THROWBACK: Beginner's Luck at a Cross-country Trail Bike Competition

"You have a bike right?" my cousin asked. "Yeaaahh?! Why?" I replied.

"I'll pick you up now, there's a bike competition in San Mateo, Rizal."

The photo below was taken in 2004, at my first Cross-country bike competition on the rugged terrains of San Mateo, Rizal.  My cousin Jean, who was into cycling, dragged me to the event. I thought I was just going to watch sweaty men with their burnt face, wearing tight cycling shorts, pedal their way through the course. It was a little hazy.. I remember there was a registration area, someone asking my bike type and booom, I'm in the competition. Turns out there was a girls' category but not too many signed up so they are forcing anyone willing to join. So i guess I was willing to join.

I am not new to biking, but I was new to this type of race event. The race format is Cross-country (XC) Trail Bike Competition which is usually a 6-8km course on a varied terrain. It was different from the long, rolling to uphill paved road/trail one would encounter at an urban adventure race (which I usually join, er, used to join). At an XC trail, there are steep drops, sharp turns, rapid ascents, the trail far from being paved and trees to bump yourself at. 

There were a handful of us in the girls category, a Philippine cycling team member, an adventure racer, mostly bike enthusiasts dragged by their husbands/boyfriends, but uniquely so was a nine year old boy with his "play" bike. I told myself, I just have to finish before the little kid does.
Smiling at the mass start.


Racers assembled themselves at the start line, helmet mandatory. Then it was time to pedal, FAST! At the first drop section, the racer in front of me tumbled and fell off her bike. It was downhill, so I can't do anything for her but dodge myself not to end up on top of her. After the drop, I caught a glimpse of her back on her feet but I never found out if she rode back to finish the trail. From the mass start, racers soon became isolated along the trail, a couple ahead of me I think, and several other behind me including the little kid. That little boy was my gauge in this. 


1st loop done! Not smiling now.
I got myself safely back to the start line unscathed but not looking so fab either. I need to loop the circuit one more time to finish. The second loop was easier being already familiar with the difficult sections of the trail. When I emerged from the trail towards the finish line, there were loud cheers from the crowd. Was I the last to finish, I thought to myself. Matter of fact, I was third place, after veteran biker/adventure racer-Olive Cortez and the girl from the Philippine Cycling Team. 

Quite a luck that day, finishing third and winning at the raffles after the race. 
Oh and the little kid finished the race too.

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