Burke Swindlehurst shares a victorious memory
For thirty years we, at Litespeed, are fortunate to meet all types of cyclists and hear many thrilling stories. Part of our thirty year celebration includes celebrating those people and sharing their stories with you.
Meet T. Burke Swindlehurst
Burke, Tell us about yourself.
I raced professionally on the road from 1998-2010 with teams including Team Saturn, Navigators, Toyota/United and Bissell. I now promote a mixed-surface race in my home state of Utah called the "Crusher in the Tushar". It's 70 miles and features a mix of both paved and dirt roads, accumulating over 10,000 feet of elevation gain by the finish.
What Litespeed model did you race? What team? What year?
I race the Litespeed Vortex while on the Navigators Professional Cycling Team in 2000.
How do you describe yourself as a rider?
Give me a monster climb in the high mountains and I'm a happy man.
What did you think about the bike? Did it fit your style of riding?
The Vortex was pretty much my 'dream' bike. I'd had a chance to get a close look at them a couple years prior while guest-riding with the Comptel/Colorado Cyclist Pro Cycling team at the Killington Stage Race in Vermont and I remember wishing I could ride for a team that was on such light, nimble and pretty bikes. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I signed for the Navigators Cycling Team as they were also outfitted with Litespeed bikes.
Custom Litespeed Vortex built for Team Navigators.
What was your most memorable moment?
The most memorable day I had on my Litespeed was at the '00 Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico. I had previously won the General Classification at this event in '96 and '98 and it had become my favorite race on the calendar, strongly suiting my abilities as an altitude climber. I also really fell in love with the town of Silver City and overall laid-back vibe of the event.
As it turned out, in '00 it would be my first race of the year despite being in early May as I had battled an injury for most of the Winter that pretty much wiped-out my entire Spring campaign.
With no racing in my legs for the season, I knew that it would be a tall order to challenge for the overall classification, but I was incredibly motivated and I always somehow seemed to find some extra "oomph" when it came to Gila, particularly the final stage known as the "Gila Monster" road race. It features long, high altitude climbs and comes in at 106 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
I had struggled with the previous stages trying to get back into the rhythm of racing and was sitting just inside the top 20 in the ranking going into that final stage. It ended-up being one of those "magic" days on the bike and I found myself leading a breakaway of 3 riders up the largest climb of the day out of the Gila Cliff Dwellings at the race's midway point. We worked together well and managed to stay clear of the chasers and with a few kilometers left in the race, I was able to distance myself from my companions, grabbing the stage victory and in the process elevating myself to 4th place in the final general classification. It's a day that I would revisit in my mind throughout my career as a reminder of what was possible in spite of any perceived setbacks I might have experienced prior to that time. Actually, it was a great lesson for "real life", too!
Burke winning the final stage, the "Gila Monster", of the '00 Tour of the Gila on his Litespeed Vortex
Are you still riding? What is the next ride you have planned?
I've been retired from professional cycling now for 6 years and although I don't ride as much as I used to, I do still get out on the as often as I can. For me the bike isn't just about staying fit, but also about keeping my head properly screwed-on. I can't imagine life without it and I plan doing it for the rest of my days!
The next ride I have planned is mixed-surface outing this weekend in the Wasatch Mountains here in Utah. It features plenty of climbing, (of course!) solitude and amazing views.