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rocka1bikeshop news is a weblog relating to cycling news in the philippines. rocka 1 bikeshop is a local bike shop based in bulacan town philippines email

Monday, December 25, 2006

Philippine Cycling: Masters Cup stage3 Tanauan to Tagaytay 2005 by Leian Cruz


Congratulations on your team.It's always a welcome sight to see my friends from bulacan. I remember we got started way back in Clark and how our group actually met. There was a time when i rode the wrong bus because iwas so sleepy coming off from work - i just woke up in Bulacan instead of Clark. To my surprise, i had to find my way back to the North express way, and along the way, i saw cyclists on the road. taking advantage of the opportunity, i handed out flyers on the races we were promoting in Clark way back then,for some good reason, one of the flyers ended up on your hands...and the rest was history.

This (waterwood) group has been the most supportive of our cycling program in clark, and it's such a refreshing feeling to see them bond as a group and making more of an impact to the whole cycling community. I always look forward to seeing those happy faces a the finish Line, Raymond, Jojo, Engr Rolly...

Joel was right narrating how we just got off from work and no sleep. but that's how it is..Managing a call center means i have to be up when everyone's asleep. I remember the day before the race, i had to make up a story so that i can excuse my self from work early and be at the meeting point in alabang with my teammates. When i say early, i got to go home by 3am, drive all the way to alabang, pick up my stuff and be at gloria jeans at 5AM,To my surprise, our friends Team Autotrend were there - had a short chat, all the while, i had to hide the stress and drooping eyeslids...

My ever helpful teammates Joel and Robin arrived there after to give me a ride. a 45 minute cruise to the start somewhat felt longer. I could not afford to take a nap, as much as I wanted to,can't leave Joel drive alone.
We hit tanauan -see our team, and dress up ;check radios,equipment,short warm up- all good. The long wait for the start got some riders jittery - but was good for me, as much as i wanted to chat with friends specially team Waterwood - i just had to excuse myself to steal a short nap at the team car.I was hoping i'd feel nervous, to kick the adrenalin in, but lack of sleep was robing me of the excitement. next thing i knew, we hit the flag off and we go...all the while i wanted to go to the Wash room, forgot to unload!

how i wish i joined Eric Carandang in his last ditch pee at the side of the peleton - all along geting all the cheers from the crowd! the fast pace at the start just made me hold it - and with the thought that we still had 80kms to go - it wasn't really a perfect day.

my ever dependable team mate Cris Pollard kept asking me from the start if i got enough rest- I told em "YES"! - just to take away all worries from the team-as i was designated to start my race at the 40km mark.

To avoid any possible crashes, i was glad to see 4 Gcash red shirts up front towing me to safety - Our Super Domestiques Rune, Robin and Maxi did a great job controlling the front end of the peleton. Those huge stray dogs kept me up most of the way.

When you have a role to play - specially the role to stay at the front however painful it is, - you miss the exciting view of seeing the whole peleton snaking up the whole strecth of the hi way. You can't afford to chat nor joke around - 50-55kph on the flats - even drinking is difficult. It's an amazing sight - for those who have yet to witness the master's cup Peleton - it's definitely worth watching - one of the most organized and colorful road races i have seen in years.

I remember hitting the downhill portion of the route at full speed. knowing that the whole peleton would slow down due to the hair splitting decent - i just had the instinct to snake my way up front avoiding other riders,- Rune was there to keep me company and open a good racing line for me. At one point, we were going so fast - registered 79kph on my Computer - that when we hit a curve, i just saw Rune ditch it out on the bank of the corner taking a motorcycle escort with him! I was so surprised, but as i approached the same corner, i saw him re-mount with a big grin on his face - that - a good sign he's all ok.

As soon as we hit the base of Payapa- that's when our race began, immediately you could see the big boys up the tempo and a select group of cyclist formed the front group. our own support domestiques knew that their initial role was done, and it was up to us 4 Gcash - Eric,Cris,Joel and I to take over and continue to race. A mix of teams comprised the front peleton, as I look back, I remember several riders attack just to be reeled in by our super dependable Cris Pollard - this guy (aka cyborg#2) just screwed on his pedals and turned on a rapid pedal stroke in constant fluid motion. he maintained a steady pace of 24-26kph uphill - anyone who sprinted ahead of us - we just let them go, it was at this point that you cannot panick and sprint up and down the road. it was tempting to check each break - but we had cris as our reference point and it helped conserve our energy because most of the time he would reel in the escapees.

