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This Beauty Executive Has Fallen In Love With Cycling. Here's Why!

Find out how Sam Unson-Gallardo's journey to falling in love with cycling helped her mind, body, and soul!

If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it's to explore all the other sides of us that we have never discovered before. Almost two years of being indoors has given us ample time to dabble in plenty of new hobbies, hone new skills, practice old ones, and ultimately journey to self-discovery. We're definitely not coming out of this pandemic the same as we were, given that we've been armed with a ton of new life skills, hobbies, and interests that now make up who we are. 

The beauty in discovering new skills and hobbies during this entire grueling experience is that we found solace in creating with our hands, moving our bodies, and basically training our minds to find the silver lining in such an uncertain time of our lives. One such lady who has journeyed to self-discovery and found her new passion in outdoor cycling is Sam Unson-Gallardo, the Brand Manager of NARS Cosmetics Philippines. Here, she recounts her journey to falling in love with cycling, and how it has done wonders for her mind, body, and soul. Keep reading!

Metro.Style: How did you get into cycling?

Sam Unson-Gallardo: I've loved cycling since I was young—my first bikes were always hand-me-downs from my boy cousins. My first pink bike was even missing a pedal! When I turned 13, my dad gifted me with my very first mountain bike—it was black and chrome and I loved it so much! But I only truly got into cycling last July. My husband started cycling again in the thick of the pandemic in 2020, and started a vlog as a creative outlet. It helped him a lot for the pandemic anxiety.

My mom gifted me with a new bike of my own that same year, as I was just using a foldable Doppleganger bike sporadically. I realized I needed a better bike and my husband actually built up a new one for me early 2021—it was an all black mountain bike. I rode a couple of times until in April, when we found out we were expecting, so I had to stop again. In an interesting turn of events, I miscarried end of May and started cycling again in July.

My husband got me another bike, a road bike in my favorite color, purple. That’s when I said to myself, I was going to use that time away (as I was in maternity leave) to focus on my health. My husband always wanted me to get back to exercising. He even gifted me with a gym membership in March 2019, but then the pandemic hit. He finally found the right combination to encourage me to get active, and that was with cycling AND a purple road bike!

MS: Describe your cycling routine every day.

SUG: My husband is a huge influence in my life. He always says that I don’t need to do 100km rides—I just need to be consistent. So every day (weekdays and weekends), I wake up at 6:30 am or 7 am to get ready. We do around 8km a day, more if possible on the weekends. When I have a challenging day ahead, I try to cycle earlier and do a more challenging route, just to get an extra endorphin boost.

MS: How has this hobby impacted your well-being and mental health? How about your fitness goals?

SUG: I’m so hooked on cycling! I look forward to each day that I get to ride. It allows me to clear my mind, have quality time with my husband, and really have something that I do for myself. The endorphins are real too! I find that I am more positive, more forgiving, and a little bit more patient at work. Cycling allows me to meet different people and have a larger perspective about life in general. When you see the world around you (quite literally), you become more thankful and appreciative of what you have, and where you are in life. I’ve lost 15 pounds since July, but more than the weight, I feel great! I have the oddest tan lines, but they also remind me that I am doing something for myself. My husband and I want to live a longer, disease-free life for our son Lucas. 

MS: Where do you cycle?

SUG: My usual is around our area that gives me a lot of practice in climbing, “ahon” as cyclists call it. The 8km allows me to climb, sprint and also practice cycling alongside motorists. My usual route is along Green Meadows Avenue, White Plains, and through the People Power Monument along EDSA. On some days, we throw in some routes for the Ultra or St. Paul climbs. Marikina and BGC are also favorites. I did Antipolo once—it was a humbling experience and an exercise of my patience. I look forward to more challenging routes soon!

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MS: How can newbies get into this hobby? How much should one set aside to get full gear - bike, helmet?, shoes, clothes?

SUG: As in any exercise, it’s best to find out first if you’ll like doing it everyday. This way, it becomes sustainable, and of course increases ROI to your investments. If you’re convinced that cycling is for you, best to figure out where you want to cycle so that you get the right bike for you. A great bike at around the Php 50k mark (brand new) will definitely be a good investment and will take some time for you to outgrow. There’s also a great pre-loved market for quality bikes, I would recommend that route too!

The gear really depends on your needs and taste - in terms of the basic gear, a good helmet will be around Php 2k. Cycling shoes are not a MUST just yet—I decided to invest after months of cycling. I’m an advocate of wearing what you want to when you cycle—just make sure that you’re comfortable. If you’re brand conscious, be prepared to let go of minimum Php 40-50k for a brand new bike, Php 5k for a helmet, Php 10k for cycling shoes and pedals. But if you’re a smart spender, I recommend looking at the 2nd hand market for a suitable bike, a Php 2k helmet, and delay the other accessories until you’re really cycling regularly.

Find an activity you enjoy—it must be fun for you, give you health benefits and must be sustainable. The biggest perk of cycling is that my husband and I go on adventures together, he encourages me to push my limits, and brings us to places we enjoy. In all things, you also must be committed. At the end of the day, even if you have all the equipment you need, progress will never happen if you don’t show up for it. 

Lead photo (background) by Vadim Misyuchenko on Unsplash, and @beatnikinblack