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2008 Suzuki 24 Hours of Big Bear webcast

Athlete Spotlight: Steve Schwarz 2x defending Solo Men's champion

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Aiming for the three-peat

Is it possible that a lawyer can prefer mountain biking to golf? 34 year-old Steve Schwarz seems to think so, in fact the two-time Big Bear Men's Solo champion, who is a patent attorney for a large downtown DC law firm, doesn't even mention Scotland's contribution to the sporting world. He's too busy contemplating his prospects of a fat tire three-peat in the green hills of Big Bear Camplands. We interrupted his train of thought to lob a few questions...

How has your training gone this year, how is your form coming into the race?

This year my training has been better and more consistent than previous years. In November I made some changes in my training program, which I think have improved my overall fitness. Also, in contrast to previous years, I did almost all of my mid-week winter training outdoors, instead of riding the trainer indoors. This led to longer, more consistent, and more enjoyable training rides.

Since Big Bear is one of my two 'A' races for 2008, I really feel my peak form coming on. I am excited about how I've felt on the bike the last two weeks. I think it's going to be a great race for me.

Who do you see as your main competition?

Steve Schwarz

Steve Schwarz: "I always seem to
ride inspired at Big Bear."

Tinker's (Juarez) palmares speaks for itself. Although he's in the later stages of his career, he's a professional mountain biker in the truest sense. There's no looking past his previous accomplishments - a 24 hour world championship, several national championships, and the Olympics. However, he's not unstoppable. I know the course, I'm mentally tough, and I always seem to ride inspired at Big Bear.

Besides Tinker, there's no denying the rivalry between Ernesto (Marenchin) and me at Big Bear. I have a feeling that Ernie is going to be very prepared this year, and that was definitely a motivating factor in my preparations throughout the months leading up to Big Bear. Rob Lichtenwalner is very fast when he's racing well. Bob Anderson, who had a big hand in teaching me the ropes of 24 hour racing, will be there as well, and you have to look out for Bob to put in a big surge in the late stages of a 24.

Will you compete at other events in the series?

Probably not this year. In 2006, I did three races in the GG series, and finished 3rd. I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. Seeing all the attention the series is drawing this year, I regret not planning my schedule around it, but it's too late to change up the training schedule now. I'm contemplating hitting all the GG races in 2009.

What is your greatest cycling accomplishment?

Definitely winning Big Bear in 2006 and 2007. A three-peat would be the crown jewel.

How long have you been racing 24s?

My first solo 24 was four years ago at the last Snowshoe event. I started a regimented training program for the race just three months beforehand, and ended up in 6th place solo. That was a tough race for me, but I was motivated by the result.

As far as team 24s go, I did Canaan back in 1997 with a group of random people that I met over the internet. The team quit on me after one lap each, and I ended up riding a bunch of the race on my own (even though technically we were disqualified). I met John Stamstad during that race, and I think that is what originally planted the seed.

What got you into 24 racing in the first place?

After several goes at the team 24 format, at Canaan, Snowshow, and Moab, I got frustrated with the racing that went on within the team. I wanted to race for the podium, not against my team mates. Also, I noticed that I could ride consistently throughout the entire race, and I had a hunch my body was suited for the solo stuff. An impule caused me to sign up for Snowshoe solo in 2004.

How do Granny Gear races stack up against those from other MTB ultra organizers?

Granny Gear events are my favorite. Laird and his staff and the volunteers are the best, they make the race very enjoyable. I love Real Time scoring. It makes things so much easier on my wife (my race director) and me. Also, the courses are always awesome, and the venues offer entertainment for the whole family.

What is your occupation? Anything else interesting about you that we should know?

People are often suprised to hear that I'm a patent attorney with one of the big law firms in downtown Washington, DC. Being a lawyer takes up a lot of my time, and sometimes puts a limit on training time. But my wife, April, is very supportive and does everything she can to make sure all I have to do is work and train. Also, despite the time constraints, having a nice income gives me access to training aides and equipment, such as coaching and power meters, etc., that I might not have otherwise. Sometimes balancing the two gets the best of me, but honestly, I would probably go nuts if it were any other way. The instant I have time away from both my job and training, I get bored.

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