Tuesday, January 29, 2019

John M. Clare - A California Triple Crown Legend

The California Triple Crown family lost a true legend when John M. Clare passed away on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Let's celebrate John M's life!!

This is a place where people who loved John M. 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.

"When someone dies, you don't 'get over it' by forgetting.
You 'get over it' by remembering."
Leslie Marmon

John on the Southern Inyo Double Century course
Photo Courtesy of Hugh Murphy

The California Triple Crown family lost a really good friend
and a true legend of the sport with the passing of John M. Clare
on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

John and his son, Scott, pulling a train on the
 2013 Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century
John was affectionately know as "The Big Diesel"
 or "Locomotive" for good reason

On Sunday, January 27, Melinda shared the tragic news:
"Dear friends,
Yesterday I posted a rather cryptic message about needing prayer without details. At the time, I didn’t know any details or the status. Now I do.

It is with a heavy heart and a profound sense of sorrow that I let you know that my husband of 35 years, John Michael Clare, died last night on Mt. San Gorgonio. Scott and John were on the descent when John lost his footing and fell in hard, icy snow and he started sliding and couldn’t stop. He fell into a ravine estimated at 500 feet down. Scott was able to yell and communicate with him but then had to leave him to get into cell range to get ems moving. He made it off the hill just as ems arrived.

San Bernardino Search and Rescue were awesome. They had multiple ground crews that hiked in and they made it a county-wide priority alert asking for volunteers. People were coming up until the wee hours of the morning to assist in the search and rescue. Shortly after 3 am, they found his body and notified us. We are in a state of shock as this was not the outcome we anticipated.

I would ask you to please respect and honor our families’ privacy in this time of grief and pain and refrain from calling or texting. I PROMISE if I or my family needs anything, I will reach out (and I already have.) John did not want a church service but he was ok with a celebration of life if that’s what we wanted. I will, of course, keep you posted as more details become available.
With love,


The San Bernardino Sun Newspaper wrote an article describing the tragic accident HERE .

Cheri Walker is a friend of John and Melinda and created a GoFundMe page HERE where you can make a donation to help Melinda.  She also made a MealTrain page HERE where you can sign up to help Melinda with a meal.

Melinda wrote: "I am currently collecting photos of John. Please feel free to upload a few of your favorite photos of him into the Google Photos folder I created."   There are hundreds of photos of John there!!

Melinda wrote: "The celebration of life for John will be Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at 6pm. Location is Cerritos Park East, 13234 E. 166th St., Cerritos, CA 90703. There will be an "open mic" if you would like to share your memories of John. Immediately following the celebration, dinner will be served. We hope you will stay, eat, and visit with family and friends."

Ellen Kirk suggested that we add John's name to the CTC Jerseys. What a great idea!! We'll make that happen with the CTC Jerseys we order this year so we will honor John's memory.

Planet Ultra wrote: "The Solvang Double Century is renamed the John M. Clare Memorial Solvang Double in honor of an amazing man who was a great friend and mentor to so many of us."

George Chung wrote: "Remembering John Clare. A big man with a huge heart. Will always remember your kindness to me and so many others. You always had time for my questions. You were always there for your friends and willing to help out. You were so genuine and sincere. We will always remember your big smile, heartfelt friendship, and your gentle soul. You will be sorely missed by me and so many!"  George shared these beautiful photos:

John was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame in 2012 in recognition of him completing 50 Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown Series.

Just 4 years later in 2016, he was inducted into the California Triple Crown 100 Double Century Club of the Hall of Fame in recognition of him completing 100 Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown Series. He loved these hard rides and he tackled the most challenging of them all as shown in his California Triple Crown History Report HERE

John rode his First organized Century on the 1975 Orange County Wheelmen Century.  He wrote: "My bike broke down early in the ride so I rode my Dad’s bike while he fixed mine. He caught up with me and gave me a Heath Bar since they did not have Powerbars in those days. Still one of my favorites."

His First Double Century was on the 1993 Hemet Double where he rode his 45 pound fat tired Mountain Bike.  He remembers a huge peloton lead by Steve Born and the first century was under 5 hours for him.

Ed Gallegos wrote: "John and I had some great times on our "ponies" and shared these photos:

John held a Master's Degree in Emergency Services Administration.  He was an Assistant Fire Chief and College Professor.

His favorite local 50 mile ride was from his home in Long Beach on the river trails because there are no cars and they can take you to so many cool places.

His favorite place to ride in the world was Southern California because of the awesome coast as well as mountain riding.  Alaska has some very beautiful rides.  Mt. Haleakala on Maui was an awesome climb and descent.

His favorite treat during a ride was Nilla Wafers with Nutella as well as fresh fruit.  After a long ride, he liked pizza or a big greasy cheese burger.

