The Big Ride in the Bike City

The Iloilo bike community takes pride of its growing biking community and the gradual realization of infrastructures that support non-motorized transportation. Towards this end, Iloilo City received the award as the Most Bike-Friendly City during the PhilBike Expo in 2018.

The movers who pushed for its realization also gathered recognition as Presidential Awardees for the Bayanihan sa Daan Road Sharing Project. These gains has sustained the numerous efforts by the groups and it motivated the different stakeholders to organize events that promote biking and the passage of local legislation.

The active involvement of both the public and private sectors is also apparent in the annual Bike Festival which is now entering its sixth year of organizing. There is a need, however, for partnerships to exceed the limits of mutually beneficial promotions and public relations drive by translating efforts to actual investments for real program implementation which will allow the public to appreciate the necessity of bike infrastructures and how they could benefit from it.

Aware that Iloilo’s road infrastructure network has greatly improved in the last 15 years, the Iloilo bike movers pushed for the second hosting of the Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) in the Philippines. Gran Fondo or the Big Ride was first hosted early this year by the cycling community of Bohol together with the Dept. of Tourism.

#IloiloBikeCapitalPH-GYNY Iloilo 2019-2
Finishing line of GFNY 2019 in Iloilo City. (Photo by GFNY Philippines Facebook page)

The GFNY event in Iloilo is being expected  to have a stronger organizing considering the cooperation of different sectors and the level of preparedness of the biking community. The persons who are involved in the preparations are undeniably competent and they possess the experience in organizing bike events almost on a regular basis and for both big and small groupings.

Ilonggo biker and architect Wilfredo Sy, Jr. shared that the event organizing is being assisted by Fondo Manila’s Coach Patrick Joson of Trygon Corp. who aims to bring biking in Iloilo to an international level. The GFNY Iloilo race has gathered the support of the Iloilo City Government and the Iloilo Provincial Government. Megaworld Iloilo is once again the venue for this bike event.

Iloilo Citywill welcome around 300 to 1000 cyclists from across the Philippines and from 15 nations. They are anticipated to arrive days ahead of the September 22 GFNY Asian Championship highlight. The participants for the competitive segment will traverse the ridable environment that connects 14 municipalities and 2 cities for a total long-distance course of 133km with a 650 meters of climbing. They will get a rare glimpse of Iloilo’s picturesque rural landscape.

A middle-distance course that will serve for the non-competitive segment will cover a total of 64km and with 220 meters of climbing. Participants on this segment may take a more leisurely approach to bike riding and observe the dispersal of economic development from the urban center towards the towns. A relaxed and unhurried ride is a characteristic being shared by many Ilonggos who love to bike for site seeing.

The idea of a Gran Fondo originated in Italy around the 70’s and it is designed as a long distance ride. It is also a race, thus a Gran Fondo ride is integrated with technical rules in terms of distance, time, and safety.

The GFNY, in particular, is founded by Lidia Fluhme and Ulrich Fluhme who are both world class triathletes. According to her LinkedIn profile, Lidia is an endurance racer, hiker and mountain climber. She is a “fifteen-time Ironman triathlon finisher.”

Uli Fluhme, on the other hand, is also a triathlete with more than 20 years of experience on gran fondo racing. The two New Yorkers also shared a working background on investment and banking. Lidia Fluhme is a former investment banker and Uli Fluhme served as an attorney at the Wall Street.

The winners of GFNY in Iloilo will have the rare chance to meet these amazing individuals who founded the New York Gran Fondo. The overall male and female winners in the competitive long-distance will be awarded with flights, hotel accommodations, and an entry to the Gran Fondo New York World Championship which will happen on May 17, 2020 in New York City.

In addition, the top 20% of finishers in each age group in the long route will also be earning a coveted start seeding in the GFNY Qualifier Corral for 380 days, including at the 2020 Campagnolo GFNY World Championship in NYC.

The GFNY event in Iloilo will definitely put the city in the map of world-class bike marathoners. It is a sports and a tourism event at the same time and we are counting for its success. On September 22, Iloilo City in the Philippines will join the roster of prestigious destinations who hosted the Gran Fondo New York like Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Jerusalem in Israel, Bali in Indonesia, and New York City.

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