Aspen Gorry, 2012 PHS graduate, won the Collegiate National Mountain Bike Cross Country and Short Track championships in Angel Fire, N.M.
Cypress Gorry practically grew up on a bicycle, first riding as a toddler passenger on his father’s bike and later piloting his own bike to gold medals wins on numerous state and national cycling circuits.
His dedication to the sport paid huge dividends Oct. 19 and 20 at Angel Fire, N.M. when Gorry, now a member of the Brevard College cycling team, won the Collegiate National Mountain Bike Cross Country and Short Track championships.
In cross-country, Gorry — a 2012 Payson High School graduate — battled his friend and Brevard teammate Lew Gaffney for most of the four-lap, 18.8-mile race.
The PHS graduate eventually took the lead over Gaffney late in the penultimate climb to finish in 1:59.07. Gaffney was second, 1:17 behind Gorry.
Gorry’s father, Wayne — a Julia Randall Elementary teacher and longtime local biking guru — was at the race and calls the cross-country course extremely challenging.
The course, he said, “Climbed up the ski mountain gaining over 1,000 feet of elevation per lap.
“Near the top of the climb, the racers traversed a very technical rock garden before descending a tight and twisted single track trail to the finish line.”
Gorry’s third row start also proved a tough task to overcome.
“He spent much of the first lap moving up through the field to join the leaders,” Wayne said. “After lap one he was in second place just behind the race leader.
One lap later he came through in the lead over his teammate (Gaffney).”
Just one day after winning the cross-country championship, Gorry entered the short track championships in which riders race for 20 minutes plus three laps.
“The course is quite short, less than a mile in length,” said Wayne Gorry.
Once again, Cypress did not have an advantageous starting spot beginning in the fourth row.
“It posed a big challenge just to get to the front of the race through all the congestion,” said Wayne.
At the end of the first lap, Cypress was in 10th and by the next lap he had moved up to fifth. Continuing to close fast on the leader, he was second at the end of the third lap.
With just two laps remaining in the race, Cypress took a small lead, which he expanded to 10 seconds on the final climb.
“At the finish, he celebrated with a one-handed wheelie and a fist pump,” said Wayne.
Following the twin wins, Cypress expressed amazement that he was able to win a pair of national championships especially after practicing at an altitude of 2,000 at Brevard and racing at Angel Fire’s elevation of 9,000 feet.
At the finish line, Cypress also lauded his teammate and coaches, telling media, “It’s nice to have the support from a great coaching staff from Brevard to make the trip really easy for us.
“We (Cypress and Gaffney) were riding together all week here. It really helped a lot having him show me the lines and what not.”
Brevard is a small, church affiliated college located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.
After Cypress graduated from PHS, Brevard coaches heard of his cycling expertise and invited him to enroll and join the school’s cycling team.
At Brevard, Cypress is majoring in exercise physiology.