Steamboat Springs The first race of the Town Challenge season seemed straight up old school.
The event was at Marabou Ranch, where the series hadn’t raced since 2012. Peter Kalmes won, as he’d done for the previous 15 consecutive races, and in second, hot on Kalmes’ tail for much of the race, was Brad Bingham.
It may as well have been August 2011.
The time between has been anything but simple for Bingham, however, and his performance in the season’s first week represented a return to form for another local man who at one time had strung together a domineering winning streak in the Town Challenge.
Bingham spent most of that time between a strong 2011 season and this season’s first race off his bike entirely thanks to nagging injuries.
“I’m healthy and back at it,” he said, tired but grinning wide after finishing that first race. “It feels good.”
In his prime, Bingham was as dominate as Kalmes, winning week in and week out. He won the series in 2010, then again in 2011, edging out Kalmes, who closed that season with back-to-back wins that started his still-unbroken streak.
Bingham sustained an injury to his hips in 2010, however, and wasn’t ever quite the same. Complicated by a genetic issue in his hips, it wasn’t diagnosed properly at first and he continued to race on it. It continued to hurt worse, until finally he took off the 2012 season.
He had surgery to both hips last year and only managed a few rides during the summer.
Finally this winter, he was back approaching full strength.
“I trained hard getting back into shape,” he said.
Now, he’s hoping that pays off. Undergoing surgery and making it back wasn’t just about Town Challenge, he said, but the series is more than a way to kill a Wednesday evening, too.
“It’s hotly contested,” he said. “You can see how hard those guys are going. It’s local glory.”
Second in his first race back, he’s hoping he can stick with and even surpass Kalmes again and get a little more of that glory after a long break from it.
He’ll get his next chance Wednesday, as the Town Challenge returns for its second race of the summer season. This week’s race begins with children’s races at 5:30 p.m. The first adult group goes off on the Mount Werner course at 5:50 p.m. The races will start at the base of the gondola.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9