5 Types of Cyclists You'll Find at the Tour of the Fireflies

Images from various internet sources

The annual Tour of the Fireflies gathers together thousands of cyclists not only from Metro Manila but also from all parts of the country and occasionally, from overseas.  It used to be held on the Sunday before the celebration of Earth Day on April 22.  For some reasons however, it was moved to November and for some reasons again, it might be moved back to its original date.  In the past years that it was held, the number of participants consistently grew exponentially and you could see that as more and more people were encouraged to bike, more and more people came to participate, and thus, the more complicated it became to organize. There were expats too, who were ony too glad to see how much we Filipinos love to bike. Some celebrities and beauty queens (Miss Earth) have also been spotted and why not, politicians who know how to take advantage of opportunities when they see one. But as with all kinds of events where people congregate to celebrate something, the Tour of the Fireflies became the venue for all kinds of cyclists (or even non-cyclists) who come to show off themselves and their bikes or to look at other cyclists and their bikes as well.  Let us now look at five types of cyclists that you could find at every Tour of the Fireflies.

inoy africa

Image from here.

1. The Lone Rider.  The Tour is basically a Critical Mass Ride - it is an extended and wider in scope CMR that took months to prepare.  Being a CMR, it is a group ride that celebrates the bicycle as an important mode of non-motorized transportation shared by lots of people.  However, not everyone is a member of an organized bike group or association and thus you could see some bikers who came alone and not as part of a larger group.  There is nothing wrong with this of course and we are just making an observation.  Being a lone rider doesn't mean you will be enjoying the Tour less than those who came in groups. It could even be advantageous to some as being alone means you're not being encumbered by other bikers who are slower or faster than you.  It means you can bike at your own pace and enjoy the ride better, observe and free to mingle with other riders, without worrying or caring about companions you leave behind or who go much ahead of you. But being alone also means nobody is there looking out for you (except of course our valiant Marshals who make sure that every rider is safe and that no one is left behind.) A lone rider is well, alone and has no one to share stories with along the way.  But lone riders should not worry about this.  Just find yourself a Marshal to befriend and you will be taken cared of until the finish line.

fireflies in the rain

Image from here.

2. The Group Riders.  If there are lone riders, there will be those who come in groups.  They usually belong to a cycling club where membership is exclusive to certain individuals such as a company cycling club or a city or barangay cycling club.  It could also be a group riding the same type of bike as in the Tiklop Society of the Philippines who ride folding bikes only.  It is fun to join any of these groups if you are qualified.  It is easy to spot them as they will surely be wearing jerseys with the same colors and design. It could be a mixed group where you could see men and women wearing the same jerseys or exclusively men or exclusively women.  A WOW Pinay contingent will certainly be comprised of all women.


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tof costumed rider

There's a bike there somewhere

Image from here.

3. Costumed Riders. The Tour of the Fireflies will not be complete and considered a success without the participation of costumed riders.  They are those who wear multi-colored attire made of usually recycled materials following the theme of the Tour.  In the past editions of the Tour, there were those who dressed their bikes and themselves with fruits, vegetables and leaves - their inspiration coming from nature and how to conserve it.  There where those who biked dressed up as trees, as national heroes, as insects or as birds to show solidarity with the environment and express their desire and willingness to make some sacrifices so that our future children will enjoy the same or better things we are enjoying today.

Here's one surprising Tour participant. Please be patient and watch until the end.

Image from bikenovice.com

4. First Time Riders. If you ask these riders at the end of the Tour, you will usually find them at either end of the fun meter - they either enjoyed the Tour and vows to come back next year, or they totally missed the fun part and swear that this is their first and last Tour. You will seldom find the first time rider in the middle of the meter, saying that the Tour was just, well, ok for them.  Those who enjoyed the ride are mostly ecstatic and over-enthusiastic in their praise and in describing their first Tour.  On the other hand, those who did not enjoy will tell you horror stories on how their bikes broke down and nobody, not even the Marshals were there to help them. Or worse, they were injured because of a careless cyclist or they lost a helmet or some treasured bike accessories.

5. Nega Riders. They know who they are but we are not about to identify them here personally. They are those who scrutinize the Firefly Brigade but instead of giving constructive criticism, they prefer to negate the Firefly Brigade's achievements and say some not so good things about how the Tour was organized.  Fortunately for everyone who share in the Firefly advocacy, these kind of riders, if ever they really pariticipated in the Tour can be counted on the fingers of one's hand.  They are the "insignificant few" as opposed to the "vital many".

You may have some other types of riders in mind.  We will be glad to know about them so please share and write some comments below.

For more about bicyclists and how they cope on the road, check out  3 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Cycling. Then read Three Things You Should Never Say to a Driver while on Your Bike for tips on how to avoid confrontation with drivers.


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