Big miles with DKT

It started with a phone call. “Hey, David. Are you going to Tucson this year?”

He replied, “I don’t know. I’m undecided. Probably not.”

“Okay. I’ll be there in February for the Zipp, SRAM, and Quarq 2013 product launch”, I said. I already let the cat out of the bag that you normally train there, and they said they’d love to have you come to the presentations and group rides as a star guest. If you want, we can stay afterwards and train.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the excuse.”

With that, we had a date. I’ve known David Kennedy Thompson (or “DKT”) for a long time now, simply by virtue of hanging in the same circles, having a lot of the same friends, and by exchanging painful nods of acknowledgement on the race course. We interviewed him in 2012, after a near-miss with a young daredevil spectator on the bike at Life Time Fitness in Minneapolis. This year, David plans to race a schedule that has become his ‘usual’ – Rev3, Life Time Fitness, and 5i50 – aiming for a big finish at Hy-Vee.

David makes a trek to Tucson nearly every year in the winter, in an effort to escape the Minnesota snow, spend time with family, and log big miles. Shooting for about 30 hours total, David’s goal is a kick-start on training volume, rather than outright intensity. He plans to ride and swim every day, and run every other day.

We started the week at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort with the SRAM staff. Unfortunately for everyone, the weather was unseasonably cold. Monday’s planned group ride was cancelled when afternoon rain storms and light snow rolled in to town. What does a creative pro triathlete do? We already ran and swam early that morning, so we walked back to the pool and swam… again. At an outdoor pool. In the snow. This was already turning out to be an interesting week.

Now back at home, David is doing a series of blog posts about the training week, which can be found HERE.

All images © Greg Kopecky /

Tucson is known for poor roads. Because of this, David has taken to bringing a cyclocross bike and fat tires – seen here with his brand new disc brake-equipped Felt.

Unfortunately, the weather was unseasonably cold when we arrived. SRAM had a group ride planned for Monday, but cancelled it when pouring rain and snow blew in. David modified his schedule to include a second swim that day in lieu of the ride.

Tuesday brought drier conditions. David prepares to roll out for a ride with Gear West Bike and Triathlon owner, Kevin O’Connor. They would eventually ride for 8 hours, to the snowy top of Mt Lemmon.

David is sponsored by SRAM. He races on Red, but has Force on his ‘cross bike.

Felt is on the disc brake bandwagon. David has Avid BB7 Road calipers, with 160mm front and 140mm rear rotors. Wheels are tubeless-compatible OEM models from Felt, as Zipp (his wheel sponsor) does not yet officially offer a disc brake wheel.

In his own words – “I’m not afraid to roll the fatties.”

David rides with a 175mm Quarq S975 crank on his cyclocross bike.

After a few days with the crew from SRAM, we transferred to our base for the remainder of the week. As you can see, David travels in style to swim practice.

David swims in the evenings at the University of Arizona outdoor pool.

This is a very familiar view for Tucson residents – from Mt Lemmon.

The road climbs up, up, up.

Unfortunately, flat tires happen.

The culprit? A thumb tack.

After fixing the flat tire, we continued climbing.

Sometimes the brain demands caloric density in any form available.

The blur that is David Thompson.

After several long days, David gets massage and acupuncture at Descending Dragon Health Center in Tucson.

This is a scene that David Thompson knows well – packing up the bike.