Interview with Michael Clarke (Clarke Facades Contract Director and Co Bann Valley Cycling Club Founder).
So Michael, when did you start cycling yourself?
I actually started way back in 1988 along with a few friends in our spare time. We just cycled the roads, but the more we enjoyed it the more serious we started to take it. Along with my brother Brendan Clarke, we started the cycling club in 1989. At the time Brendan and I ran Clarke Brothers Contracts and we sponsored the cycling club all the way up until 1996.
By 1996, Brendan and I had went our separate ways in the business arena and I continued the sponsorship when I started M Clarke and Sons (now Clarke Facades) and we have sponsored the club up until this day.
And where is the club today, are you still actively involved?
Yes very much so. Along with my wife Christina Clarke, we would cycle 2-3 times a week along with a club meet on a Sunday morning at 9.30. At this meeting we would cycle anywhere from 40-60 miles. It works well as Christina is a very keen cyclist so we are always pushing each other to get out on the bike instead of sitting around the house!
I am also quite big into my mountain biking and enjoy going around Dava Forest when I have the time.
The club itself now has about 65 members and like our business, is constantly growing. I have noticed cycling really take off in the past few years. I think the reason for this is because it’s a lifetime sport. In other words you can cycle from a very young age, right up until your late 70s/80s. We have the full range in our club, with members as young as 10 to those shall we say, older members!
Does cycling run in your family? Would our Managing Director Eugene Clarke be seen out on bike much?
It does indeed, obviously as mentioned, my brother Brendan was a keen cyclist and in fact my nephew is a fantastic cyclist and was the Irish under 16 Road Race Champion.
In reference to the second part of your question, Eugene used to be big into his mountain biking and was infact very good. He won many competitions as a youngster and is looking to get back into it. So you could definitely say cycling runs in the Clarke Family.
So what does the cycling club use our sponsorship for?
Good question. The club uses our sponsorship for many things, but mainly to make cycling affordable for all our members. Cycling can be a costly sport and the sponsorship is used to subsidise costs such as membership, kit, travel and many other costs.
That’s interesting, is cycling a seasonal sport or does the club run all year?
The club does operate all year round as there is always someone keen to go out for a cycle, even on those cold January nights.
Typically though our competitive season runs from March through to August and as a club we compete all over Ireland.
In a nutshell, is the future bright for Bann Valley Cycling Club?
I really think the future is bright! As mentioned cycling is at its prime as a sport and we find ourselves recruiting new members into the club all the time.
I know as a company we will continue to support the club cycling in every way possible.
Just to finish, I would like to say if there is anyone interested in joining the club to please get in touch with me either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting our office and asking to speak with me on 028 2582 2500.
Thanks for your time Michael!