He just left us the octogenarian Antonio Mahúgo García in the last stage of his life, after having overcome several complicated health situations in the past. Good man and excellent cyclist, in the sixties Mahúgo became one of the most brilliant exponents of grancanario cycling after being successful in the I Climb Artenara in 1964, with the team 'Cognac 501', despite not being a born climber. It was one of the most emblematic races of Gran Canaria cycling, today turned into a cycling race. This Monday his heart stopped and his family, his friends and the Canarian cycling world mourned his death.
During the summer of 2014 we had the opportunity to pay a well-deserved tribute to this champion in the mountain village of Artenara, as it was the 50th anniversary of the appointment of the Virgen de la Cuevita as Patron of Gran Canaria Cycling. "It was one of the last joys of his life," his daughter said Monday from the burning chapel, installed in room 107 of the San Miguel funeral home in the capital of Gran Canaria. His funeral will be at 3:00 pm on Tuesday at the Santa Brígida municipal cemetery.
At the beginning of the decade of 1960, a young Antonio Mahúgo began to roll with force in the local competitions after buying his first bicycle of race, of second hand, to a neighbor of Santa Brígida. For this, he had saved methodically. Was a bricomania bike, Orbea steel box, two plates; the big one with 50 teeth and the small one with 45 teeth, French spokes, Italian aluminum wheels, five changes that with the front plate became 10 and an approximate weight of 11 kilos. Barely 12 years old, he had learned to ride on El Hierro bike of an uncle he was stealing, but it was so big that his feet did not reach the ground. A friend of his was holding him by the saddle and pushing him downhill, and he would go off by the road of the Center, in demand of the Plaza de Doña Luisa, trying not to fall or find some eucalyptus to lean on if he lost his balance . The incipient cyclist repeated on several occasions the attempt, but several times went on the earthy way, until he took the quiet to the machine, not only for sport but to move to his job as operator of the Quilmes cinema, in Tafira Baja . So his first contacts with speed began from top to bottom, packed, hence his risky descents in cycling races.
That September 20, 1964 Do not forget. It was cold and people crowded in the ditches. The first Ascent to Artenara, which was part of the national calendar, was held on Sunday, September 20, 1964, sponsored by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, whose president was a son of Artenara, Federico Díaz Bertrana. Organized by the Canary Cycling Federation, the event consisted of two stages and departed at 8.30 am from the Parque Hotel, in the capital, and upon reaching the first kilometer of the Carretera del Centro, the runners faced the following itinerary: Tafira, Santa Brigida, Saint Matthew, Las Lagunetas, Cruz de Tejeda, and the goal in Artenara. In total, 54 first kilometers of the 116 that had to travel.
A young Antonio Mahúgo, of the Cognac 501 team, challenged Juan Rodríguez Ávila, El Rubio, who took advantage of him by climbing the town of Las Lagunetas. Mahúgo suffered, but he did not surrender. And after several tugs, the glory awaited him at the peak. I remembered him in an interview. "Going up to Artenara we were alone Juan Rodríguez Ávila and I, he was ahead and every time he started to jerk me, but I did not follow the wheel because I was aware that my fort was the flat terrain or the descents. We arrived at the intersection of Cueva Cork, which was still dirt and gravel, already in plain I left it behind and arrived first at Artenara. On the way down I left alone, but I promised myself to be careful because I was very risky going down, "said Mahúgo in an interview four years ago, fortunately he did not break his chin on the floor and, spouting jets of sweat, crossed the goal, the first stage of the race, being designated to make a floral offering to the Virgen de la Cuevita, the center and axis of Marian devotion in this town, it was an event for the people of the summit, who dispensed to the runners and A great reception was given to the town hall presided over by Manuel Luján Sánchez, who was in charge of serving a snack and the Cabildo invited to lunch at the Mesón de La Cilla, a lookout restaurant pierced on the mountain run by the innkeeper Agustín Artiles Padrón, illustrious son Santa Brígida After a small and well-deserved rest, at 3.45 pm the cyclists started to return to the city, the second stage began: Artenara, Cueva Corcho, Vallese co, The lagoon, Firgas, Buen Lugar, Arucas, Tenoya, Tamaraceite, Guanarteme, Leon and Castillo streets, Venegas, Alonso Alvarado and Avenida Marítima, goal, which arrived at 6.30 pm, amidst the enthusiastic bustle of the public.
Antonio Mahúgo began to build a name among the followers of Gran Canaria, since he would also be a triumphant in the Triana night circuits, sponsored by the Canary Islands General Captaincy, celebrated in those years, besides participate in other routes of great and unforgettable names that were part of the national calendar, such as the Vuelta a Gran Canaria or the Condado de la Vega Grande, until he lost count of the times he reached a goal. But he could feel that no goal has given him the excitement he felt in 1964, when he could caress the sky then. Rest in peace the cyclist who never gave up despite the difficulties of health and life itself.
* Official chronicler of Santa Brígida