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Ger Campbell

Discipline: Road, Volunteer,
Gender: Male
Date of Birth:
Born:
Lives: Drogheda, Co. Louth
Team: Drogheda Wheelers CC

Ger CampbellGer Campbell currently sits on the Cycling Ireland road commission having previously been a long-time member of the youth commission. The Cycling Leinster representative from the Drogheda Wheelers club also had a huge involvement in the development of the Rás na Óg youth stage race, and has volunteered at the An Post Rás for the last 40 years. Last year he was inducted into the Cycling Ireland Hall of Fame.

Gerard Campbell has been involved in cycling for over 40 years and is well aware that the sport has its ups and downs “cycling is one of those sports where you are going to have far more bad days than the good ones but that’s what makes the good ones all the more special”.

The Drogheda native initially rode with his local club “my late father got me involved in cycling back in the early 70s. At the time my father was involved in forming the local club St. Mary’s cycling club which now is Drogheda Wheelers”. Indeed Campbell was a talented racer and experienced some impressive results winning three national championships as a youth and a national B championship as a senior. On top of this, Campbell competed in three Rás Tailteanns and took a stage of the Tour of Ulster in 1978.

Soon after the end of his own racing career, Campbell decided to move into the cycling organisation and he made this transition fairly smoothly “my racing days were over and I always wanted to give something back. Immediately I got involved in volunteering and working on the Rás which I continue to do up to this day. I’ve been involved in the last 40 Rás Tailteanns”.

Campbell has been marking the route of the Rás for the past 32 years with his old friend and idol Noel Clarke, “back in the early 70s he was probably my icon…and we went on to become lifelong friends”. As Campbell explains this responsibility can be fairly pressurised “it’s challenging in that you are under time constraints all the time, whatever time gap you have when you’re leaving the town at the start of a particular stage is the maximum gap you’re ever going to have because the race is closing on you all the time”.


From his volunteering work, Campbell became prominently involved in Irish youth cycling joining the youth commission in 2004, “I had three of my own sons racing at the time and a position became available on the Cycling Leinster youth committee and I went on that first and then two of us, myself and Colm Wrigley represented Leinster on the youth commission for about ten years. A lot of the guys that would be competing at a much higher level now would have come through that system for instance: Sam Bennett, Ryan Mullen, Michael O’Loughlin, Eddie Dunbar”.

Whilst in this youth role, Campbell set up the Rás na Óg in 2007 which is a youth stage race that celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, the Louth man takes great pride in the fact that many of Ireland's top riders have cut their teeth in an event he helped create “all of those guys who were in the u-23 and junior race at the World Championships in Bergen would have come through Rás na Óg. Some of them would have won it, some of them didn’t win it and it’s hugely satisfying to see them come through”.

Preparing for the Rás na Óg is a long and arduous process with preparations for next year’s edition soon to get under way already, but Campbell enjoys the process calling it “a labour of love” and he believes they have made the process easier recently “one good thing we have going for us is that we’ve set ourselves a headquarters and a base that we have used for about three years, it’s Bellewstown racecourse, which is a fantastic facility because it has loads of parking and the mammies and daddies can all stay in the one place for the day when their children are taking part”. This dynamic of dealing with both parents and children stood out as one of most important challenges Campbell faced in youth cycling “it’s huge because you know it’s not like dealing with adults, you’re dealing with children and minors and you’ve got to deal with parents on their behalf”.

Campbell took great pleasure from his time on the youth commission “it was always hugely satisfying because it’s great to see the youngsters enjoying it because it’s pure just raw racing”. He also thinks Irish youth cycling is in a good place “the problem with youth cycling traditionally is that there’s always been hit and miss with them going forward to be seniors, and there’s a huge improvement in that now, there’s more of them coming through the whole time, whereas ten years ago you might have only got one or two of them coming through”. However, he still recognises a lot more needs to be done especially regarding girls cycling “traditionally there’s never been enough girls to hold female girl specific racing and that’s something I would love to see changing going forward but that will all depend on numbers competing”.

Since 2016, Campbell has moved on to a new challenge taking up a role on the road commission, and when speaking about some of the difficulties this commission currently faces Campbell is extremely candid “it’s no secret that there’s been a good amount of incidents and accidents in A4 racing over the past season and with the Cycling Ireland AGM coming up now, we have put forward specific motions that we hope will help the safety of A4 racing”.

As well as this, Campbell crucially has to help prevent a stasis in the growth of road racing in Ireland “the numbers have gone huge in the past five years and we kind of feel that they’ve now levelled out and we may start to see them go the opposite direction now in the next few seasons but there’s a challenge there to try and keep the momentum”. Another change the commission is trying to implement is having the National Senior and Junior Championships on the same day, with the Masters going to a different day, and as Campbell says himself things are “constantly evolving on the road”.

Nevertheless, despite the tasks ahead Campbell is happy with his new position “with the youth you were dealing a lot with parents and minors and young children, so you had to be a little bit more careful and you always had to be on the lookout for the children. It’s a little bit of an easier role now I have to say”.

Campbell’s family are all also being heavily involved in the sport and watching the achievements of his sons has stood out as some of the best moments for him in cycling “my own son Ciaran got selected for the Irish junior team for the European Championships in 2014, that was hugely satisfying for me and his twin brother Darragh, who’s a diabetic, cycled semi-professional with Novo Nordisk in the USA for two years and that cumulated in him riding in An Post Rás with that team in 2015”. But Campbell has also been proud to see other riders who has seen come through thrive “on a personal level is hugely satisfying to see what your own family do, but equally when Eddie Dunbar won the u-23 Tour De Flanders this year, it just felt like it was one of my own that was doing it”.

Last year saw Campbell be honoured for all his achievements in Irish cycling, with him being inducted into the Cycling Ireland Hall of Fame on what he described as a “hugely special night”. A familiar face also joined him on the night with his old partner in crime Noel Clarke also being inducted “it’s a bit like we’re joined at hips sometimes” quipped Campbell.

This honour however, has certainly not sated Campbell’s desire to improve cycling in Ireland, as he still wants to be involved in the hope that “that Irish cycling continues to strive, the dream of a velodrome becomes a reality very soon, and the federation continues to prosper going forward”.

Written by Graham Gillespie 

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