Tour of Hope 2011

The Tour of Hope 2011. I was able to join legs 1 to 3 (3 Days) from Manila to Tarlac City, Tarlac City to San Juan in La Union and from San Juan to Vigan from May 28-30. I went home via bus the same day and skipped the last 2 days, the one from Vigan to Laoag and the star studded Laoag environs circuit.

The routes this year are longer compared to last year. Though it does’nt have the steep climbs as that of the Baguio Leg last year, the long flat roads enabled the riders to really push harder. I didn’t imagine myself doing above 30 Kph speed in my mountain bike but  I was really challenged in keeping up with the lead peloton. I actually had a roadbike with me when I arrived at the start of the tour but the heavy rains made me decide to use my mountain bike instead. Anyways, true to what was expected, the tour was worth all the money and time I have invested on it. Good ride, great people, great cause and great organization. See you next year!

Day 1: Welcome TarlacDay 1: At the parking lot at TrinomaDay 1: Trinoma Lay TalkDay 1: Ceremonial VaccinationDay 1: Rainy Start at TrinomaDay 1: Leaving Trinoma
Day 1: Raining Hard at EDSADay 1: Rains at Mc Arthur Hi-wayDay 1: First Rest Stop, Still RainingDay 1: Pink Handle BarsDay 1: Diwa ng Tarlac Convention CenterDay 1: Still Raining Outside
Leaving Luisita MicroTelTony's BackWaiting for the main groupThey finally arrivedRegroup before entering San FernandoStrange stop at a car service shop
San Fernando Town HallWelcome band at San FernandoArriving at San Fernando City HallFacebook shotGoing inside the town hall for our lunchBeach of San Juan

Tour of Hope 2011, a set on Flickr.

Here is the actual route the tour have taken:

TOH 2011

TOH 2011 Route

 

Here is my story:

Day 1: After the send off program started, it rained really hard. This would be throughout the entire day with only some short periods of respite. I had a raincoat with me but I already loaded it into our support vehicle that went missing afterwards for the entire day so I had no choice but to ride all day drenched. We traversed EDSA while it was raining hard and our motorcycle escorts made it sure it was open lanes for our smooth passage- how cool can it get! After arriving to our supposed first rest stop, the group decided to push for the next stop as the area within the first stop was already heavily flooded. So it was an extended ride for us. Somewhere in Angeles was the first “free for all” open ride. I tried catching the lead group but was relegated somewhere in between the lead and the second pack (the group is often composed of three main groups- the lead, the second and the third or main pack). Ernie Lopez passed by and offered to cover us (stragglers) but my mountain bike can’t really catch up with their road bikes. I was again left alone on my own. It was a lonely ride for me but on some portions was accompanied by Candon Metro Bikers. After a regroup, we arrived at TarlacCity for lunch. After lunch, it rained hard again for a short period but was enough to flood portions of the city streets of Tarlac. We arrived at our first day hotel by around 2-3PM. I got the shock of the day after finding out that my baggage was in a van that went straight to La Union (the reason why it was missing the entire day). But the organizers were helpful enough and asked the van to go back to Tarlac. I got my stuff at around 9PM so prior to that, I just stayed in the hotel room the entire night (naked- glad I was solo on the room that day) and skipped the first night programs altogether.

DAY 2: This time, I placed my luggage in Vice Mayor Itchon’s private SAG vehicle. They were very friendly and accommodating they offered it to me the night before after finding out the incident. After a heartily breakfast, got a great send off from the organizers for La Union. In the first section, I shared doing the phasing of the second peloton. On the next section I was with a breakaway group pushing really hard to catch the lead group. Our group was welcomed by La Union bikers at Agoo so our numbers swelled. It was a good ride towards San Fernandobut same as in the second section- it was a race ride for me rather than a fun tour. I was often with the group of Beth Siojo of David’s, Tony of TriPolo and Deon James of 7-11. It was again raining hard when we entered San Fernando and we had a regroup at a gasoline station before proceeding to the City Hall. We were offered a nice lunch buffet and a great welcoming party. The group was split between those staying in either Thunderbird Poro Point or Kahuna Resort. I was actually disappointed after being assigned to Kahuna but after seeing the place, I was more than happy with our assignments. I had a bottle of beer from the bar that night and was surely missing my sparring partners, the original drunken bikers from Tour of Hope 2010. I was told later that there was another group who had their session that night but it was already too late as I was on my way to bed.

DAY 3: I was in a racing mood again that day and tried really hard pushing my bike at start of the ride. I was within the first group this time, at start doing 35Kph above and before we got to our first stop, I was dropped and again rode solo. At our next stop, I spent the entire rest period sitting down only to find out after the group started leaving that my front tire was flat. It was a serious concern as I know, being left out will be really difficult (and I think they do not have a last sweeper vehicle for individual riders unless you cry out). But glad the Team David Salon’s mechanic was very quick in replacing my tires so I was able to catch up the 3rd group. So much for the transparent tubes! We stopped at Candon Municipal Hall for free snacks courtesy of one of the TOH pioneer rider, Vice Mayor Itchon. After the snack, we started for our third leg but lo and behold!, I lost all my powers. I bonked super big time! I literally crawled my way to the next stop. I was with the last group. Maybe I pushed myself too hard on all the previous legs, and/or wrong hydration and nutrition. And in this section the sun was so intense it was really hot making it really difficult. At our stop along the hi-way, after drinking a lot of water and Gatorade, I went to one house beside the road to ask for water which I poured to my entire body just to cool off. We regrouped for the final time after the long bridge to Vigan. Entering Vigan, I would say was the best welcome ever in all of the stops I had been with the tour. It was complete with bands, performers, a fire truck to cool us off and a great ceremonial ride to the cobble stone streets of Vigan. Makes you think of the Paris Roubaix Tour even for a short and small scale taste of it. After the ride I took my stuff, a backpack and rode my bike to the bus station. The buses there have small luggage compartments but I was able to squeeze in my bike after removing the wheels and seat post. It was a long and lonesome travel back toManila.

I was really disappointed not being able to finish the 5 day tour but glad at least I can do three. The experience further cemented my love of this tour and made commitments to join it annually as much as I can and as much as possible.

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