Tuesday, April 19, 2011

13th Tour of the Fireflies

Last April 17, the Cheese and I, along with 15,000 (or more according to their website) riders joined the annual Tour of the Fireflies, already on their 13th year with Bike Revolution as this year's theme. ToF is an annual biking event that aims to boost Filipino awareness of bicycle as a form of sustainable environmental transportation for cleaner air and generally, to promote safer roads for any cyclists. We all know this, Manila is totally unsafe for bike enthusiasts, cyclists, even professionals. There are very very few areas where bikers and their corresponding spaces are respected. Right now, I could only think of two: UP Diliman and Marikina. I wouldn't dare include Quezon City Circle despite its obvious bike lane, lest I want to be run over by a maniac driver or be the subject of every motorists irk. 

Anyway, Sunday morning came. The Cheese and I cycled our way to Tiendesitas from my place in Kapitolyo. Pretty short and smooth ride (which I really liked) since I'm a very nervous rider and technically still an amateur. I don't like it when cars are driving in front, behind or beside me. It really scares me haha.

Good thing this year we were able to find a good spot near the starting line. We had a quick McDonald's breakfast on that same spot while the host interviewed each costume contest participants. At exactly 7am, we rolled our way to Ortigas Ave. crossing EDSA towards Greenhills. Below is a map of this year's ToF route.
The organizers plot new routes every year and for this year it was: Pasig - San Juan - Quezon City - Manila and vice versa.

EspaƱa was a breeze, in contrast to what I thought would be a traffic hell. Thank you to the kind officers who agreed to momentarily halt/reroute traffic that day. A big eff you to those motorists who revved off and cut our peloton. You have no idea how you scared the hell out of me! See, if you're the only four-wheel car cruising along us and you're not an ambulance, an auxiliary van or media, then shame on you! We only ask 5-6 hours out of 365 days for you to give way to us and you can't even comply, won't budge or won't give way at all.

As we were approaching Quezon Bridge in Manila area, we could already see the a la mass exodus of people walking their bikes up the bridge. Traffic ng bike haha. Some people took it as an opportunity to have photo ops. But when we reached the bridge's plateau we all went back to our wheels and pedaled our way down to Lawton, cruising along Manila City Hall and National Museum, stopping at red light before turning left to Roxas Boulevard straight to CCP for a water break.
My friend Patty posing with the Bioman guys. Photo by Mac Velasquez.

Every year, the organizers encourage participants to join ToF wearing various costumes, whether it be related to the year's theme or simply just for fun. For this, the Biomen instantly became the crowd's favorite riders.

These two oldies had their picture taken with the Cheese haha. Cute.

The Coconut Man. I gave him an A for effort.

On our way back to Tiendesitas, The Cheese and I were able to ride along our friends, Patty and Mac (who took this photo).

After 5 hours, we finally reached Tiendesitas again. I was so proud of ourselves and all the other riders who made it under the excruciating and unforgiving Manila summer heat and traffic. See you all again next year!


Thank you to the ToF organizers, sponsors, brave and valiant marshals who patiently guides rider and explain to irate motorists what the hell is going on, the patrol men, ambulance, all those who helped, the local government of each city and all the people on the road who understood and never complained. This was our third year to join ToF and hopefully will continue riding with them in the coming years.

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