By Brian Thompson — If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, then Stan Swallow’s salvation is assured. This septuagenarian does more in one day than most retirees do in a week. He is a quiet unassuming man that lets his accomplishments do the talking for him.
Stan Swallow was born seventy-nine years ago in Fillmore, Utah. He grew up on a farm and learned the value of hard work from an early age. He ran track and wrestled as a kid, excelling in the 440 (now the 400 meter) sprint. At eighteen he left Fillmore to attend Central Utah Technical College (now known as Utah Valley University) in Provo.
Like so many young men of that age, Stan had only a vague notion of what he wanted to do in life, revolving primarily around working at the local Ford dealer for his uncle as a mechanic. Fortunately, his mother saw greater potential in him and pushed him into another vocation. She apparently went to his professors who helped her push him into the electronics technician program. Stan later ended up at UCLA, where he completed a BS in Engineering and Applied Science.
Upon completing his degree at Central Utah, he went to work for the Federal Aviation Administration, where he spent 36 wonderful years working all across the country and once met President John Kennedy. During those working years, he continued to run, focusing on running marathons. He had a bike and did ride it, but it wasn’t until he retired in 1995 that he started focusing on bike racing more so than running.
At that time, he returned to Utah and started mountain biking with a neighbor who was 18 years his junior. Interestingly, Stan beat the younger man, which started him thinking that he might have a future in racing bicycles and what a future it turned out to be. He’s won the Huntsman World Senior Games, Utah Summer games, and Idaho Senior Games to name a few. 2016 was his best year when he won the USA Cycling National Criterium Championship, “a crash laden event” per Stan held at Wake Forest University.
“I was chasing the age group (70-74) younger than mine (75-79) and was about 25 meters behind them around the last corner when 3 guys crashed and I had time to avoid them. I was a solo break away from the others in my age group. I was 4th in my group until the last 5 laps when the 3 in front of me started to drop back. I had a 10 second advantage for the last lap and enjoyed winning in solo and save fashion.” He added the road race national championship that year as well, and as a result, he won the Best All-around Rider award.
What’s next? He’s moving more into the road race and looks forward to competing until at least 90 mainly because he feels he can continue to win and he enjoys the men across the county he competes against. His advice for older riders is, “to stick with it and don’t give up. Keep in mind that response time is lagging so, keep your distance and pay attention to the other riders.”
He’d also love to hang glide but probably won’t due to the possibility of missing a race season if something went wrong. I asked him what impact bicycling has had on his life; his answer showed me how much more we need to be doing if we want to be competitive. He trains 4 hours per day during the off-season and 2 hours during the season. This includes the spin classes he teaches, Zwift, and snowshoeing and, of course, riding. Stan’s final bit of advice for anyone looking to race is that there is “no substitute for experience in racing” and “don’t overestimate your abilities.”
As if this wasn’t enough to keep him busy, in 2003 he founded the Utah Velo Club (utahveloclub.com) at the request of Aaron Luck. The club started with two other neighbors and has steadily climbed to its current level of 700 riders. The club promotes safety, fitness, and friendship while promoting cycling in the community.