Friday, January 20, 2012

John T. Clare - A California Triple Crown Legend

The California Triple Crown family lost a true legend when John T. Clare passed away on Thursday, January 19, 2012.

Let's celebrate John T's life!!

This is a place where people who loved John T. may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend. Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below. You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here.

The California Triple Crown family lost a really good friend
and a true legend of the sport with the passing of John T. Clare
on Thursday, January 19, 2012.
The above photo is from John T. Clare's incredibly impressive

John T. completed 152 Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown series, more than any other cyclist as of 2011!!  And he rode all of those Doubles since 1999!!

Two cycling legends shaking hands.

A memorial ride was held in his honor
on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, lead by his son, John M. Clare.
Roland Hoffman, the California Triple Crown Video Guy, was there
to interview John's son and wife, Sandye, and create
this beautiful video tribute to this great cyclist.

In Roland's video interview here with Sandye, he asked her what it was like to ride some of the California Triple Crown Double Centuries on the tandem together.  As she wore John's favorite CalTripleCrown Custom Jersey, she explained: "There's nothing like it.  There's nothing like working together, really being a team and really feeling as one.  He brought me up to a level where I could ride the Doubles with him.  We only did 8 together.  I never thought that I could do it and he showed me that I could.  That was something very special about John.  He could bring you up to more than you thought you could be.  He always made me find something better in myself.  Because he was very much that way himself.  Whatever he did, he was going to be the best at it or he wasn't going to do it.  He brought that attitude to me and taught me that."

John's son said, "One of the things he might have been most proud of was when my son, and I and he did the California Triple Crown together.  We did the Thousand Mile Club that year.  There were a lot of things he was proud of.  But he was a family man and very family oriented.  That was a family accomplishment.  He had a lot of things to be proud of.  But I think that might have been one of the things he was most proud of."

The three generations of Clares rode the FIVE Double Centuries together in 2000.  Grandpa John T. rode 15 Doubles that year, son John M. rode 7 Doubles that year, and grandson Ian rode 5 Doubles that year.  One of the FIVE Doubles that they rode together that year was the Tour of Two Forests which has an "EXTREMELY HIGH" difficulty rating!!

John wrote for his Hall of Fame induction in 2003 that his best long distance cycling experience was : "Completing the Butterfield Double with my son John M. Clare (who has now done 33 Doubles) and my Grandson Ian Clare (who has done 6 Doubles, the 1st at 13 years of age).  You just can’t get a better high than doing something like this with your son and grandson!  It was the greatest!"

From his 2003 Hall of Fame induction: "On the bike, he sometimes gets philosophical and thinks about how fortunate he is to be in great health and live in a place where he can just go out and ride my bike like this.  Also how lucky he is to have a wife who has been with me for 41 years and a great son and a great daughter of whom he is  very proud, and 3 terrific grandkids.  What more could a person ask for?

His advice to new riders is:
- Pace yourself (don’t take off so fast, slow down and remember this is 200 miles you’re doing here)
- Eat right (don’t try something new, stick with what works for you)
- And remember that trying to gain time by going like a banshee downhill isn’t worth the risk.  It’s wiser to gain your time on the climbs, not the descents

His biggest improvement in the last year has been more consistent training which has given him much better condition.

He shared a funny story with me.  On one occasion, he was riding along with a couple of other guys.  We passed a rider with a flat on the side of the road.  Without stopping, one of the guys he was riding with asked if the guy with the flat needed anything.  He asked for a tube.  Still not missing a pedal-stroke, this guy pulled a tube out of his jersey pocket and tossed it to him, hitting him squarely in the face.   As they continued on, they heard “thanks!” … all of this transpired without the halting of their forward movement. 

Another great story he shared: "I was riding on a particularly windy day in an area covered with tumbleweeds.  At one point, there was a huge gust of wind, and the rider in front of me was suddenly engulfed in this massive 6-foot tumbleweed.  It virtually swallowed up both man and bike.  The poor guy struggled along trying in vain to extricate himself from this thing.  Those of us riding with him finally suggested that he turn around and let the wind blow the darned thing off him, which he did.  The plan worked, but the poor guy was really scratched up, and I don’t think he ever wants to hear the word “tumbleweed” again as long as he lives!" 

He is rightfully proud of cycling at this level at age 62 and still feeling like he's 35.  His personal philosophy is to act young and you will be young. 

He listed his proudest cycling achievements as:
1999 Hemet Double Century:  1st male rider in (along with Marc Patton).
- 2000 Hemet Double Century:  1st male rider in (along with Gregory Somerville)  Time: 10:54:00
- 2002 Fall Death Valley Double Century:  Came in with Craig Robertson, Kenneth Holloway, and Graham Pollack in 10:49:00, two minutes behind the 1st male rider in.
- 2002 Furnace Creek 508:  Team Bluebird, age 50+, second place in under 30 hours.
- He did 15 double centuries in 2001 and 15 double centuries in 2002
and he completed his 50th Double Century this year on the Solvang Double which was a great moment as we rode across the Finish Line together!!

In the 2004 Spring Death Valley Double, it was a pleasure
to climb Hell's Gate in the daylight with John.

I was riding WAY above myself here being towed by John
and my awesome Brother-In-Law, Troy Raffelson

We flew back to Stovepipe Wells together!!

Sandye was waiting for her husband after a fantastic day of cycling!!

John was inducted into the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame in 2009 and you can see some great photos of him HERE.

In this video from the 2010 Camino Real Double, you can see John T. Clare riding east from Oceanside from 0:20 to 0:50.  He was very smooth on the bike.  Later he's seen pulling Chuck north to San Juan Capistrano.

Photo courtesy of Steve Meichtry

On the 2011 Knoxville Double, John looked so young
on the bike.  No one would believe he was 70 years old!!
Photo courtesy of Steve Meichtry

 On the 2011 Knoxville Double, Alan Ptak and I
 were able to hook up with John at mile 150.

It was my 100th Double Century.  I didn't realize it but it was John's 150th Double Century.  I was so happy to come up on him and be able to ride with John.  He was always a good guy to ride with but usually he was miles and miles ahead of me by late in the ride.  I found out that the only reason I was able to catch up with him was that he was recovering from the White Mountain Double which he rode the week before.  He explained that at age 70, it was taking him a little longer to recover from these tougher Double Centuries and the difficulty of White Mountain slowed him down a little on Knoxville.  I was so honored to ride with John!!  To finish my 100th and his 150th with John and Alan was the perfect way to complete these major milestone rides for all of us!!

All smiles at the last Rest Stop of the Knoxville Double.

At the finish, Frank Neal, the California Triple Crown Data Guy,
checked us in.  This was a great moment for John and I, made
better by the fact that we both rode in together.

The next day, John was a very sharp dressed man in his
CalTripleCrown Stage Race Jersey!!
Lynn Katano made the Hall of Famers CalTripleCrown badges with the
numbers of Doubles that each of us have ridden. 
Note than John's badge reads 150!!

John, you were a great inspiration to me and to many cyclists.

Thanks for leading the way.

Our thoughts and hearts are with your family.

We will honor you in the days and months ahead.

Chuck Bramwell
California Triple Crown Guy

John M. Clare and Scott Clare rode the
2013 Camino Real Double and wrote:
"Last weekend my younger son Scott and I got to honor my dad by riding the Camino Real Double. We rode the Calfee tandem that Mom and Dad rode in 8 doubles. We had a great time on a wonderful ride. Dad made sure we had great weather and no mechanical issues. We miss him but it is a privledge to honor him on the road with all of our CTC friends."