Planning a Visita Iglesia? Why not turn it into a Bisikleta Iglesia instead?
Text and photos by Kara Santos
Looking for a different way to mark the Lenten Season this year? How about combining your usual Visita Iglesia tour with biking?
If you need an excuse to mix your hobby with the Holy Week tradition of visiting churches, a pilgrimage by bike may just be the way to kick off your spiritual journey. And Batangas is a great destination for a two-wheeled crusade.
Now on its fifth year, Batangas is again hosting the annual “Bisikleta Iglesia,” which will kick off on March 24, Saturday, 5:30 am.
The author at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Marian Orchard, Barangay Malabanan, Balete, Batangas
Last year, I joined this religious and heritage cycling tour organized by Lima Park Hotel, which took over 150 cyclists to seven churches around the towns of Batangas. While biking to churches took a lot more effort than traveling by motorized transport, it was a refreshingly unique way to combine sightseeing and pilgrimage.
In fact, the cycling tour is suitable for the whole family. Last year, the event attracted bikers of all age brackets. The youngest participant was 11 years old while the oldest was 67. This year, the event will again be led by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, OFM.
The cycling route spans more than 52 kilometers of rustic roads in the towns of Balete, Lipa, Malvar, and Talisay in Batangas. The churches to be visited include:
- Sto. Niño Parish Church
- Marian Orchard
- Divino Amor Chapel-Redemptorist
- Parish of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace
- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Monastery
- Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian
- Parish Church of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Parish of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace
What to Bring
For this cycling tour, all types of bikes are welcome, from road bikes and mountain bikes to folding bikes and fat bikes. Because of the uphill sections, the route is more suitable for road and mountain bikes. Bring your bike helmet (no helmet, no ride), arm sleeves, and biking gloves to protect yourself from the heat. Hydration bags, reusable water bottles, light snacks, and energy bars might come in handy.
- This is not a race, but a religious and heritage cycling tour. There’s no award or extra blessings for getting to all of the churches first.
- Stay hydrated. It can get really hot biking along this route especially towards noon.
- To minimize plastic wastage from mineral water bottles, bring your own reusable water bottles or hydration packs.
- Take your time to pause, reflect and rest during the stops at the seven different churches. You’ll need it especially for the uphills.
- Bring a repair kit. Vulcanizing shops may be closed.
- Bring a small, handy camera or smartphone instead of an SLR so you won’t be weighed down while biking.
- Pace yourself. If you can’t complete the cycling route for some reason, there are support vehicles ready to help you out.
- For non-Batangas residents who want to maximize their visit, you can stay overnight the day before or after in any of the towns.
- Lima Park Hotel, on the boundary of Lipa and Malvar, is currently offering a Bisikleta Iglesia Weekend package. For just P3,472, a maximum of four guests can enjoy an overnight stay in a superior room, complete with breakfast for two.
- The Bisikleta Iglesia event’s registration fee is P398, inclusive of breakfast, packed snack, and buffet lunch.
- The first 100 registrants will receive commemorative Bisikleta Iglesia jerseys. There will also be a chance to win Lima Park Hotel gift certificates and other goodies.