Awake around sunrise. Work out in the gym before class. After class, cycle for hours until dinner. Eat dinner. Study. Complete homework. Sleep. Repeat. Does this depict a standard college schedule? Probably not, but you are not in Aidan Kesner’s shoes.
Kesner, a Lexington, MA native is currently a freshman on the Lindsey Wilson College (KY) cycling team. The college recruited him from the start, sending a letter that led to a conversation between Kesner and the coaching staff about the team, the school and life in Kentucky. After agreeing to join the cycling program, which is well known for its success, Kesner fully understood that a grueling schedule that would seemingly never stop was on the horizon.
There are not one but two seasons in collegiate cycling: track cycling in the fall and road cycling in the spring. Track cycling in the fall begins when the semester starts and runs until October. Following the fall season, training for road cycling commences from mid-October until mid-February. Then it is time for the spring season, which runs from mid-February until May. And even at the end of the collegiate season, staying in prime condition is paramount so Kesner plans to join a racing team for the summer months.
Finding a Love of the Sport
Kesner needed a new bike during the summer after 8th grade. As fate would have it, there was group of cyclists in his neighborhood that caught his attention. That was enough to spark an interest in racing bikes instead of the popular mountain bike.
The tipping point occurred during his junior year at Gann. “I had no serious training until my junior year, and then I fell in love with the sport,” he said. And although Gann did not have a cycling program or club team, Kesner would train after school despite having lots of homework.
Once Kessner decided to attend Lindsey Wilson College, two life transitions became reality beyond just training. The first transition was becoming a full time student-athlete — a role he didn’t have to balance at Gann. “It is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my life,” he said, adding that “you don’t have a whole lot of time on your hands.”
Even with the difficulties of balancing training, races, homework and classes, his Gann experience helps him academically as a business major in college. “The biggest thing that Gann did for me was learning how to be so efficient academically and have a strong work ethic,” he said. In addition, one of the aspects missing from his college experience is student engagement, saying that he often ends up being the one person who speaks up in the classroom.
Transitioning from the greater Boston and Gann communities to Columbia, KY presented a second major transition. He had no idea what to expect being in the Bible belt (as he calls it) and being a Jew at a Methodist school. He quickly realized the differences. “People in this area have never met Jews before,” he said, adding that he experienced a few anti-Semitic incidents but was able to move past them. While he admits feeling isolated at times, Kesner believes that it is important he endure this period, learn from it and become a stronger person from it.
Ultimately this drive will help fuel his goal to become a professional cyclist given the difficult road it takes to reach that point. And if he wants to race professionally in Europe, Kesner will have to win events in the Unites States during the national racing calendar.
For Kesner, though, the decision to make sacrifices is what it will take. “I don’t get to live the normal college life,” he said, “but in the end it’ll be worth it.”
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