Dr. Christian Sheridan Makes the Connection Between Cycling and Teaching

Dr. Christian Sheridan carries his bike over one shoulder Dr. Christian Sheridan, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair, started riding criteriums in high school and now focuses on cyclocross. (Photo by Jack Looney Photography)

Dr. Christian Sheridan, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair at Bridgewater, teaches classical, medieval and early modern literature, as well as poetry, medievalism and popular culture. When he’s not in the classroom, he can be found cycling the gravel roads around his home in Albemarle County, Va., or coaching fellow cyclists.

“Cycling allows me to regularly push my physical and mental limits,” Sheridan says.

Sheridan started riding in high school and focused on criteriums, a bike race consisting of laps on a short course on pavement, and road races. A move from Boston, Mass., to Virginia was more conducive to riding outside and mountain biking. Sheridan now races cyclocross, a cross between road cycling, mountain biking and steeplechase. His first race was in 2005, and he fell in love with the “somewhat ridiculous challenges,” such as carrying his bike over obstacles.

Sheridan took cycling coaching courses in 2006 and began to coach others in his cycling club. 

“Helping an athlete learn about the sport and about themselves as a rider enables us to succeed as rider and coach,” he says. “One of the things I always tell a new athlete is that if I’m doing my job correctly, they won’t need to work with me forever. I should be teaching them as I’m coaching them.”

That same mentality applies to Sheridan’s approach in the classroom.

“In both cases (cycling and teaching) I have knowledge in a subject, but it doesn’t really work if I just transfer the information through a lecture or a written workout plan,” he says. “I need to work with the student or athlete to help them apply that knowledge.”

Upcoming cross country mountain bike races will help Sheridan prepare for the 2023 summer cyclocross season, when he hopes to qualify for the national championships in December. He looks forward to continuing his part-time coaching gig and would love to eventually lead a cycling club or coach a collegiate team at BC.

“Cycling is a sport you can do for a lifetime,” Sheridan says. “Even when I don’t race anymore, I can still ride and maintain my fitness for decades.”

By Kylie Lehman Mohler ’03