Along with 3 other friends, I joined the 1st National Bicycle Day Ride last Nov. 23. We joined the Manila South contingent which was a few kilometers longer than the North Ride. We met at around 5:30 am in Makati and pedalled our way to Tiendesitas in Ortigas. We were amazed with the number of attendees. It was an ocean of bikers waiting at the starting line behind the marshals.
We knew that we barely made it because we could hear the countdown coming from the stage. I was able to snap a few photos before the ride commenced.
It’s like a flood gate was opened and bikes poured out on the the open road of Ortigas. There were road bikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes, BMX, city bikes and even kids on small bikes were present.
C5 Road was virtually closed by the sheer amount of bicycles. I wouldn’t want to be a motorist during a critical mass ride like this. The pace was relaxed, sometimes really slow, and it sometimes came to a complete stop.
From C5, we took a left turn to the South Luzon Expressway Service Road. The service road, being a 2 lane 2 way highway, was choked by the volume of bikers. People were both entertained and confused by the mass of bikes going south. People waiting for public transport were frustrated because they had to wait longer for their ride. It was literally a bikes as far as the eye can see.
We inched our way to Bicutan and then to Sucat and finally Alabang. The pace got a little faster since the road got a little wider. It was good because the temperature was starting to get uncomfortable. We encountered another gridlock nearing Las Pinas where the roads got narrower. Again, you will see bikers occupying both lanes that caused more traffic jams. Those stopping for water breaks or to grab a quick snack weren’t helping either. They’d just stop without realizing that they blocked the way for hose behind them.
They rest of the ride back to Manila was more relaxed due to the fact that most participants already broke off in Paranaque and Las Pinas. We reached Pasay at around 10am and Makati by 11am. The Sun was already beating down on us so we decided to break away in Buendia.
It was a fun ride, albeit disappointing that the lack of discipline of some of the bikers, defeated the purpose of the mass ride. We were supposed to show motorist and commuters that bikes are an excellent alternative mode of transportation. How can they realize that if they see roads jammed with bikes and not motor vehicles?
The marshals could’ve done a better job at controlling the bikers especially on 2 way roads where the participants occupied both lanes instead of “sharing the road” as what most of their shirts say. Their lack of discipline caused major bottlenecks on the road. Still, kudos to the organizers. It isn’t easy managing a ride with that number of cyclists.