October 31, 2021 By Maynard Marcelo Cover photo by Andy Leuterio

The R18 Experience

There are some things in life that you will never understand until you experience them yourself.  Today, thanks to our good friends at BMW Motorrad Philippines, we experienced how to live like VIPs, or something to that effect.  

Our day started at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch in Petron SLEX San Pedro where I met up with fellow motoring media practitioners (Andy Leuterio of Visor and Aris Ilagan of Top Bikes) and social media superstars (Gaki Moto, Inday Rider, Jinno Rufino, JMac, Sid Maderaso, Mike and Nelly), and of course our hosts from BMW Motorrad, namely Spencer Yu, Karen Grace Kennedy, Winda Payade, Cam Lucero, Thea Mari Geronimo, and Jacob Orbe. We were all issued our very own brand new BMW R18 First Edition cruisers with full tanks of gas and loaded Autosweep RFIDs. And that’s just the start of our R18 Experience. 

From Petron SLEX Km 44 where we topped up our fuel tanks, we made a beeline towards Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa, Batangas where we will have our breakfast. It’s the middle of a long weekend holiday and the expressway was unusually busy for a Sunday with many travellers going south. We were scattered all over as a result as we made our way to the Star Tollway. For such a long and heavy cruiser, the R18 is surprisingly nimble, making it easy for us to switch lanes as we overtake slow moving vehicles, of which there were plenty. And with 1802cc of total displacement, overtaking is just one roll of the throttle away, accompanied by that deep Boxer twin rumble. As traffic cleared I set the cruise control to a steady 100 km/h. 

We made it to the main gate of Mount Malarayat Golf and Country club shortly after 8:30am. The security personnel, after checking our body temperature with a hand held scanner, saluted snappily as we entered one after another. We were guided to a parking lot near the country club reserved exclusively for our group where bottled water and cold towelettes were distributed to us after dismounting our bikes. After the precautionary body temperature check and contact tracing QR code scanning at the country club lobby, we were directed towards the sprawling greens beside the golf course for our alfresco breakfast. 

Following strict safety health protocols we were divided into three people per table. We all know that everyone in our group was free from Covid-19 because we all underwent RT-PCR testing, again courtesy of BMW Motorrad Philippines, the day prior and we all tested negative, otherwise we won’t be allowed to join the breakfast ride. Anyway, I was seated with Karen Kennedy and direk Sid Maderazo and the conversation on our table revolved around farming, golf, motorcycles, fishing, farming, and more motorcycles. On other tables I overheard talks about securing wallets, tagalog vlogging, and motorcycles. The food served to us by the courteous staff was delicious. You should try their crispy Vigan longganisa platter. The atmosphere was light and friendly, and the view of the sprawling golf course and the mountains beyond was very relaxing, a welcome break to our usual toxic routines.

After having breakfast and some photo ops we bid our farewells as we all went our separate ways. On my ride back to Makati I can’t help but contemplate that this must be how more fortunate people live; cruising on R18s, having breakfast at country clubs, exchanging riding stories with fellow BMW motorcycle enthusiasts, and being treated with the highest courtesy wherever you go. The R18 has that VIP effect. At almost 2 million pesos I’m afraid it’s a dream that may not materialize in this lifetime (even if I sell both kidneys), but I am very thankful to be able to enjoy the R18 experience, even just for a day. Thank you, BMW Motorrad Philippines.  

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