Champion cyclist Claire Moore, Joanstown, Carrickbeg pictured with her framed medals, a selection of her cycling jerseys and her bike
At the age of 14, Claire Moore took off on her bicycle to join Carrick Wheelers Cycling Club and so began an adventure spanning nearly four decades, bringing the former Irish cycling champion and international competitor great joy, a healthy lifestyle, many friends and success in road races at home and overseas.
Claire, who is daughter of Phil Moore and the late Paddy Moore of Joanstown, Carrick-on-Suir, began her sporting journey with Carrick Wheelers in the 1980s, training with club members and joining in Sunday races. Not many young girls joined cycling clubs at that time, and those who did raced with the boys.
The meeting point for training was the ESB Shop in Carrick-on-Suir, where the SuperValu car park is now located, and members did their winter training on Saturday and Sunday mornings from October to February.
In 1987 Claire competed in the John Hearn Memorial Women’s 3-day race staged from Carrick-on-Suir. Claire was selected for the Irish Team at senior level when opportunities back then for women at that level were scarce, and won her first Rás na mBan National Women’s Road Race -Ireland’s only women’s international stage race - in Midleton in 1988.
She won three more Rás na mBan gold medals in 1992, 1993 and 1998, was Munster champion on four occasions and also won the Ladies Hoffman two-day race in the early 1990s.
Her passion for cycling, natural talent and determination earned her many more notable national and international medals and a collection of racing jerseys, each marking particular races in the past and a legacy of special memories.
In 1989, through club involvement and racing with Carrick Wheelers, Claire got the opportunity to travel to France, which opened up opportunities for her to race internationally.
She was selected for the Irish team by the Cycling Federation of Ireland (now known as Cycling Ireland) and settled in with a French cycling family in the northwestern region of Brittany.
She travelled back and forth to France during her early 20s, living again with cycling families and competing regularly in international races in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Norway and the UK and winning many more medals over her years racing into her early 30s.
In 2002, Claire moved to the Isle of Man and lived there for five years. In order to be eligible to represent the cycling team in their competitive national road races, she had to be resident on the island for three years.
At the age of 37, she represented the Isle of Man in the NatWest Island Games Women’s road race on the Shetland Islands on July 13, 2005. She won the gold medal in the women’s individual 46.5 mile circuit road race in a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 2 seconds. It was a major achievement, as the race featured competitors from all over the British Commonwealth.
In her 30s, Claire trained to be a massage sports injury therapist, which enabled her to work with Irish and international cycling teams, merging her career with her love of cycling.
She remembers her time at home in her earlier cycling years when she often visited the O’K Garage Bike Shop (O‘K Cycles) in Carrick-on -Suir, and the great rapport she had with owner John O’Keeffe. People came from all over Ireland to buy their bikes there and when her own bike was broken and needed repairs, John would always lend Claire a bike to keep her going with the races.
1992 was a special year for Claire, when she was selected for the Irish team to compete in the Olympics in Barcelona. Her joy was short-lived, however, as a male Irish cyclist who had just won a major race in the UK was suddenly asked to join the Irish Olympic team.
Numbers on the teams were strictly limited and Claire was dropped. It was devastating, and one of the major disappointments in her cycling career. One of her many major achievements, however, was the 50 mile time trial that she won aged 25 in Northern Ireland in a record time of 2 hours 9 minutes and 59 seconds, a record she set and proudly held for almost two decades.
Reflecting on her years of cycling, Claire is adamant that “women are as good as men and should mix in with the men.” She believes young girls should always be encouraged if they show an interest for the sport.
“It is a brilliant, healthy sport and I would encourage adult females to get involved in clubs with their daughters, as other families will see this and potentially take an interest in it themselves,” she said, adding that there are now huge opportunities in cycling for young girls and women today.
“We don’t all have to be winners in competitions. It is the enjoyment, the great company and the craic that makes it so worthwhile.”
Claire paid tribute to her late father, Paddy Moore, whose great love and involvement with sport inspired her from an early age.
Paddy loved hurling and football, playing with Windgap GAA club in his younger years and was involved with St Molleran’s GAA Club in Carrickbeg, from its establishment in 1942 in various roles as player, mentor, groundsman and chairperson.
He was the club’s delegate to the Eastern and Waterford County GAA Boards. He also loved boxing and was a prominent boxer and mentor in St Nicholas’ Boxing Club.
In later years he remained actively involved with both clubs on many levels. Paddy’s wife Phil was always there to support him over all the years of his dedication to sport, while remaining at the helm of their busy family life.
Claire has great memories of the many great cyclists from Carrick and often went on training spins with the legendary Sean Kelly, who lived near her.
She also remembers his late brother Joe Kelly, who was killed tragically on the road 30 years ago. They were great friends and he used to meet up and cycle with Claire into Carrick-on-Suir for the Carrick Wheelers Thursday Night Club League, and always ensured she got home safely after training.
Claire still enjoys heading out on the road when she has time off. She is also very focused on her career in chiropody and has just opened her own clinic in Carrick-on-Suir.
Claire’s vast collection of medals and prizes won at national and international events are a testament to her exceptionally high level of performance.
Her stamina and fitness are still evident, but the most powerful motivation of this very humble outstanding Irish champion is her deep-rooted passion for the love, fun, freedom and the challenges of cycling.
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