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Community & Cycling in Manila

While the pandemic created a boom of cyclists throughout the world and subsequently a bust, a net overall increase in cyclists is always good. It’s no less apparent than in Manila, Philippines, as I observed on recent trips there.

Photo: The Philippine News Agency

One of the things that struck me in recent trips to Manila is seeing the painted and separated bicycle lanes even on busy “highways” throughout Manila. Coming here to visit my relatives year after year, I was used to seeing roads filled with cars and motorbikes, clearly not intended for bicycles. To see bike infrastructure appear all of the sudden is a welcome surprise. While there’s still weaving and darting through traffic in the non-bike separated areas, it appears to be a step in improving infrastructure in making a concrete jungle a little more ridable. On any given day, despite the heat and humidity, you’ll find recreational cyclists to app-couriers delivering goods on bike, bypassing the notorious gridlock traffic that Manila is known for.

Photo: Facebook/Ahon Coffee

How’s the riding outside the city? Last summer I asked a few people about the local routes, and I was often suggested to ride to Sierra Madre. It’s about a 1 hour slog through urban roads to get out of the city (at least there’s a bike lane), but once you do it’s up and down the mountain range, totaling about 110km/1500m on the particular round trip I did (see Strava segment). And on the Saturday morning I rode, I saw hundreds of cyclists out. Along the way, I recommend a stop at Ahon Coffee, a roadside coffee stall popular for cyclists with a view of the adjacent hills.

Shops-wise, Dave Bikes is in Quezon City that carries gear suited towards the adventure and gravel side of cycling. Dave Bikes was co-founded by Geoffrey and A.B. (ironically a racer himself, but on the internet and at his shop he aptly goes by the handle, @racingsux). The shop is a passion project to create a cycling space and cafe in Manila to go alongside their normal day jobs. What I found interesting is that the building of their shop is actually Geoffrey’s childhood home which was newly renovated and turned into the cycling space it is today.

Looking to join rides in Manila? Dave Bikes is one place to stop by for rides and coffee. Another inspiring cyclist to follow is Ana David (she's known as Tita Ana known in the Manila cycling community). She started long-distance road cycling during the pandemic lockdowns and with this, she started an Instagram account (@ridelikeagirl.ph). Find her on her bikes, including her Specialized E-Bike rocking the Mini Handlebar Bag.

On my ride to the airport to head back home, it took a full hour to drive 12 kilometers to the airport. During the whole car trip, I saw bike lanes on the EDSA (one of the major highways that leads to the airport) roadies, gravel cyclists, and couriers alike. How I wished I could be riding instead.

Founder @ Post Carry Co.