Stephen Clancy

Old School, New School … or just BMX?

Stephen Clancy Cover Shot BMX

 12 OCTOBER 2015

Stephen Clancy started racing BMX in Ireland way back in 1982, before proper tracks appeared on our shores. He was at the birth of the sport back then and 25 years later he was at the rebirth of it too.

Back in the day Stephen won copious amounts of races, he was Irish Number 1 numerous times and travelled to a huge amount of international events long before the internet made it easy. He was a BMX’er in the true meaning of the word, 1/4 pipes, street, flatland, racing … BMX was BMX, you were either in or out, Stephen was always in.

This time around (2011) he was in Shay’s field in Ratoath along with a handful of others with shovels, literally building BMX in Ireland again. But even before the field, he was back racing and watching BMX in the UK before most of us had even considered it, before some of the current crop of riders had even been born!

OK, so Stephen doesn’t win races any more but that’s not what he’s about,  he’s in it for the true love of the sport, he’s already had the glory. He’s encyclopedic about the history of the sport in Ireland … while I have trouble remembering last year he has forgotten nothing about BMX. If you want to know about BMX in Ireland you could do worse than sit down and talk to Mr. Clancy.

Before we get into a massive history of the sport on our small island with Stephen and a few others (we’ll tackle that later) we fired a few less involved questions his way …

15: So what prompted you to go racing again in 2010 before we knew that a track in Ratoath was even a possibility?

SC:  Well, we were in St. Anne’s, riding the trails with the 80’s gang, when Eamonn Wyer started talking about going to UK to race.  I had wanted to have ‘one last’ race for a few years before that so it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had only just moved home from London and had just started riding again. That one last race became the start of BMX racing again.


15: Where did you end up going to race?

SC:  We decided to go to the track in Cheddar for a round of the British BMX Series but we stopped at every track between here and there on the way.


15: So what was it like?

SC: Amazing! The track is gone now but it was build on the side of a rather large hill, so fast. The standard of riding was phenomenal. One of the best weekends of my life!

Stephen Clancy Then and Now

15: I’ve seen videos of the Cheddar track. Fast is an understatement! You two must have been terrified, first race back ‘an all?

SC: With the excitement of being back at a BMX race as big as that I didn’t have time to be terrified!  I was happy to keep up with them on a track that you didn’t need to pedal on.


15: Yourself and Eamonn went back for more UK racing during 2010 and 2011. Where did Kelvin first meet the future of Irish BMX? Was he not frightened off by the green cowboy hats and tracksuits?

SC: It was actually at that national in Cheddar that we first met Kelvin.  I don’t think we could call ourselves the future of Irish BMX back then … more like the leftovers of Irish BMX. I remember that cowboy hat,  it could be seen from space! There are pictures in 2024 magazine of that weekend and in any shots of the crowd you can pick Eamonn out by that hat.


15: So, from all the tracks you have gotten to ride what’s your favorite?

SC: Finglas from the 80’s would be up there, it was fast with plenty of jumps and not your standard track layout. Cheddar too, for obvious reasons.  Present day Ireland, it’s a hard choice between Ratoath or Lucan.


15: We all know your one of the ‘bike collectors’, how many restored 80’s BMX’s do you have now?

SC: Between old school and new I have about fifteen including a Hutch I started to build recently. It’s getting harder to find the old ones.


15: New school or old … if you had to pick?

SC: I love them all … don’t make me pick.


15: Do you remember your first BMX?

SC: Yes, it was a blue Raleigh Burner.  I spent every second I had on it.  If you asked me where I was at anytime in the 80s, the answer would be probably on a BMX.

Stephen Clancy BMX 2
Stephen Clancy BMX 1
Stephen Clancy BMX 3

15: Of all the International events you have been too, which one’s stand out?

SC: It’s hard to pick one out, I think it would have to be the 2012 London Olympics as that was seeing BMX racing at the highest level. Looking back, the 1986 British Championships in the Derby greyhound stadium has to be up there, the atmosphere was out of this world.


15: The London Olympic must have been interesting?

SC: It was phenomenal,  once in a life time experience!


15: How many Elite riders did you get to abuse there?

SC: Well Eamonn was there too so pretty much all of them. Barry Nobles was sitting in front of us so he got his fair share.


15: So with all your years of experience, what advice would you give to riders just starting out?

SC: Have fun, enjoy it … it’s the most important thing.


15: What’s different between now and then or are kids just doing the same old thing?

SC: A lot has changed,  the tracks are faster and more challenging, the bikes are better and the kids are putting a lot more training in. It’s gotten more serious.  Oh, and it is a lot easier to get the parts you want for your bike!


15: BMX highlight?

SC: Easy, November 2011, the first race back in Ratoath … followed by racing in Cheddar and British Championships in Derby in the 80s.

Stephen Clancy Ireland Flag
Stephen Clancy Old School Bikes
Stephen Clancy Ireland Top

15: What do you think of the Irish BMX scene today compared to way back when?

SC: It has started out smaller this time round compared to the 1980’s, it started out as a craze with HUGE numbers racing then.  Every kid had a BMX.  This time around  it has started out small but is growing slowly, you can see a lot of talent developing across the age groups from the youngest to the oldest. More of a serious sport I guess.


15: How would you like to see the sport develop here?

SC: More tracks obviously,  more riders and more races.  Hopefully we can get over 200 entries at Nationals  by end of 2016 and work our way back up to the kind of numbers we had first time round.


15: So when you’re not consuming BMX and after your endless training regime what do you get up to?

SC: You mean there is something in life apart from BMX?

Stephen Clancy Old School