A fast-paced, high volume week filled with learning the fundamentals of mountain biking from one of the sport’s finest coaches ended June 25 for Payson High School students Cypress Gorry and Daniel Conley.
The Payson duo and 19 other aspiring cyclists from around the country participated in the USA Cycling Rocky Mountain regional development camp held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
On hand to challenge them was training camp manager Ryan Kohler, who specializes in teaching cyclists, triathletes and adventure racers.
“He is a very good coach, he came in last year during the middle (of camp) and camp got a lot better,” said the 17-year-old Conley.
The fastest riders at the camp will likely be invited back to Colorado Springs in October for a national talent identification camp. Once there, riders can earn berths to the junior and under-23 years World Cup teams.
The next step is the World Championships and ultimately the Olympics.
Conley says it is his goal to go as far as his talent and work ethic will take him.
“I feel I now have my best chance yet (to be invited to the talent identification camp), but I won’t know until about September,” he said.
Gorry would also like to be invited to the talent ID camp, “I might have a chance, I hope I get (the invitation).”
The camp was the third successive one for Conley and the second for Gorry, 16, who won a scholarship scholarship to attend by writing an essay.
“The scholarship was for $1,000 from MBAA (Mountain Bike Association of Arizona) and I wrote about how the camp could help me reach my cycling goals.”
For Conley, the third time was a charm.
“The camp was still challenging, but I was able to do more things and do them better,” he said.
The camp was also an opportunity for old cycling friends to reunite.
“Most of us had been at the camp last year and had built up a bond,” Conley said. “This year we were able to get to know each other better and accomplish more things.”
During the six days of camp, Kohler preached time-tested methods for navigating different types of terrain, passing fellow riders and riding in packs.
Although there was no actual racing, the competitive nature in most of the campers resulted in some high intensity rides with the prize being the bragging rights of a first-place finish.
Throughout the camp, the riders traversed hundreds of miles of rides in the scenic high altitudes of Colorado including jaunts into rugged Red Rock Canyon, Palmer Park and Jones Park.
Building a legacy
Both Conley and Gorry have a rich tradition of excellence in cycling that has its roots in middle school when they surged onto the MBAA racing circuit.
Last year, Conley rode his way to a National Championship team title at the USA Cycling 24-hour Mountain Bike National Championships held near Moab, Utah.
There, he was the starring member on the Quadruple Gnar four-person team that finished first in the Men’s Junior Class and 12th overall among the 50 teams entered.
Conley rode seven of his team’s laps, two of which were in 1:10, the fastest in the Junior Men’s Class.
Last summer while competing in the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships near Granby Ranch, Colo. he was ninth in the elite Category 1, and Men’s 15-16-years division.
His time of 1:53.34 over a 17.8-mile course was just 8-plus minutes off the overall winner’s pace.
Just months earlier, Conley won the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona State Championship in the Category 1, Men’s 15-18 division. amassing 403 points during the eight-race series.
He also has won gold medals at the Copper Valley Stage race and the NOVA Nationals.
At the 2007 USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships near Mount Snow, Va., he was third in his first appearance in a national competition.
He also has won a platinum racing medal for riding the 109-mile El Tour de Tucson in under six hours.
Gorry undoubtedly developed his cycling interest from his father, Wayne, a former MBAA state champion and a man most consider Payson’s mountain biking guru.
“The first time I sat on a bike I was 3 days old,” Cypress said. “I started racing when I was 10.”
As a 14-year-old in 2008, Cypress won the MBAA 15-16-year-old Beginner Men’s state championship in Flagstaff.
He moved up an age group classification is search of better competition.
Earlier that season at the McDowell Mountain Meltdown, also in the Beginner Men’s class, Gorry took first.
In 2006 at the Prescott Punisher, young Gorry was one of six Rim Country cyclists to win state championships.
For both Gorry and Conley, their appearances to the Rocky Mountain regional development camp could eventually prove to be launching pads to bigger and better things including a goal Conley set for himself as a seventh-grader at Rim Country Middle School.
“I want to be a professional racer and make a living at it,” he said at the time.
Today, Gorry is like-minded, “If possible, it would be great to make it a career.”