Ryan Agoncillo and his life-changing motorcycle ride to the Himalayas

Ryan Agoncillo and his life-changing motorcycle ride to the Himalayas

10 THINGS - Fr. Rey Cui (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2017 - 4:00pm

My husband loves riding his motorcycle. His friend is still convincing his wife to allow him to buy a motorcycle. His other friend had his wife tell him, “Kung bibili ka ng motor, ‘wag ka na lang umuwi!”

Why are so many men crazy about motorcycles now? Is there something wives don’t know but should? Here are 10 things you should know about Ryan Agoncillo, his love of motorcycles, and his life-changing Himalayan ride.

1On conquering the Himalayas on two wheels: “Hindi mo alam if you’re in heaven, or if you’re actually in hell.”

In 2011, CNN dubbed the roads of Kashmir as among the 10 Most Dangerous Roads “that only the suicidal, insane, or paid-to-do-this should ever drive down,” with a “death rating” of 7/10. What?! Why would anyone dare to ride this? “I have no idea,” Ryan says with a laugh.

 “We were able to do the whole loop in 16 riding days. And for the length of  time that we were riding from sunup to sundown, I have never been ripped apart — and put back together — before lunch so many times in my life,” Ryan confesses.

 “It’s the farthest from my comfort zone I’ve ever been. It’s difficult because you only have your camping gear, kung anong malalagay mo sa motor mo, yun lang. You’re stripped to your bare essentials. You start your day, sa batis ka magsisipilyo, nakakumot ka kasi ang lamig, pero yung hirap mo, you look up, and it’s the most beautiful mountains. While you’re riding, you make a turn and it reveals a beautiful rock face, but when you look down, it’s a bottomless pit, literally! It’s like heaven and hell converging in one feeling, every day.

 “You have to be alert from sunup to sundown. Distance is relative, and so is effort. One day you could be starting in the desert. Ride an hour and you’re in snow. Your distance could be just 200 kilometers, but it’s the most treacherous roads. So you’re always on. It’s mentally tiring.”

2 On lessons learned from his trip: “There’s a lot I take from my wife, she’s the strongest person I know.”

 “Yung sobrang lamig at pasuko ka na, are you gonna go nuts on yourself? Or the people you’re with? Or are you just gonna take it all in and be that inspiration for everyone to just push through? Yung part na yun, hinukay ko kay Juday. Matiisin ‘tong babaeng ‘to, eh. She was the inspiration that I held on to,”  Ryan shares.

 “My spirituality was tested. I’m not exactly the most religious person, but I’ve never prayed so many times, thanking God that I made it through the day. I trained for six months, but what was more trying was the emotional countdown to the ride,” he pauses. “Coming up to the ride, I was spending time with my daughters, my son, my wife, my parents, my brother, my friends. It’s kinda morbid, but I wanted to go there with the attitude na, no regrets. And that was a weight to carry.”

 “You had to physically prepare for it, it was just a complete assault on the senses. And mentally, yun yung makikilala mo yung sarili mo. Nakakalabas siya ng totoong ugali.”

In his June 28 Instagram post that went viral, Ryan posted a letter to his son Lucho: “As the mighty Himalayas stripped me to my core, I found the strongest pillar I could lean on, the love of your mother Judy Ann. I’m coming home, little buddy.”

Ryan says it took him all of five minutes to decide to go on this trip. He bumped into a friend on the dirt track who told him about the plan, and he instantly wanted in. “Talaga lang ha,” was the first thing Juday said when he told her about it. “How long?” “Three weeks.” “What?!” Ryan laughs. “She was very supportive, she knows I’ve always wanted to go to the Himalayas.”

3 On how The Brap Pack started: “We were all chatting on WhatsApp, how to ease the wives into it,” he laughs.

What started as a message from commercial director Sid Maderazo to Ryan about his Instagram post on his Scrambler spread to a message to his triathlon buddy, TV host Drew Arellano, who at that time was eyeing a Scrambler, to a message to actor Jericho Rosales who then already owned a Scrambler — they’re now known as the seven-man Brap Pack. 

 “We’re not reckless kids anymore. I think one other factor that eased the idea to the wives was because these people are athletes. They are in condition, they know how to control a bike 70 kilometers downhill, they know what it takes and they know what will happen if they screw up,” Ryan explains. “The attitude of the group is everyone is a gentleman on the road. Plus, we get our kicks on the track. Dun mo lalabas lahat ng aggression mo. But out on the road when we commute on our motorcycles, at the end of the day we want to go home safely to our families, we’re not about to forget that.”

4 He bought his first motorcycle when he was 19. It was a Vespa, and he rode it from his home in Paranaque to school in Taft “on heavy traffic days.”

 “The big gig for me then was the Millennium New Year’s Eve countdown. I wanted to get myself a big bike because after hosting the countdown, I wanted to ride into the sunrise of the new millennium,” Ryan shares. At that time, I would already take my Vespa to Tagaytay and Batangas, I knew I wanted to get into riding.

 “A bit after that, a friend of mine who rode Harleys was transitioning to another motorcycle and sold it to me. At 19, I really couldn’t afford a Harley, but he was giving me easy pay terms. Game! That Harley stayed with me for a very long time.”

