If he is not fighting fires in Minneapolis as part of the team at Fire Station 7 in the Seward neighborhood, Daniel Casper is training or pedaling. His hard work and determination paid off at the World Masters Track Cycling Championships in Manchester, England, last week.
Casper won in his 45-49 age group, either by himself or as part of a team, in three events: the individual pursuit, the scratch race and the team pursuit. He competed against opponents from all over the world.
“It is definitely exciting,” Casper said. “In some ways, I am more interested in forestalling aging … I’m almost 50.”
Casper has been cycling for 14 years and racing on a track for seven years. At the same time, he responds to fire calls at his full-time job. He was one of the many firefighters who responded to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007. His job helps fuel the intensity he puts into training for international track cycling competitions.
“I like competition and testing myself against other cyclists. I find that really rewarding,” Casper said.
The National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine is Casper’s home away from home. He was among the many cyclists and cycling fans who were worried a year ago when it looked like the aging structure — the state’s only such outdoor cycling track — might be torn down and closed for good.
“I think that there were a lot of people that did a lot of work to not allow that,” he said. “It was in the balance a year ago and it didn’t look very good. Everything came together in really short order.”
Casper is the first to say his accomplishments are not unique. He commends his fellow firefighters who also compete in other sports and spend time training as well. He is looking forward to more competitions and to continuing his pursuit of more medals.
“I’m lucky my life affords me the time to train at the level you need to.”