As for me, the pace was too fast to maintain, all i could do to keep up was to focus my eyes on his Dura-ace crank and avoid looking up - else you'll be awed by the long winding uphill.I could not even look back to check the other riders, all i could hear was constant panting and heavy breathing - it was survival of the fittest. it was reassuring to find out with a glimpse that you had 3 more team mates behind you - shouting at you to keep up. At this point of the race, we were traversing a long uphill grind, pushing at 26kph. i was running 2nd on the line when all of a sudden a green/yellow clad rider from Joven came passing by me and cris. there was not even a point where i was tempted to bridge the gap-....for one- i was not familiar how strong this rider was, i never got to race with him before; secondly -i was not familiar how long the course would last with this type of gradient.

to play it safe, i tucked in behind my teammate and pray hard we reel this guy in. As soon as i get settled in, i see another Gcash rider sprint to bridge the gap - and this was Joel! i knew the guy was on form, but smart riding played a bigger role - we all knew we'd blow up if we tried to match this light weight rider, Joel then smartly slowed down and stayed with our pace. kiko from joven was eventually joined by another elite rider and the duo blasted out at full speed. half way throught he course, they hovered around a gap of 37 seconds from the second chase pack, now mostly composed of 8-10 riders (mix of Gcash/Joven/Elixir and some elite riders)

As Cris was setting up a steady tempo, my team mate Eric held his wheel, while i try to latch on to Eric's - at this point, another Joven rider wanted to disrupt our chase and we tried to battle position for Eric's slip stream.neitheir I nor he would give up, several times our bodies and handle bars would bash (minus the vulgar words)-it was all psycho war. sometimes, i would lose it, sometimes i would just force him out of the line (things you get when you watch 12hrs of tour de france a week). Eventually, they had enough of the jockeying and two Joven green jerseys break away from our chase group.

in an instant, They managed to open a 100 meter this point, Eric knew these riders and shouted at me from behind "Leian, those guys will break away - bridge em!!" I was accustomed to 100rpm cadence on inclines, it was easier for me to accelerate and bridge the two.I went around Cris then pedalled as fast as i could, in a few seconds, i was able to bridge. Looking back, we opened a huge gap! the two Joven riders eventually maintained a high pace splintering the whole chase pack from behind.

Since our designated team leaders were hovering behind us, i chose not to participate in the pace making and instead sit down and relay info to my team behind what our pace was up front. This info was crucial as Eric was able to bridge with us after 30 mins of riding. now it was equal, 2 jovens,2 Gcash,1 elixir, and some elite riders comprising the chase.

Jovens tried in succesion to up the tempo to drop me swapping leads and disprupting my rythm. at one point, one of their team vehicles passed a bottle to their second rider blocking me from checking the front rider who was now accelerating and clearly taking instructions to break. i curteously signaled a hand to their crew that they should not do that and it was blatantly disrupting the outcome of the race. it was such a tactical race. racing with a bunch of disciplined curteous competitive riders makes it the more fun and interesting. I said to myself...this team really is good!
For about an hour, the compsition of the group remained the same..By this time we just traversed canyon woods and 15kms from the finish. everybody was nervous and Joven was forced to keep the pace up bec we knew several of our team mates and other executives were just right behind us - but no idea how far. I was radioing our team where exactly the finish was because by now, i was nursing headache. lack of sleep was kicking in...but i've gone this far to give up. I stayed second in line, glimpsing if my leader was in a good position. My job was to check the lead rider, and the rest is up to Eric. From a far, around 400 meters from the line, Eric manages a violent sprint.he was across the road and he managed to gap us 50 meters. At this time, the 2nd Joven rider tries to bridge slowly...but was gaining ground. All I had to do was sit up and make sure the 1st Joven rider was in check.

As per eric, when he saw that that 2nd Joven rider was making ground, he literally stopped and just waited for him for a cat and mouse chase. we were 200M now from the arc. All this time the 1st joven rider was grinding to bridge and i was right behind him. We could see that we were bridging eric and his Joven mate fast! I said, we are gonna catch em! 100 meters and we were right behind them! at an instinct at this point, Eric manages a second wind to sprint away from us and gets a clear Second, the 1st joven guy is now free wheeling - clearly spent and the 2nd rider and I were still charging fast! as soon as we bridge the rear wheel of his Joven team mate...he shouts..."don't freewheel!!! - bec the 2nd rider knew i was right there across his struggling teammate!" unfortunately the 1st guy thinks we already got dropped and doesn't know am at his left shoulder while talking to his right side with his team was a virtual drag race and with a last Lunge to the line, we were separated by inches!! everything seemed to go in slow motion...At the final...i ran out of road and only managed 5th...but it was a good race. joven made the race more interesting and something to look forward to in the next stages. i have to congartulate this team for such a fantastic performance.
unbeknownst to us, we suddenly realize that the finish line was closed and all the fancy bands playing. we just got too zeroed in on the moment everything just went past.

As we compose ourselves, one by one each rider/group trickle in succesion to the finish. I was more than anxious to see my team mates who made it all happen for us - such unselfish sacrifice to get us in front safely and fresh. joel came in with a fast sprint, then came cris clearly exhausted, maxi, Robin, Rune...all spent from the dyas' effort - but all was well since we got a guy up the podium. Thanks to you team!. we missed Maiqui - one of our Super domestiques - surely next time around when he gets back from the US for his "aka ..Overseas training" - (edit the couch powerbar Tv eating time) we'll be gunning again for a good race.
as usual, we find our Waterwood friends and the rest of the caravan still eminating with smiles and energy. seeing these guys grind it out and progress inspires you to do better.

Unfortunately, we missed the awards, Joel and I had scheduled appointments in the afternoon, and we did not have the luxury of participating on those much awaited "post race chats" on the regular team lunch.

This definetely is one of the most exciting stage race yet. Congratulations to Bobby (and for the excellent support! you guys made a great team crew!) and the rest of the GCC organizing team. Looking forward to the next race.

-Leian CRUZ

team Globe G Cash

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