Bisikleta Iglesia 2015 – An endurance challenge

Holy Week in the Philippines is usually characterized by a mass exodus from Metro Manila, which leaves the metropolis quiet and open for pedal-powered adventure. Many riders celebrate this by embarking on their version of a Lenten pilgrimage: the visita iglesia done by bicycle, called surely enough the bisikleta iglesia.

The way most people celebrate this tradition is by visiting various churches on Maundy Thursday in an attempt to complete praying the fourteen Stations of the Cross, each one commemorating an event in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some people visit fourteen churches, some others visit seven. At any rate, it also doubles as an excuse to get out and see more of Metro Manila as it goes dormant, its usual hustle and bustle subsiding.

Bearing in mind that the provinces would be full of vacationing Manila folk, I plotted a route around the south of the metro, chaining seven familiar churches together in one ride. I set my Cat Eye Commuters ETA function to 70 kilometers to have a real-time estimate of when we would finish our ride. We set out from Parañaque at 6:00 am, a little incredulous of how brightly the sun shone at such an early hour.

National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Parañaque City. Our first stop.Presentation of the Child Jesus Parish Church, Parañaque City. Our second stop.

Onward we pedaled, at an easy pace, to Alabang.

St. Jerome Emiliani Church, Muntinlupa City. Our third stop.St. James the Greater Parish Church, Muntinlupa City. Our fourth stop.

From Alabang, we doubled back through BF Parañaque and made our way to the SM Mall of Asia area in Pasay. As we refueled at 9:30 am, the summertime heat was making itself noticed. We started to pick up the speed.

Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, Pasay City. Our fifth stop.

From Pasay, we rode along Gil Puyat Avenue to Makati, which to our surprise still had buses and jeepneys plying its length.

St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Makati City. Our sixth stop.

By the time we arrived at our penultimate church in Makati, it was 11:00 am and the searing heat was relentless. Not only was it coming from overhead, it was also getting in our faces reflecting from the asphalt. One final push toward Taguig remained.

Santuario de San Antonio Church, Makati City. Our final stop. Now to head back home

Eighty kilometers and four and a half hours later, we had made it back home.

Success!

Looking back, perhaps we should have kept a slightly faster overall average pace in the early hours. That would have ensured completion of the distance while minimizing our exposure to the heat.

This was one of the most memorable rides Id embarked on. This was not the longest; that goes to a 102 km effort, but that involved several loops within a large village, and that began to turn a little monotonous. This ride was a little shorter, but didnt have much repetition involved, and it was much easier to stay engaged. This was a genuine challenge, and I relished every minute of it.

I cant wait for next year!

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