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Biker Woolsey to quit road racing after 'one too many deaths'

By Deborah McAleese

Published 29/07/2015

Former road racer RJ Woolsey at his home in Craigavon
Former road racer RJ Woolsey at his home in Craigavon
Former road racer RJ Woolsey with his children Vicky and Simon
Former road racer RJ Woolsey in his trophy room

A former road racing champion has revealed he is walking away from the sport because he cannot bear to deal with any more tragedy.

Five-time Irish champion RJ Woolsey said that no matter how much he loves the sport, he cannot face the prospect that he or another rider could lose their life.

The 36-year-old father-of-two, who has helped organise the Tandragee 100 road racing event for five years, has decided to leave his post as clerk of the course.

He also said he never wants his children to race a bike.

The racing enthusiast's surprise decision to leave the sport behind came after the tragic death of Dr John Hinds, one of the 'flying doctors' of Irish road racing, who was killed at a motorcycle event in the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.

The Ahorey man said that after Dr Hinds was killed he decided he'd had enough.

He said he first began to have doubts over his future within the sport after the death of popular rider Noel Murphy (36) last year. Mr Murphy, from Lusk, Co Dublin, died at the Tandragee 100 in May 2014.

"It first really hit me when Murphy was killed. I was never right from that.

"When I saw his injuries I just cried, knowing that he had two children. I remember John Hinds saying to me, there's nothing we could do here. I was standing there thinking, that lad has two children, his wife doesn't know what has happened yet," said RJ.

He added: "His father then told me that the race should continue the next day. I burst out crying. I ran the race, hoping to f*** that no one else would get hurt. And then after what happened to John (Hinds) I just thought, that's it."

RJ said that when he was racing he never thought about the consequences.

"I never thought of the things that could happen. But recently, every time I saw the air ambulance and the red flags, it just got to me. I know it's part of it but I just can't face that any more. I have two young children. I want to be around for them. I don't want them having to go through losing their dad," he said.

RJ added: "I now understand the consequences. No matter how safety conscious you are, there is always that chance someone could take you out.

"Someone else could calculate something wrong and next thing, you're dead. To me, it's not worth a human life. I'm so glad my two children have no interest in road racing. I don't want them to race bikes."

However, he admitted that road racing is addictive and he may find it hard to stay away for good.

"I'm not turning my back on the sport. I love it, but I just can't deal with that side of it any more. You get so attached to the people in the sport. Next thing, they are dead.

"You can only make the sport so safe. I realise that now. Maybe I just need a couple of years away," he said.

RJ added that he still renews his licence every year, "just in case I decide I want to enjoy it one last time."

"But for now, I've had enough. I have to stand down and step back. It's not worth a human life. I don't want to be going to inquests and dealing with the aftermath of it all any more," he said.

'I have two young children. I want to be around for them. I don't want them having to go through losing their dad'

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