NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) – The Norfolk community is mourning the loss of a well-known businessman and bicycle ambassador, Michael Shipp, 53, who died Wednesday while on his bicycle in South Carolina.
Shipp, who owned East Coast Bicycles on Colley Avenue in Ghent, had been on a trip to Florida for a ride and had stopped in South Carolina to ride there before continuing his journey.
“He’s the thread in the cycling community, there aren’t very many people who can’t say that they either hadn’t ridden with Mike, bought a bike from Mike, learned something or been on one of his teams,” said Liz Schleeper, president of Bike Norfolk.
Shipp started out turning wrenches at the old Colley Avenue Bike shop while a student at Granby High School. He opened East Coast Bicycles down the street in 1998.
Service Manager Steve Gregerson has worked there for nearly 17 years.
“We’re kind of like a family; we really are. And it’s just a huge loss; it definitely is,” he told WAVY.
Shipp’s work family got a call from his wife around 2 p.m. Thursday.
“When he went down his Apple watch sent out a notification to Lesha that something had happened,” Store Manager Kyle Lippiatt said.
Lippiatt told WAVY a group of local bicyclists was headed to Florida this weekend for a ride.
Shipp went down early with his new camper.
“He just stopped in South Carolina cause it was a really nice day,” Lippiatt said.
According to authorities in South Carolina, a Chevy S10 hit Shipp’s bike along highway US-521 near the city of Manning. Shipp was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Chevy was taken to a hospital for injuries. Troopers are investigating.
Shipp was, by all accounts, a very safe rider.
“No matter what the circumstances, we are a very vulnerable group of people on the roads,” Schleeper said.
Shipp often organized casual community rides that left from his shop and he raced both on and off road.
“He’s gonna hate me for saying this, but he was a way better off road racer than he was on the road; way better,” Lippiatt said, adding that Shipp’s small stature made him quick and nimble.
His personality is what made him an ambassador for biking in Norfolk.
“I don’t know how it’s going to go forward; I just don’t know,” Gregerson said.
Shipp leaves behind a wife and two children who we are told are in their early 20s.
Patrons are stopping by the shop to share flowers and stories. Lippiatt hung Shipp’s old bike over the register as a sort of memorial.
Said Lippiatt: “At least it happened doing what he enjoyed doing.”