A little exploring

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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


ME AND my big mouth. The prevailing winds didn't prevail. For Sunday's bicycle “Ride for the Eagle.” It didn't even rain - at least, not where I was. Forgot my watch, time something like three hours; nor did I catch a glimpse of the mob, but then I was probably off on a diversion or sitting at a carenderia putting into practice my definition of “fun ride” which doesn't include slogging around Davao in company with several hundred other bikers.

I recce'd the course Saturday morning - time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted - noting bicycle traps, roadworks, refreshment halts and, given TV's pessimistic presentation of cloudy weather on its way -sorry, tropical depression Caloy - didn't hold out much hope for Sunday morning but how wrong can you be; ideal biking weather, overcast, still and dry. A bit later on the sun making a hazy and welcome appearance.

Back to the fun. The outstanding advantage of the bicyclist over the motorist is his ability to stop and gawk or take off down a side street or alley for a little exploring and I'm not alone in this pastime. Forget celebrity tour 'experts' posturing around town followed by TV cameras - there's the folks who go off on photo walks (Wonder what happened to them) and not so long ago another Davao newspaper, then a weekly, ran a series of Davao walks about town supported with aerial images of the route and landmark information. I thought this a fine idea, not all Davao's attractions and curiosities are parked on main streets; many are tucked away in corners or side streets and seen only by walkers or bikers. Who would have thought, for instance, that on University Avenue there is a modest folk arts museum that looks to have a fine collection of period prints and photographs (Not open to curious passers-by though. Permission to browse must be obtained from the nearby Philippine Women's College).

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There's the fun of observing life going on. Early mornings, especially weekend mornings, are primetime viewing opportunities for people watching in the city's parks. I like Magsaysay - one of my diversions Sunday morning - despite its effluent-stinky onshore breezes. There's formation exercises, last week the Lambada, this the Zumba; joggers, solitary PT enthusiasts, slo-mo Oriental calisthenics, power walkers and, at the very back, often a curious ritual. There'll be a couple or three high end sedans parked. Long, low, gleaming, old money, not the crass and flash show-it-off Hummers with spinner hubcaps. Drivers lounge nearby. Wait a little and the owners will jog up. Chinoy ladies and gents of a certain age, kitted out in immaculate track suits and genuine trainers, not dayglo-orange knock-off Nikes. They'll chat a little; early morning assignations? Planning a cartel? Investment gossip? Drivers used to stub out cigarettes - no longer - doors are held open, sedans glide off.

So for me, it's goodbye to massed fun rides. They're not even sociable - bicycling neighbors may exchange a word, biking pals chatter, marshals marshal - with little elitist flags - but otherwise it's heads down, serious, nobody wants to suffer the indignity of being last unless saved by a flat.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 27, 2014.

Opinion

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