23 January 2012

Bike Notes 7 - Now All I Need Is a Sword

The bad news is that after this post, I will no longer be biking to and from work. I stopped a long time ago for a number of reasons:
  • Too many late nights meant too little energy to bike in the mornings.
  • On the mornings I did feel up to biking, the weather wasn't on my side.
  • Biking home uphill at the end of a draining workday stopped being fun.
  • Biking home at night with four-wheelers who refused to share the road stopped being fun.

Now, not biking at all made me feel like I was giving up and therefore a chump, so I was determined to find time to bike and, if possible, bike far. The only time I had to bike, however, was on weekends, and I've been spending the weekends with my brother in Makati, where bikes are a little more welcome but where I didn't have my bike with me.

So, on Saturday afternoon, while traffic was light, I decided to ride my bike all the way from Cubao to Barangay San Antonio and leave it there for future weekend riding.

Part of me knew that this was a crazy, possibly stupid idea, and part of me worried that I would collapse from fatigue somewhere in Sta. Mesa. But I guess the craziness won out—apparently, I would rather bike all the way than take the bike-friendly LRT part of the way (people would stare at me) or take a cab with the bike in the back (the cab driver would make bike smalltalk or maybe steal my bike before I could get in/out).

I guess I now have to thank that one crafty taxi driver who, last year, took me and @patriciavalerio on this overlong route to Makati. I don't know where I would've ended up last Saturday if not for the memory of that weird U-turn past the seedy motels.

Here's where I passed:

I wish fear of being sideswiped hadn't kept me from taking out my camera, so these maps and notes will have to do.

It was about 1445 when I set out, so the sun was still hot, but along Aurora Boulevard, I rode in the shade of the LRT. Like I said, traffic was light, so apart from the stoplight snags, I rode unharassed (well, for the most part).

I know people in cars hate motorcycles, but I happen to believe that the weaving they do to get to the front at a stoplight is partly defensive. If you're on a bike or a motorbike, you want to (1) stay clear of the bigger vehicles and (2) stay where they can see you.

It's easier to do this by getting to the front at a stoplight; it takes cars a few seconds longer to get moving when the light turns green, so you have those few seconds to put some distance between you and some jerk's front bumper. Sure, they're going to overtake you in a bit, but at least when they do that, you're within their line of sight, and they can avoid driving too close to you.

Another point is that staying put instead of going to the front will have me breathing exhaust from at least two sides. Even with one of these pig masks on, I'd rather not take risks. I happen to like my lungs.

[image source]
Actual pig mask source: local hardware store.

And lastly, it's a little gratifying to eventually catch up to the same cars that overtake you. You may be fast, Mr. SUV, but we all end up at the same little red light in the end.

Now, this is a hidden turn to Aurora Blvd. for people who don't want to climb that crazy hump from EDSA:

I didn't actually ride against traffic; my Google Maps line is just crooked.

I am sad to report that I didn't see anything very interesting on the ride down to Makati; most of the time, I kept my eyes on the road. Much of Aurora Boulevard was a tall gray blur of shops and grime.

I did enjoy crossing this inlet, polluted as it was:

One of my worries regarding the bike route was crossing bodies of water, and the Guadalupe bridge was one reason I didn't take EDSA. (The other reason was, it's EDSA.) So, achievement unlocked!

Here's the neighborhood I had to navigate after I left Aurora Blvd. I almost missed the turn onto Valenzuela St., but something told me to bank right (left) then. Thanks again, sneaky cab driver.

This was my favorite part of the whole route:

I crossed the Pasig River and rode along the rails with a couple of human powered carts rolling with me. Then, I went up onto Padre Jacinto Zamora bridge, where I rode roof-level with warehouses to my left and slums with green railside yards to my right. Apart from a few cars and a group of neighborhood kids also out on their bikes, I had the bridge to myself. It was a huge relief from cramped and crowded Cubao and Aurora Blvd.; everything was quiet, and it was like riding into the sky.

I also got to pass by the old Paco train terminal, the beautiful, sad old thing.

I really hope it gets preserved.

All in all, the ride was smooth sailing to Makati. The only undesirable event took place somewhere on the home stretch:

I was suddenly aware of a guy on a bike beside me, and he asked me if I had the time. He could plainly see I wasn't wearing a watch, so I just shrugged and kept pedaling. Then I heard him saying something to me. "Miss, tingan mo ito. Tingan mo ito."

He had one hand on the handlebars and the other down his shorts. Both hands were busy, to say the least.

Unlike the last time something like this happened to me, I didn't feel freaked out. I didn't react. I just ignored him and kept pedaling, and he quickly fell back.

I didn't think about it anymore. I'd just proven to myself that I could take care of myself in yet another way. I wasn't going to let some jerk ruin the magic of my big bike adventure (but my grandmother's concerned scolding did a little when I got to the house, haha).

Now if I had a sword and a magic talking animal friend, I'd be set for life.