Dream, Build, Inspire: the story of Ayla and her Surly Troll

Many of us clearly remember our first long ride. It is an ordeal couched in hardship, perseverance and triumph. When we opened our invitation for our 400km plus ride to Vigan Ilocos Sur, the usual suspects-frequent riders who joined us in our tours-confirmed. But there was one brave soul who took the leap of faith and asked if she could join.

Some of our group members met Ayla when she had her XS surly troll built in our favorite LBS and she has been riding for quite sometime in different trails and sites around the city. She has done occasional group rides in the outskirts of the metro. When we were planning the trip she expressed concern about a variety of things-what to pack, what to bring, where to sleep, how to train, HOW TO COPE…

her mighty surly troll

Though most of us felt, that these are common jitters for the first timer in doing a multiday tour, she spent time making sure that she her rig are prepared for the trip…

And the day came…

While members of the group knew each other’s riding style-fast, hard, taking few breaks, She took her time but managed to keep up the pace with us. Good thing the group adjusted taking turns in riding with her…

Day 1

we intended to target Urdaneta City, Pangasinan but she opted to spend the night at Gerona, Tarlac-about 30 kilometers away from us-good thing there was Japz who made sure he was with her throughout. I remember suggesting that she should take the bus to reach Urdaneta the next morning so we can wait for her-but she refused and instead promised to leave early

have a break, have a float-With Japz Maristela
the warm welcome to Tarlac

Day 2

Keeping her promise, she did show up early and was ready to ride…I thought she’d stay on course but with another experienced rider, she took a sidetrip to Kennon Road where the famous arch that welcomes visitors to the mountain province is seen…I recall the rider who accompanied her even said there was a point while pedaling the long distance (as we needed to cover 160km at the time)-that she wanted to cry and give up but that rider kept on pushing her to stay sane and keep on track…similar to the previous day, she again opted to stay 30km away from us as she spent the night at San Fernando La Union. Again, I suggested that she might want to take the bus-but refused

that’s why she was missing!

Day 3

I and another rider stayed while the others left early to reach Vigan and it was our turn to ride with her and we were surprised that she was quite early! And we asked to pedal forward as we’d manage to reach her…as we went along we were lucky that her family and friends who intended to be with her at Vigan caught up. They were in a car but never did they suggest that she take a ride to finish the trip nor did Ayla even bring the idea up…I felt that the last 90km was grueling for her as there were climbs, never ending flat roads and heat and headwind…but along that trip we were able to take a lot of photos-showing her the different sites which served as a breather for her…

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early morning photo op at Ilocos Sur

The last 10km was perhaps the most difficult for her as we sense a feeling of hopelessness as Vigan wasn’t in clear sight- “umay na umay na ako at pagod na pagod” (I’m dead tired) , “malayo pa ba?” (are we there yet?)…those were things I heard from her and I and the other rider kept on pushing her through words of encouragement- I remember saying, “not everyone can do what you have gone through and there are even male bikers who just stop at building but never go the distance to finish any ride”

en route to Vigan

And there we saw Bantay Church and we witnessed relief that the ordeal was over-upon reaching the arch of Vigan her family and friends cheered and after three days, she finished this 400km plus journey…

it is finished
family and friends-a source of inspiration

Post ride, I remember her telling me that she felt that the trip can be done by anyone given the opportunity…while someone (jokingly) told her you should have paid 650 pesos and boarded the bus to Vigan, I told her 650 pesos cant buy you that experience of perseverance, triumph and humility…

Her story reminds us of our own epic long rides-with many apprehensions, we often fail to forget that while it pays to prepare, a certain level of (positive) stubbornness and openness is needed to make our ride an adventure and not simply a routine of self-glorification of the ego…while some may think, she needs training or there is a need to go faster to get to the destination earlier, I believe that only the rider him/herself can tell when s/he is willing to take that leap of faith and adventure can never be confined for the sake of meeting a “time limit”

So, when are you taking that adventure on two wheels?

(Photos courtesy of Ayla)

2 thoughts on “Dream, Build, Inspire: the story of Ayla and her Surly Troll

  1. I am 64 and have never ridden move than two miles in forty years. Six weeks ago I placed an order for my first Brompton, with the intention to ride across Scotland via Scottish lanes and quieter roads.
    I have been told, I am mad at even thinking of such a thing. I am stubborn and adventurous and out of physical shape and know I can achieve anything without correct mindset.
    That is why I bought the Brompton, to get the miles on my legs through the dark days of winter, to be ready for this trip in the Spring of 2017.

    At the moment I am in the planning stages and it is an eyewatering experience. But one tha will hold me in goodstead for the trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I look forward to hearing your story about this trip…last april i had a chance to ride with a 63 year old man for our sagada loop and he was just amazing. In fact i couldnt get past him as he was strong on flats, climbs and all and he continues to inspire everyone that despite the age he still goes on going places on his bike


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