Mo Phat still sits atop Town Challenge |

Mo Phat still sits atop Town Challenge

Elwood Shelton

While Craig was swimming in the monsoon-like weather of Wednesday night, Eric Havrilla, 16, of the Mo Phat racing team was jockeying for a first-place finish at the Howlsen Hill Cross Country race, which is part of the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge mountain bike race series. The race was touted as the “Root Canal” because of the number of tree roots that lined the trail.

Havrilla led the pack in the Midget division (16- to 18-year-olds) all the way up to the last hill climb, with the closest competitor 100 yards behind him. Then, he got stuck behind four riders from a different class.

“I was doing fine until I got stuck behind these four riders on a single track,” he said. “It gave the guy in my class a chance to catch up, and on the last turn, he got the inside on me. I just didn’t have enough time or room to make a move at the finish.”

The lack of time and room meant that Havrilla had to settle for a second-place finish, and because he missed the last race at Mount Werner, he also had to settle for a second-place in the overall rankings.

“Hopefully, if I can finish off the rest of the races in the Town Challenge, I’ll be able to regain my first-place spot,” he said. “I know when the Buffalo Pass climb comes around I should be able to have a top finish, since I think that climbing is one of my strengths.”

The five-member Mo Phat race team still sits atop of the Town Challenge race series rankings, and only solidified their standings this week.

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Roger Watson finished in third place in Men’s 40-year-old plus Expert Division. Steve Martinson defended his undefeated streak for the sixth week with a first-place finish in the Men’s 40- to 49-year-old Sport Division. Mike Markle pulled in fourth in the Men’s 40- to 49-year-old Sport Division.

Winn Walcott was the only Mo Phat racer not to place. She was out of town on business.

The Root Canal was supposed to have the same conditions as the Sunshine Loop in many of the Mo Phat’s pre-rides dusty, dry and with little footing. All of this was spurred from the lack of rain in the Yampa Valley over the past few weeks. But, the rain which hit Craig in full force only sprinkled on Steamboat Springs, and created a good surface for racing.

“We only got a little bit of a rain shower during the race, and it actually helped out,” Martinson said. “It really tacked up the ground, and let you hit the descents at full speed.”

“Overall, it seems like we’re all still on track at this point in the season. Hopefully, we can keep it going for the last two races,” Martinson said.

The two remaining races in the Town Challenge are the Mount Werner Circuit race, which is a lap-based race, scheduled for Aug. 22. The final race of the season, and one of the most challenging races, will be the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb, scheduled for Sept. 7.

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