Festive 500


7 Days, 500 kms. On a bike. That was the goal of the Festive500 challenge that some hardcore triathletes and cyclists were planning on completing over the holidays. 

What started as just a fun ride for me on Christmas Eve became Day 1 of a challenge that I wanted to complete. Technically, we could’ve just ridden everyday, do loops on flat roads and finish the 500kms easy peasy.  

But I ended up joining and being inducted to a fun, crazy, and strong group of bikers that brought me biking up, down and around a volcano. And I wouldn’t have done it any other way. 

As per usual, I was always the only girl in the group.. perhaps because I was the only one crazy enough to to this feat with them. I’m always up for a challenge and I always find motivation not to quit so I guess that helped a lot. 

Day one was just supposed to be a Noche Buena ride with Mark (who is a teammate), Paolo, Aries & Gadric — all of whom did the Trek100 Challenge a few months back and without their tips, I wouldn’t have survived that race. 

Noy, Pao & Aries telling me over breakfast what to expect in the Trek100 course a few months ago

Anyway, so on Dec 24, we went up Tagaytay from Nuvali via Cardiac Hill and man, that was no easy ride. My reward was a siopao and a bar of butterfinger cups from 711 once we get to the top. Thing is, I don’t really eat siopao. But when you’re so tired and famished – that piece of bread with meat inside seems like the best reward. This was also when we decided to call it #Paostive500 and #tourDeAries because it was Paolo’s idea to do the challenge and it was Aries who decided the routes to take.

Raise your hand if you want chocolates!
My second time to climb to Tagaytay with these guys

3 and a half hours on the saddle and 70.2 kilometers later, we called it a day and headed to our respective families for Christmas celebrations. 
On Christmas Day, I decided to make the most out of the empty streets in my neighborhood and rode my bike out. What was supposed to be 30km became 40km and I only stopped because I had to get ready for my family lunch already. Mind you, I was still enjoying my “off season” from training so the past few weeks I would only bike once for 40km or none at all. So biking two days in a row was already pushing it. 

Urban cycling – around BGC

Day 3 was the game changer. The plan was the ride with the usual suspects and go up to Tagaytay the same route as the noche buena ride and go back down. Easy. I just wanted to improve my time in going up the segements of those inclines. But when we realized that there were only 3 of us and the guys saw people they knew at the parking, we ended up joining them. 

forever one of the boys

Pao & Aries told me it would be better if we just joined the other group going up to Tagaytay as it is safer to ride in a pack. So off to Tagaytay we rode via Sta. rosa. 

Now this is where my trust issues come to play. All plans went down the drain once we reached Tagaytay. Instead of heading Back down… oh, we went down alright.. but into Talisay instead. And again, instead of going back… we took the long route and did a tour of Taal instead. We went to places I’ve never been to and I never knew existed. Oh if I could’ve only taken photos of all the sights that I saw as we were cycling! All so picturesque! I took lots of mental pictures that I can only wish to be able to share with all of you. We even passed a town that totally gave me a mindf*ck as I thought I was in intramuros and not taal. The inclines we had to endure were steep and I’m just glad I was able to climb it. 2 flat tires (Aries then mine — thank you Pao for changing my tire), getting lost in a village celebrating fiesta somewhere, a delicious meal, and finally seeing that internet-famous castle later, we were finally back in Tagaytay.. only to chase last light and headed back down before it got too dark. All our guardian Angels were at work that day – despite the rain and wet roads – none of us crashed. All of us were safe. 12 hrs on the road? CRAZY.  

Crazy inclines going around taal
Lunch break
Biggest Balisica – the Taal Basilica
Finally saw the castle in person!

Now, I don’t know why, but the next day after that epic ride, I found myself on the road again, spinning my legs for a 40km recovery ride. I had decided that I NEEDED and WANTED to complete the 500km before the 31st. There’s no medal or anything, just a badge. But it was a challenge that not a lot can do and I was up for it.
Our original plan of conquering Cardiac Hill again finally happened on Saturday. My legs were already suffering from accumulated fatigue so riding up cardiac hill was even harder than I remembered. It was tough on my legs. We ended up going back down via a different route and the dirt roads stressed me out. Another 70km in the bank! 

Always riding with the boys.. where my girls at?!
We hit so many undeveloped roads- so happy we didn’t get a flat!
All smiles after successfully going through the tough dirt road

My last day was bound to be a tough one. With 134km to go and exhausted legs… some were asking me if I was still aiming to finish as a lot have given up already. So, I switched to my Trek Speed Concept and decided to have an “easy” long ride. The original plan was to just do loops in flat roads. Pat had different plans and we ended up just going through every road we could bike on. Beyond grateful for coaches Patrick Joson & Paolo Leaño for sticking and riding with me til I finished my 500kms even if they had already completed their mileage long before I did. 


By the way- did you notice how my coach and I have the same bikes? TWINNING!

505.9 Kilometers, almost 5,000 meters of elevation gain, 14,500 calories burned, 26 hrs on the saddle and lots of new friends. What a great way to end 2017!

Big thanks to Paolo Leaño, Patrick Joson & Aries Cajucom who really stuck beside me every ride and guided me as it was my first time in most routes. Johnjohn Torres for sticking beside me when we were climbing Payapa. My teammate mark Hernandez for being the one to invite me into the climbing group. Diego Juliano & Patrick for taking tons of photos – I didn’t even have to ask and I instantly have so much to keep for memories! 

Also wouldn’t have survived without 

TREK Bicycle Store Manila (esp Jeff who makes sure my bikes are always ready for epicness) 

Enve for my tri bike’s guapo wheels

First endurance – my bike nutrition aside from chocolates and siopao 

Superfood Energy balls for that ginseng kick for energy 


What a year ender. Now I’m ready to take on my 2018 triathlon season with a bang! 

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