BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Barak Pipkins, Class of 2017, was a standout football player and wrestler at Bloomfield High School.
When he attended college at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, he got into cycling.
Pipkins liked cycling so much that he eventually joined a team, Edge Cycling, and started training.
In just a few short years, Pipkins has become a national-champion cyclist.
Pipkins, 23, participated at the 2022 USA Cycling Junior and Elite Track National Championships, held at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Breinigsville, Pa., July 29-31.
Pipkins competed in the sprint categories. The championships involve three different races.
On the final day, Pipkins was part of the winning team sprint race. In this race, there are three cyclists per team. The first cyclist of the team leads the other two teammates and then pulls off the race after a lap. The second cyclist leads the third cyclist and then pulls off the track. The third cyclist then races the final lap. Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner. Pipkins was the first rider in his team. His teammates were Andrew Chu and James Alvord, who were the second and third riders, respectively.
Pipkins said winning the race “was amazing. It’s been a tough, hard off-season of training.” Pipkins credited the support of his family and his coach, Andrew Harris, for helping him achieve his goal of winning a national race.
“They have been extremely supportive and my coach as well, for helping me with my training, and my teammates (too),” Pipkins said.
On the first day of the championships, Pipkins placed fourth in the match race, in which two riders raced against each other over two laps.
Pipkins came back the next day and had a better showing in the keirin race, as he took second place. In this race, cyclists follow a motorcyclist, who pulls off the track with two laps to go. The first cyclist to cross the line wins the race.
Pipkins then capped his participation in the championships with the victory in the team sprint.
For Pipkins, the whole event was a great experience.
“I’m definitely learning a lot, getting better and faster,” said Pipkins, who graduated from FDU in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Pipkins, who began taking part in competitive cycling last year, says he treats cycling like a full-time job. His training consists of about 20 hours a week.
It’s been an eventful summer for the Pipkins family. Pipkins’ younger sister, Kira Pipkins, competed at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D., and finished in the top 16 in her weight class. Kira, who will be a senior in the fall at BHS, won her third state wrestling championship this past winter.
Barak Pipkins wants to continue cycling and hopes to improve.
Photos Courtesy of Shantale Pipkins.