Veteran cyclist Joel Buco proved to be a tough nut to crack for the rest of the field in last Sunday’s 2021 Padyakan Sa Saipan that started and ended at the picturesque Banzai Cliff in Marpi.
The 48-year-old The WaterCompany employee was the swiftest in the 60-kilometer race that had its turnaround at Seafix Inc. in Tanapag and crossed the finish line with an unofficial time of 1:45:50.
Buco, who has lost count on how many road races he has won since returning to the sport in 2018, admitted that he didn’t really took the 2021 Padyakan Sa Saipan seriously until the last 10 kilometers of the race.
“I actually was just supporting a friend of mine and just gave it my all in the last lap. I tried to jump in front in the final 10 minutes and fortunately it was a success. I made my move after the turnaround at Seafix,” he said in Filipino.
The Nueva Ecija, Philippines native dedicated his latest win to his wife Mary Jane, and their three children—Jomari, Justine, and Joshua.
“I also want to thank all the bikers on Saipan for their continued support and of course to my sponsor, 670 Rocksteady Shop and its owner Mae Cabrera,” he added.
Buco also gave kudos to event organizer Emon Masonic Lodge No. 179 and hopes they will stage another cycling event in the future.
Finishing second to Buco was Nap Dizon and rounding out the Top 3 was Mark Isip.
Matching Buco almost pedal by pedal is 15-year-old J.C. Ferrer, who kept pace with the lead peloton and beat women cyclists twice her age in capturing first place in the women’s open road bike category. The daughter of veteran cyclist Bob and Tisha Ferrer finished the race a mere 10 seconds after Buco in an unofficial time of 1:46.00.
“I didn’t really expected to win. I never really had a lot of practice because of COVID-19 so I had difficulty sticking with the main group. My breathing was also bad so I really had trouble maintaining the speed [of the lead peloton]. It’s also been raining the past few weeks so it cut down on my already limited practice time,” she said.
The younger Ferrer, who took up the sport only four years ago, said she wouldn’t have finished first in the open women division much less completed the three-lap 60-kilometer race without the help of her father.
“I told my dad to focus on his own race but knowing my dad he kept looking back at me worrying about me. To all his sacrifices, I dedicate this victory to him,” said the Marianas High School student.
Ayano Braxton and Jay Anne Felipe came in second and third, respectively, in the women’s open road bike category.
Results of the mountain bike as well as age group categories in the 19-and-under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60-and-up will be published in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.
The Emon Masonic Lodge awarded the Top 3 winners of each division with medals and other prizes during the awards ceremony held Sunday night at Rendezvous Restaurant.
The 2021 Padyakan Sa Saipan was originally set for March 20, but was moved back nearly a month after Saipan recorded a small cluster of COVID-19 cases early last month. Padyakan is a Filipino word which loosely means to pedal.