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  • Former ballerina keeps dancing on bicycle pedals

    Another national cyclocross championship – for a ballerina.

    No kidding.

    Shannon Gibson of Durango – you’ve probably seen her at Bread or Bakers Bridge or somewhere about town riding her bicycle – keeps adding to her collection of national titles (and world championships).

    Gibson recently won her third age-group national cyclocross championship, her third national title in seven years.

    She won last year.

    She won in 2007.

    She was second in 2010.

    She won two weeks ago in Madison, Wis., to capture a 2013 USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championship in the 45-49 age bracket.

    Just another day at the bike races for a woman who formerly made her living as a professional ballerina.

    Trained at the acclaimed Royal Ballet School in London, Gibson for years danced across the country – from New York City to Chicago to Baltimore.

    Now she dances on the pedals as a rider/manager of the Stan’s No Tubes Elite Women’s Cycling Team. She runs the cyclocross and women’s elite teams for Stan’s No Tubes.

    “It was pretty treacherous in Madison,” Gibson said of the wintry conditions for the national championships earlier this month.

    “There were sheets of ice covered by snow. There were snowy surfaces, ice and ice hidden under dirt,” Gibson said.

    “And there was some mag chloride to make things even slimier,” Gibson said. “My kind of conditions.”

    Seriously? Indeed.

    The trickier and the more challenging the cyclocross course, the better Gibson rides.

    “My first career was a ballet dancer, so I’m comfortable jumping on and off the bike,” she said, adding that she also rode motorcycles from a young age.

    Balance?

    Not a problem, even at slow, deliberate speeds for Gibson.

    And a competitive edge?

    Again, no problem. Even after 10 years of cycling competition.

    “I applied my same work ethic (from ballet) to my career,” Gibson said of her postballet training in massage and Rolfing.

    Soon, she said, she needed an active pastime after ballet.

    “I knew I had to do something (active), or I would end up like some of my clients,” Gibson said.

    So she started mountain biking at her home in El Paso, Texas.

    Same work ethic.

    Immediately, Gibson soared on a bike like she had soared across a stage – with speed and grace.

    She won two New Mexico State Series in mountain biking. And she won her division at the NORBA National Mountain Bike Championships, held in Durango during the fiery summer of 2002.

    Those results generated a professional cycling contract for Gibson, who moved to Durango.

    And the rest is a chapter of Durango cycling history.

    Racing among the elite of the elite, Gibson finished as high as 13th nationally at the U.S. Pro Mountain Bike Championships in Sonoma, Calif. And she finished 10th in the national pro short track cross country finals.

    Oh, yes.

    She’s also the reigning world cyclocross champion in her age group.

    She’ll defend that title next month in Louisville, Ky., when the world championships are held in the United States for the first time.

    dstrode@durangoherald.com