Birth of a randonneur, part 3: Postmortem to a 200 km brevet

In my line of work, at the end of each project, we have what’s called a “postmortem” meeting. It’s a look back at what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be improved in the future. I decided to do something similar for my first brevet, for the benefit of those who wish to embark on a similar endeavor.


Proper diet and nutrition while riding. This takes some experimentation, as not everybody reacts to food in the same way. My ride food of choice is Grower’s NutriBar in apple cinnamon flavor, which is chewy, moist, and convenient enough to carry – without making me too thirsty like chocolate or peanut butter tends to do. Whatever ride food you carry, make sure you eat small bites of it at regular intervals, so that your gut can do a decent job of digesting it and provide you with enough energy to avoid bonking. My triathlete buddy Ralph’s strategy of eating a bite every 45 minutes and washing it down with water helped immensely.

Insulated bottles. I can’t even imagine how I would last without them. They kept my water cold at the start, and bearable to drink in the later stints.

Wider tires. For these kinds of events, I believe you should run the widest tire you can smoosh into your frame and fork. Wider tires mean more air volume, requiring lower air pressures, and yielding greater comfort. Besides, if you get a puncture, it’s much easier to use a hand pump to inflate a 28 mm tire to 80 psi than it is to inflate a 23 mm tire to 120 psi. I figure if I had even wider slick or file-tread tires available, I would have run them here.

Skin protection. On a very long ride like this, chafing and sun damage are real risks. The latter, you can prevent with sunscreen, reapplied every two or three hours. The former, you can prevent with a number of products: chamois cream, Body Glide, or the poor man’s alternative, petroleum jelly. Before the ride, I applied some on my nether regions before pulling up my shorts, as well as around my brow line to avoid sweat going into my eyes. If you’ll remember, my bag of spares had a small plastic jar of petroleum jelly in it, along with the granola bars. That was there in case I needed to reapply.

Cue cards and a well-calibrated cyclocomputer. In the absence of an expensive Garmin Edge unit, this was my workaround – and it worked brilliantly.

My saddle. I finished with numb nuts and a sore bum, but I doubt I would have finished at all with any other saddle.

Clipless pedals and shoes. I could pour on the power without worrying about twisting my shins or dislocating foot from pedal. I still think that lifting your clipped-in foot to generate pedaling power is bunk, though.

Core fitness and familiarity with my riding position. Cycling is one of the sports that requires good core strength, but doesn’t improve it. A poor core will result in discomfort on the bike, as well as reduced power output, as they are the foundation for the pedaling motion of your legs. I use a very simple workout of three 60-second planks to help strengthen my core. Over the past year, I’ve also adopted a gradually lower riding position, moving my stem downward one spacer at a time as my torso flexibility improved. Over many kilometers, I’ve gotten used to holding this position for long periods of time.

A post-ride massage. Your muscles build up lactic acid due to stress and use; tolerance to it is something you train for when it comes to endurance efforts. No matter how big your muscles’ appetite is for lactic acid, though, you do have to get rid of it as part of your recovery. One effective way of doing so is a hard massage. I didn’t get cramps during the ride, but all the built-up lactate in my glutes and calves – and the associated pain it carries – came rushing out when the masseuse went over them with her hands and fingers. It’s a funny feeling, getting cramped-up muscles after a strenuous endurance activity. After that massage, I was largely back to normal condition within a day and a half. No wonder professional cyclists always get massaged by their soigneurs.


Bringing a power bank. For the 300 km distance and longer, this would probably come in handy. Given how good at endurance my Cat Eye Volt 1200 front light is, though, it was dead weight. My cellphone battery had good endurance too, still retaining half charge after the brevet. I eventually left the power bank behind on the Team David’s Salon support van before the final stint.

My pair of Pearl Izumi gloves, which I bought on sale in Singapore. They’re very lightly padded; probably not the best for a brevet.

