The Tour of Hope 2011

Going the eXtra Mile against Cervical Cancer:
5 days. 500 kilometers. 500 women SAVED.
May 28- June 1, 2011

Having finally graduated from college last May 23, I felt I wanted to do something worthwhile to “kick-off” my life after college. When I happened to check Pinoy Fitness, finding The Tour of Hope surprised me as I could never imagine biking QC all the way to my Dad’s hometown, Laoag City, when traveling it by car in nine hours makes me want to sleep all the day because of the “laspag” feeling. Days went by but the idea of doing it keeps on humming in my head. I was dilly-dallying for the most part, but I thought I could never do this again if I never give it a go. So, I decided to register for it without letting anyone know— even my parents.

Two days before the event, there were talks of the family going to Subic to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. This then prompted me to finally tell my family about my plan. I said there was no turning back since I already paid for the event (of course I could always refund if I back out, but I told them it’s non-refundable 😛). My parents didn’t really want me to go, but I explained my motives and thankfully, supportive parents they always are, negotiation went well.

Day 1: May 28
QC to Tarlac City: 128 kms.
Course: flat

Thought the event would be postponed as it was raining really hard. After a short program by Bravehearts, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness on cervical cancer prevention, at 7 am, the first leg kicked off with 50 core bikers and many rider friends who turned themselves in under the rain. I used my brother’s waterproof jacket to hopefully save myself a bit from the rain, but the rain was just too hard I still was left drenched all over. I tried to keep myself from cursing, Kapampangan-style of course, every time I nearly hit on a pothole filled with water. There were just too many kids cheering for us who wouldn’t want to hear that coming from someone they’re cheering for.

Stops every 30 to 40 kilometers helped a lot as it gave us, non-competitive bikers, time to refresh from the toil of a long ride. There were sandwiches, bananas and lots of Gatorade for the bikers and the support team.

With Janice and Joni of Timex, and Jaja (second from left) of David’s Salon
For an overview of our Day 1 schedule:
KM Reading
Trinoma, QC
Full Stop
Shell Henry Lim Station
Malolos, Bulacan
Full Stop
Shell GD Canlas Station
Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga
Full Stop
Shell Powerlink Station
Tabun, Mabalacat, Pampanga
Final Regroup
Shell San Rafael Station
San Rafael, McArthur Hway, Tarlac City
Laytalk and Lunch
Diwa ng Tarlak Convention Center
Microtel Hotel or Central Park Hotel

Day 2: May 29
Tarlac City to La Union: 170 kms.
Course: relatively flat

Ride started at 6:30 am. Day opened up with a really nice weather, the sun high at 9 am, and rain yet again at 11 until the end of the ride.

Taking a short break at the La Union Bridge

For our schedule:
KM Reading
Aquino Center
Full Stop
Shell MSC Gas Station
Carmen Rosales, Pangasinan
Full Stop
Magic Mall
Rosario, Pangasinan
Full Stop
Shell NISCE Service Station
Agoo, La Union
Caba, La Union
Final Regroup
Shell Oasis Service Station
Sevilla, San Fernando, La Union
Lay Talk and Lunch
La Union City Hall
Thunderbird or Kahuna

Day 3: May 30
La Union to Vigan City: 162 kms.
Course: rolllliiinnnngggg

Ride started at 7 am bound to Vigan City. Weather was the exact opposite for the first two days as it’s super hot. Nakakalaspag ang init. This just made me realize that human wants are really hard to compensate for: I do complain when it’s raining, and I do, too, when it’s hot. What do I want, really?

The course had its share of uphills for the first 30 kilometers. I thought it’d be the last of it. But after the first pit stop at Kilometer 45, it was uphills all the way!!! My legs were getting really sore and there were a lot of bikers hitching a ride on the cars already. I gave myself a mental push that I will try my best to conquer the hills because that’s a part of what I signed up for. Indeed, when I gazed at my left, the majestic panorama of the Ilocos coast provided a sense of comfort against the dreadful steep uphills until the end of Ilocos Sur. Everything seemed a blur when I realized I was getting nearer the last pit stop before Vigan. Hay salamat.

Arriving at Vigan was a real treat with local artists performing for us while we were having a boodle fight lunch provided for by the city government. I would not name the viands anymore, baka mainggit pa kayo.

