Freeman Cebu Sports

The Tour ni Frank is back!!!

ALLEZ - JV Araneta - The Freeman

Bicycle road racing some twenty years ago was simpler. I mean racing for the weekend warriors. It was just one day, a Sunday, when we’d go to the venue on transportation provided for by the race organizer.We’d be lucky if we can get at least 50 participants for three categories.  After the race, there’d be packed lunches for everyone. Then we wait for the transportation to take us back to the city.

These days, it’s different. There is no more free transportation, as most cyclist have their own transportation. In one road race organized by “Uban ta Bai’ke” last year, the starting area, which was a the  KM 47 Beach Resort, had a mini bumper to bumper traffic that morning.

I’m fondly reminiscing about past races because next weekend is the Tour ni Frank, the first multi-stage race for us, weekend competitors and pretend pros!

The Tour ni Frank was unofficially launched in 1998, when Frank Gatdula, a Compostela native living in Sacramento, USA, came for a visit. Frank was crazy about bike racing and his plan was to develop young riders, mostly from poor families, to engage in cycling and improve their lot in life. Although he wasn’t very successful with that initial plan, the race he organized became a success.

The race wasn’t really ostentatious, in fact, the packed lunch was just mongos, panic and poso, for a registration fee of 50php. The prize money wasn’t even over the top, but it was the thought of someone from far away who would spend his precious time and money on a sport that was marginal at best.

But the racing was something else. In fact, “executive” cyclists from all over the country would come over to join the race. In fact, the Tour ni Frank pre-dated the now famous executive stage race, the Tour of Matabungkay in Batangas.

The recipe for the race was a mountainous route on day 1 and then a crit or a road race north on day 2. For the mountainous route, we had to scale the Transcentral Highway (this was before those stupid motorcycle exhibitionist took ever) and then do a crit at the Mandaue Reclamation the next day.

While some of the original participants and race marshalls have moved on, Frank has continued to hold the light, the beacon which we are attracted to.

These days, as a result of the pandemic, cycling has suddenly become very important. A lot of young riders have shown interest in the sport. And not only that, a lot of races have also become available. In fact, two or three races are sometimes scheduled on the same day.

The participants have also changed. In the cat I am racing, I am the only one of two stragglers who still continue to compete. The people I am competing against are just relatively new to the sport and haven’t experienced racing the Tour ni Frank.

Cycling would have been stagnant and boring without the Tour ni Frank, the ReCycle marshalls, Cebu Cycling and Vellum Bikes.

Next weekend, September 25, will be a big day. Six categories will be raced and it should be fun and exciting. If you haven’t registered yet, go to FB and search, “And Tour ni Frank”.

I’ll see you all next weekend!

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