My gloves. Normally my thin-padded Pearl Izumi gloves are excellent, but they were overwhelmed by the distance and the road conditions. I developed pressure pain in my left palm due to an inflamed ulnar nerve, and this doesn’t completely go away immediately. Perhaps something with more padding would help prevent this.

Single-layer bar tape. Fizik’s 3mm-thick bar tape is excellent stuff, but the distance and road conditions meant the tape was sending more shock through the handlebars than normal. Sean had double-wrapped bars and they seemed to work for him fine. Hmmmm. Maybe worth a shot for the next brevet.

Swapping cranks too close to the brevet. I had made the 50/34T crank swap two weeks prior, and this meant that the front derailleur now needed to be moved and tuned for the new, larger chainrings. Maybe I should have done the swap earlier, though. The chain catcher allowed a terminal case of chain drop, which cost me around ten minutes, and the derailleur was performing quite a number of ghost front shifts. Had these been adjusted and ridden for at least a month prior, I doubt I would have gotten my mechanical gremlins. Who knows, with the 105 crank’s better top end, maybe it would have improved my result at BGC Cycle Philippines 2015

My particular pair of clipless pedals. At the finish, my feet hurt a lot. I can only think of the muscles of my feet trying to contort around the raised SPD mechanism of the T780 pedals. Had there been more of a surrounding support platform around the SPD mechanism, perhaps the pain would have been lessened. This sort of design seems more of a Crankbrothers specialty though.


Average speed. 24.8 km/h overall average is definitely not bad for a first-time brevet run; my initial estimated pace was actually far slower at 20 km/h. I think that could have improved if all of us riders in our grupetto were on road or cross bikes, though. As I know all too well first-hand, folding bikes usually have limited top end, the small wheels making a >30 km/h average speed effort unsustainable on a rider’s cardio. You’d have to equip unusual chainring combinations, such as 56/44T, to improve that…but good luck on the hills.

Rowell and Nelson negotiating the slight rise around the Porac bridge area.

Group dynamics. Admittedly I wasn’t exactly a paragon of group riding etiquette. While I did pull for the grupetto, for quite a long time I might add, I outdragged them on many occasions, too. Considering this was the first time I rode with my guys, it wasn’t too bad. However, if we improved our group riding behavior and rode more similar machines, perhaps we would have seen improvements in pace and…

Rest periods. We spent an entire hour at the second visit to Cabangan – half of which was spent waiting for others to arrive. Too long, perhaps, for a completion effort aiming to finish at the least possible time. Then again, it bears repeating that the brevet is not a race – as long as we finish within cutoff time, that’s all that matters.

These are lessons I’ll be bringing with me if I’m fortunate enough to join another brevet, or any long-distance ride really.



  • The grupetto: Sean Ilaguison, Nelson Malabanan, Rowell Lopez and Adam Pontiñoza of the United Folding Bikers, and our “sixth man” Edison Reyes, for the company along the way. We had an unofficial “seventh man,” Gogie Sinson, as well. A good chunk of the photography I used for these posts was by Sean as well.
  • Jeremy Deanon, for the assist when I had terminal chain drop at the last of Masinloc’s rolling hills.
  • The men and women of Audax Randonneurs Philippines and Team David’s Salon, headed by Carmela Pearson, for organizing this event and making it all happen.
  • The many riders that participated and the camaraderie between all.
  • The crew of Mango Valley Hotel 2 for the lodging and assistance.
  • The people of Zambales and Pampanga, for generally being gracious with sharing the road with us. Such road courtesy is hard to find in Metro Manila these days.
  • My supporters: my fiancee Mav, my cousin Cherrie, and my friends Byron Villegas, Ralph Dabao and Gilbert Serrano.

Birth of a randonneur, part 2: The Subic-Masinloc-Subic 200 km brevet

It was midnight on December 5, 2015, the day of the brevet…and I was still wide awake.

I just could not sleep. I had already downed two bottles of Brew Kettle and turned off all the lights in a bid to turn in early. But after four hours of tossing and turning in bed, I was awake, nervous and jittery at the prospect of facing the dragon I chose to slay.

