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Kappius wins 2011 Colorado State CX Championship single speed race, Swift finishes second

December 18, 2011

2011 Colorado State Cross Championships single speed podium (l - r) Jesse Swift 2nd, Brady Kappius 1st, Colby Pearce 3rd

[updated 1/3/2012]

Yesterday Brady Kappius enjoyed a tasty appetizer in advance of today’s men’s open race at the 2011 Colorado State Cyclocross championships. Kappius won the single speed category, finishing 1:04 ahead of Jesse Swift on the Gates Carbon Drive team and 1:52 in front of Joe Saperstein riding for Trek Bicycle Store. Swift’s ride earned him second place on the podium and Colby Pearce finished third. Saperstein finished fourth.

Joe Saperstein (center) finished 4th in the 2011 Colorado State Cross Championship single speed race

Swift and Saperstein were both favorites going into the single speed race. Saperstein lined up for the race as the reigning Colorado State champion in this category and Swift has won four of the last five races he entered.

Swift, who has been healthy all season, arrived at the Rhyolite Regional Park venue in Castle Rock trying to shake off a cold. He downplayed his chances in the early afternoon, even though part of his warm-up included a sprint along the uphill initial section of the race ten minutes before the start. A rider who raced that morning described that paved portion as twice as long as a typical sprint start; “some guys felt lucky just to make it to the turn off the pavement,” he said.

2011 Colorado State Cross Championships Rhyolite Regional Park venue

Russell Kappius, Brady’s father, raced in the morning in the 45+ category. Brady cheered him on, and helped him with a wheel or tire change after he flatted. In the afternoon they switched places, with father cheering for his son. Russell Kappius won two national championships this year, in cross-country and 24 hour mountain bike endurance races. The duo has raced together in the Winter Park series.

Brady Kappius races single speed only occasionally, but usually rides away with great results; he won both Lookout Cross and the Boulder Cyclo-cross series race #2 on one gear this season. So despite lining up yesterday in the fourth row, he won the hole shot. Swift followed Kappius after the group swung off the pavement onto the muddy course with Saperstein about seven places behind.

Jesse Swift chasing early in the Colorado State Cross Championship single speed race

Kappius extended his lead as the five laps counted down. Swift had to thread his way through a crash as some riders struggled near the top of the steep flyover and later he slid out after a corner just before that obstacle. Both events cost him time, time he couldn’t make up bunny-hopping the barriers on the course. “The barriers were too close together to bunny hop, and with the mud coming into them, it was a slow section,” Swift said.

Saperstein rode with Colby Pearce for most of the race. He said, “I knew Brady and Jesse were gone and I wasn’t going to catch them but I wanted to hold Colby off for 4th. He’s an Olympian and trains a lot. The only way I thought I could beat him is using my bike handling skills. I gapped him in muddy technical sections, then he’d get back on me in straight sections.” The flyover created memories for Saperstein and Pearce too, early in the race. Saperstein said, “Going up a couple of cat 3’s got tangled, and Colby. I was head down, all I saw was a rider down. I ran into him and fell off into Colby. We were hugging each other. He asked if I was good, we got untangled and got going.”

Brady Kappius, Colorado State Cross Championship single speed race

Kappius said once in first position he didn’t want to relinquish it. He didn’t crash once, and felt great in the corners. After the race he said he raced single speed earlier in the season to get in more racing miles. Otherwise he pedals one gear mostly for fun.

Yesterday’s performance left no doubt he raced to win, but his first priority was preparation for today’s open race. “The best way to see the course at speed is to race it. You can’t dial in the corners in a pre-ride,” he said. His winning pace yesterday meant Kappius passed the entire men’s category 3 pack of about 30 which started one minute before the single speed group of similar size.

Jessica and Jesse Swift

Swift dismounted his bike just before the finish line and slapped dozens of waiting spectator hands to celebrate his second place. After winning last week’s Boulder Cyclo-cross series race #5 in Lyons, Swift said he might also race the men’s 35+ category in the state championships, but he decided to call it a season after he walked his Raleigh across the finish line.

Saperstein ended his season with yesterday’s race as well. “It was a lot of fun, a really good course, and a blast to race the guys all year,” he said.

Could Swift have won yesterday if he had been 100% healthy? “The cold didn’t help,” Swift said. “I was only able to ride my bike about ½ hour this week. And Brady is just coming off a really good finish at a USGP, so, despite the cold, I don’t know if I could have got him.”

After the podium, Kappius said he wouldn’t be celebrating that night. “Maybe tomorrow,” he said.

Brady Kappius' winning muddy pedal power (photo by Mary Topping)

Russell and Brady Kappius (l - r) after Brady's 2011 Colorado State Cross single speed victory

Post-race video with Jesse Swift and brief walk-on appearance by Brady Kappius.

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