Montrose’s Riding Opportunities A Secret to Success
MONTROSE – Throttling back his Beta 300 motorcycle, Montrose resident Eric Rhoten can't help but feel adrenaline, along with torque, the moment his bike breaks loose from the starting gate.
Rhoten, 28, is a professional dirt bike rider. His mild-mannered and quiet behavior is apparent on the outside, a sign of his small town roots. Somehow he keeps his excitement from boiling over even when talking about competing on the world's biggest stage, where he will ride next week in the 2013 X Games in Los Angeles.
"It's mind blowing, for sure. I've never been treated better," said Rhoten, who is nicknamed “Spike,” of competing in last year’s “Enduro X.” He’s scheduled to compete in the same event on Aug. 4.
Rhoten turned professional 20 years ago; he got his nickname from a former boss who thought his short, spiked haircut looked like a character’s in a movie. Born in Dodge City Kan., he grew up most of his life in Colorado and found a life in Montrose with his wife Tori.
In the hills surrounding Montrose, he said, thousands of years of erosion have given way to some of the best riding terrain in the world, from rolling adobe hills to rock climbs to high altitude trail riding. He admits he becomes prideful when competing in large races and no other competitor knows where Montrose, Colorado is – it helps the riding around this area remain a secret. "That's the whole reason I live here. That and the small town team. There is so much riding around here, it's epic," he said. Rhoten works as a mechanic at Grand Mesa Motor Sports in Delta.
Growing up in Colorado, Rhoten said, his parents would travel with him and his brothers, Bryan and Casey, to races all over the state . He earned a championship in 2003 in Supercross.
"The officials would get tired of seeing all us Montrose kids in the races. Something like 20 guys and two girls from here would be racing at these events," Rhoten said. “We're all just local pros.”
The Endurocross race in L.A. next week is by invitation only, with a field of 30 riders chosen from around the world. Rhoten qualified this summer by finishing in the top 20 in Endurocross Series events in Las Vegas, Nev., and Sacramento, Calif.
Steven Deines, Rhoten's long-time friend and mechanic, will be traveling with Rhoten next Wednesday to L.A., and said his friends' talent as a rider is unquestionable.
"Eric is one of the most well rounded riders that I know," Deines said. "He rides many different types of motorcycle events including Supercross, Motocross, Endurocross, Offroad Harescrambles, Enduros, and Trials and can also hit jumps that are over 120-feet-long, some of the craziest stuff you will ever see.”
Rhoten's strategy this year is not to get caught up in the event and the hype of L.A., to keep himself calm, and to focus.
"My goal for L.A. was just to make [it there], first of all. I'm a pretty modest guy. I'm just thankful to be going," Rhoten said. "I just don't want to hurt myself and [I want to] do well. Not make any mistakes, and have excuses.”
Rhoten's sponsors include Teamonetrack, Grand Mesa Motor Sports, FSW Suspension, Motown Free Riders, PS Designs,Topar racing, and MSR.
Anyone wanting to help, or make a donation towards expenses can contact Rhoten at: 970/209-5047, or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/spike20.
"If you ask me, he should have been making a living riding his dirt bike a long time ago,” Deines said. “He is regularly beating competitors that have many more sponsors and support than him. Eric could use any support the community would be willing to give.”
For more information about Endurocross, visit endurocross.com.
XGames 2013 is Aug. 1-4, with the Men's Enduro X finals is due to air on ABC on Sunday, from 1 p.m.- 3 p.m. Rhoten will be running #200 on his bike.