That dragon was the 200 km Subic-Masinloc-Subic brevet.

Somehow I managed to grab about four hours of sleep as my cellphone rang its 4 am alarm. I took a shower, dressed, ate my breakfast cereal, prepared my bottles, packed my jersey pockets, and pedaled Hyro to Mango Valley 1, the start point of the brevet.

I had brought along a couple ziplock bags packed with four extra granola bars, an extra base layer, and a small tub of petroleum jelly. This was my bag of extras, to be left with the Audax Randonneurs Philippines crew inside the Team David’s Salon van. The idea was that I could grab these from a checkpoint if I needed them. Apart from this little bag, my ride was self-supported.

A minute away from the start of the brevet. Photo by Sean Ilaguison.


We set out at 5 am from Subic Bay’s Kalaklan Gate. Almost immediately, we faced a climb up dark winding roads with barely any warmth in our legs. This wasn’t a huge deal because we were still very very fresh, and the darkness was nothing my Cat Eye Volt 1200 front light couldn’t pierce at half power. Unfortunately, the darkness also meant my cue cards weren’t all that useful.

We spun along Subic town until we got to one of the first real climbs at km 13. Dropping speed to 11 km/h, we all took this climb seated as we spun up our cranks. Soon enough we were back to our original pace at around 27 km/h along dark chip-sealed roads as we headed to the town of Castillejos at km 18. As the road turned right, we encountered a nasty surprise as the surface suddenly gave way to a few meters of dust and rocks – and we all approached it blind and at considerable speed. None of us fell, fortunately.

Lots of bikes? Lots of riders? Lots of support vehicles? Yep, that’s an audax checkpoint.

Anyway, we recovered and went on to San Marcelino at km 25. The sunrise started greeting us from the horizon, and we were in high spirits as we kept our pace. In this first thirty or so kilometers, we basically rode in a loose pack with the other riders with some gaps here and there, eventually turning into a full-on 35 km/h train of a peloton. Unfortunately, its sheer size quickly became unmanageable for the two-lane national highway we were riding on, and nobody seemed eager to create and maintain a double paceline. Everyone wanted to run a single paceline.

At this point, Sean and I decided to drop our pace from the peloton’s 35 km/h to a more manageable 25-27. He was riding a 20″ (406 mm) folding bike, after all; trying to maintain that high speed on such wheels along the flats would have burned out his aerobic fitness, he told me. We rode two-up as the kilometers rolled by, passing the wide-open and windy towns of San Narciso and San Felipe. I kept eating one bite of granola bar every 45 minutes and washing it down with water; Sean did the same as he sat on my back wheel.

Riders lining up to have their brevet cards stamped and signed at the first checkpoint in Cabangan.

Eventually, at 6:52 am, we arrived in Cabangan, site of the first checkpoint, which was a yellow gasoline station that had sold Shell fuels in earlier days. The Team David’s Salon van was there with water and an ice chest full of Gatorade, and off we went to refill our bottles. Mine were half-frozen from the night before and they still had their ice in them.

We waited for Rowell, Adam and Nelson to arrive, then set out on our way.


There we were: three folding bikes, a road bike, and my cross bike, going onward through bridges and national highway on our way to Iba, Zambales. Most of this stretch was quiet, apart from Adam’s Bluetooth speaker playing some music and Adam himself singing along. By this time, our five-man grupetto kept to itself, with the occasional rider or two joining our group along the way, as many of the other riders had gone ahead. This is when we met many fellow newbie randonneurs, such as Gogie and Edison, almost all of whom were also in it for the 200 km distance.

When we got to Iba at km 75, there was a bit of route confusion. I had written on my cue cards that we should take Govic Highway and ride around the busy town center. However, that would also mean having to skip the Jollibee fast-food restaurant we could use for refueling. We ended up riding into town, but stopped somewhere in the middle to ask for directions. After about ten minutes, in the end we found that it didn’t really matter…and that we weren’t hungry enough to warrant the Jollibee stop anyway. As long as we rode in the general north-north-west direction, all we needed to do was get out of Iba and on our way.

