BIKING AMID THE PANDEMIC – I
Despite the pandemic, Joni Abesamis Bonifacio was able to realize his dream of finding good routes for trail biking in Samar. He hopes that Samar, already the caving capital of the Philippines, be also known for trail biking. Joni, a sports-minded, nature-loving and adventurous person is a native of Catbalogan City. He is married to an amiable, unassuming woman, Rhine. They have a young son, Trex, who is likely to follow his father’s footstep. This dream to have good loops for trail biking started late last year, and was almost abandoned last March because of the threat of the coronavirus.
When a lockdown was declared by the city government of Catbalogan, Joni decided to spend much of his time at home to review and improve his planned biking routes, and to contact by cell phone some of his friend-bikers and invite them to join him in testing the routes if feasible, among others. He also made sure that some caves and other natural resources such as waterfalls, springs and natural pools are close to or not very far from biking routes so that bikers could enjoy these natural attractions, if they like. “There are no tourists coming, so I spent my time planning for my next project, which is trail biking,” says Joni, who owns a cave tour guiding enterprise. He also has a store in Catbalogan, Trexplore, that sells caving equipment and accessories.
When the lockdown was lifted and some people were already allowed to go out of their houses although they have to follow health protocols, Joni wasted no time to test the routes he planned, if feasible. He immediately went solo biking, initially taking the routes in or close to the Catbalogan City proper. For instance, he biked alone the route that started in the city proper of Catbalogan, and went on to Barangay San Andres. Then he went uphill to Barangay Peña (where he discovered two caves) and went downhill to Barangay Lagundi, then he finally went back to the city proper. He also tested the route Catbalogan City proper-BLISS-Diversion Road-Barangay Socorro-Barangay Bunuanan-Barangay Ibol-Barangay Lagundi-back to city proper. Other routes he together with other bikers went as far as Calbiga, Samar in the south and the towns of Tarangnan, San Jorge, Pagsanghan and Gandara in the north.
Trail biking, as the words are used here, means an off-the-road bicycle riding. The routes used in trail riding are those used daily by the villagers. They are mostly mountain trails. Joni is also a master caver, having been trained by foreign spelunkers like Italian and French cavers. As a caver Joni needs to have a sturdy and muscular physique. That’s why he’s also into bicycle riding, which develops many parts of the body, from arms, buttocks, thighs and calves to feet. So far, Joni (sometimes together with his biker-friends) has covered more than 30 trail biking loops in Samar. (TO BE CONCLUDED)