Way before Rix got her motorcycle and before that fateful Biker Chick episode, I got us a couple of mountain bikes first. Now that I think back, I realize the foolhardiness of youth. I mean, I am not the best biker in the world. Or in the neighborhood. Or even in a 100-meter radius (unless my mom is with me). I don't even know why I biked. Each biking excursion left me wiped out from a mixture of fear and exhilaration. But bike we did; Rix and I really went places with those mountain bikes.
We lived near the Buendia end of Leveriza, and Harrison Plaza was a short jeep ride or a calorie-burning walk away. We were aimlessly wandering around Harrison one day and we saw "Buy-One-Take-One" on mountain bikes at Toby's and I still have no idea how she did it, but Rix convinced me that it would be a fantastic idea to get ourselves bikes. I think she used lines like, "Think of all the places we can go to!" and "It's good exercise!" and "It's fun!" and "It's cheap!"
Let me digress here a moment--so we got the "cheap" bikes and soon after, we were becoming regular customers at the Cartimar bike shops; so much so that our bikes were hardly the ones we started with. And eventually we traded in our bikes and added twice what we first paid for them to get spiffier bikes. By then I realized that I would never be Lance Armstrong, and I refused to spend a single peso more on my bike. Rix, though, really souped up her bike and used to bike to and from UP! And as with the motorcycle, I settled for vicarious biking thrills. I would say, "Oh my sister bikes to school and back," in such a way that you'd think I was there pedalling with her.
So from Harrison, we biked back to the apartment. And I remembered that the last time I biked on anything with only two wheels was a decade ago. And that was in a controlled environment, with no silly pedestrians who think that the road is the place to be; no maniacal car drivers whose sole mission in life seems to be terrorizing those on vehicles with half the number of wheels; no oops-did-I-just-run-into-something jeep and truck and bus drivers; no biker-unfriendly things littering the road, like parked cars, trash cans and sign posts. But we made it home safely, and began to plan our next trips.
We biked to church (Union Church on Rada St.), and it always made for a more worshipful experience--I fervently thanked God each time for still being alive. We biked around the CCP Complex; we even went around Intramuros several times. And one time I got a flat right outside Intramuros and we couldn't find any vulcanizing shop and I had to walk my bike all the way home while Rix biked in circles around me.
Once, on impulse (naturally), we decided to meet a friend one afternoon at our Kuya's gaming shop in BF Paranaque, passing Roxas Boulevard, then the Airport Road. We figured it couldn't be that far. I guess in our minds we were thinking of Merville, not quite realizing that BF is way, way, way past that. And on the way we encountered more of those silly pedestrians milling around the road. I sort of almost ran down one guy--not my fault; I called out 'excuse me' and he didn't listen!--and he kinda got surprised and possibly to save face, he yelled at me something like, "Gago ka! Bulag ka ba?" and I felt like getting off my bike and yelling back at him, "Hoy, ikaw ang bulag, GAGA ako!" But stopping gracefully and getting off the bike was something I hadn't quite mastered yet. We made it to BF in two hours. I think. And we made our friend drive us back home.
But the most memorable by far--and the most fun, in a weird way--was when we biked along Manila Bay in the middle of a typhoon. Fine. At the tail end of a typhoon. It was one of those slow moving storms, and we were cabin-fevered, cooped up in the house for days. On the third day, we peeked out (like Noah) and saw that the wind had let up a bit and it was still raining, but not as hard. So what's a little rain, right? We headed out to an eerily empty Buendia then on to Roxas, where we saw the waves slamming against the wall, sending massive sprays of sea water onto the sidewalk and street.
We felt like we were in some kind of man-against-nature movie. I mean picture it. We were the only ones out (only brave ones or only foolish ones, you decide) on the road. The rain was coming down in sheets, the wind whipping us, monster waves out to get us--stopped only by that wall--and further drenching us. We were screaming our heads off each time a wave hit the wall. We felt invincible! I would have raised my arms over my head as we biked down Roxas, or spread them out, like Meg Ryan in City of Angels, except that I would have most likely lost balance and toppled over.
We were thoroughly enjoying pitting ourselves against the sea. Then we saw it. First it was one supot. Followed by another. And another. Then we saw tsinelas. When we got to the end of the wall, we saw a whole mountain of trash being spit out by the sea. We continued screaming our heads off--this time with a different tone, and as much as possible, with our mouths closed.
I think the sea and Mother Nature had the last laugh.