THREE-TIME national cycling marathon champion Jesus Garcia Jr. yesterday wondered why there has been no line here on the passing of cycling legend Manuel “Maui” Reynante.
Reynante, 67, suffered a fatal stroke while biking with son Lloyd, a national team member, on Friday.
Jess Garcia, better known as Cycling Jess, said Reynante deserved the highest honors.
He proceeded to tick off Maui’s pro record: Second place, 1969 Tour ng Pilipinas (10-day race) won by Domingo Quilban and organized by Gerry Lacuesta; champion, first Tour of PICAA (7-day race) organized by Tony Kairuz; champion, 1977 Tour ng Pilipinas (24-day, longest race in the Philippines ever) organized by PCAP under lawyer Mat Defensor and two-time Tour champion Cornelio Padilla Jr.; champion, 1980 Marlboro Tour organized by PCAP.
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Cycling Jess said he had raced head-to-head with Reynante twice.
“First was in the 1975 Tour of PICAA (9-day race) managed by Tony Kairuz of Patria Bikes where he was defending champion. It was won by my townmate Samson Cariño. I finished second and Maui ended up 11th overall. The second time was in the 1982 Marlboro Tour won by the late Jacinto Sicam of San Manuel, Pangasinan. I placed 16th while Maui failed to make it to the Top 20.
“Maui was truly determined and illustrious, a legend in his own right,” Garcia explained. “He was my arch rival but I admired and respected him. His record speaks for itself, one of the best riders this country has produced, better than two-time champion Padilla and his conqueror Domingo Quilban.”
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Before making a name as a pro, Reynante was already a star in the amateur ranks.
“He was a gold medalist in the 1964 National Amateur Cycling Championship held in Lingayen, Pangasinan,” said Garcia. “That propelled him to be an PH team member for the 1965 Asian Amateur Championship held in Manila where he won a track gold medal. He was included in the four-man PH squad that eventually topped the road race team competition through the stupendous efforts of Reynante, gold; Cornelio Padilla Jr. bronze, Jose de los Santos of San Carlos, Pangasinan, fourth. Maui also topped the first and only Amateur Tour of Luzon, with Padilla placing second.”
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There was no announcement of retirement or anything when Reynante suddenly disappeared from the national scene in the late 1980s.
Next he heard, Garcia said Reynante was already in the United States.
“He joined the Race Across America from California to New York. After his second try, he decided to seek his fortune around San Francisco. He tried to secure a green card and, after numerous attempts, gave up and came home after 20 years.”
Reynante was to accompany his son Lloyd to Tarlac for the Ronda Pilipinas eliminations. They were riding to the place of 2012 Tour winner Mark Galledo, from where they were supposed to take a van together to the race site. Maui Reynante was riding behind. When the son next looked back, he saw his father sprawled on the road side. The Legend from Muntinlupa was declared dead around 1 p.m. on Friday.
His body lies in state at their residence on 154 T. Molina Street, Alabang, Muntinlupa (beside Metropolis Star Mall.)
Prayed Cycling Jess: “May he race toward the Valley of Peace and Eternal Love ahead of other aspirants.”
Goodbye, my dear idol and friend.