“I’d had enough of cycling; wouldn’t have won this but for the car crash”

Posted on: January 10th, 2016

Beth McCluskey comes home alone after storming the women’s race at the National Cyclocross Championships. It was her first time racing the nationals, which makes the achievement all the more remarkable (Photo: Sean Rowe)


By Brian Canty

Beth McCluskey became a national cyclocross champion for the first time on Sunday afternoon; an achievement made all the more outstanding by the fact it’s her maiden season racing the discipline.

And her historic win comes 18 months after she was hit head-on by a jeep while mountain-biking in France.

The former mountain bike champion had to do it the hard way following a disastrous start in Co Down.

“I’m over the moon because I wasn’t even expecting to race,” she said after the encounter in Tollymore Forest Park.

“Every race I’ve went to I said ‘this is the last one’. And I was just doing it for the fun but then I kept winning!

“I just wanted to ride well and if I did I knew I’d have a chance so to be able to get 100 per cent out of myself was the goal.

“I wouldn’t have minded 4th or 5th as long as I gave 100 per cent of myself.”


McCluskey has had to overcome a serious crash and overcame adversity again today on the way to a remarkable win (Photo: Toby Watson)


But the plan to force the issue and stay out of trouble went awry early on.

“I had an awful crash on the first lap; I just crashed into Maria Larkin (Chiacgo Cuttin’ Crew) sideways, whatever happened.

“She didn’t come down but I did and they all got away from me.

“I totally panicked, I was making mistakes and I couldn’t get my gears right so then I just chased them and by half a lap I was back up.”

But noticing she was going so well, she just maintained her tempo.

“I just kept the pace going; it was just steady, you couldn’t really hammer it because it was too muddy.

“Not making mistakes and trying to stay upright was all I was focusing on.

“Maria and Maeve (O’Grady – runner-up) were ahead of me after the crash but I caught them.

“And then on the second lap I was ahead and by the third they were behind by maybe a minute so I knew I had it.

“It was an amazing feeling because it’s my first time doing cyclocross.

“I was retired from competitive cycling, I’d had enough of it. And the only reason I got back was because of my accident.

“My physio was pushing me to get back to where I was and that’s why I bought the ‘cross bike because I couldn’t cycle the road bike.

“That was the real silver lining of the accident, I’d never have found the sport.”