THE cycling world of mid Cheshire has paid tribute to a Hartford mum-of-three who was a friend and inspiration to many.
Claire O'Brien, an active member of Weaver Valley Cycling Club (WVCC), a British Cycling champion and our first Pedal Power Ambassador, lost her battle with leukaemia on August 19, aged 50.
Her funeral took place at St Mary's Church, in Whitegate, on Friday, with riders fromWVCC and British Cycling's Breeze and Sky Ride programmes cycling from Hartford to Whitegate and forming a guard of honour.
More than 50 cyclists also rode from Marbury Park to Tatton Park on Sunday in a memorial ride for Claire, which followed the route of the first Breeze ride she organised in June last year.
Speaking on behalf of WVCC, Adrian Japp, club secretary, said: "Claire said little about her illness, and instead chose to focus all of her energies outwards.
"She was a much loved member of Weaver Valley Cycling Club, and brought an unmatched enthusiasm to all she was involved in.
"She was involved in many aspects of the club, and jumped in feet-first into first organising club clothing, in riding Sunday club rides, time-trialling, open events – while proudly wearing her club colours.
"She loved to tell everyone of the great club that she was part of."
In April 2013 Claire trained as a Breeze champion and became part of British Cycling's movement to get more women on bikes more often by voluntarily organising and leading women-only bike rides.
She was named Breeze champion of the month in June for her work.
Sara Braidwood, Breeze area co-ordinator for Cheshire, said: "Claire immediately took to leading rides with enthusiasm and passion for getting ladies on their bikes in the Northwich area – she gave 100 per cent commitment to the programme and will be missed in the area."
She also trained as a Sky Ride leader so she could run rides for men, women and children.
It was in conversation with Claire in Summer 2012 that the idea of the Pedal Power campaign was born.
She was our first Pedal Power Ambassador at the start of our campaign in November 2012, sharing her story about how charity bike rides launched her cycling passion and encouraging others to give it a go.
Adrian said: "In all of this, she exuded energy, and you couldn’t fail but to take some of that enthusiasm from her.
"Equally, she had time to listen, and was always interested in what your story was, and selflessly, far less about her own battles.
"She was a shining light for cycling, and she will be sorely missed by us all.
"She does however, leave a positive legacy behind, and a challenge for Breeze and WVCC in carrying on the good work that she so enthusiastically began."
Claire's family has so far raised more than £3,700 for Cyclists Fighting Cancer in her memory.
To donate visit justgiving.com/InMemoryofClaire