Krystel ‘C-let’ Cuizon changes gears for more challenging races ahead
By Deneb Batucan
IN the male-dominated sport of motorcycle racing, a lone spectator-turned-champion rider bested hordes of men with her spunk and fearless maneuvering around the race track. Krystel “C-let” Cuizon is a woman who lives in the fast lane. But getting there was nothing near fast. For C-let, it was a slow uphill climb.
The first female racer in Cebu, C-let started circuit racing in 2011. The discipline in this particular race is to “go fast in curves.” Basically, one has to do a number of laps at the fastest possible time.
But before C-let officially started on the fast lane, she was an avid fan of the race. “There’s a group of racers where in every event we get to meet because I would always watch the races. But I’ve always wanted to join. A lot of people forbade me because the riders were all male,” she said.
But someone from the racing scene saw great potential in C-let. Bobby Mencias, her mentor and sponsor, discovered her keen skill as a rider.
“I was going to school one day and I’ve always ridden my motorcycle to school. I was in a hurry because I was going to be late. Then Bobby saw me riding past him. He sent me a message that day. Kiat daw kaayo ko mudala ug padagan. He asked me if I wanted to try racing. I hesitated at first because I didn’t have the equipment. But he said siya bahala nako. So I tried it,” she said.
For her first time in the race, she had to go past seasoned and very fast male riders. But it turned out that she was even faster. “I thought, ah, makagukod ra man diay ko. So I continued training and racing. And I invested on my gear,” she said.
Since then she made it a point to be active in the racing scene, placing at the top of almost all her races. In local circuit races, she would be seen competing against men who were seasoned, and very fast, racers. The challenge and adrenaline rush kept her interest at its peak and being young and inexperienced, let alone the only girl in the race, never let her down. It only made her stronger.
“The riders felt pressure because they were racing with a woman. Others underestimated me. They said that maybe they’ll give me a chance to win because I’m a girl. But the reality is the opposite,” C-let said.
“Everyone does their absolute best to win, especially me. It even gets physical during the races. People would shove past each other or hit other racers with their elbows. Pero dili gyud ko magpapildi.”
One skilled rider
C-let says that it’s not enough to have the skill. The bike has to be in the best condition as well. “The rider and the bike should be at its peak condition. The bike, most especially, kay mao gud na ang magpadaug nimo,” she said.
Of course, in every competitive endeavor, there’s always some bitterness and intrigue. As the only woman rider that time, a lot of attention was on her. Two years after she started racing, Yamaha Philippines made her their sponsored rider. This was a happy development for C-let, but many other riders were skeptical.
“They said that I only got the sponsorship because I was a woman. That hurt me because I was training hard to win competitions. So I told the marketing team at Yamaha that I didn’t want them to get me as their rider because I was a woman but because I was a skilled rider. And according to them, that was why they got me,” she said.
Because of her racing, a lot of doors opened for C-let. She was hired as a service consultant for Harley-Davidson which is now her current day job.
Aside from winning several races all over the Philippines, C-let won Most Valuable Rider of Visayas at the MotoROC Nationals in 2012 to 2014. She even received an honorary award this year as an icon and the first female racer in Cebu. C-let has truly found success in her passion.
C-let has taken it slow for about a year now since she had her baby boy last year. But she’s planning to go back to the racing tracks again next year. Now she busies herself with training, working at Harley Davidson as their service consultant, and taking care of her son.
For avid motorcycle racing fans who want to try out racing, C-let says that you should think about it thoroughly before deciding. “A lot are interested but are not willing to invest in the equipment. Mangita dayun ug sponsor nga bago pa naglumba,” she said. “But there are no shortcuts here. If there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Photographer: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Kartzone Cebu