This week we're diving into a Q and A with one of our athletes, Keegan Swirbul. Keegan is hot off a 7th on GC at the Tour of Utah. A result we're proud of and worked for, but also maybe the tip of the iceberg. Read on for more...
Q: You were just 7th on GC at Utah, highlighted by a 5th place on the final day. Can you walk us through that ride a bit? How did you feel?
A: Yes!! a big result for me i was hyped! So for me the week for me was about battling the heat. It has been something that I have been hurt by in the past so it was about trying to manage it with cold water and various other tricks I learned that helped me not crumble as much. Other than that, I tried to just take the race day by day and really just hope and pray that I didn't have a melt down or a bad day on one of the important GC days. Sadly, I believe my worst day of the the race was the queen stage but I managed to come back strong on the last day where we raced up Empire pass and I ended up feeling strong that day riding to 5th and moving up a few spots on GC.
Q: Nutritionally, what did that day look like for you? Start at dinner the night prior and walk us through a bit. I feel nutrition is something I always hammer my athletes about, where do you feel you fit into that?
A: Deffo my strategy was to, if anything, over eat a bit during the race. I believe now, (after years of doing otherwise) that its better to be a pound or two heavier from eating more than it is to be super light but weaker and perhaps not recovering adequately. But that said, I really didn't make any extreme changes. Eat healthy, and just pound carbs for max wattz.
Q: So in many ways UT was a bit of a breakthrough ride, but in all honesty what did it mean for you, and how did it compare to what you feel you may be capable of down the road? As a U23 you came onto the scene and everyone pretty much flipped about how you'd be the next golden boy - and in some ways it sort of turned into a comedy of errors or mishaps or what have you that didn't quite evolve that way. What are your thoughts on your development over the past few years, and what may still be to come in the future? How did you stay motivated through some of the hard patches - like knee surgery in 2016?
A: Yesss Utah was deff a breakthrough for me! Its a bit crazy looking back at it now as I write this. Im pretty proud of my ride there especially with the depth of climbing talent there and the course this year being a pure test of strength without much of a tactical aspect. But yea for sure it means an unexplainable amount to me to finally put something together and to do it on the biggest stage that I have ever raced on makes it even more special. I totally realize that this is only just one silly result and in the grand scheme of things, it means little but I really don't think many people besides my family, and you (COACH NATE) know some of the things I have been through to get there. No doubt I have always believed that I have the capacity to do such a result. There have been times in training and whatnot where I feel really good and I think to myself 'damn if only I were in a race right now I'd turn some heads'. Its just been about trying to suffer through all the set backs and problems and basically just not quit when yet another thing went wrong. I don't mean to make it sound like some sob story because my life is gravy compared to many others, but I am deff proud that I stuck it out. There were certainly heaps of moments where I genuinely believed that there was some force out there that was just not going to allow me to be a pro cyclist even though I want it more than anything. Hopefully this result is just the start. I am very ambitious and I really believe that I have a lot of room to grow. I don't mean to brag, but I was climbing in Utah with some guys who are making a lot of money and have done heaps more hard racing than I have. I like to think that doing these tough AF WT stage races makes you a hell of a lot stronger. Its hard to say. But I pray that someday I find myself on a top team that does those races and maybe I will get stronger from it. who knows!
Q: Back to UT a bit, in your perspective what did we focus on in training that paid off? A lot of guys get really focused on the details of training. Would you say in some ways that for yourself we've seen that training is important, but important in the sense that maybe the strict efforts each day don't matter as much as building to the point where you're healthy and have the resiliency to handle consistent load - and the composition is in some ways less critical?
A: Yea you nailed it. We have found out these past few months that if I am a) healthy and b) have a few weeks of consistent bike riding in my legs, I can ride at a high level. Leading up to Utah we finally had a solid run of 4-5 weeks where everything went smoothly and it was visible in my riding at Utah. Earlier this year I had a few strange bouts of illnesses and vitamin deficiencies that really never allowed me to train properly for more than a week or two so I was awful and inconsistent.
Q: You're a pretty Colorado boy through and through - what are your three favorite rides in Colorado?
A: Deffo CO to the end!! Favorite ride is no doubt riding up old fall river road in RMNP. Second, Id say its riding anywhere in Evergreen area. INSANE roads around that area!! 3rd im gonna say riding in the Colorado national monument in Grand Junction.
Q: So you've just finished a big day of training, you're going out to eat to satisfy the cravings - where are you going? It can't be Chipotle.
A: No doubt a straight shot right to Little Cesaers Pizza. Cheap AF and heaps of cheese!
Q: Top three songs at the moment?
A: Hmmmm yikes I honestly have no idea really what songs I listen to. I just find them and they are on my ipod.
Q: What is your favorite race you've done? What about your favorite teammate?
A: Fav race is Giro Valle d Aosta. still gives me chills thinking about racing up climbs in the Alps! Fav teammate is deff my good buddy Cormac Mcgeough. He is no doubt one of my favorite people and just an incredible teammate. He Always goes the extra mile for me and I owe him a lot for his help in Utah this year especially.
Q: Do you follow any sports other than cycling? What do you think about running? What about uphill running - do you think you could be good at it?
A: I follow XC skiing as that use to be my sport. other than that, not really. But yes i do love me a good uphill running race! no technique, all just hammering!!!
Q: Open forum shout out to the homies - go: