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."


Chris Kostman said...

This is so very sad. Just a few months ago, John sent me a letter to announce that he was retiring from the double century scene. I took it as an old gladiator finally surrendering his sword. Considering his many, many years of riding hard and fast at double centuries, and on multiple occasions at Furnace Creek 508, I was very moved that his self-awareness was such that he knew it was time to hang up his competitive wheels. We all reach a point in our lives where big changes are inevitable; as John showed, it is best to take those changes in stride and hold our head high. I have always respected John greatly as someone who took his cycling, and his commitment to the sport and his fellow cyclists, very, very seriously. Additionally, his wife Sandye was always a lovely volunteer at double centuries, including many times at our events. I will miss both of them greatly and express my sympathy to Sandye and all of John's family.

- Chris Kostman

Sweet Vintage Designs said...

I did not know this gentleman, and I can truly say that, because I know his son John. My heartfelt condolences to the his family and friends. May you all find peace and comfort in your memories of Mr. John T. Clare.
Warm Regards,

Jim Poppy said...

So sad and unexpected. John was an inspiration to me as a cyclist, and I was lucky enough to spend a few miles with him on several rides, where I got to know him just a bit. When I first met him I told him he was one of my heroes, and without hesitation he told me his wife was his hero. That said a lot to me. A true legend in California cycling.

guddaddy said...

I remember my moments with John when we rode the double centuries in '00 and '01. He helped me get through them. I still remember vividly the night before the Death Valley Double in '01 when Sandye and John invited me to their mobile home for pasta dinner and couldn't believe how much spaghetti this gangly old man can put down. John was an inspiration to me for his dedication to the sport and his strength. He was always among the first guys to finish and he'd wait a while to make sure I made it to the finish. In life you cross paths with people who make an indelible mark. John was one in my life. I will miss him.

willie92708 said...

Yes, I'm sad John has left too. I remember him from many of the doubles I rode. We often chatted at stops, or if I happen to pass him during a double. He often commented that he was thinking about quitting CTC doubles, but he kept on plugging away. He also crewed on our 2010 RAAM team. He certainly will be missed!

John M. Clare said...

I rode the CTC in 1993 and 1994. I switched to running with my dad after I was hit by a car on my bike which tore all of the ligaments out of my shoulder. I just couldn't stay away though. The CTC kept calling me so towards the end of 1998 I decided to start riding doubles again. I asked my dad to ride them with me and his response was, "there is no way I can ride 200 miles, that is WAY too far, are you crazy?". I kept pestering him but always got the same response so I decided to just do the doubles on my own. In January of 1999 my dad asked me where the ride I was talking about was. He rode the Death Valley Double with me that year and he was hooked. In 2000 I brought my oldest son Ian along and so we had three generations of us riding doubles. I had to work on the day of the Grand Tour so Dan Crain rode with Ian on his tandem so that he could get his 1,000 mile club. Dad and I rode many doubles and a triple together over the years. We rode in rain, snow, crazy headwinds, burning heat and freezing cold. We had a great time and formed many memories along the way no matter what the weather. Sometimes my dad would ride the entire ride with me. Some times he would leave me in the dust. He was an amazing athlete. I know exactly how Axel Merckx feels. As I am sure all of you, his CTC family, I will miss him greatly. Please remember John T. Clare every time you get a nice tailwind. I think it is a great representation of how he pushed on no matter what the conditions and how he encouraged many of us along the way. I have decided to dedicate this season to my dad and I will be riding his Litespeed on all the rides as a tribute to him.

Anonymous said...

I was on John's crew when he completed his fifth 508. He was very humble and took the unexpected in stride. I still remember the 508 leg he rode starting in Baker on a Sunday morning. It was getting warm and he insisted on leaving with only one water bottle. He said he would be OK while the crew ate breakfast. Then the unexpected happened. Just after we left Baker to catch John we noticed our ice chest with all our drinks was gone. We figured out it must have rolled out of the side of the van unexpectedly about 20 miles back. We went to look for it and never found it. We bought a new ice chest and drinks in Baker and caught up with John a lot later than expected. It was over 90 outside and he had been out of water for a while, but he was still riding at a good pace and took it in stride. He made the best out of a bad situation. I really admired that in him.

Fred Klinzmann

David Bradley said...

I am very sorry to he of John's passing. I met John when we raced together on a 4X Furnace Creek team in 2005. It was my first ultra race not crewing and it was nice to know I we had someone with John's experience on the team. John was never at a loss of things to talk about, the many many cycling stories and discussions about life in general kept is all involved during our 34 hours of racing. John will be missed that is for sure. I'm happy for him that he got to experience so much of this world and the people in it on his bike. An excellent example and goal for the rest of us. David Bradley

Eric Ostrich Ostendorff said...

The UC community has lost a dear friend and rider. I am in wordless awe of John's achievements, on and off the bike. He was a gentle, wonderful person and always had positive things to say. I knew him from many doubles, brevets, and of course the 508. He was a legend among cyclists and the best ambassador the sport could possibly know. I will miss his smiling face and good nature, but I feel incredibly lucky to have known him.

