It will be another year before the whir of gears and shouts of “Bike! Bike! Bike!” to warn the unwary again shatter the slumber of peaceable mountains. June 27 and 28 saw the final leg of the first Fox Series Downhill Mountainbike Tour in the Philippines.
Fifth leg was, in a way, a reunion of sorts for most of the race organizers. These folks were once the kings of the hill in the DH circuit, long before downhill mountainbike was considered by other people in the Philippines as a sport and not just something that an insane weekend warrior (who has nothing to lose) would happily do. The trail in Montalban’s grotto was one of the places where the former kings of the hill used to do weekend runs.
Some of these guys are now beer-bellied executives. Some have retired from DH racing and are now owners of bike shops. Some now have sons who were participants of the recent series.
When the seniors met, inside jokes that were a decade old were revived. They made fun of their beer bellies, failing eyesight and sense of hearing, as well as of their receding hairlines. Still, there was a common spark in those veterans’ eyes when they gazed at the ridges of Montalban’s peaks. They were probably thinking, I made it through you. I overcame your terrain. I conquered you once.
Ta flew in from Dumaguete the Monday before the race. The other riders from Dumaguete (Jay-R Barba, Wendell Barba, and Melo “Boy George” Anito) arrived on a Thursday.
Seeding was done on Saturday, a little after noontime. I dragged Super JJ to watch the race with me as she had nothing else interesting to occupy her day.
At seeding, Ta made best time in his category. Scott Remi was also the lead rider for the semi-pro division. Wendell Barba maintained his hold on the third spot in the Pro category. Their cousin Joey had his wheels solidly planted on the top spot of the Pro division.
Jay-R, who was vying for the top spot in the Pros against his cousin, failed to make it to any of the top three spots in the seeding. It was an unlucky run for him because his rear wheel got busted right before doing the final drop a few meters from the finish line.
Sunday was hot and humid. The finals started at around 12:45PM. JJ was stuck with laundry duties in Marikina. My companions on the way to the tracks that day were Ta’s sister, his brother in law, and his nephew.
Jay-R and Wendell’s family were already there. They were in better spirits because they were more rested than the day before.
Jay-R’s unlucky streak was still in effect, however, because all morning, all he did was try to fix his bike’s tires because they were constantly going flat. When we arrived, he had given up hope on his inner tube, and there was no replacement anywhere. Jay-R doubted that he would ever run for the finals.
Still, at the last minute, a Good Samaritan lent him a replacement for his tire.
Dusk was approaching when the race was wrapped up and the final scores were tallied.
Before the awarding, a short message of dedication was offered to Philip “Epoy” Molina, who met his end while riding in the earlier leg of the series. A prayer of thanks was said, for the safe run and for the fun in the entire series.
And so… Ta (Michael Vincoy; Dumaguete/Valencia) took home the Overall Champion trophy for the beginner’s category.
Boy George/Melo (Dumaguete) took the 4th place in the beginner’s category.
Scott Remi (Dumaguete) finished second in the semi-pro; March Aleonar (Team Army-Bentspokes) owned the champion spot.
Joey Barba (Dumaguete) retained first place. Jay-R Barba (Dumaguete) held the second spot, and Wendell Barba (Dumaguete) took the third place.
First place in the executive category belonged to Joel Vana of Team Ha-ooh.
Overall, it was a good day.
(Jong Narciso gives in-depth details about the score tally for the entire series.)