Caleb Swartz is on a tear this season.
The KS-Energy Services Team Wisconsin rider has a string of podium finishes and in the previous two weekends, showed he’s only getting stronger.
At the Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic, Swartz was well-rested and confident he could get a good result in the Men’s 28-mile Soft Rock event. His mental and physical preparedness combined with stellar equipment. He was riding his Trek Superfly 9.9 with Bontrager XXX wheels and XR2 tires. On top of that he geared up with XXX shoes and a Bontrager Velocis helmet. Combining a bike that weighed about 18 pounds and lightweight shoes and helmet gave Swartz a speedy advantage as well as the peace of mind to focus on the course.
Once the mass start of over 900 riders stretched out, Swartz’s plan was to sit back and preserve energy. But he quickly realized things were not going according to plan.
“I had planned to sit it and not work at all,” he said. “But no one else was willing to work and I needed to shrink the pack. I more or less controlled the race from the front, the entire time with one other rider.”
With seven miles to go, the top group was down to ten riders. After some confusion behind Swartz created a gap, the Team Wisconsin rider pushed ahead with one other competitor. Caleb had one major advantage heading into the last stretch of the course. He pre-rode the final 5.5 miles of the race beforehand so he knew where to go hard.
“I was a little nervous because it was a long way to go and I knew I was being chased but when I finally came out of the woods and saw no one behind me I knew I had it.”
Swartz grabbed the top podium spot with a time of 1:22:52, 30 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
Caleb said the key to victory was determination.
“What helped me win was definitely just not giving up. It was a long six miles by myself and I knew that it was just as hard for the guys chasing me and if I didn’t give up I could do it.”
A week later, Caleb would bring his A-game again in the latest Wisconsin Off Road Series race. With a solid start, Swartz moved up through the pack the entire course and eventually stayed with a group of three riders. They worked together and Swartz would finish in 12th in the pro men’s category, which was a personal milestone for him.
“One of my season goals was to make the top 15 and I am super pumped to achieve it, especially after such a hard week of training.”
Swartz credited his improved performance to better fitness. But 12th isn’t good enough for the tenacious teenager. He’s looking to place even higher in his next race.
“I am really looking forward to Chequamegon and I hope to take then win there, also I really want to make a top 10 and be on the podium in the pro men’s field.”