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TCF Athlete Spotlight: Daniel Jeske

I first heard of Dan because of the kit he was wearing at the Quabbin RR. At the time I was still a Cat 3, so when my race was over and I was waiting on the finish of the 1-2's I heard about how this guy no one knew in a Chobani kit that had been crushing it from the beginning. He was off the front with one of the CCB guys, John Harris. Needless to say they had been going extremely hard. In the end Dan in his Chobani kit got caught (and passed) but it was this show of strength that brought him to my attention. Over the next month and a half I think I raced with Dan at just about every race. He was always willing to put his share of the work in and take the bull by the horns and send it. I liked that about him. We formed a nice little peleton relationship and stayed in touch through the summer. I even hooked him into doing the Dante's Route (Strava File: in Central New York with myself and a couple other hardo's. Through all of this he showed me that he was a driven and dedicated rider at a very young age in my opinion. Most kids that are entering their freshman year of college are simply not that focused and mature about their endeavors. I was impressed. Eventually Dan came aboard with The Cycling Formula to handle his day to day training and we are extremely excited to help with his continued development as a cyclist as well as a scholar.

With that said, lets get to know who Dan is via a little Q&A.

Matt Curbeau (MC): Name. Where you're from and what is your road Category?

Daniel Jeske (DJ): Daniel Jeske, from Marcellus, New York (small town in upstate NY). Cat 2 on the road.

MC: When did you get into cycling? How did it happen? Any good stories around your introduction to the cycling world?

DJ:  I’ve ridden bikes my entire life. I road an old Trek mountain bike between my friends houses and around town for hours each day. But I didn’t start cycling as I know it now until I was 17. My dad had bought me a road bike when I was 13 but I never really road it. It basically sat in my basement for four years until one day I randomly decided to ride it and I was soon hooked on the freedom it provided me and the ability to just be out in nature without any distractions (cliché I know). I’m also an extremely competitive person and once I realized cycling allowed me to fulfill that aspect I began racing and I’ve pretty much been addicted since. 

MC: Most fun bike ride you’ve ever been on, race or training?

DJ: I’ve been on so many fun bike rides that its hard to pin down just one. But in the past year I’d say my favorite race was Quabbin. I spent the entire day off the front solo and was completely spent by the end. I didn’t end up winning. In fact I completely blew up with about 15 miles to go and got passed by the chase group. I barely made it back to the parking lot after the finish. But I had a blast going full send for 5 hours with a bunch of cool dudes. My favorite regular ride was probably Dante's ride. That was pretty epic and I definitely pushed myself beyond anything I had previously done. Plus I got to do it with you and Kevan and I really look up to both of you. I learned a lot during that ride that has benefited me greatly.

MC: What essentially drew you to cycling? You are a tall kid, why not basketball, football or something more traditional?

DJ: Being over 6’3” people ask me all the time if I play basketball. To be honest it’s probably one of my least favorite sports to play. Watching me try and dribble a basketball down court is actually pretty comical. I tried soccer, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, etc. But I was never really passionate about any of them. Being from one of the snowiest places in North America my first love was downhill ski racing. I competed in that for about 12 years before I discovered my passion for cycling. But cycling has always felt very different from any other sport. It allows me to be in my own world for hours and not worry about anything else. It really is like a meditation of sorts for me which Is why I think I’m so drawn to it over other activities. Even “hard” training doesn’t feel hard. I enjoy every second of it and it never feels like a chore. That being said I love the feeling of being 100% spent after a race or tough workout and that’s something I haven’t come across in many other activities.

MC: Unlike some young and talented riders, you’ve decided to go to college and ride with their program. Can you tell us about where you picked, why you picked them and basically how that whole process worked? In a day in age where many young athletes are foregoing education for an attempt to be professional it is refreshing to see education at your forefront. 

DJ: I decided to go to college because I want to be a well rounded individual. While cycling is my passion and extremely satisfying it doesn't fulfill me completely. I think the key to keeping it fun and having longevity for me is to have balance. It’s going to look bad in 20 years if the only thing I can talk about at dinner parties includes words like “watts", and "functional threshold power.” I knew I wanted to go to school but I also pursue my dreams as an athlete. I googled collegiate cycling teams and found a list of the schools on USA cycling that provide scholarships. The school I ended up picking is Lees-McRae College. It’s a small school in the mountains of North Carolina. But they have one of the best cycling programs in the nation. Riders like Brent Brookwalter, Andrew Talansky, and Kerry Werner are among the alumni. Because I started cycling so late I didn’t actually get recruited by them. I knew I had some talent and could succeed at that level so I contacted the coach and bombarded him with emails until he invited me to come down and ride with the team. During that first ride I think I really impressed coach Hall and convinced the school to take a chance on me. I talked with other schools like Marian, Lindenwood, Brevard, Lindsey-Wilson, and a few others. But I really liked coach Halls approach which ultimately drew me to Lees-McRae. The other schools really didn’t seem to care much about me until I sent them a power profile. Coach Hall treats everyone as individuals rather then just bike racers. And he puts a big emphasis on the team as a whole rather then individuals which makes for a more fulfilling experience. Not to mention the school is a great fit for me and it’s location in the mountains provides spectacular roads for riding. Juggling school, training, and a social life can get pretty crazy at times. And I do occasionally make sacrifices (although they don’t really feel like sacrifices since they help me achieve my goals) but I’m really glad with my decision to race at the collegiate level. 

MC: What are your goals and aspirations over the next 4 years?

DJ: For starters (my parents will be glad to hear this too) I plan on graduating college. Collegiate cycling provides me with a fun, low pressure environment to make mistakes and craft my skill, and I plan on taking full advantage of that. As far as racing I have some lofty goals over the next four years. I want to win Collegiate road nationals. Lees-McRae hasn’t won a road title in awhile and I’m determined to try and change that. I’d also like to place well in big races outside of the collegiate calendar such as Killington Stage Race and U23 Nationals. And ultimately its my dream to race at a professional level. I’d really enjoy getting to experience racing my bike around the world and having fun with it. 

MC: Why Cycling Formula? What drew you to us? How TCF coaching integrates into your college program?

DJ: I chose The Cycling Formula because of my interactions with Matt at races. I could tell Matt is excited about cycling and is really nice, knowledgeable guy. He’s provided me with a different look at training then I had previously been exposed to and it’s been really beneficial for me. Every collegiate program is a little different. But at Lees-McRae I am allowed to have a private coach as long as I’m able to work my weekly team obligations into the schedule. 

Keep your eye out for Dan in the coming years. The sky is the limit for this kid.

-Matt, TCF Director of Operations and Dan's Coach

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