Cycling tilts against all odds
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
DESPITE the Omicron variant threat that has alarmed many countries, our IATF’s restrictions to contain COVID-19 related disease in the National Capitol Region and other regions were relaxed under Alert Level 2 conditions until December 15. I wish and hope it will be extended. And yes, first and foremost our big thanks to God.
Kudos to our immigration officers in our airports and sea ports, for their strict screening of arriving passengers from abroad, tourists/visitors and even our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). They are helping us remain safe from being infected by possible Covid carriers from outside the country.
Admittedly, the easing up of restriction is one of the reasons why we are noticing now the rush of sports-minded people to resume their activities that they used to do before the pandemic like running, playing lawn and table tennis, chess, basketball, and, yes, cycling.
Several of our competitive local cyclists who I met at a certain kiosk during their break time asked me when the next race will likely be held. They are obviously yearning for a multi-stage bikefest that can prepare them for a new and longer multi-stage bicycle race ala Tour of Luzon or the Marlbaro Tour called “Go Philippines Tour” slated on February 14 to March 5 next year, including rest days. (Reports say the new race will commence in Davao City, then Visayas and to culminate in Baguio City).
Of course, I answered them in the positive, saying that our sports-minded and hard-working father of the province Amado Espino III together with former congressman and ex-governor Oscar Orbos are considering a five-day Tour ed Pangasinan bikefest tentatively scheduled on January 26 to 30 next year, under my directorship.
That news cheered them up. I saw wide smiles on their faces and they expressed hope the project will push through because the planned provincial race would serve as a very good tune-up event for them prior to their lung-busting battle the Go Philippines Tour. (The Go Philippines Tour, being a commercial event, will see our big guns in this two-wheeled sport being split, joining different commercial firms. I expect a dozen of our elite Pangasinan road warriors like our Tour latest champions Ronald Oranza of Villasis and El Joshua Cariño of Mangaldan, Melvin Corpuz of Umingan, Julius Bordeos of Laoac, Dominic Perez of Sto. Tomas, Bonijoe Martin and Steve Hora of San Manuel, Daniel Cariño of Mangaldan, Sherwin Carrera of San Fabian, to name some, riding against each other including new young hopefuls.
Honestly, my 32 years of experience in this two-wheeled event taught me that a three or four-day provincial road battle preceding the big race will be very important to our riders prior to their stint in the big race. As a former professional athlete, fine-tuning one’s skills is the best measure of one’s dynamism and determination, just like what I did before.
Reminiscing how the renowned 1995 five-day bikathon called “OO Na, Takbo Na” went as conceptualized and sponsored by our former governor, the Bani-born Oscar Orbos held on January 4-8, 1995, two potential road warriors and eventually became Tour champions, Santy Barnachea of Umingan and Arnel Quirimit of Pozorrubio. Quirimit after finishing second to Barnachea in 2002 FedEx Tour, Quirimit bagged the 15-day Tanduay sponsored Tour ng Pilipinas in 2003. And after succeeding years, history saw Barnachea win again in 2006, 2013 and 2015. He turned out to be the first and only four-time (so far) national Tour champion in the Philippines, breaking my three triumphs and Muntinlupa City’s elite rider the late Manuel Reynante.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” LUKE 14: 13-14
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