Another mighty fine Sea Otter is in the books. The 2011 vintage was a good one. Nice weather, fun racing, a lively expo and plenty of interesting folks to speak with during the four days at the venue.
Eric and I, here in the wonderland that is Team CLIF Bar, always look forward to Sea Otter. We tend to find interesting rental spots to call home for a few days; we get some riding in, to and from the venue; we cross paths with a good number of TCB athletes & industry characters; Captain Coffee and Chris Cross take good care of us at the Luna Team Truck; Peter and the Field Marketing crew set up a fantastic booth at the expo with a lounge we hang out in once we're pooped; and we get to be Troy Wells' and Brady Kappius' roommates for a few days - Mitch Hoke from the Clif-sponsored Tokyo Joe's squad joined the mix as well. Doesn't get a whole lot better than that. Here's what Troy and Brady had to say about four days in Monterey: Troy Wells: Dylan's new hobby over the last couple years has become house hunting on VRBO. He outdid himself with his selection this year at Sea Otter. We had an awesome spot set back in the hills around Laguna Seca.
Everyone was looking forward to riding to the venue until we discovered it was a mile straight up out of the driveway. Let's just say Brady, Mitch and I had solid warm ups each day. Dylan and Eric got to work on their climbing. They love the climbs. Toss a 30lb backpack in the mix and the 2500 feet of climbing to the venue and back made for a good day of riding in just a couple mile round trip ride. On Friday for the ride home they even tossed in some tequila from the Luna party to make the ride home a little more entertaining. When in Monterey... At the rental house, we took full advantage of the huge, stylish kitchen. Gary and Terry from team clothing sponsor CAPO came over on Thursday night and chef'd up a great meal. Sirloin, pasta and wine - then I went off to bed. As usual, Dylan and Eric tried to sabotage me by luring me into a late night of fooding and beveraging, but I headed to bed before it got crazy.
The new Cannondale Flash 29ner, with Easton Wheels and cockpit and SRAM XX parts was the perfect weapon for the weekend. The 2011 team bike is fantastic. I had my moments where I was racing quite well. However, in the short track on Friday I just didn't have the punch needed for a short event. Maybe Dylan and Eric did in fact sabotage me after all... Towards the end I started to feel like myself so I was looking at it in a positive light, as a good opener for Saturday's XC. The Sea Otter XC for the pro men is half on the paved track and half single track. I didn't have the best start on the track after everything was sorted out. I seemed to be around a couple of the crashes that left me touching my brakes. I ended up coming off the pavement with a lot of work to do. Over the next two laps I put it all out there and continued to move forward until I made the front chase group. I paid for my earlier effort in the last quarter of the race. I suffered at the end, fighting off cramps in the legs and some serious cross gut. It was good though, to push myself to the limit in April. After the race the Clif booth party was going off. Eric got on the guitar for a while with Gary on the trumpet. Everyone was hanging out, enjoying good food and tasty beer. That night we kept the party rolling with a worthy BBQ at the rental house. The only catch was finding the house. Those who found the house ate well. Brady Kappius: Another year, another Sea Otter in the books. Sea Otter is quite the event. It has it all - huge outdoor expo full of bike industry companies; road racing; cross country racing; gravity events; product launches...the list goes on and on. If you are into bikes Sea Otter is the place to be in April. There is always something to do. For me Sea Otter is one of the biggest cross-country and short track races of the season. You can count on all of the big names to be there. Luckily the Euros weren't at the event this year, so that bumped me up a few spots in the results. The courses left a bit to be desired, but I keep hoping that will change. I'm also lucky enough to have yet to see the mud at Sea Otter, but I have heard some horror stories.
This year's races went well. The weather could not have been any better, mid-60s, a light breeze, and sunshine all weekend. My weekend started off with a top-30 in the Short Track event on Friday. Given a lack of call-up, I made my best of it and worked my way up as much as I could through the race. It ended up being a good opener for the Cross Country race on Saturday. The XC course wasn't "real" mountain biking in my mind. If you can run 1.8 semi-slicks front and rear there is a problem... Still, quite the opportunity to go hard and make yourself hurt. Finished again with a pretty decent top-30 ride - it's still early season for us from Colorado where the snow is just starting to melt.
In addition to the racing, it was great to meet up with all of our team sponsors in person. I can't thank them enough. Dylan and Eric from Team CLIF Bar, Jim from Easton/Bell, Bill & Frank from Cannondale, Gary, Rob & Terry from Capo, Alex & Dawson from SRAM and Ian from Specialized - it was nice to see everyone in person. I couldn't do what I love to do without all of the fantastic team sponsors. And my sub-20lb Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er is by far the sweetest bike I have had the chance to throw a leg over. That ridiculously steep climb out of the rental house really wasn't so bad on the team bike.
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- Le Sensation American