MONTROSE - Twenty-seven-year-old Montrose resident Eric Rhoten has been challenging opponents on his motorcycle for about two decades, and on July 1, those competitors came from around the world.
Thirty men were invited to the X Games Los Angeles 2012 to compete in the Men's Moto X Enduro X race. The racers came from around the world, including Canada, Poland and the United Kingdom, and among them was Rhoten.
Out of the gate, the 10-lap course takes riders over chopped wood pits and through water obstacles, logs, tires and rock-piles.
"I did pretty well," Rhoten said after the race. "I made it into the live [broadcasted] program, which was pretty cool, but I didn't make it into the main event."
Of the 30 men, only 11 qualify for the finals. Rhoten had the ninth fastest qualifying lap, but placed fourth in his elimination round, putting him outside a final-round, qualifying place.
"These are the best guys in the world," he said. "I saw the guys I usually race against struggle to make it into the qualifying round, so I think I did really well. It was a tough competition."
Coming away with the gold medal was 40-year-old Mike Brown of Tennessee, Cody Webb of California placed second and Cory Graffunder of Canada placed third.
Although Rhoten didn't make it into the final round, he will receive points toward the Enduro X series. Prior to the race, Rhoten held 18th in that series, and he expects to be in the top 20 after the X Games.
Rhoten, a 2003 Montrose High School graduate, grew up racing in the area. He turned professional about 11 years ago, and has been competing nationally for almost seven years.
Enduro X is a fairly new sport – it started in 2005 and Rhoten started competing in the sport in 2006, he said – and it's only the second year the X Games has included it in the competition.
Apart from his Enduro X Series, Rhoten is currently third in the AMA Western Hare-Scramble Series, which has one round left in Montana on Aug. 25.
Until then, Rhoten will be competing a little closer to home, attending a July 8 hare scramble in Los Alamos, N.M.