Dee Mann wrote: "I met John when we were both crewing for Hoodoo in 2015. I didn't really get to know him until he offered to help me get my first CTC gold after my knee surgery. We rode DoW. It might be more accurate to say that he pulled me through that course. I have had the pleasure of riding as stoker for 5+ doubles (he would know the exact number- he always did), but I can count the + as all the training riding on the tandem. All the travel time, dinner time, car time, bike time, more car time, all the stories and laughs will not be forgotten! John's passion for cycling was evident. He was always taking care of others while riding and volunteering. Wanting others to have success. I will miss his passion, sense of humor and big heart!"  She shared these great photos:

John volunteered on at least 34 Double Centuries.  He believed we should all give back at least 10% of the time.  He also actively promoted all of the Doubles and recruited many new riders.   He found that mentoring and encouraging others is important to sustain the Doubles for years to come.

Andrew May wrote: "John Clare leaving the lunch stop on his tandem on the 2016 El Camino Double Century.   A friend and mentor who will never be forgotten."

Rob Mann wrote: "It has been hard for me to put into words...but in order to do his memory proud I am going to try to change my feeling sad to feeling thankful that I was able to know John Clare. Like many have said...his constant smile, no BS attitude, and ferocity as a friend were some of the first impressions I had of an "endurance rider" I will miss him greatly and think of the many miles (both on the bike and in the car), the many wonderful stories...but most of all his big heart(even after it got lasered it was still one of the biggest I knew) He will forever be my model of what I want to be like for cycling. My life has forever been changed."  Rob shared these fun photos:

Over the years, John ran across many obstacles. He wrote: "Each ride is different and offers different challenges.  Sometimes it is mechanical issues and sometimes it is physical issues.  No matter what the issue is you must take a step back and look at what your problem is.  Work out a plan to fix it and then do it.  Give yourself time before you DNF."

Chuck Bramwell wrote: "Thank you, Hugh Murphy for this photo.  I remember this moment quite well. John was so amazingly strong on the bike!! We were tackling a good long headwind stretch and John Clare just powered right into it like it was nothing. I blew up and started going backwards but it was a great moment to ride with John and Terri Boykins for a short time.
I am so sad to think that I won't be able to ride again with John Clare. I already miss him a whole bunch."

John's best memory from these many Doubles was getting to share doubles with his Dad and two boys. Specifically, he was feeling crappy the entire day at the 2015 Southern Inyo.  It was his 100th double and he had 8 of his friends taking care of him the entire ride.  They never let him pull.  Finally in the last few hundred yards Loren Smith said, “Lead us in John”.  There were cowbells and cheers as we rolled in. Pretty awesome having people take care of you all day long, riding slower than they normally would, and then having you lead them in.

John's sweet wife, Melinda, makes the best cookies around with secret illegal ingredients … they are known as “Crack”!!

Regarding Lee Mitchell, John wrote: "Lee has helped me on many occasions. Broken lights, flats, tools, encouragement.  The last time I saw Lee was at the 2013 Davis Double. I was riding tandem with my son Scott.  We were flying down a long stretch with a bunch of single bikes in tow and I could see a man dressed as Santa Claus far off in the distance. I knew that had to be Lee. I told the bikes we were towing we were stopping. I introduced Scott to Lee and we took a picture with him. He was not feeling well at all from the chemo but had the sense about him to select the appropriate camera angle for the best shot. As soon as we got the picture Lee rushed over to help a rider with a wheel problem. Special man, we miss him.”

Steve Meichtry shared this awesome photo writing: "2014. A little climbing on the tandem with my diesel buddy"

Steve captured some great climbing moments on the 2014 Oceanside Double in a video HERE.  He wrote: "Fun times with John: 2014 Oceanside Double Century. Climbing out of Borrego Springs into a major wind/rain storm on the other side as we headed around Palomar Mountain. Going to really miss this."

John cranked out 46 consecutive doubles from 2013-2015 including in 2013 all 23 doubles with 4 volunteers and in 2014 all 21 doubles with 7 volunteers. 

In 2014, he completed the Grand Tour Quad on the tandem with Steve Meichtry. Steve wrote: "2014 Grand Tour Quad with my awesome buddy John Clare. Going to really miss you my friend!!" and shared this photo:
Steve wrote: "An epic day on a diesel truck!" and shared this video of the day.

In 2014, he was a World 24 hour time trial champion on a tandem with Tony Musorafite.  

As of 2016, the Clare family are simply amazing examples with 286 Doubles completed and 72 family volunteers!!  In 2000, all three generations of Clares completed five doubles together.

Steve Meichtry wrote: "Love ya John!! You will always be with us!!!!" and shared this photo:

Steve made this great video of John's 100th Double Century.

John wrote: "It took me 20 years to get into the Hall of Fame. With my aggressive schedule over the last few years I was able to join my Dad in the exclusive 100 double club in a few short years. He is out there riding with me every mile. He talks to me when I am having a tough time on a ride. It is quite an honor for me and I am humbled by all of the support I have received. I would like to thank all of my family, friends, organizers, fellow riders and volunteers. Without all of you none of this would be possible."

