At Bikers Brew we like to share

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cyling and my first taste of freedom

I remember when I learned to ride a bicycle. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Looking back, it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, but as a young boy, it was everything. In my opinion, learning to ride a bike is the first true act of independence a boy can have. Once you learn to bike, your boundaries get bigger, your world suddenly expands from beyond the front of your house, beyond the street you live on, to a much bigger world that you can explore. As long as your legs have the strength to propel you on, your adventure continues. If you get tired, you just stop, rest, and the exploration resumes once you have caught your breath. It was just an amazing time.

I learned to bike in, of all places, Burnham park in Baguio City (that's a province in the northern mountain region in the Philippines). We were on summer break, probably first grade then, and to escape the heat of Manila my folks decided to bring us all to the City of Pines, Baguio's other name. I don't remember the name of the rent-a-bike guy who served as my one on one instructor as well. All I remember was getting on an easy rider (those were the cool bikes for kids back in the day), placing my two feet on the pedals, and the guy on the bike just pushed me on. He was holding on to the back of the seat as I pedalled away, knowing that he was helping me with my balance (in effect he was the human training wheels) and we just cycled around the oval, which was a segregated area for bikes only. I was so nervous. I kept looking back at the "trainer" and each time I did, the bike would wobble as I would temporarily lose control of my steering and I would be weaving around the lanes. But the guy never lost his cool, he just kept holding on to the back of the seat to keep me upright and continued to say "tingin lang sa harap, huwag sa gulong, sa harap lang kung saan mo gustong pumunta"  (look ahead, don't look down at the front wheel, look to the direction you want to go). Then without me knowing, the guy let's go and I am on my own. When I looked back, I saw him a few feet away from me, of course I panicked, my steering wobbled as my confidence did the same, but he just kept saying "tingin lang sa harap. So I just kept pedalling away and boy was I proud of my accomplishment. I can't explain it, but I guess it's as close to pure joy as one can come.

When we got back to Manila, my dad got me my first bike from the neighborhood bike shop. It was an easy rider, electric blue, and in my eyes she was a beauty. I'd always find an excuse to go to that bike shop. I didn't have much money but I'd always get a sticker or reflector, or have my cotter-pins replaced (yes cranks used to have cotter-pins) or just ogle at the other bikes and all the stuff they had.

I also got to know some of my biker neighbors. We were a group of three, all on easy riders, and we'd be riding around during weekends and summer break, rain or shine. We just kept biking for fun. We biked everywhere (at that time everywhere was the village we lived in and the immediate surroundings), until we got tired, thirsty or hungry which served as our signal to head back home. It was also much safer then, so our parent's didn't mind us cycling our days away.

Boy, did we feel free. Biking really gave us our first taste of independence and freedom.  Simple pleasures. I've kept biking ever since.

The photo above is not my own, but our bikes were something like that, cool huh? :)


  1. I could recall the day I decided to learn how to bike. I was able to accomplished it before the days ends with so many bruises and contusions but the feeling of achievement was so priceless. This year, I really should start biking again.

  2. Herald, just do it :) appreciate the comment!