Ambassador Profiles

Two Wheel Gear Ambassador Profile: Andro Umali

cycling biking ambassador

Meet Andro 

A long-time advocate of bike commuting, bike touring, and mixed-surface riding, our newest Ambassador Andro Umali currently rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker; a design built for “super commuting”. We can’t think of a better-matched bike and rider. 

We were introduced to Andro (or more importantly, Andro was introduced to us!) through fellow Ambassador Aldrin. Also hailing from the Philippines, you can check him out at @mnlmoves

As an Emergency Medicine Physician based in Manila, the Philippines, Andro Umali commutes daily to one of the biggest hospitals in Metro Manila. When he’s not commuting, he’s weaving through the local streets to deliver medical treatment, provisions and COVID-19 kits. 

“I haven’t owned a car since 2018. Cycling became part of my life.”

Despite living less than five kilometers from the hospital he worked at, heavy car traffic meant it used to take Andro an hour to drive there. After dedicating some time to practice and preparation, in 2016 Andro officially took up cycling as a more efficient way to get around.

“My cycling commute only took me 20-30 minutes. Since then, I slowly made cycling my primary mode of transportation”, he says. “I haven’t owned a car since 2018. Cycling became part of my life.”  

The pandemic has played a major part in Manila becoming more bike-friendly, but when Andro first started commuting by bike it was pretty chaotic.Before COVID-19, bike lanes were scarce and generally found in odd places and small streets”, Andro explains. “Traffic was unforgiving to people on bikes and other personal mobility devices like electric scooters. 

“Bikes were at an advantage during heavy traffic, though, because we can filter through traffic and use smaller streets to get to our destination.”

daily commute cyclist

Facebook: @firstbikeride, by Lester Babiera

When the first wave of COVID-19 hit, commuting took on a very different look around the world. With public transportation limited, many frontline workers, like Andro, turned to bikes as a means of getting to work. 

This eventually led to local advocates pushing the government to create better bicycle infrastructure in the country, starting with the big urban areas like Metro Manila. “Cycling also became the preferred sporting activity of people, because it was outdoors and health protocols can easily be observed”, says Andro. 

The One Piece of Bike Gear Andro Couldn’t Live Without

As an Emergency Medical Physician, naturally Andro doesn’t go anywhere without his emergency response kit, which allows him to respond to roadside emergencies. 

cycling gear and how to use them

Bikes can be used as a road barrier in emergency situations

For commuting purposes, though, Andro quickly realized that as well as using his bike for quick and efficient travel, he also wanted it to carry his things. For this reason, panniers became key to Andro’s commutes. 

Facebook: @firstbikeride, by Lester Babiera

“Before I had my Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack, I would use a set-up wherein I had two baskets: one at the rear for my backpack/messenger bag, and another in front for additional bags. 

cycling gear for commuting

Instagram: @long_haul_doc

“But since this year, when I built up my LHT, I wanted to focus on pannier-convertible bags. That’s when I decided to get bags from Two Wheel Gear. The Pannier Duffel bag has proven to be an invaluable companion that allows me to bring all the hospital and work gear that I need.”

Facebook: @firstbikeride, by Lester Babiera

Community and Friends 

In addition to speedier, more efficient commutes, Andro has really benefited from the social aspect that cycling so regularly presents. “Cycling has given me so much, but the biggest thing it’s given me is the community and friends I’ve made because of it”, he says. 

“Due to COVID-19, social interactions changed dramatically. But the bicycle and cycling itself has actually given me the opportunity to connect to people who are also into bikes. Not all of them are commuters: some are roadies, some are MTBers, etc. But we all share the same passion for riding our bikes.”

For the New Cyclists and Riders 

Advice Andro would give to anyone thinking of getting into bike commuting, is first: “Make sure your bike is comfortable, stable, durable, and most of all, roadworthy.”

Secondly? “Just keep on riding. Ask friends to ride with you. Or ride by yourself. It doesn’t matter: as long as you keep riding, you’re making the world a better place.”

Instagram: @long_haul_doc 

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