CEBU CITY, Philippines—When you fall in love, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s with someone.
It can be with food, a thing, a hobby, a job or a sport.
For Cebuana athlete Lovely Gitaruelas, it was with cycling.
From just a recreational cyclist, Gitaruelas fell in love with competitive cycling, and now she is one of the hottest prospects in the local Cebu cycling scene.
And that happened roughly three years since she started the sport.
In an interview with CDN Digital, Gitaruelas, 27, shared how she fell in love with cycling.
“I fell in love with cycling after conquering the Tour of Cebu in 2020. It was because it made me realize that anyone can conquer anything if you put your mind to it. The level of satisfaction is simply inexplicable’
“I started cycling for fun when I was in Malaysia in 2019. Then I went back to Cebu for a vacation, but Covid-19 happened, and I got stuck here because of the lockdown. At that time, there was no sport allowed on the streets other than cycling, and there was no transportation at that time. So, out of necessity, I was forced to cycle,” said Gitaruelas, a former varsity athlete from the University of Cebu (UC) and former mixed martial arts (MMA) practitioner.
From a recreational cyclist, Gitaruelas ventured into the competitive side of the sport. She decided to participate in the Tour de Cebu in 2020 and fell in love with this sport which she considered a “necessity”.
“I fell in love with cycling after conquering the Tour of Cebu in 2020. It was because it made me realize that anyone can conquer anything if you put your mind to it. The level of satisfaction is just inexplicable,” added Gitaruelas, the daughter of former Cebu running queen Liezl Gitaruelas.
Apart from this awareness, other factors made her fall in love with sports. Her father, for example, is also a cyclist, whom she considers her main source of inspiration.
“He was also the one who taught me everything, from equipment to other things. I’ve been cycling for three years already, but it was very inconsistent until 2021, when I fully focused on it,” Gitaruelas said.
If it is said that love makes you blind, Gitaruelas, on the other hand, opened his eyes to a rediscovered passion, where it can shine with a thousand lights.
From an average cyclist, she became a multi-titled competitor last year.
Out of 27 races she participated in 2021, she won 11 and took 14 podiums. She also placed in the top ten in two other races.
She had no trouble adapting to cycling, given that she was previously competitive in various sports, and is also a former track and field athlete for UC in high school.
“At first, I didn’t expect to win. I just wanted to participate in these races and have fun, but I started winning unexpectedly, which made it more fun,” Gitaruelas said.
Many cyclists can also relate to the satisfaction and pleasure of covering long distances and going to places they have never been before.
“The bike has a unique way of getting you places other vehicles can’t go, like the trails when you’re mountain biking while a road bike takes you anywhere you want to go. The bond you have with your friends and fellow cyclists is a completely different experience,” Gitaruelas said.
Gitaruelas is focused on improving and winning more races in his competitive cycling career. She is eyeing bigger races in the future in hopes of qualifying for the national team.
“Right now, my ultimate goal is to train harder and be able to compete in bigger races in the future. If I get a chance to join the national team? It would be a pleasure,” a- she added.
When asked what his favorite bike is, Gitaruelas chooses the road bike because of the speed, and it’s easier to ride, especially when it comes to long distance trips.
“I like the concept of the need for speed, like I can ride to more distant places and I can ride as fast as I can until I’m exhausted,” Gitaruelas said.
Gitaruelas recently flexed his winning form by dominating the 55 kilometer road criterium of the Valentine’s Day race in Carigara, Leyte last weekend.
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