PRQ# 10: Doug Swanson
This is Part 10 of the PRQ Series.
Doug Swanson is a pro racer out of the Midwest. Doug is a professional racer who also works a full time job. It's amazing to me the pros that hold down two careers like racing and a regular job.
Doug races on the regional Trek Factory Team. In addition to mountain bikes he also races cross with the mud to go with it.
His biggest win recently was at the Chequamegon, one of the biggest races in the country. In one of the closest finishes in the race's history, Doug outsprinted off road legend Steve Tilford.
I really appreciate his time in answering the questionnaire. His answers definitely show a lot of thought.
-Who are your sponsors that you’d like to recognize?
Nature Valley Granola Bars
Penn Cycle Bike Shops
-What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?
The best reason to sponsor someone is so you can sell more product. It's
a business afterall. We are another type of billboard out there. But a
cyclist can be more than just a sign. We test products day in and day
out, in real world settings. We are spokesman for the brands, a face to
go along with the names. A good investment is a racer who is not only
fast but one who can provide feedback and be a salesman.
-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
I've been racing mountain bikes since 1995. I turned pro midseason in
2002. I've been riding for Trek/VW since 2001.
-What are your goals for 2006?
Top five at CX nationals and Top 5 in the USGP of CX. I'm really hoping
to break into the pro 'cross circuit this year. Before the fall, I'll be
racing a lot of road races in the spring and then my main MTB races will
be Ore to Shore and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. Those are the two of
the biggest races in the country in number of participants.
Bike Geek Stuff.
-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
I will be racing on a Trek Fuel 110 with a Rock Shox Reba and Shimano
On the road I race on a Madone 5.9
and I ride Trek XO1
frames for cross.
-How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years?
Good question. I think the biggest change is that the hardtail will continue
to fade away. I 5 years I don't think too many people will be racing on
hardtails for XC events. I'd like a bike with a really light internally
geared hub or bottom bracket. If it had about 15 gears in it ranging
from about a 44X11 to a 32X34 equivalent. External shifting is not
really that good for mountain biking, you have all this stuff that is
exposed to the mud and sand and if it was all internal I think it would
be a lot more efficient. Think, no more broken chains, mishifts,
chainsuck... that's where we need to go. I'm not an engineer so I don't
really know how to do that, but it would be cool.
*Editor's note. I've heard this concept mentioned several other places, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was a reality in a few years.
-What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?
I'd pay full retail for any bike part if I had to. I love racing so it
doesn't really matter what stuff costs if I need it. I'm lucky Trek
makes so much good stuff so I'm never really feeling like I'm missing
out on a technology. I guess I would say good brakes. I paid full retail
for some Empella froggleg brakes for my CX bikes.
They are a huge improvement over some others. I would pay full retail for disc brakes on my MTB's as well. It makes such a huge difference to be able to stop
when you want to. It gives you that much more confidence to go fast on
the technical sections.
-How many hours a week do you train (min, max, average)?
I used to log all my hours. I tried notebooks and spreadsheets and other software. I
just never looked back on it after it was logged. So lately I don't
really keep track that well. Since I have a full time job now I'm only
riding about 10-14 hours a week. I used to do about 20-30hrs 3 years
ago, but I realized I can be just as fast doing what I do now.
*Editor's Note: This is very promising for those of us with limited time. It's proving true for me too.
-Do you have a coach?
No. I thought a lot about it over the years, but I never found anyone I
believed could really make me faster. I think for a lot of people the
coach is someone who instills confidence in them. Someone who says "You
are so good right now, you're going to win this race!" A lot of guys
love seeing numerical gains, so coaches make you do all these tests to
show the gains. For me, I'd rather not know my numbers. I know what I'm
capable of out there and I just try to believe in myself.
-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program
or ‘just ride’?
I used to. I had it all mapped out by the book. I didn't really like the
idea of only being fast for 1 or 2 races though, so I dropped it. To me
racing is 90% mental anyway. So I decided to go by feel and thought.
It's kind of a scientific approach, depending on your definition of
scientific...Now I race from April to December. I think I can get faster
through experience and mental preparation. I can do well in any race if
I focus enough. If I get tired, I take a couple of days rest, If I think
I need to ride more, I do that too.
-Do you strength train?
Yes, I hate the gym, but I love the way I feel after I'm done there. When I'm there I can really focus on stretching and flexibility and I think that almost makes more of a difference on the race course.
-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Most of the time I just eat and sleep a lot and I can recover from most hard efforts. I try to drink a ton of water and if I am still sore I have a coffee and then I go ride slow for an hour. Why the coffee? It gives me enough energy to
get off the couch. Once I'm on my bike I usually feel ok.
-What is your nutrition protocol during a 2-2.5hr XC race?
I use water, Powergels and Cytomax. Usually a bottle of cytomax for lap
one, then water and gels. A bottle and a gel for every lap thereafter.
Or every half hour or so.
-What is your pacing strategy for an 2-2.5hr XC race?
In a big pro race I get as close to the front as I can on the first lap. I go as hard as I can go short of sprinting. Once I settle into a pace I'm comfortable
with, I try to conserve as much as possible by drafting, riding smooth
lines and controlling my breathing. But really, in some races, I'm going
all out for the whole race. I finished more than a few races last year
where I had to sit down as soon as I crossed the line.
-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and
I try to live as stress free as I can. I live close to my
work, so I don't have to worry about traffic. I don't buy stuff I don't
need, so I can worry less about money. I don't set a quota for training
hours, so if it rains I just don't ride that much. I don't watch the
weather or the news very often. Overall I just try to minimize
negativity in my life.
-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cookies. Always cookies. I cannot resist. And coffee. Don't even get me
started thinking about it right now.
-What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time
jobs who want to race our best?
I would say, set realistic goals, and do the best you can to achieve
them. If you don't, try again next year. Cycling and racing are supposed
to be fun. Take it seriously while you're doing it, take the good vibes
home and let bygones be bygones. If you are racing you're already doing
better than someone who just sits in front of the TV all day, so even if
you get last, you're not really last.