HIMAMAYLAN CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Thousands of bikers are expected to pedal across this southern Negros city in a ride dedicated to COVID frontliners, clean air, and safer roads.
Mayor Raymund Tongson told DNX they will host the Tour of the Fireflies for the second time, making the city the first to host the Philippine leg of the prestigious ride over two years, 2019 and 2021.
In 2019, during the Fifth Tour in the Philippines, Himamaylan drew at least 4,000 bikers from across the country who pedaled for clean air and safer roads.
Last year’s ride, originally scheduled December, was moved to this month.
The Tour is usually held in June worldwide but quarantine and health restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic led to postponements.
Local officials here who will manage the race said health protocols will be observed, among them the avoidance of large crowds and appropriate distancing.
Unlike in 2019 when bikers assembled at the Provincial Capitol Lagoon in Bacolod City at least 80 kilometers away and pedaled to here, this year’s ride will feature changes that will also avoid clumping of riders and spectators.
Organizers said there will be two routes – the regular one and the endurance race.
The endurance route will have riders pedaling through rough roads up to the village of Bulod.
Bulod is the village closest to Tayasan town in Oriental Negros with which the city will renew its sisterhood ties this year, Tongson said.
The Tour was first started in 2001 and had been held every year in June, its official website said. (READ also: Tour of the Fireflies: A backgrounder)
“The FireFlies cycle over the Alps to the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The challenge is to ride more than 1,000 kms over at least 20 mountains in 8 days,” it added.