Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nights can be all right sometimes

While the title of this post can probably lead me here into letting out an inferior emotion, I don't mind saying it. You see, I have a problem sleeping. The nearest to medication I tried was beer. It works sometimes. But I have had nights drunk but take to thinking in bed all the same, until I get a headache and blame it on the sun just rising and I can then really go to sleep. With cycling it is different. I ride in the morning on weekdays, before I go to work, and on weekends I ride in the morning but it can last up to noon and really leave me all exhausted and all right well into the night. I don't know how to explain it, but try staying out of your house for most part of the day then you'll see.

This is about last week's bike push to Manila and it took me only now to put some sense to it, if any. It was the Holy Week but, as was the usual, we rode to the bay area in Manila. Nothing much there, that day being Easter and most folk just coming back from the provinces and all. I wasn't merely with the local cycling club that day, but also with the relations of one of its members. They were some sort of headed not by the club member, who took to riding his bike in full cycling regalia, but by a rich relative who took a redeye flight back to Manila for the Lent.

Downtown Manila

After a few rides around the bay area, on a rather slow and tiresome pace, about four of us found out that each of us needed to buy some bike parts and then decided to make a push to Quiapo in Manila that morning. Around 10 a.m. we were on our way to Quiapo. We took Roxas Boulevard and then turned right to T.M Kalaw. It was what I have long been afraid of, riding in the highways of Manila. That day being a holiday didn't help very much, there were still many jeepneys, buses and cars that made the road difficult. But somehow I was able to hang on.

The hard part was the bridge over the Pasig River. It led to downtown Manila and probably it was not only me who got it hard. One cyclist, a tall and wide-set man of about 30, rounded a bus outside the curb, rode with no hands afterwards and stretched his leg and arm muscles. I supposed he thought the bridge was hard for a bike, and showing off that he was relaxed proved that I was right. Under the bridge was the Pasig River, and at the end were the strings of stores selling practically anything that a person wants. And I mean that exactly. There is nothing you want that you can't find at Quiapo.

Lousy Sunday

By that time the sun was high and folk were really pouring in around the busy Quiapo district. I replaced the sprocket on my bike with an eight-speed Shimano, and also got a new handlebar. My neighbor got a new pair of tires. The whole thing took around two hours probably and I witnessed that part of manila coming alive. By the time we were ready to go back to Makati it was like an ordinary lousy weekday there in Quiapo, not like a Sunday I supposed.

On our way back to Makati the sun was high over us and the streets were white in the sun. We met cyclists on their way home probably, and generally the day was soporific. I chewed gum, in place of having a smoke. I tried to stay alert, I knew I was getting tired but I didn't want to get in the way of the other bikers. We reached Makati all right, dispersed, and my neighbor fitted the new set of tires on his bike. There was something wrong with the tires. It was larger than what he wanted. He felt crossed. It would fit on his racer, for sure, but it was two sizes larger and would mitigate the benefits of his bike's lightweight build.

Back to Quiapo and the rest of the day

He told me that he would go back and get a replacement. That time I felt tired again. I knew I had to come with him, I didn't know why. He didn't ask that I come with him, and he said that he would go back to Quiapo by himself. But I could just not leave him on his own. We mounted our bikes again. I left my bag in the house and rode as light as it could. We retraced our road, he and I, and when we got back home it was early in the afternoon. I washed, had my lunch, and took a nap. Afterward the rest of the day seemed to be nothing, or probably just an extension of the day before. I never had a sleep as good as what I had that night.

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