Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) has been enjoying his time in the stars-and-stripes jersey of the under 23 US cross country national champion, a title he took last month.
"Nationals was one of my big goals this season. I'd had an up and down season before that, so I was trying to get a good result at nationals," said Swenson, who lives in Park City, Utah. "I'm excited to have gotten my first U23 national champion's jersey. It was a good fight with Howard [Grotts]."
Swenson started his 2014 season off with a good first race at the opening World Cup in South Africa where he finished 10th. After that he struggled - getting sick and having stomach problems, although he still managed several strong top-10 US Pro XCT finishes in the elite category.
This past weekend, the young cross country rider, who still has two more years in the under 23 category, raced the Windham World Cup, where he finished 16th. One week before that, he had finished sixth at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup, his best result to date as an under 23 rider.
Swenson's final big race of the year will be the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Norway in September.
"I'm excited for Worlds. There's just a few big races left," said Swenson. "Making the podium is the ultimate goal at Worlds, but I'd be happy with a top five or top 10. I did the World Cup finals in Norway last year, so I kind of know what to expect. It's a cool area with lots of rocks. The course is good."
The Cannondale rider took a different approach to his 2014 season than he did in 2013.
"This year, the World Cup schedule was different and more spread out. I only spent four weeks in Europe total," said Swenson. "Last year, I was there for six to eight weeks.
"This year was bouncing around more with trips to South Africa and Australia. I was home for a bit, then to Europe, then back here. I'm travelling around more, but I like that more. After a few weeks in Europe, I think I'm kind of ready to go home. I like it over there, but it gets old."
Swenson will take a break after Worlds, then do some cyclo-cross racing, some mountain bike stage races and some enduros.
"I'll do a bit of cyclo-cross, but not a lot. I don't have anything too serious planned," he said.