With Kuya Allan and Atty. Reymond (right) of the Yellow Cab Cycling Team
*Atty. Reymond passed away a year after The Tour of Hope. May you rest in peace. You will surely be missed.

For our schedule:
KM Reading
Kahuna Hotel
Bacnotan, La Union
Full Stop
Shell Tagudin Station
Magsaysay, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur
Sta. Cruz Shell Filling Station, Ilocos Sur
Full Stop
Santiago, Ilocos Sur
Narvacan, Ilocos Sur
Full Stop
Shell CTO Service Station
Sta. Monica, Magsingal, Ilocos Sur
Final Regroup
Shell Vigan Gas Station
A. Bonifacio St. Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Lay Talk
Vigan City Hall
Hotel Salcedo de Vigan or Vigan Plaza Hotel

Day 4: May 31
Vigan City to Laoag City: 95 kms.
Course: rolling

Though most of us already have sore legs and backs, everyone’s spirits were all high as we were already bound for the end point of the entire tour. The morning sky spelled out a good day ahead.

The few “crazy bikers” used their race pace as practice for Cobra Ironman; while the rest of us normal human beings enjoyed our comfortable paces with the motivation of finishing the ride. Though the course was also rolling, the ride the day before gave us the confidence to conquer the hills which were now fewer and more gradual.
We were already thinking of swapping our bikes with this… 🙂

For our schedule:
KM Reading
Vigan City Hall
Full Stop
Shell Alcid Station
Brgy. Rizal, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur
Badoc Area
Full Stop
Shell Goro Station
San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte
Final Regroup
Shell Noel Corpuz Station
Nangalisan, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Lay Talk
Laoag City Hall Auditorium
Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center, Suba

Day 5: June 1

Ilocos Norte Tour: 50 kms.

Fun ride around Ilocos Norte today with celebrity bikers joining us, including Anthony Pangilinan.

For our itinerary:
Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center (Start)
San Nicolas
Ilocos Norte Kapitolyo (End/ Lunch)

The largest group photo of the participants

My dad, uncle and two siblings joined in the entire ride, where we all had a great time touring the historical landmarks of Ilocos Norte. It was so much fun meeting a lot of local bikers as so many local teams joined us. This fun ride also served as a catching-up opportunity for the participants to get to talk with each other, and to make brief reminiscences of the previous day rides. We also gave ourselves the chance to indulge in the local delicacies, from Paoay to San Nicolas. Sarap.

Learnings from the Road

Today, two days after the Tour of Hope, I still cannot believe having survived the entire ride. Having such a small group of participants may have conglomerated our aspirations to finish the ride, despite the many mental, emotional and physical bumps we have encountered along the way.

I still cannot put it into words, but this ride ultimately gave me the confidence to get on with more things in life—may those be sports or non-sports related. I think this also goes with all the other firsts we encounter in life, ranging from one’s first 5K, first triathlon, first IM, first date, and the list goes on. This feeling of euphoria of having completed a first probably is the wheel behind strong motivations of going to the next step. No wonder why many people get addicted to sports: there will always be room for improvement.

Completing any feat can go a long, long way in more ways one can imagine as it can inspire others to think beyond themselves and what they think they are capable of doing. Meeting a 70-year old Candon biker with a single-speed bike, and bikers who use slippers as their bike “shoes,” all inspired me not only to finish the tour, but to think beyond the small world I grew up with. Consequently, being the youngest participant, I’m thankful for also having motivated the other older bikers to finish the ride, much the same way as they have inspired me to sign up and to get on with the group.

I would never have completed it without all the people who supported me throughout the journey: my parents, my family; Triclark, especially Coach Jumbo who assisted me from preparations ‘til the very end; Ate Joyette, Atty. Reymond and Kuya Allan who guided and always checked on me during the entire tour; Ate Janice, Joni and Arnie of Timex who became my unofficial “ates”; my support group, Kuya Vic, Ate Rachel and Kuya William; the Vigan Motorcycle Group who guided me, especially during those times when I cannot keep up with the pace of the group; and of course, all the other participants who shared with the joys and hardships of the entire tour. Special thanks also to those who pledged for me, as these pledges gave me the motivation to finish the ride for a greater cause. Thanks to everyone who made this possible! 🙂