Share

Back to overview

The power of believing

The Shimano #BELIEVE campaign is all about helping people realize they can achieve their dreams. No one exemplifies that better than the third and final winner of our campaign, Julla Timan. For her, cycling is a metaphor for her strong belief in herself and why she chose to travel across the world to pursue her dreams.

In 2014, at the age of 23, Julla Timan was still living in Manila, the Philippines. In June of that year, she came across the Shimano #BELIEVE campaign on Facebook and entered her dream: to ride one day with her idol Marianne Vos, the Dutch cyclist who has won everything there is to win on the road and the track.

That same year, a friend of Julla’s in Hungary alerted her to a university scholarship sponsored by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the Hungarian government. Julla was already working as a salesperson for a veterinary company in Manila, but she couldn’t balk at the chance to study abroad on a scholarship.

‘I submitted it and totally forgot about it,’ she told us in an interview. She got lucky twice that year, and in a strange way the #BELIEVE campaign and the scholarship were connected. ‘I didn’t notice that the #BELIEVE campaign was meant for people living in Europe.’ But by the time Shimano sent her an email to congratulate her, she had already won the scholarship and had moved to Hungary.

‘I thought, “is this for real?” Because anyone can just write an email – my information on the internet is public. But when Shimano called me, everything just felt surreal. It was amazing because in the Philippines when we talk about European pro riders, it’s like talking about legends. It’s barely possible to even get near them, coming from the other side of the world.’ But come near she would.

‘It was amazing because in the Philippines when we talk about European pro riders, it’s like talking about legends. It’s barely possible to even get near them, coming from the other side of the world.’

Good things come to those who believe

Cycling in Manila is not for the faint-hearted. You’ve either got to be a little nuts, or smart, like Julla, and get up early. Very early. ‘On a typical training day I’d have to wake up before 5 AM to avoid traffic. You need to be rolling by 5:30 AM, before people go to work.’ Her training route was about 40 km through hilly Pasig City on the outskirts of Manila. ‘By the time I turned to go home, the traffic had already started and it could get really dangerous. Not just vehicles, but petty crime too. People could run after you while you’re busy going up a hill and try to take something from your pocket. That’s how it works. It’s a challenge but it makes you stronger.’ 

This anecdote is telling. Julla talked to us about coincidences in her life, but in fact she’s highly driven and focused, something she gets from biking, and doesn’t seem to leave all that much to chance. She clearly believes in herself has moved from strength to strength in her life. Cycling plays a part in all this. It’s like a tool she uses to create what she calls ‘a better balance in her life’. Balance, belief, strength. It’s what causes some people to leave their family, friends and work behind, chase their dreams and succeed in it too.

It’s almost as if good things come to those who believe. One year after submitting her dream to the Shimano BELIEVE campaign, Julla found herself about to spend a day in the saddle with Marianne Vos. ‘The first moment I saw her I was expecting to feel intimidated. I think it’s the same feeling that every person who is about to meet his or her idol has. But when I met here she was really down to earth and everything went well. She gave me little tips about how your lifestyle should be if you want to make the most out of cycling.’

Actually, it’s had an effect on my enthusiasm for life in general. And it was nice to get to know a side of Marianne that isn’t featured in the news, because she also talked about her life and how she spends her time outside of the cycling scene.

The biggest benefit of her day with Marianne Vos is that Julla’s all the more motivated now to pursue her passion for cycling. ‘Actually, it’s had an effect on my enthusiasm for life in general. It reminds you how little surprises in life can give your being a big boost. And it was nice to get to know a side of Marianne that isn’t featured in the news, because she also talked about her life and how she spends her time outside of the cycling scene.’ 

Julla is in the final year of her studies and wants to start racing again when she’s finished. We wish her good luck in the future, though somehow we don’t think she’ll really need it.