Vice President of Maryland Wheelers Billy Knowles passed away late last year.  Last week, Gary Knowles presented a cheque to the David McCall Foundation via club representatives, consisting of donations provided in lieu of flowers at his father’s funeral.  This was a most fitting tribute to this leading stalwart of the Lisburn cycling community.


Billy was the epitome of the bygone era of cycling hard men, and revered by those that knew him.  Born in 1930, (incidentally the same year that Maryland was founded), he joined the club in his teenage years and was an active member throughout his life.   In his early twenties, along with team mates Maurice Donaldson and Alec Woods, Billy set a 12 hour time trial Northern Irish record of almost 724 miles.   Three years later, they went one better and achieved the all-Irish record with a distance of 736 miles.  Billy’s skills were not simply confined to time trialing, as he was also a fierce competitor in road racing and was awarded the club best all rounder on numerous occasions throughout his racing career.


In later years, Billy applied the same drive and enthusiasm to the organizational side of the club.  His no-nonsense approach to training regimes and club administration provided the bedrock to the success enjoyed by the club in recent decades.  In 1996 as Maryland were voted Irish cycling team of the year, Billy and club mate Billy Bothwell were officially acknowledged as the backroom team of the year.  Billy was instantaneously recognizable to many around the country marshaling races on his motorbike and sidecar.  Although recent ill-health kept him away from the race scene, he always ensured he had his copy of Cycling Weekly and kept in regular contact with the club. Billy is fondly remembered and sadly missed by the entire Ulster cycling community.


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