Mario Layoso: Fifty-six and Fueled
Like they say, age is just a number — and for Mario Layoso, a 56-year-old cycling veteran, pedaling his bike every day is still as exciting as it was in the past 41 years.
The cycling veteran shows no signs of slowing down.
Born in Malate, Manila, Layoso learned to ride a bike on his own by running away with his brother’s bicycle. At the age of 15, he received his first ever Patria track bike, a famous local bicycle brand during the 1960’s to 1980’s. Since then, his passion for cycling intensified.
He is one of the pioneers of inter-commercial velodrome races in the country and won a championship in 1983 as part of the 10-man team for Lifebuoy Aqua.
He also joined inter-school cycling competitions where he represented FEATI University and battled against other collegiate teams such as Polytechnic University of the Philippines and De La Salle University.
Layoso, who also races with road bikes shares that he’ll always remember the memories he had when riding. These include the wipeouts and his tours in Pangasinan, Baguio, Rizal, Bicol, and Quezon beside other cycling masters like Candido and Roberto Quirimit, Joselito Santos, Totoy Plaza, Gerardo Igos, and Rodolfo Guaves.
For the pro cyclist, there’s no difference between the riders of today and yesterday. But when it comes to bicycle parts and prices, there’s a big transformation.
“Noong araw puro bakal pa eh. Ngayon talagang high-tech ang bike. [May] mga tinatawag na aluminum, alloy, may carbon pa [Before, we only have steel. But bicycles at present have better technology with aluminum, alloy, and even carbon parts],” he recalls.
“Noong araw, P1,500 lang may bike ka na. Ngayon, ‘yung P1,500 mo preno pa lang [Back in the day, you can buy a whole bike at only P1,500. But now, you can only have breaks with that budget],” he adds.
With the rising popularity of fixed gear bikes, the velodrome champ suggests to young riders to add breaks on their wheels for safety especially when on the road. “Dahil ang fixed gear ginagamit ‘yan ng walang preno dito lang sa oval o kaya sa velodrome, pero ‘pag nasa roadway ka, kailangan meron kang preno kasi delikoado ‘yan eh. ‘pag may biglang tumawid ‘di mo mapipigilan kaagad [Because fixed gear is typically used without breaks in the oval or in a velodrome race. But if you’re in the roadway, you’ll need breaks because it’s dangerous. If someone suddenly crosses, you can’t just stop easily.”
Biking is life
He used to ride along the Philippine International Convention Center when it was still famous for strolling during the ‘70s. Then, he started traveling to Antipolo, Tagaytay, and Baguio to this day especially during Holy Week where he travels two days back and forth from the City of Pines.
For Layoso, his bicycle is already part of him and he’ll always be happy to be with his two-wheeled partner. “Hinahatid ako at binabalik din agad para makauwi [It accompanies me and brings me back home],” he says.
He believes that cycling contributes to his strength and long life. But more than just a daily exercise, it gives him happiness every time he rides. “Masaya ka ‘pag nakapag-bike. Maaga pa lang, ‘pag gising mo, bike agad ang hawak. Puro bike na lang ang iniisip. [I’m happy when I ride. When you wake up in the morning you immediately grab your bike. I’m always thinking about bicycles],” he shares.
Pedaling doesn’t stop for Layoso. And until today, the veteran competes in local races and has no plans to hang his bike yet.
Text: Joannah P. Villena | Photos: Ross James Derit | DOP: EJ Guevarra | Editor: Chad Simbajon