2009 Puerto Princesa Mountain Bike XC Challenge to field "Expat" category

CORON, Palawan, Nov. 18 (PNA) - With the increased interest by Asian bikers to participate in the upcoming 2009 Puerto Princesa Mountain Bike XC Challenge to be held on January 29-31, 2009 at the Magarwak Integrated Recreation & Nature Park of Puerto Princesa City, organizers are considering fielding “Expat” category, a new category in the race exclusively for foreign participants in the said competition.

Joey Mirasol, the event’s race director, explained that the competition was primarily conceived as a national individual competition, but would be open to any foreigner who may wish to join, considering that there are quite a few foreign permanent residents who have taken up the sport.

”Because word of the event reached bikers in Singapore, a bike-friendly city state holding regular mountain bike competitions at Kent Ridge, a public nature park with bike trails, their cycling association posted the 2009 Puerto Princesa Mountain Bike XC Challenge at their website”, he said.

Mirasol further said this posting generated inquiries from their counterparts in Malaysia,Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong, and numerous inquiries have been received by bikepalawan.org.

Many of the inquiries indicate that they are also interested to come and visit Puerto Princesa more than to compete for the awards, he added.

The race director disclosed that bikepalawan.org has consulted the event's Chief Commissaire Oscar "Boying" Rodriguez, Jr., the only UCI-accredited Mountain Bike Commissaire in the country, on how to accommodate foreign participants in the competition.

There are several concerns to be addressed, including the qualifications of the foreign racer (who may be qualified Elite/Pros in their countries of origin). Pending any contrary view regarding this development, a special category for foreign participants will be opened, he said.

Tentatively, he said the organizers have proposed the fielding of an "Expat-Am" category, wherein amateur foreign nationals would compete amongst themselves on an individual basis, not representing any country.

However, Mirasol also explained that foreigners classified or licensed as Elite/Pros would not be allowed to race as an Expat-Amateur, but would be eligible to compete in the Elite/Pro category, which is open to elite and professional cyclists of all genders, ages, and nationalities.

Travel packages to feature affordable accommodations and tours to the Underground River, including cash prizes for foreign competitors, are being arranged in US dollar currency in order to accommodate foreign participants and their traveling companions.

In related news, in response to the request of several sponsor participants in the cycling competition, the organizers of the event, bikepalawan.org, are also seriously considering offering a Bike Expo for the public to view and acquire bikes, parts & accessories, apparel, and other cycling sports-related products and services.

Mirasol said that bike manufacturers, traders, and suppliers of related products are now being contacted and arrangements are being made to finalize the conduct of the first-ever Bike Expo to be held in the city.

Mirasol concluded the Bike Expo will be held either at the City Coliseum or at the Mendoza Park on January 28 and 29, 2009, and will be moved to the event site at the Magarwak Integrated Recreation & Nature Park during the race days on January 30 and 31, 2009. (PNA)