SHS cyclist competes internationally

Elias Saigh, senior, competed for Team USA in World Cup cyclo-cross races in Europe this past November. The distinctive, non-Olympic cycling sport cyclo-cross is described as a combination of steeplechase, mountain biking, and road cycling. Saigh was chosen as one of five guys in his age group to represent USA Cycling with the EuroCross Academy.

“[There] were five of us and it was really cool to see for me … just being able to live and train with the best kids in the US,” Saigh said. 

Saigh grew up biking with his family but he only began racing after he joined the mountain biking team in Shorewood.

“The first time I [raced], when I actually started, was sixth grade; when I joined the mountain bike team,” Saigh said. 

One of the reasons Saigh stuck with cycling was because of how supportive and welcoming the community is.

“Everyone’s so nice and likes to share information. I think it’s just a very friendly [environment],” Saigh said. 

courtesy Elias Saigh

In order to rise to a professional level, Saigh has endured a rigorous training schedule. This includes rest days on Mondays, two to three hours of low-intensity work on Tuesdays, cyclo-cross training on Wednesdays, an hour or two of endurance training on Thursdays, high-intensity work on Fridays, and finally, low-intensity, high-volume work on the weekends. 

 Given his extensive training regimen, for Saigh, staying on top of everything in his life can be challenging at times.

 “I think that keeping everything balanced is hard. It’s hard to not just discard everything else and do one thing.”

While in Europe, Saigh was able to advance his own skills by learning a variety of new training techniques he could bring back home with him. 

“We were training with the Dutch national team coach and he just had everything so dialed […] he gave me lots of good ideas for when I came back [to the US].”

Although Saigh appreciates the knowledge he gained from his experience, he wishes he was able to perform better. 

“I wouldn’t say my position was an accomplishment for me. I had a mental block during the races because I just never expected to get that far,” Saigh said. 

Despite not finishing in the place he wanted to at the Cyclo-cross World Cup, Saigh is proud of his accomplishments thus far. 

“I raced two World Cups and I finished them, which is nice. [Plus,] I didn’t get lapped.”

Regarding the future, Saigh hopes to continue with cycling at a collegiate level and beyond. 

“Hopefully [I will get] to go to a school that has cycling … I think I need a few more years of development [before riding at a professional level].” 

Saigh encourages anyone who’s interested in cycling to try it, and hopes others will enjoy it as much as he does. 

“More people should ride bikes, because it’s fun, and the people that ride bikes are nice.”