MANILA - For the past 2 days, thousands of bike enthusiasts have been pedaling to the UP Diliman Campus’ Sunken Garden to take part in one of the biggest cycling festivals in the country.
Pedal UP: The Philippine Bicycle Demo 2023 has gathered some of the biggest brands in sports cycling as well as bespoke brands that cater to the lifestyle bikers who took up cycling as a means of transport, travel and tool for urban renewal.
The “Bike demo day” used to be an annual event, which was held in venues like Arcovia City in Pasig and Filinvest Trails in Alabang. The event was a chance for bike vendors to showcase their wares, and for bike enthusiasts to take their dream bikes out for a spin.
However, the pandemic shuttered mass gatherings including bike festivals. While the pandemic caused a lot of suffering for millions of people around the world, there was a silver lining here in the Philippines and in many other countries in the boom in cycling.
Millions around the world took up cycling, not just as a sport, but as a means of transport and travel, and eventually, this evolved into a whole lifestyle on its own.
This was quite evident with a lot of the stuff on sale in Pedal UP.
In previous bike festivals, sellers of accessories and bikes catered mostly to sports cyclists who demanded performance from their gear, and these bikers were mostly men. From the lycra shorts to the bags and the bikes themselves, the wares on sale back then almost always screamed “faster, stronger, tougher.”
But in this year’s demo festival, there is a noticeable shift in the kind of stuff on sale.
There are dri-fit polo shirts with colorful designs, handlebar bags and saddle bags with playful color combinations that would have been unthinkable to “serious cyclists” of the olden days, as well as a lot more stuff that cater to women cyclists.
A biker checks out some of the bikes on display at Pedal UP, one of the biggest bike trade shows and cycling festivals in the Philippines.
Colorful bike bags and accessories are on display at Pedal UP, one of the biggest bike trade shows and cycling festivals in the Philippines.
Bikers check put the booths at Pedal UP, one of the biggest bike trade shows and cycling festivals in the Philippines.
Bike apparel and other gear that cater to women cyclists are on display at Pedal UP, one of the biggest bike trade shows and cycling festivals in the Philippines.
Colorful dri-fit polo shirts are on display at Pedal UP, one of the biggest bike trade shows and cycling festivals in the Philippines.
Bikes that cater to this new breed of cyclists were also on display beside the usual road race machines and heavy-duty mountain bikes.
This shift is probably a good thing for the Philippine cycling scene as biking becomes more inclusive and expands beyond sports.
Many of these cyclists don’t care so much about the Tour de France, Red Bull Rampage or Enduro World Series. They care more about getting around the city efficiently and exploring the surrounding areas on their bikes. They care about having good coffee along the way and maybe some craft beer at the end of a long ride.
They care less about how many watts they generate on a Strava segment and care more about the watts and greenhouse gasses saved by using a bike instead of some fossil-fuel burning vehicle.
As the world marks Earth Day and the government prepares for another possible El Niño in the coming months, we can only wish that this tribe of new cyclists grows and hope that they can fight climate change with each pedal stroke.
Pedal UP started on April 21 and will run until April 23 at the Up Diliman Sunken Garden. Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.