The Sea Otter Classic is an event I look forward to all year long. A weekend starting on Thursday in one of the greatest possible locations, Laguna Seca. A few days of touring the expo to see new technologies in the bike industry, watching racing of all disciplines, and trying not to get sunburned too badly are capped off by my race early Sunday morning.
The weekend started after school on Thursday, with our familiar road trip down to Monterey. Arriving in the late afternoon, we simply set up camp and enjoyed the evening with some of my teammates.
Friday was a day to explore the expo and pre-ride the cross-country course. We talked with sponsors at ESI Grips, Schwalbe, and Jakroo. The pre-ride was a good opportunity to get a ride in, and familiarize myself with the Cat 1 parts of the 28-mile loop. Also on Friday was the pro short track cross-country. Three of my teammates, Lauren Desrosiers, Cody Schwartz, and David Duncan raced in the highly competitive field. It was a blast getting to watch them compete against the best in the world. After the short track, our team had a photo session with the reigning Olympic Champions, Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter!
Saturday was filled with a little bit of watching races, a quick ride, and a lot of resting for Sunday’s early start. The rest of the pro cross-country took place on Saturday and once again I enjoyed watching the incredibly fast racers compete. I did a short but hard ride to open the legs up for Sunday’s race and then spent the afternoon lounging at the campsite and doing my best to stay out of the sun.
The alarm went off early Sunday morning, giving me the 5 AM wake up call for eating breakfast before the 7:30 race. I ate and put on some layers to head down towards the team tent.
Getting on the trainer at about 6:45, I set about mentally preparing myself for the race. By the time I got to the line, I had taken off all my layers except for arm-warmers. The weather was shaping up to be plenty warm even for the early race.
At 7:32, my race began. The pack of riders stayed together extremely well for most of the first part of the race. After a few miles of single track, I found myself near the back of the pack and decided I should try to move up. Coming onto a gravel fire road, I made a move and pushed my way to the lead group. I stayed with the lead group and we got a slight lead until about halfway through the race, where we encountered the sand run-up.
The sand run-up was a hill where dismounting and running for about 5 minutes up a hill was mandatory. I started strong up the hill, but quickly my legs started to burn intensely and about 10 people passed me. When I finally crested the hill, my legs felt super shot, but I set about making up time.
In the second half of the race I caught a decent number of people and worked my way back up to the top 10. Unfortunately, I was tired and not paying attention on a descent and crashed with about 2 miles left in the race. The crash rattled me and it took me a couple minutes to collect myself and get back on the bike. The crash cost me a lot of time and about 15 places. Overall it wasn’t the result I wanted, but I know I can do better if I manage to keep the bike upright!
Overall, Sea Otter was a fantastic weekend filled with the usual adventures. The expo was fun to look around and the race, although it didn’t quite go to plan, taught me several lessons that I can use to improve my racing going forward. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Sea Otter Classic!