Nicanor Nicdao: The Limitless Legend
“Matira ang Matibay: Set a world record”
A world record holder cyclist reminisces his days as the toughest man on the road.
It was a rainy Tuesday in November 1967 when Nicanor Nicdao started pedaling for five days and four nights straight.
Also known as “Mang Nick” in the cycling community, the now 75-year old champion is one of the renowned athletes in the Philippines and the world. Famous for his record-breaking stint in “Matira ang Matibay: Set a world record” in Amoranto Stadium, Quezon City, he ousted more than 30 Filipino cyclists competing for nonstop biking action. “’Yung [iba] nag-collapse, tapos ayaw na. Mag-isa na lang akong natira [Others collapsed then quit. I was the only one left],” he reminisces.
Brewing the victory
It takes tons of courage, strength, and stamina to make a world record. His preparations were nothing less than intense: Two weeks prior to the event, he cycled from Angeles City, Pampanga to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, back and forth, in a single ride.
Three days before setting that a world record, he didn’t take any solid food until the fifth day of the tourney. And once the battle started, he only consumed water, honey, and coffee.
“Oh, Mang Nick, inom kang kape, malamig na ‘yan. ‘Yun ang sabi sa’kin. ‘Pag inom ko ng kape, sobrang init! [Have a coffee, Mang Nick. This one is already cold, they told me. Then when I drank it, it was still very hot!],” Nicdao shares, laughing, how his fellow cyclists stayed with him throughout the event.
On the fifth day, they’ve been allowed to eat solid food. During this time, he admitted that he ate more grapes than he should. “Napasobra ang kain ko ng ubas. ‘Di ko na maalala kung ilang ubas ang nakain ko. After 30 minutes, nag-collapse na ‘ko [I had a lot of grapes. I can’t remember how many it was. After 30 minutes, I collapsed],” he shares.
At exactly 6:04 pm, Saturday, using his single speed Jean Thomann bicycle, installed with freewheeling hub with a ratio of 48:16 and adjustable handle bar, he made a world record that no one has ever beaten until today. He cycled for 96 hours and 34 minutes.
Nothing less but the best
Born on November 21, 1940 in Pampanga, Mang Nick worked as a newspaper delivery guy in Clark. He had an American manager who helped him train and compete on a national level. After his try out in the Central Luzon Cycling Team, he started racing from 1963 to 1973 at the Tour of Luzon with fellow legendary rider Cornelio Padilla. In addition, Mang Nick was also a three-time Tour of Pampanga Champion.
In 1974, he was a lap winner of the Tour of Luzon-Visayas-Mindanao, racing between 185 to 200 kilometers in less than five hours from Solano, Nueva Vizcaya to Ilagan, Isabela.
Also, one of Nicdao’s best records was his stint on the 1977 Tour of the Philippines where he ranked ninth among 96 cyclists. Starting the race from General Santos City in Mindanao, they boarded a vessel going to Visayas where they raced from Tacloban, Leyte to Catbalogan City in Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon.
Then they rode a ferry bound to Bulan, Sorsogon and started another race going to Legazpi, Albay, then Baguio City, to Aparri, Cagayan, and Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
For Mang Nick, his inspiration is the people who believe in him. “Una sa kababayan mo. Syempre kung kulelat ka, wala, nakakahiya eh live ‘yun sa radio [Primarily, my townsmen. It will be a shame if you’ll come last. The races were aired live on the radio before],” says the proud Kapampangan who drafts his team from Pampanga to the end of San Fernando, La Union whenever there’s an opportunity.
Today, the cyling champ still competes and wins in races, including triathlons. He also encourages younger riders to keep on practicing and to have a good balance of diet and sleep. “‘Wag kayo huminto. Eh ako, kako, kaya ko pa, kayo pa kaya [I tell them to never stop training. If I can do it, so can you],” shares Mang Nick.
Text: Joannah P. Villena | Photos: Ross James Derit | DOP: EJ Guevarra | Editor: Chad Simbajon