L-R: Edison, Nelson and Adam. In the background are Edison’s road bike with deep-section wheels, Adam’s road bike, and Rowell’s drop-barred folding bike. Photo by Sean Ilaguison.

On we went on quiet roads until a right turn beckoned at km 82. After this, the rolling hills of Masinloc loomed, housing the three climbs Strava recognized on the route’s elevation profile. I had soldiered on apart from the group while keeping Gogie and his matte-gray Wilier road bike company. The first started in earnest at km 87, where the road kicked up to a short rise that nevertheless sapped our speed down to 15 km/h due to 11% gradient.

The second climb hit us at km 90, lasting all of one kilometer. Following it was a short downhill stretch that spat us into the 1.7-kilometer San Lorenzo Bridge climb, which Strava classified as a Category 4 with 5% average gradient, kicking up to a 14% maximum. While comparatively short, it certainly stung, and buried our pace down to 11 km/h. Not wanting to burn out my legs, I clicked into my 34×27 gear and tapped out a slow, steady climbing rhythm with my cranks as I put my hands on the bar tops. It took about nine minutes of spinning uphill, but we were rewarded with a winding downhill blast that saw us hit 54 km/h.

As per Strava and my cue cards, it was supposed to be over, but there were still some more climbs to go. The road rolled up and down the hill, with little but noticeable rises. As I crested the very last one at km 98, my chain fell. It had dropped straight through the chain catcher and was now difficult to fish out without moving the chain catcher out of the way. Normally I would have been able to whack it into the big chainring to recover, but the lack of momentum coupled with lack of cable tension meant that my shifter wasn’t pulling enough cable to save me from stopping.

I got off at the side of the road and pulled out my multitool. I would have to move the seat tube water bottle cage out of the way first before having a clean shot at the front derailleur mounting bolt. Suddenly another rider pulled up and offered to help hold my bike up as I was wrenching. Jeremy had already been to the Masinloc checkpoint and was on his way back, but claimed he was cramping anyway so stopped to help me. He eventually figured out a method of pulling the chain through to get it back onto the chainrings, which ended my crisis after seven minutes. I thanked him for the assist as he went on his way.

L-R: Rowell, Sean, Nelson and Adam.

The road basically leveled out from that point on until I got to the Total gasoline station that marked the km 105 Masinloc checkpoint at 9:23 am. Even with my mechanical, I still finished around ten minutes ahead of the grupetto, which reconvened. As before, I went to top up my bottles, and this time their ice had long gone. I availed of a bottle of Gatorade from the Team David’s Salon van and got some of their ice. The little gasoline station had become a hive of activity, with dozens of riders and at least six SAG (“support and gear”) wagons parked in the area – the domain of the company-sponsored cycling clubs such as Smart and Shell.

Adam and Rowell at the Masinloc checkpoint, still feeling fresh. Photo by Sean Ilaguison.

I took the opportunity to break out the multitool again and work on my front derailleur. I was getting ghost shifting, the chain moving between chainrings as I clicked up and down the rear cogs. I moved the chain catcher much closer to the small chainring, tightened the limits, and gave the barrel adjuster a few more turns’ worth of cable tension.


A bit of lunch at 10 am. Despite the meager amount, thanks to good on-saddle nutrition, it was enough to keep us going.

We stayed in the area for a bit longer to grab a small meal from a nearby carinderia (roadside cafeteria). Edison joined us inside, and eventually became the sixth man of the grupetto. Remembering Ralph’s advice, I had soup and a cup of rice with some chicken curry served on a little saucer.

Nelson said that we were making very good time as we arrived at the second checkpoint before 10 am. Unfortunately, we also had to repeat all the rolling hills we’d just ridden through – in reverse.

