Ghia Vicente, one of the founders of a big cycling community in Manila, gives her best 5 tips for beginners who want to get into the sport.
When one of the founders of the big cycling community known as ‘San Ride Bukas‘, Ghia Vicente talks about how she started the group, she tends to surprise people when she says that she only learned how to ride a bike two years ago.
Now, she leads a community of thousands of passionate bikers, all while looking like a pro biker herself.
But she did start somewhere. Over two years after she first learned how to ride, she now goes on long bike rides (one of her favorite loops is 185 kilometers long) around Metro Manila frequently.
And from her journey so far, Ghia Vicente shares five of her top tips for beginners who want to get into the cycling lifestyle.
1. Start in a neighborhood
When the pandemic started, Ghia did not know how to ride a bike. So, she fully understands that learning how to do it can be an intimidating task, especially if you’re feeling scared of cycling alongside other vehicles.
But, as a way to start, Ghia suggests, “Find a good street or village where you can practice and there aren’t many cars.”
When Ghia herself first started biking, she and her group of friends would bike late at night, sometimes until 1:00 AM. This was because she felt safe cycling at this time, given that there are fewer cars on the road that late at night.
By starting in a safe place, such as a neighborhood or village, with very minimal traffic, you’ll feel more comfortable as you still find your balance and develop confidence while riding a bike — and you’ll later discover that confidence is key.
2. Find a bike-friendly area
Once you start gaining confidence on the road and you’re ready to branch out, the next step would be to locate a bike-friendly area in your city. And if you live in Metro Manila, Ghia’s top suggestion would be to take a trip down south to Nuvali for this.
“Nuvali is a very safe and super bike-friendly space that has uphills, downhills, and flats, so it’s perfect,” she shares. “There’s a bit of traffic sometimes, so you’ll get used to riding with cars beside you, but it’s super safe.”
By starting to branch out away from your neighborhood, your confidence on the road will develop even more, especially once you start easing yourself into the world of biking alongside vehicles, which is very important for your safety, especially if you want to bike around Metro Manila.
3. Follow traffic rules
After practicing in bike-friendly spaces (and if you’ve already gotten addicted at this point), your next step will be to branch out even further and try cycling in different areas of your city. But as you branch out, safety should be your main priority.
So, Ghia advises, “Follow traffic rules so that you don’t get intimidated out on the road. It’s just like riding a car. Keep your lane, don’t just squeeze in anywhere, and use hand signals (for directions).”
These are just some of the basic rules you should follow when you’re out on the road. But another tip from Ghia’s experiences is to start out with a group if you want to try going on new routes.
“You can ride with people who know the route already, who will help you during the ride if you’re a beginner,” she explains.
4. Stay consistent
Like any other new habit, the key to improvement is consistency. Especially if you are a beginner, cycling will still be something new to you within your first few weeks, or even months. But by practicing a lot and hitting the road a few times a week, it will eventually become second nature to you.
When Ghia was still a beginner, she would bike multiple times a week. In fact, she and her group would always be asking each other, “‘San ride bukas?” As the months passed, they asked the same question so many times that they decided to make it their official group name.
“Just keep your pace, enjoy it, don’t feel pressured, and eventually, if you want to get stronger, you will get stronger. You just have to be consistent about it,” Ghia says.
5. Have courage
Finally, Ghia’s last tip might be the easiest or the hardest to put into action: “Have courage.”
“Don’t doubt yourself,” she says. “When I started, that’s what my husband would say to me: just be brave. And it helped.”
Before every ride, Ghia also turns to prayer to manifest safety for her and all the other riders with her. And once she hits the road, she tells us that she always feels a sense of freedom, and despite her initial fears, she found something that she is truly passionate about.
Of course, like any other new skill, it will take time to feel like a pro on the streets. But following these five tips will definitely help you start off on the right note.
So, ‘san ride bukas?
Banner image from Ghia Vicente on Instagram.