Devoid of any experience between the wheels of these big two-wheeled road monsters we refer to as “big bikes”, I still view the film Easy Rider with fascination and the source of my desire to someday acquaint myself with these types of motorcycles. My previous conception about the men who ride these powerful machines of motorbikes are synonymous with the wild and colorful characters the late Hunter S. Thompson rode for a year with and wrote about in his career-defining book Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.
“Outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and East Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur…. The Menace is loose again,” Thompson wrote in the opening page of his monumental book.
A few minutes before meeting the riders of Travel Concierge’s Ride Along Motorcycle Tours, I was half expecting the same brawny, intimidating, gum-chewing, poker-faced complete with dagger stares to drag us violently into their big bikes. That moment of apprehension instantly disappeared, as the riders came barging with a smile at our meeting place somewhere in the stretch of the North Luzon Expressway in Bulacan. The outlaw motorcyclist stereotype quickly evaporated from my imagination, and was replaced by good-humored individuals who just happen to have a shared passion for riding motorcycles.
|Pat Favoreal in front of TC's office|
Pat Favoreal, the road captain of NOS Motorcycle Club and owner of Travel Concierge’s Ride along Motorcycle Tours, quickly shook our hands, as he beamed with a wide smile and excitedly told us the story behind this concept of taking clients to travel aboard 400cc and up motorcycles.
A Hotel Management Co. chief executive, Favoreal first fell in love with motorcycles way back in his college days, but was preceded with a long separation as he jettisoned the hobby to the more conventional use of cars.
“I rekindled my love for motorcycle when my wife allowed me to ride again a few years ago. Since then, I had collected a number of bikes, such as a Harley Davidson Softail Heritage 1640cc, a Yamaha Dragstar XVS400cc and a Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500cc, just to name a few. I ride an average of 1,000 kilometers per month, and sometimes more if we set out on longer road trips,” Favoreal shared to us over breakfast.
As his passion for motorcycle riding grew, he encountered a light-bulb moment in his head. “I asked myself, why not turn it into a business so others could also enjoy the kind of fulfillment I experience while riding a bike along expressways,” with eyes beaming, he pointed to us the four big bikes parked outside. “In a few minutes, you will know what I am talking about,” he added.
Outside I met the designated rider who I will ride shotgun with. His name is Borgs Campit, an affable guy who is almost the human version of his Kawasaki Vaquero 1,700cc motorcycle. Big-bodied but with a sparkling attitude that made me feel safe pronto—despite the many kilometers of expressway and zig-zag road that lay ahead of us. He pointed me the sections of his motorcycle, as I nod my head pretending to understand what he was telling me about. At that moment, all I cared about was where to hold and plant my butt and feet.
He patted me on the back and assured me of a safe ride. After putting on our safety gears, like padded gears, bike jackets and helmets, we hopped into the back of our respective motorcycle riders.
A series of thunderous thud and roar of the engine, which invited quite a series of stares from people inside passing cars, signaled the start of our journey. Exhilaration and concern for my safety clouded my mind. As soon as we gathered and maintained speed, my elation grew while my fear lessened as I marveled to myself how smooth our ride is going so far—as I sat at the back of Campit while blazing the smooth asphalt road of Nlex with a speed of 140 kph. “Safety is also important for us! All rides are planned and pre-ride briefings are mandatory. Ride along Motorcycle Tours’ designated spearheads lead and supervise the routes, choose the stops carefully and retain a strict riding formation and discipline all throughout the ride itinerary. Participants are provided with helmets and riding-safety gears. A special backup sweeper vehicle with a trailer is also available on long rides. All runs are insured—the kind that covers adventure activities and hobbies that are usually excluded in other PA coverage in the market,” Favoreal explained to us.
|Fellow travel writer Kara Santos poses in front of her ride|
The onslaught of the rushing wind penetrating my helmet’s visor and into my face certainly brought a new sensation, as I curled my gaze left and right to appreciate the green fields of Pampanga and Tarlac, while we transition to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway. Unable to open my mouth to speak because of the strong gust, I yelled inside my mind, “This is what freedom of the road is all about, Yohooo!”
That freedom of the road evolved into another level, as the picturesque sights of the surrounding mountains greeted us at the snaking road leading to the City of Pines. The visual banquet, as seen from the back of a motorcycle, definitely dishes a unique experience as compared to eyeing Baguio’s nature splendor from the inside of a car of a bus. “Ride Along is not available for everyone. It is rare to get people ride on a bike on the expressways, especially if the engine is with minimum of 400cc,” Favoreal admitted. Seeing the amount of delight on our faces, he quickly recalled back his statement. “But, it seems perfect for people like you.” I said, “It was more than perfect, I really dig that rush and that thrill going up here aboard a big motorcycle.”
Ratsky Ortiz, who drove a Kawasaki Vulcan 800cc Classic and is one of Travel Concierge’s riders, told us, “These big bikes are the best choice for road trips. Because you don’t have to go loose on the road as [you would on] the super bikes. With big bikes, you just ride fast enough to enjoy the ride and the scenery—which you experienced with this road trip of ours.”
Hands down the trip going up to Baguio quickly notches itself as one of my most memorable travels. As awesome as our motorcycle experience was, the best part was bonding with the riders themselves. Over bottles of beers that night, they generously shared their passion to us. It was like they opened up and introduced an ingredient to a new dish that would make one’s life more exhilarating—to reign in the sovereignty of the road as only a big bike motorcycle could bring.
As we capped the night and prepare for the next day’s ride back to Manila, I already envisioned myself as a younger Dennis Hopper, hoping to someday ride my own Easy Rider big bike. Having a girlfriend riding shotgun on my back and making long road trips around the Philippines appear as a wonderful idea. A dream for now, but thanks to Travel Concierge’s Ride along Motorcycle Tours, I experienced a unique road rush.
This article appeared on the Lifestyle pages of the November 27, 2016 print issue of Business Mirror.
Travel Concierge.Ph Inc. Ride Along Motorcycle Tours currently offers Manila Night Ride, Tagaytay Breakfast Ride, Taal Heritage Village Day Ride, Laiya, Batangas Day Ride, 2D/1N Baguio Ride, 2D/1N Zambales Ride and 2D/1N Baler Ride.