Paralympian Anthony Kappes - introducing the Peak District Summer of Cycling
PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:44 01 May 2014
Meet Peak Paralympian and Joint Ambassador of the Peak District Summer of Cycling Anthony Kappes
Achieving success in any sport demands a sophisticated skill set – everything from raw talent right through to ruthless determination. Multi Gold Medal-winning Paralympian Anthony Kappes possesses both qualities in spades – tempered by a self-effacing manner and incisive self-awareness.
Originally from Chapel-en-le-Frith, although now living in Stockport, the talented, 41-year-old track racing cyclist freely admits that he has a tendency to see life in black and white.
‘Whatever I do, I tend to be extremely competitive or not at all, either really interested in something, or not interested at all – and I can’t engage in something I don’t love,’ he says.
So it was somewhat fortunate that Anthony discovered he had a passion for cycling in his late 20s – albeit by happy accident. ‘Before then I’d been a keen fell-runner, having been introduced to the sport by my parents when I was about 11 or 12,’ he adds.
‘Both my dad John and my late mum Pat were members of Buxton Athletics Club, and for me and my brother Jonathan, it was either go along and get involved or stay at home and do nothing, so we joined in and ran as a family. By the time I reached my early 20s, my sight was beginning to deteriorate, and then several years on began to get even worse. My depth perception became really poor, which meant I kept having accidents while out running.
‘Back in those days, I was working at Otter Controls in Buxton and used to train in the Peak District with a colleague and friend, Ruth Grindey. One of our favourite haunts was the Derwent Valley, around the Derwent and Howden reservoirs.
‘Ruth used to ride her mountain bike and I would run alongside. One day when we got back to the car park at Fairholmes, we saw a mountain bike tandem parked against the wall of the cycle hire centre. After a very quick conversation, we decided to climb aboard and give it a try, and that’s where I decided that cycling was really good fun, in one of my favourite parts of the Peak District.’
From then on, there was no stopping the self-confessed speed addict. Anthony fast-tracked his way on to the GB Paralympic cycling team, winning two Gold Medals in the Kilometre Time Trial and Sprint events in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 with pilot Barney Storey, husband of multi Gold Medal-winning Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, of Disley.
He then went on to conquer what he describes as the ‘bitter disappointment’ of being disqualified from his favourite event, the Kilometre Time Trial, at the London Paralympics 2012, with pilot Craig MacLean, to win gold the very next day in the Sprint event.
‘It was very special because it was a home Paralympic Games, and that won’t happen again in my lifetime,’ adds Anthony. ‘All the elements were there to make it a truly memorable experience – a fantastic atmosphere, a crowd of 6,000 people in the stadium willing us on, the quality of the racing and the times we achieved.
‘The main emotion I felt was relief, swiftly followed by elation and a determination to soak up the atmosphere. The Sprint competition gets very exciting because you start off slowly and the crowd is quiet. When you start to speed up, the spectators cheer you on, and by the time you’re approaching the finish, the whole place erupts.’
Now Anthony, currently taking a sabbatical from competitive cycling, is sharing his love of life on two wheels as a joint ambassador for the forthcoming Peak District Summer of Cycling, along with Olympic mountain biker Annie Last (23), who finished eighth in her sport at London 2012.
‘I grew up on the fringe of the Peak District and discovered something that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years here, so I’m very pleased to support the Summer of Cycling, which aims to introduce the activity to as wide an audience as possible – both visitors and residents alike.
‘Whatever your age or ability, and whether you’re an absolute beginner or have lots of experience, there’s excellent cycling in the area on everything from safe, traffic-free trails and quiet roads to more demanding, upland off-road routes – and the scenery is so varied and beautiful.
‘I have to admit, I’m biased towards the Dark Peak, because it’s my home territory, and I love the drama of the scenery around Chapel-en-le-Frith, Edale and Hayfield. But the White Peak has some equally appealing routes, such as the Monsal, High Peak, Tissington and Manifold Trails - and it’s very civilised to stop at a café for tea and cake once you’ve cycled a few miles and feel you’ve earned it!’
Summer of Cycling
Whatever your age or ability, there’s a route to suit, with nine suggested self-guided cycle routes, a list of cyclist-friendly accommodation and details of White Peak trails and cycle routes... Dates to note: 20th-22nd June - The first ever L’Eroica Britannia when cyclists from across the UK and Europe take part in a three-day celebration of vintage cycling and fashion, local food and much more. 6th July - Watch the world’s fastest cyclists in action when the Tour de France flashes through the northern tip of the Peak District National Park. 21st September – The Cycle Derby Sportive with three routes for serious cyclists and a 2.7k family ride (www.cyclederbysportive.co.uk)
For full details of the Peak District Summer of Cycling, which runs from April to October, visit www.summerofcycling.co.uk