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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
Geraghty gears up for new role with Cycling Club
by Randy Pascal

Little did the Sudbury Cycling Club (SCC) know that they were getting a “two in one” deal when Sheila Geraghty joined the group just over two years ago.

A life-long sports enthusiast, Geraghty had focused on the martial arts in much of her adult life, translating her devotion with training to ultimately competing alongside her son, Sean, as he worked his way up through the ranks, primarily as a student of karate at the Benoit Martial Arts Studio. Then, a wrench would be thrown her way.

“I was teaching sparring and someone got a little bit too robust and dislocated my knee,” said Geraghty. “I had an injury that lasted about nine months.” Thankfully, friendships she had developed through her youth, in Copper Cliff, with former triathlete Adrian Gedye and, further along, with long-time competitive cyclist, Rob Rice, suggested a rehabilitation program that could include spinning on a stationery bike.

By the time the summer of 2015 rolled around, Geraghty was hooked, launching herself into the twice weekly training workouts at the Delki Dozzi track. The more she became involved as a cyclist, the more she wanted to see the SCC move forward. At the group's AGM last November, she would jump aboard, full tilt, elected as president of the Sudbury Cycling Club.

In her mind, there was work to be done.

“The club had become so exclusive that it was choking itself,” Geraghty explained. “The previous administration was very fearful of liabilities, so the only options were cycling on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the track. It was very stringent and structured. But a lot of people just want to get on a bike and ride. It really limited the enjoyment of being able to do just that.”

As co-ordinator of the ultra-sound program at Cambrian College, Geraghty had developed an administrative aptitude that would serve her well as she set a course for change. “When I became president and went to the (Ontario Cycling Association) annual general summit meeting, I found out what the actual limitations are,” said Geraghty.

“As long as the OCA is notified of the date of the ride, the route of the ride, and the time frame, then every member of the Sudbury Cycling Club is covered under the OCA insurance. Every other club was doing it. We couldn't understand why Sudbury wasn't being allowed to do it.”

While her new-found knowledge was certainly beneficial for Geraghty and company, she wasn't about to discount the positive aspects of a unique option right within her own city, one which she felt should remain as a key component of SCC offerings. “The (Delki Dozzi) track is a benefit for Sudbury, because we are in a safe environment and the elements of the track – the hairpin turns, the hills – they equip you with the skills you need to be safe on the road. It's a huge advantage for us.”

Less than a full year into her mandate, the effects of the influx of new blood are tangible, the SCC more than doubling their membership, this summer, to just over forty athletes. “Some members have come back,” said Geraghty. “We have a few that were runners who sustained injuries from running, but they can still ride a bike. It gives them the same thrill as running, without the impact.”

“A couple of the cyclists are also triathletes. We have a woman who wants to do a triathlon, and she can swim and she can run, but she hasn't ridden a bike since she was 16 years old. She just wants to learn skills and get stronger on a bike.”

Understandably, the increase in numbers, alone, can provide a handful of ancillary benefits. “The beauty of having more members is having more ranges to our riders. Even just a couple of years ago, there was Rob (Rice) and the fast group, and there was a recreational group, but we didn't have the in-between, the ones that were aiming for the fast group and wanted to become more competitive, but were not quite there yet.”

Geraghty, for one, is not above tackling several new challenges simultaneously. She is among the small core of riders who have quickly become smitten with cycle-cross racing, the fall racing initiative that is almost like a mountain bike hybrid. “There's a little big a “Tough Mudder” in it,” she said. “You have to get off your bike, carry it up a muddy hill, or carry it up a set of stairs.”

“It's really popular in Europe, is picking up in the U.S., and has now made it's way into Canada. We're kind of branching off into that.” The SCC has also welcomed the return of one-time national level sprinter Thomas Hums, who they hope might become the heir apparent to the incredible coaching legacy of Battista Muredda, the man behind so many of Sudbury's internationally successful cyclists.

And while there is no denying the drive to race that lies within the club's new lead exec, Geraghty understands that a broad appeal would go a long way in expanding the scope of the reach of the passionate grouping. “For some people, like myself, sports equals competition. For others, sports equals social, and for others, still, sports equals fitness. We would like to be able to meet the needs of all.”

No one has said it will be easy, but Sheila Geraghty believes, for good reason, she's just the woman for the job.

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