By Jason McDowell Creative Director Published Oct 07, 2022 at 9:01 AM Photography: Bruce Buckley

Madison-born Caleb Swartz started his year – and also ended his last season – with a bang when he was picked as the youngest man ever for the United States elite world championship cyclocross team, and raced against the world's top athletes in the World Championship Cyclocross race in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the end of January.

"The opportunity to represent my friends, family, sponsors and nation at the highest level is everything I work for," Swartz said, to OnMilwaukee in an email. "And to have the chance to do that on home soil took it to another level. It was truly incredible."

Swartz ultimately placed 22nd against the best in the world, right in the middle of his seven-man team, a placing he was pleased with.

Now Swartz is returning home to Madison for the kickoff of the Cyclocross World Cup (a series independent of the World Champs, just to be clear) this weekend at the Trek Factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin. The Trek CX Cup is one of two World Cup races in the U.S., out of 15 total.

Cyclocross (CX) is a fall and winter sport, so Swartz's subsquent post-World Champs months have been a bit quieter, in order to focus on training for better results in this year's CX season.

"I biased the fall CX season," he said. "That meant fewer intervals throughout the spring and summer in exchange for big, 25-30 hours endurance weeks, along with more gym work and running.

"It also meant racing different types of events, such as a few different stage races to help push me, which meant sacrifices for events like the mountain bike national championships and others. But it is already paying off."

In between training and occasionally racing, he's used his downtime to enjoy his other hobbies – though "downtime" may be too relaxing a word.

"I run off to the woods every chance I get to go camping and explore and generally spend as much time outdoors as possible," he noted. "With my line of work, and where I live in Montana, I have phenomenal freedom and ample locations to do so.

"I love to cook, bake, and do a little amateur photography. Depending on the season, I also enjoy nordic skiing and got into ski mountaineering this past winter."

He also runs a personal cycling coaching business, Forward Endurance, a reference to Lady Forward and his Wisconsin roots.

"Racing in Waterloo is my Lambeau field"

The last few weeks have seen the local and national cyclocross season ramp back up on its way to the World Cup competition, which starts this weekend on the Trek Factory grounds.

When I asked Swartz what he was hoping to see upon his return, race results were not at the top of the list.

"First and foremost, (I want to see) my family, my golden retrievers and many friends in the Wisconsin and midwest cycling community."

Results, though, were not far behind: "I’m aiming for a top 20 in the World Cup which would be a big jump up from last year, but it's something I think I’m capable of."

With his recent results in the USCX Series this year, his goals are looking like a real possibility. Swartz improved his positions over last year in both the national, UCI-classified races he competed in: Virginia's Blue Ridge GO Cross and Rochester Cyclocross, which included a third place podium. Plus, his familiarity with the local course should be a boon.

"Racing in Waterloo is my Lambeau Field," he said. "I’ve competed there since the first year, in 2014 or 15 (I believe) [ED note: 2013, actually], so the course is muscle memory."

Despite his ever-elevating performances, Swartz still remains grounded in his home state through family and friends.

"In general, it’s just a good excuse to be home in Madison," he said. "I set aside extra time before and after local events to see friends and family, and there are so many excellent events worth coming back for."

One such race was the Englewood Open mountain bike race earlier this year in May.

"Englewood Grass Farm is a tremendous sponsor of mine and I consider the Agnew family close friends; I wouldn’t miss their event for anything," he stated. "I also have quite a few other Wisconsin sponsors, and I do my best to show up for Underground Meats, Wiscanna, Neff Cycle Service and Styled Aesthetic when I’m home!"

You can catch Swartz in the flesh at two races during the Trek CX Cup this weekend: the Friday C1 race and the Sunday World Cup. Amateur racing is also held throughout all three days.

Jason McDowell Creative Director

Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.

In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.

Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.