By Erwin M. Mascariñas
Butuan City — A mountain biker representing this city dominated all other top racers from different parts of Mindanao after they battled it out here in one of the most grueling cross-country race course offered to professional riders during the 2019 Mountain Bike Cross Country Circuit Cup.
About 72 mountain bike riders from Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, Iligan City, Bukidnon, Buenavista, Cabadbaran, Trento and Butuan competed in the none different race categories last Saturday in Sitio Malalag, Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City.
Reimon Lapaza, 32 years old of Butuan City was named champion for the elite category defeating top cyclist from Zamboanga City Roel Quitoy who took 1st runner-up and Dominador Garcia of Coatabato City who came in as 2nd runner-up.
“The race course that we have here is a bit hard because there are several obstacles along its downhill course, not to mention the stiff climb in the uphill,” said Lapaza.
Lapaza who won the Ronda Pilipinas national championship in 2014 is also the Mountain Bike Cross Country Circuit Cup champion for the past three years in a row.
“This is my fourth win, but I did not expect this would unfold as I went into the race with a fever,” said Lapaza.
Dominador Garcia from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato representing Bomba Gensan and Katba Cotabato expressed his admiration for the prepared race tract.
“The tract is hard because it is copied from an international route, the organizers tried to promote a competition that will help us riders compete in the international scene. It requires not only stamina but technical knowledge and skills,” said Garcia.
Garcia who took a direct flight from Manila after attending another national race took the first place finish in the 35-39 category earlier in the race.
Jose Enriquez III, a mountain bike enthusiast and event organizer explained that the race is not for beginners.
“The race course that we have set up for this mountain bike competition is not for the faint hearted, this is for the intermediate and advance riders who wants to push their abilities and skill as we have several hard uphill climbs as well as hard to navigate downhill with several obstacles,” said Enriquez.
Enriquez pointed out that they tried to pattern the race to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) standards which is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events.
Engr Alan Taruc, one of the organizers of the event explained that one lap of the race is equivalent to 1.8 kilometers.
“Even if our race track is not really at par with the UCI, we try our best to make it as similar as we can to hopefully train our riders and push their competitive skills to its fullest potential. Now what makes it hard is doing the 1.8 kilometers three or five times, by the end of the fourth loop most of the riders can barely push their mountain bikes to the finish line,” said Enriquez.