If you’ve ever posted a photo of you and your bike, you probably already know today’s featured rider #7. Noel — or BiSiKLETA on the tumblrs — reblogs some of the best bike pics in the webs. He is a fixed gear enthusiast, and we’re big fans around here of Noel’s ability to keep our dashboard full of fantastic bike pictures. Noel is a two-time stroke survivor and he talks about how bike riding has been a big part of his recovery. He also tells us about his face-to-face encounter with a thief…. and what he’d do if he caught the thief who lifted his other bike, pictured below.
1. Where in the world are you?
I live in Manila, the Philippines.
2. When, where and how did you learn to ride a bike?
If I remember correctly it was the summer when I was nine years old at my cousin’s subdivision. I was staying over for a week. There was an enterprising house renting bikes out and all of my cousins were renting and riding about. it was those bikes with banana seats. I was the only one sitting on the curb. The day after I arrived, I decided to rent out a bike and learn how to ride. By the following day, after a handful of rashes and bruises but I was riding like crazy. I rented out the bike for the rest of the week.
3. How many bikes do you have, and what are they? (Tell me about the bike you’re having made as well!)
We currently have a mountain bike with commuting tires for city use and a BMX bike. my road bike was stolen last march. So now I have just two. I’m having a steel bike custom made again. It’s also a roadie using lugs (I like lugs) with Columbus tubing. Nothing really fancy. I’m not really hurrying that up because I know the guy (frame maker) gets lots of orders from around Asia and the states. I am also saving up for this no-name brand fixie frame. That’s going to be the beater. I already have the wheels and some of the parts ready for it. So the bike count will go up to 4 sooner or later.
4. You say you are an aspiring bike mech. You’re obsessed with bikes. Why?
I don’t really know. I like the mechanical side of the bike. I like its simplicty. nothing else can bring me to 50 kilometers per hour on my own power. I like the idea that I can do most of the repairs and maintenance of my bikes.
5. If you have a bike riding style, how would you describe it?
I don’t think I have a riding style. I used to like going fast sometimes but these days just riding around almost always makes me feel good so I go with that.
6. This is your quote, “cycling is one of the simplest of magics.” Almost everyone who rides a bike knows this is true. Why is that? And why do you think many people never discover it or appreciate it? For those who do get it, why do some forget?
Almost everone who rides a bike knows this because they (we) really, truly enjoy riding a bicycle. Even when the pedalling is hard we still enjoy the ride. We enjoy that feeling of freedom. That momentary feeling of flight. some people doesn’t discover or appreciate this “magic” is because they are afraid of falling. There is this fear of getting hurt and they let that fear take over. I don’t think that when people get it that they forget this “magic”. Not completely anyway. Some other thing may be giving them that feeling of flying. Priorities do change so …
7. The tagline in one of your blogs is, “and if life has failed you, leave the cross you’re nailed to.” It’s a line from the song, “The Worst Year of My Life,” by The Wild Swans. What does this line mean to you?
For me it was about getting out of a serious rut. It was about deciding that I’ve had enough and do something, anything, to get myself out of a situation that I didn’t want to be in. It can be about crawling out of that depression after a failed relationship or trying to get through gruelling physical and occupational therapy after my strokes.
8. How do you describe the stroke to someone who has no idea what it is like? How many have you had? How has biking helped in your recovery?
When one the blood vessels supplying oxygen to parts of your brain gets blocked that part if your brain suffocates and dies. That part of the brain may be the area controlling certain parts of your body, say, hands, arms, legs, feet or even facial muscles so you either partly or completely loose control of them. But strokes can affect any part of the brain. Strangely, my strokes were not painful. I just got super dizzy and started barfing like crazy the first time. I initially thought that they were indications of vertigo. I’ve had two mild strokes — one in each side of my cerebellum. on the last check up I had my neurologist told me that I was very, very lucky and that I looked quite normal again.
Once I knew I was going to survive my strokes the first thought that came to mind was if can still balance on my bike. Three months after getting discharged I was practicing riding in a small, empty warehouse and I found out I can still balance myself on a bike but each time I try to stop the bike I would fall. It’s like learning to ride again but this time it’s more frustrating and painful. But I kept at it for the next several months and now I can ride properly on the road again. Biking help me feel normal again.
9. One of the cruelest acts is to steal a bike. No question. Your bike was stolen. What would you do or say to the person who stole it? How would you handle it if you met face-to-face?
Once I found out my bike was stolen my brain was shouting expletives left and right. But I had to let it go right after that. There is still a life to be lived and lingering on the negative for too long is just a waste of time.
A few years back the side mirrors of my car got stolen and people from the neighborhood caught the guy. I got first dibs on beating the guy but all I did was stare into his eyes for a few tense minutes and then I left. The last thing I heard of what happened after I left was that by the time the police got there he was already unconscious. The guy who stole my bike? I’d probably just stare him down and then leave. Move on and get a better bike.
10. What music comes up in your music player these days?
These days, it’s music from Mayday Parade, Band of Horses, Go Radio, The Cure. There’s also a sprinkling of new wave once in a while. The Beatles and U2 are always good.
11. When you aren’t riding, what do you do?
By profession, I am an “independent information technology consultant”. A computer geek, in other words. I maintain websites and computer systems for a couple of local companies. Most of the time I’m pretty much wired to the net. When I disconnect, if I’m not on my bike or working on my bike, I’d be on the guitar or inside a book or doodling on my notebook. If I don’t feel lazy I go around taking photographs of the city and its people.
12. Anything else?
and if life has failed you, leave the cross you’re nailed to