The trade show is only a piece of the events at the Sea Otter Classic; racing is still a part of the festival. This year the Fuego XL cross-country race commanded the most attention.
The start list was jam-packed with potential favorites from all disciplines of cycling. Former short track world champion Chris Blevins made the trip, same with current cyclocross national champ Curtis White, and of course, so did former Fuego XL winner — Keegan Swenson.
The course for the Fuego XL is technically a mountain bike race but has many road climbs and gravel sections. The Fuego XL course is 60 miles with over 8,000 feet of climbing—the hard-packed uber dry course, mixed with many road miles, made for exciting bike setups.
As a former winner, Swenson knows what a bike needs to perform in the dusty Monterey conditions.
The Race — Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL
From the gun, the race was full gas; Chris Blevins was fresh off the win at the Cape Epic and had the legs to roll all day. When the front group entered the single track, Blevins again pushed with pace, eventually forming a seven-rider group off the front.
After the first lap, Blevins, Swenson, Finsterwald, Alex Wild, Howard Grotts, Andrew L’Esperance, and Cole Paton crossed the line working well together. After the laps ticked away and the pace stayed high — the group began to splinter.
Later in the race, the group was down to four riders; Swenson, Blevins, Finsterwald, and Paton. As the final miles passed, Blevin attacked relentlessly, with the group responding and following. The final climb is where the four riders became two, as Swenson and Finsterwald battled over the climb to the finish.
After 60 miles, trading blow for blow, the finish came down to a sprint, and Swenson had just enough left in the tank to edge out Finsterwald at the line.
Keegan Swenson’s Fuego XL winning Santa Cruz Blur
The demanding course and not-so-normal cross-country conditions of the Fuego XL made for some exciting bike setups. Swenson rode his Santa Cruz Blur full suspension setup, though many riders chose hardtails.
Swenson’s setup was one of the most dialed of the weekend; he had just enough grip with the Maxxis Arden Short Track tires and a wide range of gearing with the new SRAM Eagle Transmission.
The bars and tape setup allow Swenson to “rest” slightly while hammering on the single track, freeing up some space in the lower back and taking up minimal bar real estate.
Rock Shox Prototype SID Fork and Shock
Swenson’s Blur had some trick gear, but those prototype stickers really caught our eyes. The new SID or SID SL fork and shock appear to have changed very little from the current version.
A new RockShox twist-lock is coming to market soon, with a slimmer profile and slightly longer grip action.
Swenson wouldn’t let us know more than the basics about the new suspension, but it clearly performs well.
Pro Bike Check: Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Blur
- Frame: Santa Cruz Blur
- Fork: Rock Shox SID prototype 120mm
- Shock: Rock Shox SID prototype
- Lockout lever: RockShox TwistLock Prototype
- Brakes: SRAM Level ULT
- Groupset: SRAM Eagle XX Transmission
- Wheels: Reserve 30 SL
- Saddle: Prologo Dimension NDR
- Stem: Zipp
- Seatpost: Syntace
- Bars: Syntace
- Pedals: XTR
- Tires: Maxxis Aspen ST
For more information about Keegan Swenson and his race schedule, check out: Santacruzbicycles.com