Keegan Swenson takes on a nationally ranked field of competitors at the Tour of Utah
August 24, 2010
All phenoms learn they can’t win them all.
Keegan Swenson experienced a very unusual bump in the road Saturday at the Tour of Utah Stage Four amateur criterium. The 16-year-old Park City High School student, who has dominated mountain bike racing as of late, took to the streets on and around Main Street to test his skills against top-flight amateur talent.
Judges eventually pulled Swenson, who is currently a category-3 amateur rider, after falling behind from a strong start to the 60-minute category 1-3 race. All amateur riders start as category-5 novice riders and must complete so many races before being upgraded to higher rankings.
Before the race, Jordon Swenson, Keegan’s father, said his son is supremely talented, but still needs the experience that will only make him a stronger rider later on down the road.
"It’s still pretty impressive and interesting just seeing a kid like this. It’s just like, wow," the elder Swenson said.
When the announcers asked all junior racers to raise their hands before the race commenced, Keegan was the lone ranger.
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Sponsored by ColeSport, Keegan is the talk of much of the local bike community. A multi-faceted, up-and-coming bike star, he has adapted his trade of dominating the mountain dirt paths to try his hand at blazing down concrete.
Tim Matthews, a Park City resident and second-place finisher in the men’s amateur category 4-5 race, was blunt when speaking of the youngster.
"Keegan’s good," Matthews deadpanned. "He’s really good."
ColeSport guest rider Sam Krieg, a pro participating in the Tour of Utah from Idaho, echoed Matthews’ thoughts on Swenson.
"The kid’s a little stud," Krieg said.
Keegan’s no stranger to hardware, either.
He took home the junior men’s 15-16 National Mountain Biking Championships earlier this summer in Granby, Colo.
Keegan takes it all in stride. When asked how he deals with the pressure, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "I’m not really sure. I just take it and go with it."
Jordon Swenson believes his son has unlimited potential and thinks his abilities and modest attitude will be a major plus going forward.
"You won’t see any pressure on him," he said. "He seems to be very low-key about the whole thing."
Keegan’s impressive track record will continue on in a month or so when he heads to Colorado Springs, Colo., for an elite mountain-biking camp that invites about 10 or so juniors.
Jordon Swenson mentioned that the life of a rider is measured in peaks and, in order to peak at the right time, one has to measure his own success by certain races and competitions, not just every outing.
"(Racers) always want to do well. Then you get the realization that you only peak certain times a year," he said. "(Keegan) wants to peak again for that camp. So you peak for that camp, and then you drop off from that."
Growing up ski racing, Keegan eventually developed a passion for the mountain bike and attributes his success to many of the other sports he played when he was young.
"It definitely helped," he said.
Saturday’s amateur criterium was Keegan’s first race as a category-3 rider and if he desires later on to try to head to nationals for cycling, a category-3 is a must in order to qualify.
Keegan’s eye-opening race in his hometown was noticeably a struggle, but in order to be the best, you must beat the best.
"It’s definitely harder racing with these guys," he said. "They’re fast."
The elder Swenson knows his son will be just fine.
"Live and learn, that’s part of it all," he said.
So far, so good.