Toughest race, ever!
ALLEZ - Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta (The Freeman) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

I’ve done a lot of bicycle racing in the past 30 years, not in the professional peloton, but in races that I pay to join, not join to get paid. There are two races that stood out, not because I raised my hand as I crossed the finish line (in cycling, its a taboo to raise your hand in victory if you came in second) but because of its degree of difficulty.

It’s my book, it’s my HC category, or “Hors catégorie”. Translated from French, this phrase means, “beyond categorization”, meaning again, that the course is defies categorization because of its difficulty. For example, the famous and legendary climb. the “Alpe d’Huez”, is HC.

The first was 13 years ago during the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF). It was a multi-stage race and one stage would start in Ormoc and end in Palo Leyte. The distance was about 150 and from Ormco, the peloton took the southern route to Baybay, turn left to the 20k km climb to Mahaplag before turning left to the MacArthur Shrine in Palo.

My good friend, Said Salazar and I, ended up being the last two riders to finish. The other riders were already in the bus provided by Goyo Larrazabal, chatting and chillin’, getting ready to head for home while we were still wondering why what we were doing here. Luckily, my ever supportive Dad and his truck, and my cousin Rey Cimeni, who drove the vehicle, was there all the way.

Turned out the reason I felt dead during the race, and I found out about this a few days later after seeing the best endocrinologist of the land, Dr. Grogonia Panilagao, was that my metabolism was in a mess, as a result of my suddenly, super active thyroid.

The second race was twelve years later, that was last year, and then this years version of the Mark Ylanan Memorial Road Race.  The race started in Naga and finished in Mantalongon via Toledo and Aloguinsan. The I’m sure you all know Mark, a good friend of mine who unfortunately passed away two years ago, who raced bicycles just like I do and also helped organized and shape bicycle races in Cebu as what it is today.

Last years race was just too hard. I remember finishing that race with Ramon Vidal (TWO Sandals) and I was completely wasted! I finished the race in almost four hours after stopping for a bottle of cold Coke for a 73km event!!!

Last Sunday, the 2nd edition, I fared no better, or maybe a bit better. I finished the race in the last half of the standings as climbing hills its not my forte, yet it took me there and a half hours to finish the race. Thanks to Boy Mante and Frank and Sal Gatdula for the water and the energy bites, I felt better in the end.

Last year, I had to unmount and walk the last,100m as I was afraid and fall in front of all the riders who finished ahead of me. This time I was able to get over the 30% (at least) climb and finish like I wanted it to finish.

The MYMRR is the toughest race I have ever done. I can’t wait to do it again.

CYCLING
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