Steamboat Springs Middle School mountain biker Bryce Gordon discovered Saturday that state titles never come easily.
Especially when you are chasing the son of mountain biking legend Ned Overend through a challenging, twisting course on a chilly afternoon in late October.
"Mostly I was alone," Gordon said. "He took off on the fourth corner, and I spent the rest of the race playing catch up."
Try as he might, Gordon would not catch the speedy Rhyler Overend during two laps around the 1.6-mile course at the Black Forest Camp and Conference Center in the rolling hills near Colorado Springs, but the Steamboat rider would end up with a title just the same.
"It might not sound that tough," coach Larry Johnson said. "But the ground was very loose, and it was a very difficult course to race."
When the dust in the finish area finally cleared, and the final team points were tallied, Gordon and the other members of the Steamboat Springs Middle School mountain biking team had captured the team title in their division.
"To win an individual title would have been nice," Gordon said. "But it was fun to win as a team. Without Cody (Cox) and Adam (Parke), I never could have done this well."
Gordon said his teammates have helped him train this summer and are constantly pushing him in races. He understands that mountain biking is an individual sport, but he relies on his teammates for support and training.
The races, which featured 62 high school riders and 46 middle school riders from across the state, crowned four team champions and four individual champions.
Other state title-winning teams included Miller Middle School in the girls middle school division, Colorado Rocky Mountain School in the boy's high school division and Vail Mountain School in the girls high school division.
Miller Middle School's Overend, earned the individual middle school title with a time of 28 minutes, 53 seconds, but it didn't stop the Steamboat riders from making their presence felt in the race.
Gordon came in second with a time of 30:01, teammate Adam Parke was third with a time of 30:13, and teammate Cody Cox placed seventh with a time of 32:39.
The combined efforts of the Steamboat riders gave the Steamboat team 12 points. Miller, out of Durango, took second with 19 points and Cheyenne Mountain from Colorado Springs came in third with 24 points.
The top three riders on each team count toward the team total. David Keiss, who was riding for Steamboat, placed 13th, and Jeffery Gay placed 30th.
The Routt County Riders sponsored 11 middle and high school racers at the event. Johnson, who acted as coach for the team, said the local riders were selected based on results from the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series this summer.
But the middle school boys were not the only ones vying for a title Saturday.
The Steamboat middle school girls placed second behind Jamie Gay's third (40:44) and Katherine Ingalls' fourth (45:27).
National road biking champion Bo Randolph led the Steamboat high school team to a third-place in the largest field of the day. He finished the three-lap, 2.6-mile course in a time of 59:05 to finish fifth in the high school boys division.
Taylor Sheldon of Vail Mountain won the race in 55:48. Other top Steamboat finishers included Wiley Thayer in 14th at 1:07:32 and Sam Chovan in 18th at 1:08:52.
Chloe Forsman of Fairview finished in 47:48 to win the high school girls title. Emily Keiss, who was racing for the Steamboat team, placed fourth in 53:47.