BY RICKY MONTECILLO
June 01, 2016
Much has been said about the joy and utter thrill of riding a motorcycle. I think most men dream of riding a motorcycle but not all are lucky enough to live the dream.
With the kids already done with school and already working, my wife and I are no longer burdened with tuition fees and allowances. This gives us some financial freedom to travel and enjoy our lives as empty nesters. This blog is about our adventures together.
It is also about my adventures on a big bike.
I bought my very first big bike when I turned 50 years old, a second hand 650 cc BMW GS and ever since, my life had taken an exciting turn. It’s as if I turned a new leaf on life and opened up a whole new world.
These machines, the modern day big bikes like BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha, Royal Enfield, Ducatis are taking the streets of the country by storm. I think I got into the riding the community just in time. With the Philippine economy doing very well, there seems to be a surge in the number of people buying big bikes for leisure.
When I feel that machine in between my legs, feeling the vibration of the motor and hearing the engine roar as I twist the throttle, man, it is just so exhilarating! It’s just so addicting. Especially at the start, you just want to keep on riding and do nothing else. Just like a drug addict, a rider will go for a ride even when the wife and kids don’t want him to go. It’s just so sick. Man and machine. The bond is so tight.
Many Filipinos ride big bikes, not to mention the throngs of scooters and underbones. There are probably hundreds of motorcycle clubs in the country and it is still growing very fast. Now, for me, there are rides and different kinds of riders. There are the short riders with clean bikes. This group goes for short breakfast rides and usually are home for lunch and Sunday Mass. It’s fun and friendly having coffee and breakfast with co-riders talking about bikes, life and more bikes!
There are the racers and the serious moto-riders who join all kinds of events for big bikes. These are usually the veterans and experienced riders. One could learn a thing or two when riding with these experts.
The problem is if you can keep pace with them cause they ride really fast and furious. They love wide roads and twists and turns. They come in packs and looks like an army of badass gangs like Hell’s Angels. But really, they are usually professionals and responsible parents just like the next yuppie or senior executive. You’ll never know who you’re riding with until they remove their helmets and balaclavas.
My favourite group of all is THE LONG RIDERS. It’s a loose group of big bikers led by artist architect Resty Renia. Oh what guy. He has taken adventure riding in the country to new heights. Riding a BMW GS 1200, Resty is passionate in blazing new trails and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Riding with The Long riders for the past few years, we’ve gone to so many unknown destinations and have experienced the joys of seeing waterfalls, oceans, mountain ranges.
The Long Riders group doesn’t have a structure and it has no elective positions like other organisations. Essentially, the group exists around the next adventure trip that Resty has discovered. “Para lang nun mga bata pa tayo. Naglalaro sa bukid at nag-tatampisaw sa mga ilog hanggang dilim. Pag-uwi, pingot ang abot kay lola.” he would say. And that sums up why we ride.
We’d organise rides via a group Facebook Account called, THE LONG RIDERS. Its cover says EXPERIENCE THE ADVENTURE. Being a friendly and loose organization, anybody who wants to experience a long exciting ride with us is welcome.
The culture of the group is very down to earth and not intimidating. It’s moto is “walang iwanan”, where no one is left behind. Everyone is welcome. No bike preference, any brand works and no discrimination. Young, old, boss or worker, as long as you love adventure riding, this group is for you.
On overnight rides, the riders get to know each other over a few bottles of beer or EM-P lights, depending on where we end up at night. There are times when we end up somewhere we didn’t plan on going because of strong rains, strong waves in the sea or when darkness falls while riding somewhere in the mountains.
Aside from riding on our bikes, we also hike, take bancas, and even “habal-habals” to reach our far flung destinations. It’s a total experience.
And then there are the people, the locals we meet on our rides. You will be surprised at how kind and hospitable people from the provinces or mountains are. One time when we got caught up by nightfall in Balbalan, Kalinga, we were taken in by a complete stranger, Lorenzo, to spend the night in his modest home. He set up beds and provided warm sheets for us. The following day, before we set forth with our journey, we offered to pay for our stay but he was very adamant in refusing any kind of pay. He said that “in our town, everyone is welcome.”
You cannot help but be touched by such acts of kindness from complete strangers.
There was one ride when I was also helped by strangers. I fell back from the pack together with my buddy Carlo Escover while riding from Abra de Ilog in Mindoro to Calapan. We made a wrong turn somewhere and got lost.
To make matters worse, when we were re-tracing our route, I had a flat tire. First, we were able to find a vulcanising shop to fix my tire. After it was fixed, we headed on to catch up with the group which at that point was way too far ahead. Then as luck would have it, when we were riding through winding roads of the mountains I once again had a flat tire. We were too far away from the town and there was nothing around, except for a delivery truck parked by the road side and its occupants resting.
I noticed that their truck had no load and so I took a chance and asked if I can hitch a ride together with my big HP2 1200cc BMW bike. You know, I think they were angels. Coincidentally or providentially, they were also on their way to Calapan port and onto the Batangas port where we were also going.
Other passers by helped us carry my heavy bike onto the delivery truck and I hopped on the truck too and they brought me all the way to Calapan and Batangas Port! Guess what? They wouldn’t accept the money I was giving them and simply said that it was no problem. People are good. Filipinos are good.
We also have another tradition in The Long Riders. Whenever we ride, some of us bring toys for giveaways to the poor children we encounter. Nothing beats the joy you feel whenever you see poor children receive toys. For most of them, it would be their first time to open wrappers of new toys and when you see their big smiles and innocent joy, it makes you feel good. It touches your soul.
Riding big bikes is not just about speed and the happiness one gets from playing with toys for the big boys. Riding with The Long Riders is about experiencing new places and meeting good people on the way.