In many ways the return trip through Masinloc’s hills should have been harder. However, Sean had found a second wind, climbing better than he’d ever done all day, even going out of the saddle on his Trinx folding bike. I stuck to the same strategy of tapping out a smooth rhythm as I rode the climbs of km 112 and 117 in the saddle. I was faring much better than many of the riders that had SAG wagons tailing them as I passed them at a steady 9-11 km/h. The six of us reconvened after each of the three climbs.

After the final climb at km 120 came a welcome downhill stretch where we all hit at least 58 km/h. As we turned left at the junction back to the direction of Iba, Sean and I kept on having our best riding ever at a steady 28 km/h, separated by around half a minute. With less anxiety about the cut-off time, my thoughts shifted to the beautiful sights we had passed, and I stopped at one of the bridges at km 135 to take a short break due to little aches and pains all over.

Hyro at rest along the Botolan-Panan bridge.

“We may have dropped them,” Sean said after he arrived behind me. We broke out our cellphones and shot photos of us and our bikes. While we were composing our shots, the others arrived in short order and we shot another round of photos.

Upon resuming we agreed to keep a pace of 25 km/h. Luckily for us the weather was on our side. The noontime heat was nowhere, replaced with a cool wind and a slightly overcast sky. At one point, raindrops even started to fall singly as we spun out the kilometers.

Hyro with Nelson’s folding bike. Of our group, Nelson was the only rider on flat handlebars.

Crossing the bridge at km 143 came a new opponent: a nasty headwind. The wind blew from our 10 o’clock, retarding our progress while pushing us sideways to the right at the same time. Edison’s road bike had deep-section Mavic Cosmic carbon wheels, and he really felt the wind fooling around with his bike’s handling. I headed the grupetto, riding in the best aero tuck I could in order to mitigate the effects of the wind, as I tried to maintain the pace…but ended up riding at 21-22 km/h. I was determined to keep the speed up, because at this point I really felt like going to the bathroom…to take a dump that had been long postponed by all the climbing. No gut distress at all, just a timing thing.

After Sean and I returned to the yellow gas station in Cabangan, km 157, I have my brevet card stamped at 1 pm and immediately head to the toilet. Edison arrived around ten minutes after, and the three of us were having lemon sodas at another carinderia across the street when Nelson, Adam and Rowell arrive at 1:30.

A refreshed Sean next to his Trinx FA806 drop-barred folding bike at the third checkpoint.

Even running my lights the whole time, I decided I no longer had any need for my spare front light and my powerbank, so I left them with the rest of my stuff in the Team David’s Salon van. Even with the 45-minute diet of granola bar, I found I still had enough fuel to go on without having to dig into my bag of spares. Sean spots a tap at the gas station and we cool ourselves off with its water. We wait until everybody recovers, then roll out at 2 pm for the final leg.


Even though the wind had died down, we proceed at a leisurely 22 km/h. The afternoon heat started coming our way. Edison developed a case of painful hamstring cramps, so we stop at the side of the road to rest a bit. We resume the pace after he recovered and pass through the towns backwards: San Felipe at km 167, San Narciso at km 173, and San Marcelino at km 183. I scoot to the back of my saddle, hands on bar tops, as I recruit my glutes and hamstrings and rotate the effort around my muscles.

At km 185, I felt like I needed to take a leak. I click into harder gears and soldier on ahead, alone. Approaching the town of Castillejos, I turn left into a Petron gas station and used the toilet for a quick pee break. After that I didn’t look back. Feeling good, I raised the pace to 25-28 km/h on the flats, throwing out the nutrition plan (I had a single bite in the final 30 kilometers) and deciding this was my opportunity to finish strong.

Entering Subic town proper, traffic congestion was beginning to build up. I filtered my way through the stopped vehicles, keeping pace when they got moving. Looming closer were the final three climbs going to Subic Bay, which made themselves felt at km 199. I didn’t let up because I knew I was close to the end.

Clicking into easier gears, I spun up the climbs at 13-15 km/h. At this point, my feet felt painful from wanting to contort around my cleats and SPD mechanisms for so long, and my glutes were getting sore from all the work of climbing hills, but I kept at it.

