Some of the personalities of Sudbury cycling
by Randy Pascal
It's Tuesday, late afternoon, and as the supper hour approaches, the temperature dips only slightly below thirty degrees. Across the region that is now
encompassed within the Greater City of Sudbury, children prepare for an evening of soccer, or baseball, of football and lacrosse practice.
But at the Delki Dozzi track, it's not children gathering for their workout. On this night, more than twenty devoted riders mount their bikes, taking
full advantage of one of two days, each week, where the venue is devoted, for a few hours at least, to the Sudbury Cycling Club (SCC).
Those present for this practice represent a typical cross-section of athletes, or, perhaps more appropriately, adults and parents still looking to
remain athletic. Some, like Rob Rice, are motivated by the thrill of competition.
"I still enjoy racing, it's part of my life" says the master cyclist, a very familiar face to the track over the past several years. "As it goes on, I'm
training more and balancing life and work and family. I would like to race more, but I'm happy with the amount I'm doing."
Rice has just returned from the 2011 Immunity-FX Canadian Road Championships in Burlington, finishing 7th in the men's 30-39 age grouping. He
covered the 113 kilometre course in 3:07.09, less than two minutes back of race winner Francois Doyon.
"I actually really enjoyed the course," Rice said. "It's hilly, but it's more of a power course. It really came down to tactics - there was one lap where
I was really at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Though Rice has circled two more race dates in rounding out the summer - provincial road championships in three weeks and a provincial caliber race in
St Catherines in August - he understands all too well that this isn't necessarily the norm within the SCC.
"It really isn't based around elite level racing, but moreso if someone just wants to come here and get a workout," said Rice. "It's nice to ride around
with these guys because they're just happy to be out cycling."
Now with seven years under her belt cycling under the direction of head coach Battista Muredda, it seems only fair that 38 year old Lively native
Jody Nadjiwon might be considered one of "these guys".
The always active bundle of energy first came to to the club to assist with her training as a triathlete, although her start truthfully had far more to
do with the acquisition of a family pet.
"I actually started running because I got a black lab dog and he would not sleep, so I learned to run - but I had never raced through high school or
anything like that," Nadjiwon said.
In fact, it was a cross section of hockey, ringette, flag football and virtually anything going on in the gym that would keep her active through her
teens. Enrolling, some eight years ago, in a course with local multi-sport competitor and mentor Mike Coughlin, Nadjiwon was smitten with the lure
of the entire atmosphere that surrounds triathlons.
Still, there was one major hurdle to overcome. "The most natural, for me, is running," Nadjiwon said. "And swimming is absolutely the hardest thing that
I have ever learned to do. Cycling is now my new love."
Last month, Nadjiwon competed at the KW Classic in Kitchener-Waterloo, discarding the time trial bike that she uses for triathlons in favour of the more
"legal" variation utilized by pure cyclists.
"I figured that if I'm getting a real road bike, then I had better do a real road race," laughed Nadjiwon. "It was amazing. The only thing the same is
that you're riding a bike. In a triathlon, you get out of your swim, you get on your bike and you go as fast as you possibly can until the distance is up."
The time trial events, in which drafting is forbidden, present fundamentally a much different challenge than the strategy of a road race. Nadjiwon had
been well coached in this regard, gleaning tons of advice over the years from both Muredda and other riders.
If the majority of the men and women circling the Delki Dozzi track on this evening are enjoying the pure benefit of a workout, Najiwon represents an
extreme. Her resume already boasts completing three Ironmen races, her most recent being last November in Mexico.
Preparing to tackle the Half Ironman in Muskoka in September as well as the Centurion Cycling weekend in Collingwood around the same time, Nadjiwon
unveils a busy summer calendar that also includes two triathlons, two other cycling events and one running race.
It's easy to forget that it all started with taking her dog out for a walk - and run.