All glory and honor, i give back to Him. I know he provided me with the strength I needed and He even gave me a bonus, a finisher’s medal!!!
I gained so much experience that day. So much memories added in my memory bank. So much for a sentimental person like me.
I browsed the records shown on their website and if all participants were included in that list, I was the only Filipino who joined the 44km race. I just know about the 88km.
Until the next fun ride …