Currently in her 18th year of guiding bike tours for Ciclismo Classico, stellar guide Dana Geraghty shares a bit of her story. We learn about her early days on the bicycle, her artistic background, and creative off-season endeavors. In addition, Dana reveals her thoughts on the role of women in the world of bicycle tour leading.
Dana was born in Canada and spent part of her childhood there. She later moved to Rome where her mom was living and spent four eye-opening years attending an Italian artistic high school. After graduating from high school in Rome, she moved to Colorado to study at Colorado State University (and earn her BFA). Her focus was graphic design.
Later, she returned to Italy, working as a freelancer at several reputable design firms and ad agencies until she found herself back in Colorado once again as an art handler, graphic designer, and exhibition installer at Aspen Art Museum. The following years included a bit of back and forth to Europe and in the midst of all that travel, she continued her work at the art museum and together with her partner, Frank Yantorno, opened a service bike shop in Aspen.
But Italy was still calling and eventually Frank and Dana moved to Italy in November 1999, landing in Piedmont at first and then moving to the mountainous location where they live now, in Merano. This beautiful town, located in the region of Trentino/Alto-Adige, is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts like Frank and Dana.
I asked Dana to share a bit about her experiences, advice for aspiring guides, and dream tour destinations.
How and when did you first discover the joys of the bicycle?
My earliest memory of riding a bicycle was when I was 5 or 6years old, when I got my Aunt’s bike from the 1940’s for my birthday. IT was sooooo heavy, and we lived on a hill (at the time, what to a small child seemed like Mount Everest!). It was so much work and effort, I mostly had to push the bike back up the hill. I was very excited when I later got a bike from Kmart, ever so much lighter! Today all of my bikes are Tommasini 's.
I only briefly co-owned a car with Frank in Aspen, but my commute was done by bus or bicycle (13 miles). I have always been an “active” commuter, by foot, by bike, and bus or train too. In high school, the (language/Italian) schoolwork and studying for the US GED had me studying long hours. After studying for hours I would get on my bike (a flea market purchase) at about 9:00 or 10:00 at night and ride around the city of Rome. Back in the early 80’s, no one was out at that time. It was a magical way to see Rome! (and release the stress and body aches from studying). Even though I pursued many travels and outings bicycling, it was mostly Frank who got me upgraded to a nice bike. If it wasn’t for him, I would still be riding around on the clunkers I owned, eventually getting somewhere.
When did you start guiding tours for Ciclismo Classico and was this your first experience doing so?
My first season was in the fall 2000. It was my first experience as an official bicycle tour guide.
How long have you lived in Italy? Where have you settled?
Frank and I moved to Italy in November 1999, and have been living here since. However, I did spend time here as a teenager and attended the Italian “Liceo Artistico.” After living in Rome, and then spending 10 unforgettable years in Acqui Terme, Frank and I now live in Merano. We chose it because of the mountains and for it’s very functional public transportation system and bike friendly environment (we do not own a car).
What do you like/love about leading bicycle tours?
I really enjoy the people, our guests, and our hosts; the magical feeling of travel and doing it actively; then of course, cycling, panoramas, food, culture, smiles, stories, challenges–it’s a very long list.
Your favorite part of the job? Cycling, meeting new people, and meeting up again with previous guests. These tours attract such interesting people.
Photo: Frank Yantorno
Your preferred trip or destination? Where do you dream of cycling?
Too many to mention, favorite trips and dream destinations. To name just a few Ciclismo Classico trips: Verona to Salzburg, Bike Across Southern Italy, Bike Across Italy, Piedmont. I dream of going everywhere… but I am so happy even going out my front door. I am energized by the beauty surrounding me. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a DREAM.
Can you speak a bit about the role of women leading bike tours?
In addition to the incredible “woman” power, Lauren Hefferon, who founded this company, our female guides are outstanding: Vanessa Drigo, Paola Secco, and our newest addition and pro rider, Fabiana Luperini. I am hoping to see more women on the guide team in the future.
Photo: Frank Yantorno
Any advice for women cyclists interested in leading bike tours?
My advice would be to say that it it can be difficult to gain the trust of some of your guests, most often the more competitive male. There will always be these people and sometimes they resist your suggestions or coaching, etc... So you just go with it, and maybe, eventually something else will come up that you can help them with. I find it takes a lot longer to gain the “male's” or any other “expert's” trust. Maybe it’s a female thing, maybe not? In the end, … it mostly takes patience. Women are strong. They have great sensibilities, are supportive, and nurturing.
How has cycling benefited your life, overall health?
I am now 53 years old and I am quite physically healthy. I am very grateful to have an active and healthy life and will continue cycling as long as I can.
Photo: Carol Sicbaldi
What do you do during your "off" season?
As I mentioned, In my pre-cycle guide life, I worked as the exhibition and graphic designer for the Aspen Art Museum, and had many other art and graphic design jobs. I continue to work on some graphics and/or art projects. I also ski, cook, read, and recover from an intensely social season of work.
Photo: Frank Yantorno
Any thoughts on staying "forever young" with the sport of cycling?
Just do it! And connect with us!
Dana often leads these bike tours:
Bike Across Italy, Verona to Salzburg, Bike Across Southern Italy, Cilento Coast Bike Tour, Bike Across Switzerland, La Bella Puglia.