Over the past two years, the country has seen a growing interest in biking, and with 500km of bike lanes paved just in main cities last year, it’s safe to say that cycling—as a leisure activity, an alternative mode of transport, and an outdoor sport—is having its time under the spotlight.
In the past, Filipino sport riders only had a few races to choose from, such as Ronda Pilipinas, PRUride Philippines, and the Le Tour de Filipinas. But this year, the country is set to become the first nation to host a race in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)’s inaugural Gravel World Championship Series.
On April 3 in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, the Gravel Filippine Bongabon leg will kick off the 14-race cycling tour that will span multiple countries in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Gravel riding is a discipline that involves cycling through unpaved roads and trails, explains Race Director Edrie Ocampo. He describes it as an intersection of cross-country racing and road cycling, with great views and a relatively relaxed ride.
“It's been a dream to bring world-class quality races [to] the Philippines. Now we have a chance,” Edrie told CNN Philippines.
The event will feature two races: an 85km course at 410m elevation for riders between the ages of 19 to 49, and a 62km course at 310m elevation for riders 50 years old or older. In Bongabon, cyclists will be treated to an exhilarating riding along the river, forest, and dirt roads.
The Gravel Philippines website reports that over 300 participants have already registered for the race. Registration for local cyclists is currently closed, but is set to reopen soon. Foreign cyclists interested in joining can message the race Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spectators will also be allowed to come and watch the race.