A Brain Under the Helmet

Why Scott Havlick swapped his bike bag for a briefcase

Published in 2019 Colorado Super Lawyers Magazine — April 2019

Ask former competitive cyclist Scott Havlick to tell you a biking war story, and you won’t hear about road rash or epic crashes in the peloton or even the time he worked as an extra in the film American Flyers. (“You can only identify me as one of the few guys all bandaged up, because I crashed during one of the days filming,” he says with a laugh.) No, it’s a quieter anecdote that comes to mind.

“The story that sticks out to me does so because it explains how I was a little different than everyone else in the pack,” says the IP lawyer with Holland & Hart.

In the early 1980s, Havlick was training for the Coors Classic, a now-defunct major stage race, and living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. “We’d ride and train in the mornings, but we had lots of down time for recovery,” Havlick says. “So I’d read.” The group of guys Havlick rode with had fixed-gear minds: “All the guys were very training/racing oriented, but I think I kind of always knew I’d only venture so far into the sport,” he says. “In retrospect, being the guy who was reading makes sense to me.”

Havlick’s been hooked on bikes since his first job at 15, when he scored a gig working at a bike shop.

“Every single time I get off my bike—whether it was a training ride or just a ride with friends—I’d quietly say to myself, ‘That was fun,’” Havlick says. “I’ll never forget the first time I went down a steep hill—it was like, ‘So that’s what exhilaration feels like.’”

After twice deferring law school, Havlick was weighing whether or not to do the Olympic trials for the 1984 games when he realized something—“I was satisfied,” he says. “I had come to a point in my life when I had to decide to be all in or not. Choosing law school was a really good choice for me.”

He traded in spandex kits for a suit, but some things never change. “I’m sitting there as a young lawyer, still with shaved legs under my suit pants, struggling with this new tribal affiliation of being a lawyer and not a cyclist, and the mind wanders,” Havlick says. “I started wondering, ‘What are my friends doing right now?’” As a trademark lawyer, he realized he could connect with his cycling pals in a new way.

“I understood the industry, I understood the products, and where and why they were sold,” Havlick says. “All I had to do was convince my cycling friends I had a brain under my helmet.”

Today, a sizeable chunk of Havlick’s practice is devoted to work in the cycling and sports retail industries. He’s still doing work for one of his earliest clients: cycling apparel company Pearl Izumi.

“When I started working with them, they only had trademark registration in the U.S., but wanted to sell throughout the world,” he says. “The first project I did for them was putting together a budget for filing for trademark in a dozen countries.”

He also works with other big-time players like Scott Sports and Schwinn Bicycle Co.

“If I was retained to do work for a piano company, and I didn’t play the piano, it’d be hard to be credible and competitive,” he says. “I remember the first time I met Mr. Zaugg, the president of Scott, out at their headquarters in Fribourg, Switzerland. We talked for hours, and the business we were there to discuss didn’t take nearly that long. I think he simply enjoyed talking cycling to someone who gets it.”

Havlick still puts in about 10 hours a week on the bike during Boulder’s warmer months; about seven a week in the winter. “I commute every day—rain, snow or shine,” he says. “I get pretty grumpy if I don’t ride.” 

The Bikeable Hour

Havlick’s top three places to waste some non-billable time

Got 45 to 60 minutes? Try Chapman Road (see below) up the back of Flagstaff Mountain, then descend into town on the front side—you can take your road or mountain bike. The backside is gravel, but closed to cars. 1,200 vertical with a nice descent. (To extend and double the vert, take a loop of Betasso Preserve Trail.)

Got 2+ hours? Hit Four-Mile Canyon to Sunset, then over the Switzerland Trail and back down through Gold Hill and Sunshine Canyon.

Got 3+ hours? Take Ward to Peaceful Valley, then down South St. Vrain Canyon to Lyons and back to Boulder.

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