Meet the Philippines National Champion who advocates for more than racing
Ariana Dormitorio found cycling in her teenage years, and hasn’t looked back. The talented Olympic hopeful hails from the Philippines, and has been the national champion for cross country MTB the past three years (’17, ’18, ’19). Her love for cycling isn’t just about performance, it’s about having fun and inspiring more people to share her passion for cycling.
Q: How did you find cycling?
Ariana: I was always into sports really. As a child, around the ages of 7 and 8, I got into swimming and enjoyed the community aspect and ‘fun’ it provided. I also took badminton seriously, and played that for many years. Around 10, I found cycling through my Dad, who was big into it. Cycling was always just fun for me. That’s the way it always was, and continues to be. I got into the competitive side of cycling rather late, around 18.
Q: So you found cycling through family, how did they get you into it?
Ariana: My Dad always loves his hobbies. Originally he was very into RC cars. I think his community from there then got really inspired about bikes and in particular mountain bikes. He has always encouraged me to get involved, and cycling was something he never had to talk me into, it was easy for me to be excited. It just looked like fun.
Q: Were there ever any challenges?
Ariana: To be honest, many people in my nation aren’t always ‘thrilled’ to see me taking part in sports. Often they don’t see it as the right thing for women to be doing. I have never been discouraged, and never looked back. I am always moving forward towards my goals in cycling and in living a positive and fulfilling life. I define what that means and how I do it.
Q: What’s your racing schedule look like?
Ariana: It’s full time, all year long! Because we have such good weather, the racing season is 12 months long. In the ‘winter’ we are racing mostly in Asia, and then during the ‘summer’ I try my best to get some European racing in if possible. When I race in Asia, it’s usually at home, or Japan and Malaysia.
Q: What’s your training look like?
Ariana: I ride with a group of friends and fellow athletes most of the time, practicing skills and just enjoying riding. For endurance rides, it’s a solo adventure.
Q: What are the big goals?
Ariana: The big goal is to represent my country in the Olympics. That’s where my heart is, and that goal is what gets me up in the morning.
Q: Obviously 2020 has been a challenging one with the pandemic. How have you been dealing with this?
Ariana: I have kept things really positive. My goal has been to be an uplifting voice for the cycling community and for the country as a whole. Cycling (safely and within the regulations of course) is one of the few things we can do to be healthy and active. Being healthy and active is extremely important for not only keeping our bodies strong, but the mind in a bright place.
Q: Getting people inspired to ride isn’t new though, is it?
Ariana: Not at all, ha! One of my big initiatives is working to get more people, and importantly more women on bikes. It’s a beautiful sport, and we live in an incredible country for cycling. My goal is to see more people riding, racing, and for Filipinos to see the bike as an important part of their culture.
Q: Any special way you help to get folks into riding?
Ariana: Certainly I am always encouraging riding, but my family helps to run a MTB school. For the past four years we’ve helped expose people to the sport and work to get them into racing if they want. It’s a lot of fun and super rewarding to pass along a passion for the sport.
Q: How has the bike helped you?
Ariana: It’s such an escape for me. Mentally and physically, it gets you far away. I live in the capital city here, and having the bike is a way to literally get out, and mentally free your thoughts. This is also one of the key messages I try to inspire into people about why to get into cycling.
Q: Classic question; passions outside of cycling?
Ariana: I love TikTok! I love karaoke, and you can find me having a way too much fun on TikTok! Actually, it’s also a really great platform to reach new people, and help tell them about cycling, so it’s been a great tool for me like that!
Q: Parting words?
Ariana: Ride your bike! And if you’re at the races, come say hi!
Be sure to keep in touch with Ariana on Instagram!