Humans of Blair: Road to becoming a champion cyclist

Jan. 11, 2024, 1:04 p.m. | By Angelina Cao | 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Alyssa Sarkisov's journey to competitions around the world

Cycling Tricks (Photo Courtesy to Alyssa Sarkisov)

Junior Alyssa Sarkisov recently returned home from a trip to Belgium over winter break. However, this was not your average vacation. In between the chocolate and waffle tastings, Sarkisov, a two-time road national champion, found time to represent America in the Cyclocross World Cup.

Cyclocross, a unique discipline of cycling, is essentially cross-country running but for biking. Cyclists bike through a variety of terrain, from roads to gravel to mountain biking trails, often even getting off their bikes and climbing. This is the first year Sarkisov has qualified for the World Cup and she performed amazingly, earning 24th place internationally. 

Born in a family of cyclists, Sarkisov has been biking since she was seven years old. She has always been in love with the sport, but Sarkisov discovered her passion for competitions after her first victory at 14-years-old. “Once I started winning races, I realized that I had a future in this sport and…I realized [that] I wanted to race for the national team,” she says. 

Sarkisov trains diligently to make her dream become reality. Even as the cyclocross season comes to a close, she continues to train for the upcoming road cycling season. Differing from cyclocross, road racing is held on paved roads with the national competition held over the summer. Last June, Sarkisov took home her second national championship, and she hopes to perform just as well in the upcoming road competition.

Although cyclocross and road cycling do not have much in common apart from the bicycles, the skills gained from the two sports do complement each other, making Sarkisov a better biker overall. “[Road cycling] has a lot of endurance training which helps for cross because I’m fit and stronger…[and cyclocross] is good for [technical] skills…and that helps because you learn how to ride a bike and not crash as much,” she explains. 

On top of training over 15 hours a week and international competitions, Sarkisov takes an accelerated curriculum in STEM with the Magnet Program. This is a tough combination, but Sarkisov has learned the discipline required to excel in both. “[Cycling] has given me really good time management…even though I don’t want to do my homework, I just have to force myself to be productive,” she says.

Without a doubt, Sarkisov will go to do great things in the future whether that be in her career in STEM or as an internationally renowned cyclist. But in the meantime, while you can, be sure to give her a high-five in the hallways because it is not every day you get to meet a national champion.

Last updated: Feb. 18, 2024, 2:38 p.m.

Angelina Cao. Hi, my name is Angelina and I am a writer! I like animation and crocheting :) More »

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