There’s a voice in the distance and light knocking on metal. Our katabang, or helper, has arrived and she’s at the gate, trying to draw attention to her arrival. I respond through the bedroom window, put on shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, and welcome her in. The Friday morning routine has officially begun.
As Bensing starts hosing the plants desperate for water I put on the kettle and cut myself a few slices of bread. Two table spoons of Lavazza plunge into the small French press I brought from home. I pick up some things from the floor that could interfere with the mopping later and wait for the whistle. The boiling hot water cascades down into the round cylinder shape beaker washing over the unsuspecting ground coffee. I offer a cup to Bensing to which she adds two generous spoonfuls of sugar.
After breakfast I change into sports clothes. No need to shower now as I’ll be sweating soon enough. I grab gloves, helmet, water bottle; I’m good to go. Bensing closes the gate door behind me and I bike down the short stretch of rocky road in our subdivision.
I swoosh downhill, loving the breeze and the drumming noise of the tires rubbing the asphalt road shooting past beneath me
Once I’m on Ma-a Road, I stay in the jeepney lane as much as possible. Cars drive slow, but constant awareness is required as most drivers don’t factor in that they are sharing the streets with cyclists. I pass by several small sari sari stores until I reach the big crossing and turn right onto McArthur Highway. Just passed the cockfighting stadium, sabogang in Bisaya, it’s a sharp right to Shrine Hills Road where the ascent begins.
At snail pace I plow past fourteen wooden Stations of the Cross commemorating the last day of Jesus Christ on earth. It only takes about ten minutes to reach the “top”, but the steepness is serious business. The road rolls on and not before long I reach Vista View restaurant, my turnaround point for the day. On the way there I’m treated to gorgeous views of the Davao Gulf.
I take a few big sips from my water bottle and start heading back. Coming up on my right is a small, makeshift car wash. I decide to find out whether they’re open for business; my mountain bike is in dire need of a good scrub down. While I wait, a guy in the back is giving it his all at videoke with an energetic rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses.” Handymen from the car repair shop next door occasionally grunt and shout approvingly.
With my bike looking fresh and cool I swoosh downhill, loving the breeze and the smooth, drumming noise of the tires rubbing the asphalt road shooting past beneath me. I’m homeward bound.
Now it’s my turn to call “Open Sesame.” Bensing acknowledges my request and unlocks the door. I go through it bike-first.
I take off my shoes and tip toe across the mopped living room floor. A faint, strangely fragrant smell from the leaves and branches Bensing burned in the backyard lingers in and around the house.
A cold shower later I’m certain: it’s going to be a good day.
I took the picture below this blog’s headline on one of my regular Friday morning mountain bike trips up Shrine Hills Road. The body of water in the background is the Davao Gulf.