Swingle wins two national mountain biking gold medals

Jordan Swingle in Sun-Sentinel

Original article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/davie/fl-cn-sp-davie-bike-marathon-20180815-story.html

Considering Jordan Swingle has only been riding mountain bikes for a little more than a year and a half, he’s made quite a name for himself on the national trails.

The 26-year-old Davie resident recently rode to two titles at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in the Alleghany Mountains of West Virginia at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. In winning the two events, Swingle was awarded two Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in addition to his gold medals.

“I raced motocross for a good portion of my life and I stopped that in 2013, and about a year and a half ago I wanted to get back in the dirt a little bit,” said Swingle, who finished 12th in the event last year at nationals. “I just wasn’t ready for it, I went for the overall experience.

“This was my biggest win so far,” said Swingle, who did motocross from age 13 to 21. “This is the one that I really wanted. In motocross, we really didn’t have the money to race because there is a lot more money involved. With motocross, the goal was always to just qualify for nationals and I never had that chance.”

The first national title Swingle won came in the XC (Cross Country) 25-29 age division for Men’s Senior Category 1-2 where he rode to a 1:56:05.3 clocking, just edging out Bradford Perley (Brevard, North Carolina), who finished second in 1:56.24.4. Swingle rode five laps of 4 1/2 miles each.

Swingle also captured the STXC (Short Track cross country) championship in the 19-29 age division in the Men’s Senior Category 1 with a time of 28:40.06 over the 7-1/2 miles layout. He defeated Brian Gordon (Santa Cruz, California), who placed second in 29:11.98.

“In a sense, it [short track] is 'give it all you got for a short amount of time,'” Swingle said. “My main focus was on the cross country, the longer distance. I signed up for the short track event at the last minute. I didn’t even know it was there.”

Swingle, a 2010 graduate from American Heritage-Plantation where he ran cross country and track, said his motocross background helped.

“Motocross is also physically demanding as well,” he said. “The sports are very similar in a way. They are both physically demanding and motocross has a good balance between skill and endurance. You have to have a lot more skill in motocross.

“There is still a fair amount of skill in mountain biking, which helped me out, but there is a lot more endurance involved in the mountain biking,” he said. “Motocross really gave me a big jump start in how to handle a bike and how to maneuver and stuff.”

Starting the year off, Swingle said he hoped for a Top 5 finish at the national event.

“I was doing races here and there and the more races I did and seeing how well I was doing, I thought I had a good chance of winning,” Swingle said. “Going into it, I was pretty confident with a Top 3.

“A lot of the times I get worked up and nervous for the race, but my whole family was there and my girlfriend was there and that helped me get my mind off it…having them all there supporting me really helped a lot,” he said.

Swingle has competed in between 20 and 30 races this year. He said winning at nationals was redemption for getting a flat tire at the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships in Arkadelphia, Arkansas where he was leading at the halfway mark of the 50-mile course and eventually placed seventh, 18 minutes off the pace.

“I had a good gap and then I got a flat tire,” he said. “Things just didn’t go right at that race. This was my redemption for that one.”

Swingle said he is hoping to turn professional but still has a few Category 1 races ahead. It is the highest level a rider can be before the professional ranks.

“I am still relatively new so I am not ready to turn pro yet,” Swingle said. “I still have some races I want to do. I would like to give the Sea Otter Classic on April 11 to 14, 2019 in Monterey, California a try and then the marathon national event another shot next May.”

“There is really not much difference between motocross and mountain biking when you are competing,” Swingle said. “It is not as loud because I don’t have the motor. Your heart is beating and you are pumped up and you are racing against the other guys so you still feel the same in a lot of ways.”