Professional cyclists lead lives that are as challenging as the courses they compete in. For those who take the sport seriously, cycling molds a disposition that makes you more mindful about proper training, healthy living, and the value of perseverance.
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Bikers face various physical challenges whenever they race, whether it’s for practice or an actual competition. From mountainous routes to highways that extend as far as the eye can see, the tracks they ride through are physically demanding. “Lahat naman mahirap e, kahit mapatag,” says Nilo Valdez of Team 7-11 Cliqq Air 21. “[Pero syempre,] pinakamahirap sa bundok.”
Aside from surmounting hills and powering through long distances, riders have to deal with unpredictable weather conditions—intense heat takes a toll on riders’ strength, while heavy rains make roads slippery, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
If cycling proves to be a difficult and often-dangerous activity, what propels the pros to continue pedaling forward?
For some bikers, familial ties come into play. “Influence din po ito ng kuya ko,” says Daniel Carino from Team Go for Gold, talking about his older brother El Joshua. “Nasa kabilang team po sya (Philippine Navy). [Mas matagal] na po sya sa cycling [kaysa sa akin].” Others, like Nilo and Elmer Navarro from Team Go for Gold, are inspired by their father’s feats. “Ganito rin ang ginagawa ng tatay ko, kaya gusto ko rin masundan ang kanyang yapak,” adds Nilo.
Like other athletes, cyclists also consider their chosen sport as a great and enjoyable way to avoid vices and unhealthy habits. “Ito talaga ang nagpapasaya sa amin e. Araw-araw ako nagsa-cycling,” says Ronald Oranza from Team Philippine Navy.
Riding on good influence
Elite cyclists aren’t strangers to intense competition, training strenuously for months to outlast fellow challengers. In most biking events, it’s not surprising to come across titleholders in other races or participants in local and international sporting events. John Paul Morales of the Philippine Navy, for example, competed in PRURide PH 2019 to train for the upcoming SEA Games.
However, professional bikers know that they are their own biggest competition. Both on and off the track, they can only hurdle through uphill climbs and countless setbacks by adhering to a disciplined routine. More than knowing the lay of the land as they bike, cyclists need to condition themselves well. “[Ang isa pong magaling na cyclist,] maalaga sa sariling katawan. Hindi po sya nagpapabaya, hindi nagpupuyat, at may tamang pagpapahinga sa ensayo at pagkatapos ng karera,” says Carino.
For anyone aspiring to take on cycling, elite biker Natnael Mebrahtom of Team 7-Eleven Cliqq Air21 shares the following tips.
“You have to love cycling. That’s the first one,” he says. “Second, you need to have some goals. When I started cycling, I dreamt of becoming a professional rider. Third, you have to train intensely. All the cyclists here undergo rigorous preparations.”