June 17

It’s been a year since that very first day I saw you. It’s been a year since I had my first bike ride in the Tayabas – Calumpang – Lucena route. It’s been a year since that exhausting yet satisfying bike ride when I climbed the steep slopes of Tayabas I thought I never could. I hate steep slopes especially the uphill ones. Ayoko sa mga ahon. Takot akong umakyat. Nakapapagod kasi at hindi din ako sanay pa noon. But that late afternoon ride gave me one of the best bike rides of my life. I learned how to shift gears. I learned where the best Pansit Habhab is located in Tayabas. I learned to control my speed on a downhill slope. I learned how to appreciate uphill climbs to get to the top where the best view is. I learned a lot that afternoon but the most important thing to remember is that I met you.

Sabi nga nila, gaano man kataas ang aakyatin mong ahon, huwag kang mag – alala dahil pagkadating mo sa itaas lusong naman yan. Nakarerelate ang mga bikers diyan sa kasabihan na yan. Biking down the Calumpang road gave me my first bike rush. I couldn’t explain how high I was as the cold wind caressed me. It felt like I was going 100 kilometers per hour. I couldn’t explain how happy I was, too. I couldn’t stop smiling considering how dangerous that was with all the ten – wheeler trucks, buses, and motorized vehicles moving alongside me trying to maneuver their ways through the traffic. It was like you’re in a video game but the catch is you only have one life and you should never ever die. The endorphins really worked their magic as I was calm and happy. The rush of excitement, and thrill overwhelmed me. I didn’t even have to pedal my bike for me to move forward. It’s like gravity was pulling me towards where I needed to be that very night.

After that, we went to Perez Park as a continuation of our bike ride. I was exhausted already but I decided to tag along with the group. I had nothing to do anyway. Our late afternoon ride turned into a night ride. Flashing red and white lights from the head and tail lights guided us to safety. The lights danced to the rhythm of your voice as you were shouting the song you’re supposed to be singing. You were shouting at the top of your lungs, and it wasn’t that bad I thought to myself. Your deep voice echoing with the sounds of the busy city as your instrumental actually sounded really good to the ears. It was a great night. I met the jovial crazy person that is you.

Weeks passed before I saw you again. That I didn’t actually mind. Hindi naman kita hinanap – hanap nung mga oras na hindi kita nakita. You were just one of my acquaintances anyway so there’s no point in wanting to see you again. But when I saw you that sunny July afternoon, ecstatic was the only word I could use to describe how I felt. Natuwa ako kahit hindi ko alam kung bakit. That very night we strolled around the city looking for bike jerseys was the night I realized that I wanted to be your friend. You were warm. Komportable ako sa’yo. Hindi awkward kapag may katahimikan sa ating dalawa. You acknowledged me. You treated me as though you have known me for so long kahit dalawang beses pa lang tayong nagkakasama. And that was the start of our odd friendship.

You sent me a friend request that night on Facebook after you approved my request to join our bike group. Of course, I was surprised with your friend request. We barely knew each other. You only knew me because of our mutual biker friend, and the same goes for me. But since I kind of like your personality, I accepted it. And that is when our connections started to surface.

We actually have a lot of mutual friends and that’s not only on Facebook but in the real world also. Aside from our biker friend, we are connected through my CCS friends. Kaibigan ka pala ni KA na CS student ng Enverga. Well, ang totoong friend ko ay ang barkada kong si KL na kapatid ni KA pero friends na rin naman ang turing namin sa isa’t – isa. Plus, tambay din ako sa bahay nila sa Cotta. Magkaklase pala kayong dalawa nung nasa High School pa kayo. He’s our second connection. Tapos, kakilala ka pala ni LA na DSC family ko. Friend siya nung ex mo na classmate naman niya nung High School pa sila sa Quezon High. She’s the third. Noon ko rin nalaman na nag – aaral ka pala sa Enverga pero transferee ka from St. Anne. Kaya pala familiar yung name mo kasi nga you’re friends with LA. I knew I saw your name in LA’s phone one time. I even teased her that you’re her boyfriend. But you weren’t.