Eventually I go downhill and make the right turn into Subic Bay’s Kalaklan Gate, whooping and pumping my arm in celebration. I head down Dewey Avenue and turn into Mango Valley Hotel, submitting my brevet card at 4:48 pm – almost two hours ahead of the cutoff.

My completed brevet card just before I submitted it to the Audax Randonneurs Philippines staff.


I was hurting afterwards from the fatigue, the duration of the ride and the many challenges it featured. The pain was mainly concentrated in my tired glutes, sore sit bones, numbing palms, and painful feet – all of which I felt when I attempted to squat to pick up my bottles. Amazingly, I was nowhere near any danger of cramps, especially in my calves, which are a common failure point on my legs. I had a bit of genital numbness, but I didn’t have any back pain – nor did I have any gastrointestinal distress. I was never in any real hunger, either.

L-R: Sean, Rowell, Adam, yours truly and Nelson at the final checkpoint back in Mango Valley 1 Hotel.

Around twenty minutes later, the rest of the grupetto arrived. We congratulated each other on our efforts, especially Norman, Sean and Rowell who completed it aboard folding bikes, and let the epic level of our achievement sink in. We just rode 210 glorious kilometers! I even managed to see Gogie again and congratulated him as he rolled into the finish.

After the fix at Masinloc, I never suffered chain drop again. I still had the occasional ghost shift, but it wasn’t too bad.

My cue cards, for the most part, worked beautifully. They were off by a maximum of 600 meters, which is pretty reasonable as far as I’m concerned, and many times they coincided with the numbers on my cyclocomputer.

While the thought of riding a bicycle along a provincial national highway with cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses passing you may feel daunting, most of the vehicle drivers we encountered were generous enough to give us the room we needed to cycle in safety. Very few of them gave us less than the whole lane’s width. I was amazed that even the provincial-route bus drivers I encountered in busy Subic town proper were willing to work with me and my hand signals, only passing me when I waved them through. For this sort of courtesy on the road, we are all very grateful to the Zambales locals.

Overall, this was an awesome experience. The sense of camaraderie among us randonneurs is something that truly has to be experienced to be believed. It really was a competition against the self, not so much against others, and so many people were willing to ride along in search of a common goal.

Birth of a randonneur, part 1: Preparation

After explaining what a randonneur is, I decided to become one. I signed up for Audax Randonneurs Philippines’ 200 km Subic-Masinloc-Subic brevet on December 5, 2015.

Strava’s Gran Fondo challenge for August 2015. As it’s a summer month in the US, the challenge calls for a single 150 km ride completed within 24 hours. Winter months shorten this to 100.

I was inspired, first by Strava‘s monthly “Gran Fondo” 130 km distance challenges (which have since varied between 100 and 150 km depending on the time of year), and subsequently by the tales of my cycling buddies tackling the “foundation” distance of a 200 km brevet. I was forced to eat “patient pie” as I slowly worked my way to ever longer distances, all the while deciding that this distance was going to be my dragon to slay.


Because brevets are self-supported, I did all I could to study my “opponent.” Fortunately for me, riders on Strava who have tackled the route have also given its navigation data and elevation profile to the cloud.

A fancy GPS cyclocomputer such as a Garmin Edge unit is way too rich for my blood, and I don’t like the idea of hanging my cellphone on my handlebars for navigation. I borrowed a trick from the pro cyclist’s arsenal: cue cards.

But for these to be effective, first I needed a very accurate cyclocomputer.

The last time I changed my tires to Continental’s Ultra Sport II 28mm clinchers, I recalibrated my Cat Eye Commuter cyclocomputer by performing a front wheel rollout procedure.

  1. Spin the front wheel so that the valve stem is perfectly vertical at the bottom.
  2. Mark this point on the ground.
  3. Push the bike so that the front wheel completes one full rotation – that is, when its valve stem points vertically upward again.
  4. Mark this second point on the ground.
  5. Measure this distance with a tape measure.

