There is a longtime debate about the hazards of an Enduro race not only in the Philippines but in almost every country that conducts this type of cycling activity.
While there is a wide variety of protective gears available for mountain bikers, the typical areas where Enduro races are being held are the ones that concern those who have been critical of its safety.
Singletracks Mountain Bike online author Jeff Barbers once wrote about a potential life-and-death situation a rider might face once an accident happens where emergency services are generally far and access to vehicles is limited.
“Because enduro courses are so long and spread out, there are far fewer spectators along the route who might witness a crash. Not only that, cell phones may not work in remote areas,” said Barbers.
“In emergency situations, every second counts. The sooner someone–anyone–can get to the victim or call for help, the better the potential outcome,” added Barbers.
In the Philippines, 22-year-old Lea Denise Belgira is considered as one of the top female Enduro racers and actually competed in the recent Asian Games in Indonesia donning the Philippine tricolors.
While she is aware of the dangers of her sport, the opportunity to enjoy the mountain top view, challenging trails and the camaraderie among fellow bikers are too tempting to resist for the Guimaras-native lady biker.
“Gusto ko din po kasi ang nature. BMX po talaga ang gusto ko noon pero may nagpahiram po sa akin ng bike na pang-enduro kaya sinubukan ko,” said Belgira. “Iba po kasi yung pakiramdam na nakikita mo mga magagandang view, magagandang trails pati yung community ng cycling.”
A BS Cruise Ship management graduate of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University in Iloilo City, Belgira treated Enduro racing as more like a hobby and a chance to travel around the country and abroad.
Everything changed for Belgira when she had her first international experience last year after she won the gold during the Asian Mountain Bike series in Malaysia.
“Hindi ko po expected na mag-gold kasi hindi ko pa na-meet mga kalaban dun. Pero dun po lumakas loob ko na kaya ko palang makipagsabayan sa ibang bansa,” said Belgira. Dati kasi iniisip ko pang local lang ako. Kumbaga, pipitsugin.”
Just recently, Belgira witnessed what is for her the most gruesome accident she has ever seen where one of his teammates, Eleazar Barba, Jr. broke his arm after a crash during the Asian Continental Championship last May in Danao, Cebu.
“Bali po talaga, naka-lawlaw yung buto. Natakot po talaga ako kaya pagtapos nun, naging maingat na din ako,” revealed Belgira.
Belgira however gained much more confidence from that same biker who eventually recovered from a seemingly grisly injury.
“Pagtapos po nun nakarekober siya after two months tapos nag-silver siya sa AMS sa Malaysia,”said Belgira “Nakaka-inspire din po talaga at nakaka-lakas ng loob kasi kahit na ganoon, balik agad yung riding niya at malakas pa din.”
Belgira is hopeful that Mountain Bike will get a much-needed attention when the country hosts the 2019 Southeast Asian Games where Downhill races will be included in the biennial meet.
(Photos courtesy from Lea Belgira’s Facebook)