The third time I saw you was a week after the second. We had our short ride around the City Proper looking for bike parts and accessories. I couldn’t remember how we ended up riding together. Thinking about it now, all I know is that I saw you accidentally with JM somewhere. We saw the Milo Marathon tarpaulin in Tong Ho.  Stopping for a moment to read the details of the event, there and then, you asked us if we wanted to join the 5k run. You told us that you wanted to. You asked us if we wanted to run with you as a group. And since I actually had a plan to join, “Yes,” I replied.

Afterwards, we accompanied JM, our biker friend, to look for bike shorts in Surplusan in Gulang – gulang. He was trying on shorts for a long time so we had a talk while we waited for him to be done with his shopping. Ang dami kong nalaman sa’yo noong gabing yun. Nagkaroon na rin ako ng lakas ng loob na magtanong ng tungkol sa’yo at sumagot ka naman. We were actually having a conversation. We were outside sitting comfortably at one of the unsold benches laughing like lunatics at the corny jokes, and funny anecdotes we were telling one another. When we had nothing to talk about, silence. But it was never uncomfortable.

Our last destination for that night was 7/11 – Main in Quezon Avenue. Tumambay tayo dun. Nagpatulong na din si JM na magpaayos ng saddle niya kasi masakit daw sa pwet kapag sinasakyan. You helped him out in preparation to your Banahaw Loop ride the next day. You even asked me if I wanted to go but I already had a plan that weekend. I was going to National Museum with a friend of mine so I declined your offer. As we were sitting there in 7/11, you jokingly asked me to treat you with something to drink as you were parched from the ride, and from fixing the saddle. Lucky for me, I still had spare change with me. At dun ko nalaman na paborito mo pala ang Vitamilk Double Choco. Another trivial thing I learned about you. We stayed there sharing more stories as we drink our favorite beverages. You drinking that Vitamilk as I drink all of you in, it was a great way to end that cold night.

When the three of us parted ways, I realized that I really liked you as a person. Not in a weird way. Just in a friend kind of way. I appreciate people and that’s one of my flaws. Your warm non-judgmental personality is really what pulled me into you like a magnet towards a gravitational field. You pull people in. You’re a good person, and your sunny disposition really complements how you look on the outside. You shine even in the darkest of nights when we ride because you naturally exude that light.

As I was making my way towards National Museum the very next day with my good friend, I couldn’t help it, I just kept thinking about you. Again, not in a stalker kind of way. I was worried about you and of course, our biker friends climbing the steep slopes of Lucban, and Majayjay. From time to time that day, you kept crossing my mind. Nasaan na kaya kayo? Kumusta ka naman? Pagod na pagod na siguro kayo kasi napakalayo ng inyong pinapadyak. Nakauwi na kaya kayo? O kung hindi pa, bakit?  As I was going home that night by bus, I learned from the pictures posted by JM on Facebook that you didn’t make it to the ride. You never made it because your alarm betrayed you. Another trivial thing I learned about you. Early morning rides are not your thing.

We continued bonding from time to time. We had these afternoon short rides with the group that I looked forward to. You actually inspired me to train myself so that I could bike longer, stronger, and faster. Inaamin ko na medyo takot akong magbike sa kalsada. Wala kasi akong confidence na makipagsabayan sa ibang sasakyan. Takot din akong mabangga. Takot akong mabangasan. But because of you, I decided to conquer my fears and inhibitions. I’ve decided that I wanted to go on long rides. Naiinggit ako sa mga bikers na kung saan – saan na nakararating kasi ako hanggang sa City Proper lang ang kaya ko. I trained myself every afternoon on my own. I started with the City Proper. Then, I decided to add Gulang – gulang to my route. I expanded it even more and included Cotta, and Iyam. I did that every afternoon until I had the stamina that would endure long rides. But that wasn’t enough.

To be continued.

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