While it is indeed true that cycling is a physically demanding sport, there are many who continue to defy limits. In an activity where you are only good as your last ride, it is refreshing to know that there are still some who are “young at heart” who continue to ride for adventure.
I met Salih a year ago in our ride to Shotgun, San Mateo Rizal. While he didn’t ride with us, he was very much active in a meeting of a bike group-where is an administrator. I heard of his adventures on long distance travel and a lot of good stories about the man-begins and finishes strong, always the good storyteller and quite sociable.
I remember always hearing stories from him about how skeptical other bikers were about his abilities and he would always prove them wrong. In fact, he’s the only senior citizen earning the title Super Randonneur for Audax Philippines. He’s even availed of that senior citizen discount for the event!
Our first ride together was in Legazpi City, Bicol Region in February 2016 and I was amazed with his strength in terms of speed and effort-whether it be climbs or flats he was always at the forefront. Quite impressive for a 62 year old biker.
The same can be said when we did the Sagada loop in April 2016. I recall aside from moving ahead of the group for quite a distance-he’d always wait-always busy with his facebook…
But unlike other bikers who see the sport as competition, Salih has always been motivated by new routes, meeting new people, going to different places. He has never been into the technical side of the sport- “9 speed lang itong Giant ko with 11-30 pero kaya naman” (my Giant bike may just be 9 speed, but it’s enough for me). Unlike others who fear the heat of the sun, he loves to sunbathe-and would proclaim about his roots from farming. We would joke, perhaps that’s the reason why he’s fast and strong-he’s probably solar powered!
But kidding aside, Salih inspires not because of his abilities on the bike but his keen sense of adventure, his positive attitude and most of all, his ability to encourage others to adapt, to be one with the beautiful, yet sometimes cruel world that bikers get to encounter.
While it is true that sports makes one younger, Salih represents the idea that adventure finds no age
Photos courtesy of kuya Salih and Sagada Loopers