In Colorado bike racing, there’s the “fed” and there’s the “rebellion” and rarely the twain shall meet. But this past weekend, Heather Szabo and Travis Brown left no question as to who could claim the state’s cyclo-cross championship.
On Saturday, Szabo and Brown both laid claim to the American Cycling Association’s Colorado state cyclo-cross championship, a feat the two repeated on Sunday when they took on the USCF’s Colorado state championship event.
Szabo made it look easy Saturday as she led the women’s ACA event from the start, soloing to beat second-place Julie Emmerman on a relatively flat course that Szabo said was highlighted by “really tall barriers!”
Brown followed-up by beating out former national champion Marc Gullickson. Remarkably, Brown’s win came after he forgot his shoes and helmet at home. Luckily, Alison Dunlap’s husband was willing to lend his equipment so Brown could race. Fortunately, Colorado’s keen memory award was not to be determined that day.
The men’s race sorted out early with Brown and Gullickson breaking free of Alan Obye on lap three. Brown attacked and made a substantial gain but was reeled in by Gullickson. With three laps left, Gully slipped in a turn and Brown capitalized on the mistake creating a ten second gap that he held until the finish. Dunlap, it should be noted, competed in the men’s event both on Saturday and Sunday, focusing her energies on the upcoming national championships in Portland next week and the world’s in France in January.
At Sunday’s USCF championship, Szabo again set the early pace, this time joined by Emmerman and Gretchen Reeves. The three stayed close together until Reeves misjudged a barrier and crashed. After nearly catching the two leaders, Reeves suffered a flat and the race came down to another contest between Szabo and Emmerman. In the closing laps, Szabo managed to build and hold enough of a margin to lay claim to her second state title in as many days.
Asked later if she was somehow disappointed by Dunlap’s decision to forego the women’s race in favor of riding in the men’s field, Szabo said she was actually pleased with the former mountain-bike world champion’s decision.
“Heck no!” Szabo quickly replied. “I know she can ride circles around us with her eyes closed. I’m not that delusional.”
Brown, too, brought home another gold medal winning the USCF (United States Cycling Federation) State ‘Cross Championships. The men’s pro field again included Gullickson, Brandon Dwight, and a slew of others. A group of seven formed by the end of lap one before Brown and Gullickson put the hammer down. The two rode together for eight more laps when Brown sensed Gullickson was slipping off his wheel. Brown grabbedthe opportunity and attacked on the next straightaway, he stretched out a ten second gap to claim another victory. “This was a great weekend, especially as I head out to Portland on Thursday for the cyclo-cross national championships. It was hard fought on Saturday and I recovered and felt great on Sunday.”
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