5 On his first long ride: “I went to Pagudpod on my Vespa. There were 25 of us.”

 “Sarap! But wow, my whole body ached,” Ryan recalls of his three-day long ride. “I have very specific memories of that ride. Ang init sa umpisa, tapos biglang buong NLEX bumabagyo, nilalamig ka na. Pagdating ng Tarlac, sabi ko, ‘Ayoko na! Baguio na lang tayo!’ I remember thinking, what did I get myself into?”

 “It was really something for me. To the left was the sea, the crashing waves, to my right were mountains and waterfalls, then the Quezon Bridge revealing itself, the Paoay Church. I remember we ate lunch near Cagayan, we ate curacha on bilaos,” he recalls. “I was in the middle of my college thesis, I was working at GMA, and I had stories to tell. I felt like, this is what I wanted to do!”

6 On the worst thing Pinoy motorists do: “We always fight for that one inch on the road. Dun tayo nagkakaipitan.”

 “Motorcycling for me makes life a lot more convenient. I don’t suffer the fate of three hours on the road.” Ryan takes his motorcycle to work every day and cuts his travel time to 30 minutes, from two hours, one way. “That’s time I can spend with my family, or do other more productive things.

 “Ako yung unang masasaktan kung may mangyari. Kung makasagasa ako ng kahit ano, ako yung babaliktad. I have to be considerate of my own safety because I want to get home to my family. I want to get to work without having to scream at the road every day. That’s opened my eyes and made me more emphatic to other road users.”

7 “Seven days a week I’m on a motorcycle. Monday to Saturday to go to work, then Sundays I do additional training, or ride for fun.”

The motorcycles he currently uses:

City bike: “My commuter right now is a dirt bike, but with street tires. It’s a SuperMoto. This one is a Yamaha. I have one other SuMos that I use for track.”

Dirt bike: “I use a KTM 350 Free Ride, which I bought specifically to train for the Himalayas.”

For long rides: “Recently I went with The Brap Pack to Tacloban on my Scrambler. We went through Bicol, took a RoRo to Samar, then crossed the San Juanico Bridge. We did 1,800 kilometers in three days. That was the start of my butt training,” he laughs.

On the best bike he’s had: “Every bike I ride is just the perfect bike all the time. Basta yung tama sa mood nung gising ko.”

8 Ryan’s tip to new riders: “Hindi dahil sa pwede, dapat.”

 “First is, start small. The route I took was a safer route. Scooter around the village to wherever you want. Get used to the feeling of moving around on a motorized two-wheel vehicle.

 “Never shy away from further education. Read up. Ngayon, forums pa lang ang dami mo nang matututunan. There are superbike schools and the tracks are booming. Just this morning I went dirt training. At 18 years of experience, I’m still a newbie at dirt riding.

 “Always wear protective gear. I must confess, there was one morning I felt macho, I wanted to buy my wife flowers in the mall. Nag jeans ako, boots, and a white shirt. I felt so naked. And that was just a five-minute motorcycle ride! I’m never gonna do that again,” Ryan recalls. “Helmet, at the very least. Shoes, if not riding shoes, something that covers your toes and ankles. Gloves. And a proper jacket.”

9 On his dream bike: “The formula for motorcycles is N plus 1. Whatever number of bikes you have, its always plus 1,” Ryan laughs.

 “I’m building one now. It’s sort of a dream bike, how I imagine my perfect motorcycle to be. I got a Ducati Hyperstrada because I love the way it rides and handles, but I wanted modifications done.” He’s talking about Benjie’s Café Racers, one of the top 10 builders in the world who happens to have his base in the Philippines.

 “It’s been over a year na ginagawa yung bike. Some of the parts I bought, but Benjie, because he is a master crafter, hand-built everything. It’s probably gonna end up in my garage sitting there all day, I don’t know yet,” he laughs.

10 On what he has gained from his motorcycle lifestyle: “At this point in my life, sanity.”

 “The perspective riding gives me is so different from when you are in an enclosed vehicle,” Ryan explains. “What it really does is it energizes me. When I get cranky, my wife tells me, ‘Go on a motorcycle ride,’” he laughs. “I’m just in equilibrium after a ride. When I take off my helmet, it’s probably the best time to talk to me. It’s the clearest my head will be.”



* * *

Ryan leaves this piece of advice for husbands who want to get a motorcycle but are still convincing their wives: “If you have to disagree on it, let it simmer. Somebody will come around, whether the wife or the husband. ‘Wag ipilit. If the husband really wants it and there’s really no financial obligation that lies between him and his dream bike, let it simmer. In the same way, if you have a loving woman who wants to not put you in danger, let it simmer. If it will happen, it will in its own time.”

* * *

Photos by Ryan Agoncillo (Himalayas) and Sid Maderazo (Brap Pack). Message the author @iamsuperbianca.

Ryan in numbers

3,286: kilometres of their whole Himalayan ride, which took 16 days

18,380: feet of the altitude of the highest motorable point

6: number of helmets on daily rotation, 3 of which have doodles by his daughter Yohan

22: total number of motorcycles he has owned (and sold) since 1999

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