Teen athlete: Bjorn Larson
Learning to ride a bike is a common childhood ritual. Most kids ride recreationally around the neighborhood and leave it at that. However, a few turn it into a sport. Bjorn Larson, a sophomore at Duluth East High School, has been cycling competitively for the past three years.
"I've been cycling ever since I can remember. It was a way for me to get around town with friends," Larson said.
Larson cycles with Northstar Development Cycling. His season starts around April and ends around October, riding both short and long distances.
Larson credits his father, Kris Larson, with getting him hooked on cycling.
"My dad got me into the longer road-ride-type cycling," Larson said. "It was a fun way to hang out and chat with him while enjoying the outdoors and it still is."
Larson has amassed various cycling achievements over the past few years, including being invited to attend a national talent identification camp for Team USA Olympic cycling in Chula Vista, Calif. He was noticed after producing good race results and his performance in a camp in Fort Collins, Colo.
"It was cool to meet other athletes and be part of that culture," Larson said.
Eric Seratoni, a teammate of Larson and a 2014 UMD graduate, sees big things in Larson's future. Seratoni has been cycling with Larson for the past few years.
"Cycling with Bjorn has been a real treat," Seratoni said. "Not only has he progressed a ton over the last season, but his positive attitude and sportsmanship make him an excellent teammate. Keep an eye out for Bjorn on the national scene; he is on the up and up."
When training, Larson averages 35 miles a day.
"I usually start back up training in January at about two days a week," Larson said. "Then when February hits I start training up to four days a week. Once the snow melts it's five to six days a week."
Larson has also dabbled in other sports besides cycling. He played basketball up until last year for the East ninth grade team and also participates in the Nordic ski team.
Cycling has changed Larson, affecting not only his social life but his eating habits.
"It's introduced me to a lot of new people and I made a lot of new and lifelong friends," Larson said. "It has also made me starting to eat healthier, such as cutting out pop and candy."
Sherry Berde-Townsend is one of Larson's coaches. She attributes many positive qualities to Larson, especially humility and an attitude of learning.
"(Larson) models good sportsmanship with his teammates and competitors," Berde-Townsend said. "He is inquisitive and not a young know-it-all type. He is open to suggestions and is willing to take risks despite outcome. He clearly has natural talent. I am proud to coach him. He is on his way to an amazing season."
Larson still has a while to go before his season of USA Cycling races start, but he has been training hard in preparation.
"My year hasn't really started," Larson said. "I've been putting in so far at least 100 miles a week on the trainer but I will start putting more on every week. My goals for the rest of the year is hopefully a top-10 finish at nationals, if everything goes to plan, and hopefully get invited to go race with Junior Team USA in Belgium for three weeks in July."
Solveig Rennan is a junior at East High School and interned for the Budgeteer in 2014. If you have an idea for a teen athlete profile, email firstname.lastname@example.org.