‘Ride Of Hope’ was conceived as a benefit ride for the kids who are fighting against cancer at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Vincent "Sok" Palisoc, Neil Claves, and I rode a total distance of 1,260 kilometers for six days around Northern Luzon, an exploration some cyclists would only dream of completing.
Day 1: 26th of December. (0 - 230kms) Feeling was like any usual ride we do, although this time we have huge saddle bags carrying our stuff. Gathered to ride out by 6am despite of tropical storm "Nina". Our planned ride for the day was Manila - Nueva Vizcaya. From long flats to zigzag and mountain roads of Nueva Ecija, it didn't stop Sok from riding his single-speed cyclocross from Dalton Pass way up to Aritao until we end our first day and searched for a hotel to stay in.
Day 2: Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya- Tuguegarao (230 - 460kms) 'Wet-dry-wet', coudn't decide if we should leave our jackets on or not. Light rain started to pour at some areas of Isabela and crossed the pitch black way going to Tuguegarao City. Stranger Things feels, bro.
Day 3: Tuguegarao - Cagayan (460 - 640 kms) Heavy rain and strong headwind met us along the way. Had a good lunch with Ilocano specialties and I think that was our reward for that day. We passed Magapit bridge near Aparri and it was a breathtaking moment as we were half way at the top of Luzon. Heavy rain didn't end until we reached Claveria, Cagayan.
Day 4: Claveria, Cagayan – Vigan, Ilocos Sur (640 - 855 kms) Body pain and saddle sores were developing. Plus weather was still harsh as we left Cagayan. Passed rolling hills approaching Ilocos Norte and through the attractive Patapat bridge. Bangui Windmills and the coastline of Pagudpud were part of the enchantment too. Of course, we were overwhelmed and took photos and immersed in the moment. Late in the afternoon we took our jackets off as the blissfulness of the sun showed up in Ilocos Sur. From that time, the storm left our backs. We decided to call it a day a few blocks away from Calle Crisologo, a preserved historical street in Vigan.
Day 5: Vigan - Sison Pangasinan (855 - 1065 kms) It was a bad morning as I woke up feeling sick. It came to the point of considering ending the ride and take a bus going back to Manila. But to imagine what I've been through to reach this point, I came to a decision to commit and just ride. Even though it was a struggle but I took it as a challenge. From Vigan to La Union to Pangasinan, the roads were familiar due to previous rides. Some friends from Candon, Ilocos Sur welcomed us and didn't expect they prepared lunch for us. Big thanks to Cruise Grilled Burgers! The plan was to end the ride at Urdaneta but settled in Sison instead, boundary of Pangasinan & La Union, and took a good rest for our last riding day.
Day 6, New Year's Eve. Sison Pangasinan - Manila (1065 - 1260 kms) We were all excited to get home for New Year’s and share our experiences from this trip. Early in the morning, the sun was fine but got extremely hot in Tarlac. Some cyclists know how long Tarlac is. Tarlac to Pampanga from 9am to 4pm, imagine riding under the scorching heat. We were getting sunburnt so bad. Also, Neil started to feel muscle pain in his ankle and knee but still managed to stroke those pedals, what a dedicated guy. As we arrived at Bulacan, we came up against a situation where busy streets challenged us. Traffic everywhere, people were panic buying for the New Year's as Bulacan is the hub for fireworks and firecrackers. Despite of this, we pushed through and arrived home safe and sound. We ended our journey in good condition, thank God, and just in time for New Year's eve.
In six days, we experienced all weather and road conditions. Sometimes, you’d just look up and whisper, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’, only to realize we were doing this for the children who are enduring more than we were. You just have to have confidence in your ability, and be tough enough to follow through. We kept going because difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. We also took time to explore and to get away to free our mind. And of course, suffering brings experience and go where you most feel alive.
As a result, we were able to raise over Php 12,000 for the kids. We would like to thank everyone for the support and encouragement. For the sponsors of this amazing opportunity, from the bottom of our hearts we would like to thank you. This endeavor wouldn't be possible without you guys. Special thanks to Built Cycles, The Breakaway, Conquer Outdoor Equipment, Crest Pursuit, Progress, Podium Designs, Knog Philippines, Go Pro Philippines, and Nuun Hydration Philippines.