In today’s athlete profile we sit down with Data Driven Athlete Anthony Yezek to discuss Van Life, the epic climbing in Florida, and why hockey might make you a better cyclist.
Q – How long have you been riding, and how were you introduced to cycling?
It really started as a way to stay in shape during my senior year of college while playing hockey. I did a few group rides with friends and about 3 months of consistent riding until I graduated and took my first full time job (and had no active life). Fast forward to February 2018, my friend from Switzerland was in town with his brother and they kept bugging me to do a ride with them. I finally caved and struggled to hold their wheels for 40 miles. After we finished (Type 2 Fun), I had never felt so good in my entire life. I told myself, this is it, this is what I want to do. I found Nate through his website and we’ve been working together for about a year.
Q – You’ve spent most of your “athletic” life playing ice hockey. Can you describe how training/competing on the ice is different from training/competing on a bike?
Hockey requires lots of short bursts for 45-60 seconds at a time, so I have essentially trained my body for the last 25 years for those types of efforts. But cycling requires much more of that aerobic fitness and that was a huge ego check for me when starting into this sport, as I was usually the fastest guy on the ice.
Q – You live in Florida. What’s it like to ride a bike there?
Flat and swampy! A typical summer day is 95 degrees and 90% humidity. But the winter months are beautiful here so I can’t complain too much. However, here in SW Florida, it is very flat so I’d love to eventually live somewhere with some big climbs nearby.
Q – What’s the best memory you’ve had on the bike?
There have been a few already in the last 12 months. I would have to say it was the DDA Sacramento camp in January. As I mentioned earlier, our riding here in Florida is totally flat—I’ll get 40ft of elevation gain on a 30mile ride and those are from overpasses and bridges. Being able to travel out to NorCal to see some elevation and some epic riding was tons of fun. And with the car support and ride food, I felt like a pro cyclist for 3 days.
Q – In your first bike race you found yourself on top of the podium. How the hell did that happen?
I knew absolutely nothing about bike racing. I do a very competitive group ride on Saturdays here in Naples so that was really great prep for me. Luckily, you (Nate) had quickly realized my biggest strength (that 45-60 second hockey sprint) and you told me to be 4th wheel going into the last lap then let it rip with a half of a lap left. It caught everyone by surprise and I had such a big gap that the move actually stuck!
Q – Being brand new to bike racing, what singular piece of advice would you offer a new Cat 5 who is getting ready to jump into their first race?
Do some fast group rides and get comfortable being in close quarters to other riders at racing speeds. Once you have gained that confidence, don’t forget it–having that relaxed confidence has been a huge part racing for me.
Q – You’re a young professional working hard and focused on your career. Can you pass on any wisdom that might help others trying to balance a love for cycling with a demanding/young career?
A few of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from working with DDA have come in regards to life off the bike. I have been the most successful with training when I’m organized and plan my rides in accordance with my work week. Essentially, I’ve learned to keep goals realistic. As much as I’d love to dedicate 30 hours per week to train, I would have no life outside of work and cycling. It sounds simple but it’s very profound. Carve out a realistic number of hours for the bike and have a coach optimize those hours for you–it’s the most efficient way to train.
Q – You work with numbers and data all day long in your job as a CFO, what parallels have you seen to the world of training and racing with power?
I absolutely love it because the numbers don’t lie. There’s no hiding in training if you’re tired, or don’t feel like riding that day. You have a power goal and a workout, it’s up to you to finish it. Plus, its affirmation that my training plan is keeping me pointed in the right direction.
Q – You’ve been spending a lot of quality time building out a camping van with your fiance. What exactly is the appeal to driving around camping in a van?
VAN LIFE!!! It started as a “retirement plan” joke, but we quickly realized this was something we could make time for right now. We work for a technology company that allows us to work remotely on occasion so that obviously helps a lot. Last weekend I did a multi-day race in Northern Florida. We took the van up there and lived out of it for the weekend. It’s the perfect bike racing rig so it’s a win-win! And living in 80 sq ft helps you realize how much of your material belongings you can live without.
Q – You’ll be getting married in February 2020. Any advice for a young buck trying to balance long rides on the weekends with domestic responsibilities back at the ranch.
Communication and compromise. Kaitlin knows that I want nothing more than to make her happy. But she also knows how fulfilling cycling is for me and she is very supportive of me on long ride weekends and especially at races. So when it’s not race weekend, I try to be as supportive as I can of her passions and hobbies. It’s not easy to do after 6 hours on the bike on a Saturday but put forth the effort and your significant other will appreciate it.
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