Eric Ostrich Ostendorff

Kitty G said...

ovelahsI am very sorry to lear of John's passing. He and I crossed paths many times in many double centuries over the years. I have a fun memory of John's super fast rest stop technique at the CCD a few years back. John rolled right up to the food table at Ragged Point, did not dismount, grabbed a muffin, ate most of it it in two bites, and was off again like a rocket! A different time, I was lucky to catch John's wheel near the end of the CCD. We flew in together in about 14 hours. I noticed his custom bike with the 508 decal on the top tube that day. We all will miss John. He was a great rider.

JOHN D LONG said...

One time on the DVD I was almost able to keep up with JOHN CLARE and I could catch up at the stops then all of a sudden It Dawned on me and I said to JOHN you rode the 508 last week didn't you and he said Yea and your just on a cool down ride today aren't you YEA so that poped my buble and he still beat me in by an hour JOHN D. LONG

Anonymous said...

I did not know John, the competitive cyclist. I knew John the man who was going to learn how to manage his IV therapy at Home with his devoted wife. As his nurse, I learned how he was able to take a major challenge and break it into bite size pieces and master it! It was during that time that I grew to adore his wit and intelligence and witness his love of Sandye. I am honored to have been his nurse and friend. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Fondly, Theresa Stewart

C. Berger said...

I rode the last few miles of one of my first doubles, the DVD, with John in 2005. Of course, he had just done the Furnace Creek 508, which explains why I could keep up with him. I had no idea who I was riding with. (picture of John an me at the bottom, courtesy of AdventureCorps)

My sincerest condolences,

Wolf said...

It was a shock to hear that John was retiring and even more shocked that he'd passed. I saw John on almost every double century for years. He always looked great. I remember Sandye was always there at the finish waiting for him. I just thought it would always be like this. I will miss him. I have many John Clare stories to share from California doubles, Furnace Creek 508, and RAAM. Perhaps I may tell one here:

At the FC508, I was out on the endless climb beyond Baker. My stomach had quit working and I was bonked. I had climbed into the van and was arguing with my crew, who was refusing to let me throw in the towel. I was winning the argument.

John Clare rode by and stopped to stick his head in the van.

"Come on out and get on your bike, Tim" he said.

"Why?", I asked.

"Cause I want to see you at breakfast in the morning with a medal around your neck", he said.

John had tipped the argument in favor of my crew. John rode off. It was good seeing him at breakfast the next morning. Both of us wearing our hard won 508 medals.

Chuck Bramwell said...

Paul Haussler wrote:

"I remember John riding TOTF with his son and grandson..."

How cool was that?

Chuck Bramwell said...

Dave Stefanides wrote:

"I'm so sorry to hear this news about my friend. I started riding with Lightning Velo, his club in 2002. He offered tips, in a soft confident voice, quiet so the other riders wouldn't hear and I wouldn't be embarrassed by my own inexperience, only to follow it with a self-depricating joke belying his mastery. I remember how concerned he was for his wife Sandye after they went down on the tandem on Camp Pendleton because the lead riders failed to call out a one inch slot in the concrete and really he was the one bleeding the most. I moved south with my family and joined a new cycling group but eventually, in 2008, I got bold enough to try a double and guess whom I rode the back half with, Mr. Clare. He and I found each other in the next 10 or so doubles that I did and I tried to hang, enjoying his stories and sense of humor and knowing that I was doing ok if I was able to stay with him (he always got away at the stops, though and I'd have to pedal my ass off to catch back up and sometimes I never did), and twice we rode home and finished the Grand Tour, side by side, me in awe of his wry wit and steely spirit and standing there waiting his arrival was his wife Sandye."

Chuck Bramwell said...

A California Triple Crown Winner wrote:

"Thanks for for sending this nice report. Although I did not know John he was the kind of person that inspired all of us to do rides we never thought possible when we started out.

I completed three doubles in 2010 then was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma and will be receiving a bone marrow transplant later this month. It is the enthusiasm of people like my training buddies and John that have kept me going during the dark times."

Chuck Bramwell said...

Brian Chun from the Almaden Cycle Touring Club wrote:

"Thank you for sharing the inspiration of John Clare's wonderful life, family, and friends, and CTC. Please send our best thoughts and prayers to his remarkable family, from all of us from the Almaden Cycling community."

Anon said...

John T Clare was inspiration personified. He always had a smile on his face, and a twinkle in his eye.

Anonymous said...

I rode the Camino Real Double yesterday on my dad's Litespeed and carried his jersey. It was the first time I have ridden a double since 2008. It was also the first time riding a double without my dad since 1999. Many people shared with me that they felt my dad's presence with them as they rode. Others talked about the many great memories riding with him. I too felt his presence throughout the day. I could hear him talking to me on the section climbing out of Trabuco Canyon. I was struggling and I could hear him just telling me to settle into a good pace and relax. I like to think that he had something to do with the weather or the fact that I did not get any flats despite running through lots of junk. Maybe he was there as a group of us blasted back home on the freeway or on the bike path with the nice tailwind. One thing is very clear, he is missed by many of us and he was loved out there. I thank you all for sharing with me. He was afterall a part of the CTC family as well.

Eric said...

I didn't know John as a cyclist. In fact I didn't know till today how accomplished he was in the sport. I did know him and his wife Sandye as great lovers of music. We shared a love for artists like Roger McGuinn and Tom Petty. John loved to accompany Sandye's guitar playing with his ukulele. A very kind and warm hearted soul. John will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sandye, Take care

Erik Perez
Morey's Music Store
Lakewood, CA

Anonymous said...

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.