Other than being a safe space for cyclists from many backgrounds, Meet and Ride pedals to advance advocacies—from mobility to environmental causes and everything in between
Photos courtesy of Meet and Ride
On the evening of May 30, chef Gab Fuentes parked his blue Nishiki classic road bike outside Jewels convenience store in Maysilo Circle in Mandaluyong. Closed-circuit camera TV footage would later reveal a guy in a red T-shirt hovering around the bike at around 7 p.m. Within seconds, the guy wheels it away.
Fuentes promptly uploaded the video on his cycling Instagram in hopes of finding the culprit. Within the same hour, his biking group Meet and Ride put out an alert on social media for his stolen bike. The post has since been shared over a hundred times across cycling communities by fellow cyclists and alternative mobility enthusiasts on Instagram alone.
At 9:40 p.m., Fuentes was reunited with his Nishiki, all thanks to fellow cyclists who bought it. “They saw the stolen bike post in a Mandaluyong cycling group on FB and immediately sent us a message asking if it was ‘the’ bike,” Fuentes recalls. “After confirming it, they went to my place and brought the bike. We gave them the price they lost due to [the fact that] the ‘seller’ can’t be found anymore.”
The suspect, a known bicycle thief in Mandaluyong, was reported. “I am really thankful to everyone in the cycling community who helped share posts on all social media platforms, especially to my Meet and Ride family. I love you all so much.”
Fuentes is one of the nine members of Meet and Ride, a casual cycling group first convened in July last year. (“It’s how we used to call our rides—we kept on asking kasi what should we do sa ride and we’re like ‘we just ride, we meet, and then we ride.’”)
At first, it was just media solutions manager Thysz Estrada, customer service rep Iken Borja, art director Kevin Vitug, digital media manager GP Pantig, and digital ads lead LA Gonzales who would usually hang out in the now-defunct Arabica cafe in Bonifacio Global City.
Three more cyclists joined (business channel manager Timi Abutog, facilities head Lester Abutog, and executive assistant Mike Tomas) through the group’s Instagram network. Fuentes was the last addition. He joined after a memorable ride in Binondo that he led. To this day, the rest of Meet and Ride regard him as the “best navigator.”
They kept an IG group chat and the rest is history.
The group got together one Sunday, ironically in Mandaluyong, to reminisce on their first bike ride, other ties that bind (a mutual love for coffee), and future plans for the local cycling community.
Can you remember how you first met each other?
It was through city bike ride invites! We just added more people to the group chat and planned where to go for the weekend.
How do you plan your rides?
We usually decide first which part of the metro we want to go to and decide which stops we will make. Gab is usually our route lead, he’s simply the best navigator. LA, Timi, GP, and Thysz stay in the middle. Lester and Iken weave through the group because they’re the ones with the cameras and document our rides. Kevin and Mike are usually our sweepers. Kevin moves around and checks if everyone’s still able to follow the route, especially if we get separated at intersections. Mike stays last as he’s one of the fastest and can catch up even if we get dispersed.
Which places have you been to as a group? Where’s the farthest? The most memorable? Any places you plan to visit soon?
We’ve probably gone to all the cities in NCR. Being non-competitive cyclists, we love riding to coffee shops and other bike-friendly establishments in the city.
As for the farthest, we’ve done three 100-kilometer rides as a group, once to Philippine Arena and twice to Nuvali.
The most memorable would probably be GP’s birthday ride where we went to a rock quarry in Antipolo called Puting Bato with two other bike groups. It was a huge ride of 30 bikers going up a really challenging route to Antipolo’s mountains—a first for many of us who are used to just seeing tall buildings and cars on the road.
We also went to La Union where we brought our bikes with us on a van and biked to not-so-common La Union destinations like Bilagan Road and Bulalakaw Falls, which are far from its famed surf town.
Our series on it was sponsored by Fujifilm PH who lent all nine of us their cameras to use to document our first-ever bike vacation. We hope to be able to travel to more places outside the metro and promote bike vacations as an alternative local tourism activity.
Other than biking, what other things bond you together?
As coffee probably runs through our veins already, coffee rides are a no-brainer. We love taking photos and telling stories of our travels, too! There are endless topics to talk about from the most mundane to serious ones like our country’s future.
We were part of a group of bikers who organized a ride for one of our presidential candidates this last election—the only one with a transport platform that had bikes front and center as a solution to our traffic woes.
Speaking of bikes as a form of transportation, what are some of the most immediate concerns in the cycling community that you’ve observed?
We definitely would want to see more infrastructure that protects the most vulnerable road users, not just bikers. Better sidewalks and pedestrian lanes, protected bike lanes, and access to secure parking facilities are things the community clamors for that we think there’s value to adding our voices to.
How does one go about joining Meet and Ride? Are there requirements?
We are actually not a club so there’s no membership at all. We lovingly call our friends who join us on rides our “guest riders.”
What initiatives does Meet and Ride want to take on in terms of community building, mobility, and inclusivity in the future? What are you already taking on?
We join advocacy rides like this recent one supporting a presidential candidate, upcoming advocacy rides include a Ride for Pride this June. We also want to focus on helping drum up support for businesses and local government units that are bike-friendly or promote bike tourism.
As city bikers, we want to see more and more people choose biking because it’s a safe, fast, and environmentally better way to travel around.