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

Julie Stokes shared some fun photos of John:


Unknown said...

I'm not an endurance cyclist of the one day, big ride type. But I "endure" by riding nearly every day. For several years, it was my pleasure to see John quite regularly on the "McDonald's Ride", which started every day at Del Amo and the San Gabriel River trail. The ride "belonged" to the 1956 Scottish road racing champion and legend Joe Meade - either Joe was there, or people worried about where he was....

John was working swing shift, I think, so he could ride with us in the mornings. He often would ride on when we headed home, and might complete a century before going home for a short rest before work.

John often rode his nice Colnago, and I had also gotten one about that time, so we had lots to compare. His bike was much faster than mine, however. Some days, John would ride other bikes, and as I recall, some were his dad's bikes used to ride double centuries over the years.

It was during this period that John's father died while gardening in the back yard. We were able to talk about John's father, and maybe it gave John some comfort - I hope so.

A promotion for John at work largely ended our time of riding together, but I always followed his exploits as he piled up those doubles, chasing his dad, often riding one of his dad's bikes. His penchant for snapping photos amazed me. He probably took dozens that included me, while I might be able to find four or five that I took of him. I always wondered why I was so bad at that, but I think it was the difference between a guy who had to work hard to keep up, and a guy who was just playing around, riding with the older guys and gals.

It was my observation that John was universally liked by all who knew him, or were around him. He had all the right stuff - pleasant, caring, happy to know you, smiling; and of course, he could ride your legs off (but he rarely did)!

Colin Campbell
Fullerton, CA

ANNY BECK said...

Writng about John is difficult because i'm still in the first stage of the mourning process wwhich is denial. I just don't want to accept that he has died.
Long pause here....
Jeepers I've know him for so long, I have lots of memories.
John was part of a Family that was part of a bigger family called California Triple Crown. His Dad and Mom rode their tandem, then here comes John Clare, and his sons were riding tandem, with John, then his wife joined the Volunteer CTC Team, then his grandson was riding. This was a Family of CTC cycling, and I know he was very proud of all of his family being involved! He wanted to follow his Dad in roping in 150 doubles, an amazing goal. He broke away from his Dad's bicycle club after he passed away to join the Adobos' and no doubt, he made the right choice for himself. We both shared the loss of a loved one in the sport. Life goes on for everyone else, but for those who have lost a loved one in the sport, life is not the same anymore, and never will be. His Dad and my tandem Captain, Dan Crain were very close, and we share the memories of riding with both of them over years of riding. My heart goes out to John's Mom, Sandi, his wife Melinda, his sons, and grandkids, and then the rest of us who knew him as a friend, and a cycling brother. I esp.think of his wife Melinda. All of us could see how much she loved and served John.
Life goes on,but for her, it rather stops right now, and every day, is a struggle, for weeks, months, years. All of us as a type of family feel the loss, but for her, and his sons, and Mom, and grandkids, I can't imagine the on-going grieving process.
I will be carrying this family in my prayers for a long long time, as I ride along and think of John, and how his wonderful cycling family has been family to all of us in CTC, too. I hope I can begin to pass on what John and his family have passed on to each one of us in California Triple Crown. May I reach out to his family and others who are hurting or whatever ever, and pass on comradary, hospitalty, acceptance, encouragement, and the ability to serve others. This life is not all there is. We will never understand why things happen in this world. Here we see through a dark glass dimly, but everything will be straightened out in the eternity of the next world. We honor all our Silent Riders of CTC. He will be rightfully HONORED then, as well as now. He wasn't just a rider, he emminated the riding qualities of CTC from the inside-out. Anny Beck, Mtn. High Cycling Ride Dir.

Anonymous said...

None of you know me but I had the pleasure of knowing John because I was a student of his back in the day. This morning after some deep reflection I took to the internet to see if I could locate and reach out to him to tell him thank you and provide a life update when I came across this article. I am deeply saddened and shocked by this news.

John was one of my very first instructors as I began my journey into the fire service. I was the only female in his class and felt like I had something to prove to someone. He quickly became my first mentor, my calm voice during chaos, and the best instructor I have ever had.

Because of John and his guidance I not only graduated, and went on to get a bachelor's degree, but I also led a successful career in the fire service. He helped me believe in myself when my family didn't, he was supportive after the sudden loss of my brother near the end of a semester, and he helped connect me with people who contributed to my success in wildland and career firefighting.

Truly, John helped make me who I am today and I will never be able to repay him for it.

To his beautiful wife and family: thank you for sharing him with us. Kids like me who needed help and guidance were successful because of him. Although the pain of losing him will never fade, his legacy will continue to live on in the lives of those he helped. May he rest in peace.