As per Cat Eye’s instructions, this is the most accurate way of calibration. My combination of tire and wheel yielded a 2135 mm circumference. Now that my distance measurements were as accurate as could be, I could now set up cue cards.

Creation of these cue cards was really all a matter of cross-examining the route’s turns and elevation profile against distance. I also included which towns and villages we were supposed to pass along the way, as well as the all-important checkpoints where we had to have our brevet cards stamped.

When all was done, I sized the cue cards to fit on Hyro’s top tube, which was 4.5 cm wide. Because my cards were long, I cut them into two pieces, each good for half the route, and stacked them. Then I waterproofed them using electrical tape and cut-up sandwich bags. The idea was that I could use them to get to Masinloc, then dispose of the first card as I continued along the way.

Finally, the Cat Eye Commuter had a unique ability up its sleeve: an ETA function. I manually input the route distance, which Strava worked out as 210 km. The Commuter would then compute an estimated time of arrival based on this distance and the average speed I would be doing. This should help with finishing within the 6:30 pm cutoff: a ride duration of 13.5 hours.


Turning Hyro into my idea of a randonneuring bike basically meant that I keep most of his commuter gear – mainly my two Cat Eye rear lights, my Cat Eye Volt 1200 front light, and the full-length SKS P45 Longboard fenders. The latter were vital as they would allow me to ride in comfort and not succumb to cold, dirty rainwater being sprayed from the road surface and up my back and buttocks. I installed a new set I had in storage, as my original set was badly cracked at this point, and no amount of super glue and electrical tape was going to make up for their loss of rigidity.

The main change I made was the installation of the Shimano 105 FC-5750 crank. The 50/34T chainrings would give me a wider range of gearing, so I could comfortably turn the cranks at a relatively low, energy-saving cadence on the flats, while vastly improving Hyro’s climbing ability with a 34x30T lowest gear.

Just as paramount a change was the Selle SMP Hell saddle. Given the distance, it’s inevitable that there will be hurt and pain, but a saddle that worked for my undercarriage would keep me functional and comfortable for longer.


I had been on enough long rides from 60-100 km of distance to have a basic idea of what I should bring. I decided to consult my friend Ralph, a triathlete, for tips on strategy.

My room at the Mango Valley 2 Hotel had its own carport.

His main advice was to eat some pre-ride breakfast and keep eating and drinking on the saddle. Every 45 minutes, I was to have a bite of my preferred granola bar and drown it with some water – even if I wasn’t hungry. This would prevent me from bonking (going into glucose debt), which is a catastrophic occurrence and not something I want to happen here. This would effectively be me getting ahead of my stomach’s slow digestion rate.

Once I was somewhere I could stop for a meal, I was told to keep it light and avoid pork and beef. Something easy to pass, like fish or chicken, and accompanied with not much rice, would be ideal. That would be dependent on what I would be able to purchase along the way though.

Yep, almost everything here went into my jersey pockets

I took the day before the brevet off from work and checked myself into a room in Subic. One of the very first things I did was to lay out everything I was going to carry, based on my jersey’s three back pockets.

  • Center pocket: This is always going to contain my rain jacket. In case I crash and fall off the bike, I don’t want anything hard next to my spine.
  • Left pocket: This contains my four granola bars, my cellphone, a packet of wet wipes, and a spare base layer – a Uniqlo AIRism shirt. The wet wipes, phone and base layer were in ziplock sandwich bags.
  • Right pocket: This contains my wallet and brevet card, both contained in a sandwich bag. Another sandwich bag contains a power bank and a spare front light. Finally my keys and a bottle of sunscreen went along for the ride.

(L-R) Nelson Malabanan, Sean Ilaguison, Rowell Lopez, Adam Pontiñoza, and yours truly after claiming brevet cards.

With all these in place, and after meeting with my groupmates Sean, Adam, Rowell and Nelson, I was as prepared as I could. Stay tuned to see how I did at the ride itself.