6TH SHIMANO DIRT & PLAY: Cycling Fun for All

The Shimano Dirt and Play event is testament to the growing popularity of mountain biking. By Jack Yabut

More than 800 mountain bike enthusiasts are expected at one of the most-anticipated events in the cycling calendar: the 6th Shimano  Dirt and Play on Sunday, May 29, 2016.

From 120 participants in the race’s first year in 2011, attendance grew to over 800 in 2015 as more events such as the XC (Cross-Country) format and Community Ride were added. The figure is set to be topped this year.

“Together with our title sponsor Shimano, we want to continue the development of Dirt and Play as a well-organized, ‘Cycling for All’ event at par with international standards that’s open to both young and old, beginner and advanced riders, and for the family,” says Alvin Timbol, the 2016 technical and race director for the XC races.

Among the categories in the 6th edition to be held in Filinvest City in Alabang, Muntinlupa are the “Dirt” or XC Races with different age-group categories from teenagers to elite, male and female, and the “Megaman” division.  The Fun Ride is open to all ages and all types of bicycles and provides an enjoyable and safe opportunity for new riders to cycle in a large group at a leisurely pace.

Many winners and top placers from 2015 are expected.  Literal heavyweights representing the “Megaman” class of male riders over 200 lbs. will stomp in with 2015 winner, 230-lb. TV production designer and food stylist Raymond ‘Jong’ Fernandez. Among his challengers is businessman Alex Dantis, who, at 242 lbs., hopes to improve his 10th place finish.

Women in the open category are equally ready to get dirty, like sales account officer Candy Sibal, who enjoys biking with her husband and three kids.  “Biking allows us to bond and I always look forward to it,” she says.  She’s inspired by 2015 winner Ariana Dormitorio who can do just as well as many other male mountain bikers.  Entrepreneur Ana Angelo, only started competing last year and will be back. After her finish last year, her message to all women cyclists is “to keep pushing and believe that you can do it.”

Businessman Adonis Corona and electrical engineer Ceejay Custodio represent corporate professionals in the 30-39 age group who take every bit of free time from work to seriously train in the sport they love. Custodio trains with Team GMT Xikad and Team Panga and is preparing for a Top 20 finish. Corona and his son enjoyed the souvenirs and freebies given last year. “My 12-year-old son may join the XC race this year,” he adds.

When it comes to the kids and teenagers participating in Shimano Dirt and Play, it’s the parents who are more nervous and anxious, says Timbol. Timbol’s own son Enzo, won the kids category last year.  “Now that I am 12, I am looking forward to summer so that I can resume my bike training and join the 12 and teenager category,” says Enzo. The teenage category is led by Jake Aldrin Rivera, a 19-year-old college student with Team Prima who will definitely defend his title before moving up to the men’s division. “The 2016 Dirt and Play will be my third straight year of participating. I placed third in 2014, then first in 2015. This year, I will defend it,” says Rivera. “I was so happy last year that my training bore fruit.  So guys, train well, have discipline and eat right,” Rivera adds.

Join the 6th Shimano Dirt and Play at Filinvest City, Alabang Muntinlupa on Sunday May 29, 2016.  It’ll be an exciting “Cycling for All” day for mountain bikers of all ages and abilities who want a taste of friendly competition in the XC Races (Dirt) or the Fun Ride (Play).  Registration is open at various bicycle shops or online.


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