Freeman Cebu Sports

My 2022 Tour of Matabungkay Experience

ALLEZ - JV Araneta - The Freeman

A little over two weeks ago, I was in Lian, Batangas to join a bicycle race, the Tour of Matabungkay (ToM). The e ToM is already 18 years old (our Tour ni Frank is older) and I have raced the 2011 and 2012 edition.

I wasn’t really into bicycle racing anymore but when the pandemic hit, the racing bug bit me. In the two editions of the ToM that I joined, I was way over my head, as I wasn’t really racing but more like enjoying and soaking in the atmosphere of racing with the best road racers in the country in my category. Honestly, I was at lowest in the pecking order in relation to abilities at that time.

This year, the ToM added another cat, the 56+ cat, and I thought that this is a more specific category than before and ergo, a more level racing field.

The ToM is held in the middle of October, criss-crossing two provinces, Cavite and Batangas. And within the area we climb to the top of Tagaytay twice but not from the same starting point.

The ToM is a 3-day, 4 stage event. The first day is a 40km individual time trial followed by a 90km road race in the afternoon. If I was 20 years younger, I’d be insecure by the equipment of my rivals, almost all were pro-level TT bikes. But I’m older now, and I think that fitness is more important than equipment. Funny thing was, I didn’t have the equipment. I didn’t have a tri-bike or even an aerobar. But it didn’t faze me at all. I ended up at the tail-end. Stage 2 looked promising since there was just one hilly obstacle but fate was unkind, I hit a pebble and it punctured my tire. I DNF’d. Stage 3 was just something else. Their route took us to the climbs along the coast of Nasugbo before turning right to Tagaytay via Magallanes. If there was a cycling hell, that route was a great nominee. There were pitches of 20% of about 1-2 kilometers flooded by steep and short switchbacks. This was followed by a 20km climb (4-5% average) to Tagaytay. I had to stop when I got the hunger knock. This was followed by a 22km descent. I hated it but I enjoyed it. I ended up about 2 hour behind the winner.

The fourth stage was just a bit better. After a 30KM rolling start, we climbed Tagaytay again but this time we did the Payapa climb (21km 4-5%). It wasn’t that difficult but the length of the climb was just too much for my 90kg body. That’s why I need to shed 10kg (easier imagined than done) if I want to be competitive. I ended up about an hour and a half behind.

Yes, I was at the tail-end of a very difficult race. The difficulty was compounded by my rivals that included  1991 Marlboro Tour champion Bernie Llentada and veterans Gerry Igos, Ronel Baluyot and a few others. But since we were of the same age bracket, it was a fair field.

The suffering during the third stage was just out of this world but  I never thought of quitting. The ToM doesn’t offer prize money to the winners, only fame and recognition of your peers that you are able to manage your time between work, family and training.

Would I be back? You bet I would. And I’d be ready!

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