Twice a month, the Women’s Cycling Association showcases an inspiring rider from the women’s cycling community. This week we’re excited to introduce Jacqueline McClure.

Women’s Cycling Association: How did you become involved in cycling?

Jacqueline McClure: I was riding home on the SF BART and saw an ad for the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. My little sister, Mandy has Down’s syndrome and was always involved in their programs in high school that create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities(IDD). I thought it would be a great way to give back to a non-profit that gave my sister so much hope and a sense of belonging during high school. My mom sent me her old steel Panasonic from 1986, I “trained” for 3 months, and rode 100 miles on the Pacific Coast Highway on a 35lb steel bike. There were so many times that day that I wanted to quit or walk my bike up a hill, but I thought about the people like my sister who will never be able to do physically do what I can. Crossing the finish line that day felt like I just finished Alp D’Huez and having Mandy there to cheer me on at the end made all the difference.

The following year, I moved back to the east coast and went to go watch the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, PA. I had a good friend in the women’s field who had always been supportive of me on group rides, so I went to cheer her on. I was blown away by the speed, adrenaline, and excitement of the event that the following week I hopped in my local crit to give it a try. It took my breath away, I fell in love, and hung in the whole 30 laps. More to my surprise, my boyfriend at the time then signed me up for a race there that weekend. I decided the following year that I wanted to win the PA Best All Around Rider because it allowed you to race for free. I won it two years in a row, along with two women’s series awards and the state criterium. However, I never forgot about Best Buddies Challenge. I continued to ride every year and fund raise for them, along with bringing Mandy to the events too. I knew this sport was bigger than what your results were last weekend. It was the giveback that got me involved in cycling and what has kept me here.

Vital Stats
Name: Jacqueline McClure
Hometown: Malvern, PA and Berkeley, CA
Racing Age: 30
Category: 1
Primary Discipline: Road
WCA: What has been your most memorable experience in the sport?

Jacqueline: My director and team inviting me to race the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. There is no greater honor in my hometown. I had my parents and sister cheering me on at Lemon Hill, friends shouting in East Falls and on the Manayunk Wall, and that really made it feel like everything I worked for came full circle. Being able to line up with the best in the world was incredibly humbling (and yes, I was star struck too). It was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done and look forward to going back for more in 2014!

Also, I really enjoyed going out to Las Vegas this year to race USA Crit Series Finals at Interbike. A friend convinced me to go out with her and then only after I signed up told me that the race is like Thunderdome from Mad Max…and it was. I had never raced in the dark. Had too much air in my tires. Escaped multiple crashes. And walked away with a top 10 and all my skin intact. That was a pretty big win for me and a blast getting to meet so many amazing people in our industry.

WCA: What challenges have you faced in cycling?

Jacqueline: Moving from the east coast to the west coast. Trying to find new places to train in unfamiliar territories is tough when you have to do a 5 hr ride and you don’t know which way is up or down. Being put in a new area and told to train without knowing the roads is incredibly intimidating by yourself and not knowing anyone.

WCA: What do you enjoy most about the sport?

Jacqueline: It made me discover that I had a real passion for non-profits. If I never picked up a bike, I would have never realized that I could change someone else’s life for the better by peddling for my own health benefits. Sometimes it’s a little self serving bc cycling can be a very selfish sport where you give up lots of time with loved ones for training long hours, but if this is the most self serving thing that I’m doing with my life, well I think I can live with that. I stay healthy and people who need money more than me get it. I’m really proud of the money that I’ve helped raise for Best Buddies and the people that I’ve met along the way in the cycling community.

WCA: What are your goals in cycling?

Jacqueline: Racing Tour of Battenkill and Philly Parx Casino Cycling Classic more competitively and continuing to push myself outside my comfort zone. I really surprised myself this year enjoying both those road races bc they’re typically not my bread n’ butter. Training for Battenkill was a blast and my first time doing a dirt/gravel road race and really helped prepare me for suffering in Philly. Plus, I had way more fun riding dirt than I expected to with not even a great result. I’d also like to focus on the National Criterium Championships, Speedweek, Dairylands and more USA Crit Series races in 2014.

WCA: What are some of your goals outside of the sport?

Jacqueline: Growing the Best Buddies Challenge rides and raising more money for programs and jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Everyone has something special to contribute to this world. I want to make sure that people with IDD have similar options after high school for a job. My sister has so many friends from high school that sit at home and watch tv bc their county doesn’t have a program. A year ago, I was unemployed so I know what that feels like to not have a job so I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have a job and/or friends to fall back on. I want to change that.

WCA: What do you like to do in your off season?

Jacqueline: Travel back east to see family and friends. Coffee shop rides. Yoga, tennis, running, hiking, and snowboarding/skiing.

WCA: What do you think you can do to help women’s cycling grow?

Jacqueline: Be a positive influence. I think it’s easy to get caught up and complain about what’s not working. Try to be the solution and lead by example. Being a mentor to younger riders. They look up to us more than you realize and want to emulate everything we do, so I think it’s important to be even more of a great example around them since they’re the future of this sport. Women like Laura Van Gilder on the east coast and Laurel Green on the west coast are two great examples of being supportive of upcoming riders, appreciative of sponsors, understand the importance of giving back to the sport, and are just over all the epitome of class acts.

Jacqueline McClure rides for Farm Team Elite Women’s Cycling. You can follow her on twitter at @jackiemcclure.

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