Santa Cruz htSQD-rider Keegan Swenson has been on a mission this year. Not content to just win races, he’s been demolishing course records. He did it at the Leadville 100 this year and then quickly followed up the next week at the SBT GRVL gravel race. As part of his efforts, Keegan spends an abundance of time experimenting to find the optimal bike set up. At Leadville, he ran gravel rims on his hardtail Santa Cruz Highball. At Steamboat, he took it to the next level, running deep-section road rims both front and rear on his Stigmata.
Keegan had this to say about the SBTGRVL race: "The course in Steamboat is uniquely fast and smooth, which makes for a really quick race. This year I chose to run more of a road set up for a bit more free speed. It was definitely the right call!”
Due to the course style in Steamboat and his questionable plan to attack early, Keegan opted to race a deeper section 40mm road rim up front and a 63mm road in the back with Maxxis Velocita slicks. Another little change was slapping on the 52t SRAM chainring. A lot of guys run a 2x at this one but Keegan didn’t want to be under-geared. His average speed was 23.8 mph.
At the Leadville 100, Swenson paired Reserve’s 25|GR gravel-specific rims with DT Swiss' 180 mountain bike hubs and 2.25 Maxxis Aspen tires. The goal was decreasing weight (it saves about 35 grams a rim) and increase vertical compliance. It turns out it was a winning combination, as Keegan won the race and set a new course record.
This is what Keegan had to say about Leadville: "Yesterday’s ride was a long time in the making. Basically it was the only thing on my mind after Unbound Gravel. We spent weeks tinkering with different bikes/equipment. We tested the Santa Cruz Blur, we tried drop bars (gasp)...you name it, we probably tested it. In the end I settled on my tried and true Highball with just a few modifications from last year."
Keegan continued: "It took some time and some friends to help me cook up a pacing plan, along with some aero tricks for free speed. It was an ambitious plan to go for a 5:50 but I didn’t want to just slide under the record. We were going big or we were detonating something fierce."