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Need for speed

Freshman competes with seasoned cyclists

POLSON – You may not know youth cyclist Gabriel “Gabe” Shipley, but chances are good you have caught blurred glimpses of him training in the valley.

Shipley, a freshman at Mission Valley Christian Academy, is on a mission to stand atop the podium in June at the 2017 USA Cycling Junior National Championships held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Living in Montana has proved to be a difficult place to start out as a 14-year-old competitive cyclist — no thanks to a sparse number of similar age competitors, limited access to team sponsorships and the inability to readily obtain specialized racing equipment. Yet, Shipley has not been deterred.

By saving cash earned from painting jobs, mowing lawns and working odd jobs, Shipley has been able to help fund his racing endeavors.

“Gabe is on his third groundup bicycle build,” Gabe’s father Wade Shipley said. “We will typically order used frames online, purchase parts individually or use parts we have at home to build a bicycle.”

Weekly 30 mile rides with the local cycling group Mission Valley Rounders have turned into impromptu training sessions, and members Matt Seeley and Mike Windauer have become informal coaches for Shipley.

“Gabe has the right mentality for the strategic dynamics of cycling,” elite level cyclist and triathlete Matt Seeley said. “Unlike many young riders who waste energy with poorly planned attacks, Gabe is patient, carefully calculating the optimal use of his speed and strength. Gabe has the potential to be one of the region’s best cyclists if he continues to work hard and stay focused.”

Back in July, Shipley attended the USA Cycling Talent Identification Camp held in Portland, Oregon. The five-day camp is one of a dozen held around the country to find and develop talented high school aged racers. The camp consists of classroom instruction, on the bike coaching and two races that test the rider’s technique and physical abilities.

“Gabe performed well in the test and picked up the skills we taught in the camp quickly,” camp director Quinn Keogh said. “He demonstrated maturity for his age, which is very important for young athletes if they intend to pursue their sport seriously.”

In 2016, Shipley enjoyed his best season as a cyclist in his age category. In addition to winning the Montana State Time Trial Championship and placing first in the Hogback Classic Road Race in Billings, Montana, the youngster immediately made his mark by capturing a variety of significant finishes, including a first-place finish at the Tour de Bloom in Wenatchee, Washington and posting a third-place finish at the Northwest Junior Stage Race in Olympia, Washington.

“I think cycling is the greatest sport there is,” Shipley said. “There is an unexplainable feeling that comes from being first across the line or being on the top step of the podium. Knowing that all the long miles and endless hours of hard work have paid off. That feeling is the best.”

Team Shipley will soon load up the family vehicle-slashteam- van and head south to Phoenix, Arizona, for the Valley of the Sun Stage Race held February 18-20.

To try keeping up with Shipley and capture more than a blurred glimpse, check out his Facebook page at https://www. facebook.com/gabrielwshipley for all the latest updates on his progress toward the national junior championships.

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