Photos and words by brand ambassador, Leslie Kehmeier
Moab. The name rings a bell right? For most mountain bikers, this town in southeastern Utah is just a winter getaway or once-in-a-lifetime destination. Living on the Front Range of Colorado, I’m close enough to ride in Moab a few times a year. On my most recent trip, I got to see the town from a different perspective, through a local’s eye. Local? Like moved there for work and never left? Nope. I’m talking about the kind of local that was born, raised and still calls Moab home. That might leave you scratching your head and wondering “do I know anyone like that?”
I do. His name is Tyson Swasey.
Anyone who has ridden with Tyson has witnessed his unique and seemingly effortless style. He has the ability to float through the air with the greatest of ease and pick his way up the most technical lines. His talent on two wheels began when he started riding at the young age of twelve, a unique path compared to other Moab youth at the that time. Mountain biking wasn’t at all mainstream for kids his age. Despite that, his father encouraged him to keep developing his skills, so he started hanging out with the BMX crowd. From there, Tyson worked in the local bike shops and spent a lot of time on the trails, riding classics like Porcupine Rim, Amasa Back and The Portal over and over again. Today Tyson’s life still revolves around the sport he started two decades ago. If you ever ride with him, you’ll get a sense for how much he loves being on a bike.
It's just another day at the office for Tyson Swasey. Born and raised in Moab, his home is your vacation.
For those who have ridden with Tyson, they know that he's just as strong climbing as he is descending.
Beyond pedaling, Tyson is also an expert trail builder and passionate outdoor advocate. Many people know his celebrity status with the trail Captain Ahab, something he’s always quick to emphasize happened as a very collaborative effort. Prior to Ahab fame, Tyson got into trail building with his friend Nick Badovinac (another master-mind for Ahab) through Trail Mix, a very important local Moab trail organization. After gaining some serious experience in his hometown, Tyson took his talents to IMBA Trail Solutions, where he now travels to various projects each year, creating rad new mountain bike experiences across the United States.
Tyson shares the backstory on some recent upgrades to the Captain Ahab trail, a route that was envisioned to be a progressive experience between the easiest and most challenging trails in Moab.
Airtime - A Tyson Swasey speciality.
Tyson and his Captain Ahab cohort, Nick Badovinac, reminisce about the process for visioning and building one of the most loved trails in Moab.
With mad skills and a job that takes him everywhere, Tyson has seen plenty of awesome places other than Moab to call home.
But despite his travels, Tyson always returns to the desert where a tight-knit community welcomes him with open arms. It was inspiring to walk around town with a guy who stopped frequently to chat it up with old friends and new acquaintances.
Knowing Moab has changed a lot in the twenty plus years I’ve been visiting, I asked Tyson what he misses from his younger days. Without hesitation he shared "the tram on Moab Rim. It was great for downhill runs.” I then followed up with a question about present day Moab - what comes to mind about his hometown now?
“All of the new trails.” said Tyson, the Moab local and pioneer for a new generation of riders that will see mountain biking as the norm rather than the exception.
Tyson, also known as the Swaseynator, has his fair share of photos plastered on the walls of Rim Cyclery.
Although Tyson is away most of the year, design and building trails for IMBA Trail Solutions, he remains a popular fixture in the Moab community.
The rowdy and technical Porcupine singletrack was a staple for Tyson growing up.