Gran Fondo Lobo Southern Expedition is a one of the most anticipated events of Fondo Manila due to the picturesque views that connect riders with nature and the fairly technical features of the route for the cyclist who loves a good challenge.
A few days before the event, I learned that the route is a loop that would take us to about 100km starting from SM Batangas City, through Iljan, to the Malabrigo Lighthouse, then we turn around at the Lobo town proper before we go through Taysan and back again to SM Batangas City.
I have never ridden beyond the regular training and racing grounds of most novice triathletes, that is, Nuvali and Subic, respectively. So when I was invited by my friend Ria Cruz to join Gran Fondo Lobo, I took it as an opportunity to come out of my comfort zone and test a new route or, as my hero, Gwen Jorgensen would say: “to get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
Days leading to the event, we were informed that there will be some challenging climbs along the route. I was able to make peace and accept the prospect of #unliahon as I had a simple game plan which I knew I could execute: Suck it up until you get to the top.
As we went along the route, we were awed by the nice views and long stretches of coastal (good surface!) roads. On the other hand, as warned, there were also several climbs- ranging from rolling hills, baby climbs, long and winding road climbs to what I would call, for lack of a more precisely descriptive term, “bulaga” climbs which take your heart (and quad muscles) by surprise. To a novice biker, “#unliahon” was exactly the best description. Nonetheless, the nice cool greens were a refreshing sight as we rolled along the hills.
I was dreading the equally steep and fast descents too. Eventually though, thanks to the encouragement and tips by some bikers whom I met and befriended along the way (a shoutout and thanks to Lani and Aerone Tagle, and the Gruppo Italia team who adopted me!), I was able to survive those scary descents and weave my way through traffic back to the starting point.
The experience was all the more enhanced because we all felt safe and cared for as there were SAG vehicles who were assisting and following us along the route. Better for our peace of mind since they come with supplies and emergency equipment. There were also adequate provisions and yummy snacks in the pit stop locations – suman, gummy worms, yema, chocolate, bread, Vitwater, Lightwater, everything we needed. Photographers were also everywhere (with great pictures as you can see in their FB page!).
So, that’s a lot of things that one need not worry about while riding. All in all, my 2018 Gran Fondo Lobo experience was challenging, at times, frightening, but definitely fun and exciting! I would definitely do it again! – Tiny Aragones