The original mass-participation cycling event will be celebrating its fourth running on November 20, 2016…and I won’t be there. Why? I’ve got a few reasons.
I always signed up as an early bird entry into these events and took the group rate (of four participants) to take advantage of the lower price of entry. The registration fee and ride pack used to represent good value. You got F2P’s excellent event jerseys, your race number and timing chip, and a bunch of extras. 2013 by far was the best year, offering a decent canvas sling bag (I used it long enough that it wore out on me), some off-brand shades, and a high-visibility yellow leg band from the Firefly Brigade that I still use today.
These days, however, even adopting this strategy, I can’t deny that participation is getting expensive. Had I signed up with three others this year during the early bird period, the PhP6,300 fee would have worked out to PhP1,575 per head. This is an okay price for me…but it no longer corresponds to the value that previous runnings of this event had. The 2015 edition offered a ride pack with changing bags for triathletes and packets of MSG-laden crisps – really?
THE ROUTE IS RIPE FOR AN OVERHAUL
Sunrise Events is reusing the exact same route as last year.
I find it mildly amusing that an event called “BGC Cycle Philippines” sports a 40 km route that barely even uses its host, Bonifacio Global City, at all. Seriously – the meat and potatoes of the route is Gil Puyat Avenue and a bit of Roxas Boulevard.
The original 2013 edition was the only difference in this regard because it used C5. I have my pet theory about this route decision – largely revolving around the territorial dispute as to whether Taguig City or Makati City owns BGC.
Even if the organizers are justified by local government jurisdiction that Makati owns BGC, there has to be a much better place for running an event like this than Gil Puyat Avenue, which runs across three major thoroughfares of Metro Manila: Roxas Boulevard, Osmeña Highway, and EDSA via the Kalayaan Flyover. Gil Puyat Avenue itself is a busy drain pan collecting vehicular traffic – one with a patchy road surface the closer it gets to Pasay City.
Okay, EDSA traffic isn’t impacted, but I can remember lots of irate motorists plying Gil Puyat and Osmeña Highway inconvenienced by the BGC Cycle Philippines route in the past two editions.
Its sister event, Alaska Cycle Philippines, has consistently used a much more compact course layout contained within Roxas Boulevard and the SM Mall of Asia area – one with much less disruptive impact. Maybe Sunrise ought to look at adopting the same. I would not mind running the entire 40 km Challenge route within Bonifacio Global City and Kalayaan Flyover as a criterium of sorts – they’ve already shown that it can work.
THE FALSE PROMISE OF “CLOSED ROADS”
It is very, very hard for event marshals and local government police to patrol the length of Gil Puyat Avenue and ensure road closure for participants. Perhaps some of it is their fault, but to be fair to them, Gil Puyat is simply a nightmare for traffic control.
There are U-turns, lots of intersecting streets, and a railway crossing, as well as the infamously poor self-control of Pinoy pedestrians and drivers. Back in 2014 I distinctly remember having to come to a stop at the railway crossing because a train had to make its way through. And while it’s easy to point fingers at pedestrians, Gil Puyat Avenue simply does not have the infrastructure to avoid disruption between pedestrian and vehicular traffic – a fancy way of saying it doesn’t have enough elevated walkways.
Nice promise, but execution has been disappointing. I would suggest getting rid of Gil Puyat Avenue altogether because any promise of “riding on closed roads” when it is factored in is hot air at best.
Sunrise Events has to be applauded for their commitment to hosting these events year on year. That said, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. Gorgeous F2P event jersey aside, BGC Cycle Philippines has gotten somewhat stale. I am sincerely hoping that Sunrise takes these criticisms into account when it plans its next edition of BGC Cycle Philippines.