Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sea Otter Classic '09

Wow, what a weekend! Sea Otter always seems to go by in a blur. Last year we arrived in the early afternoon on Thursday, did some DH runs, did a XC pre-ride, and prepped for a full day Friday. I felt like I didn't see anything, hang out with anyone, and it was just a busy non-stop whirlwind!

This year wasn't much different! We took off Thursday around 10 to head north so we'd be there Friday morning in time for the Pro rider meeting at noon. This was my first ever UCI race, so I didn't want to miss any info.

Fuel for the drive

I packed a LOT



On the way up we stopped at Rock N Road Cyclery in Anaheim Hills to pick up a few last minute items. I wound up getting a hat and socks in addition to a tire, chain, and some other random parts for the weekend. We wound up running into Chuck and after a long pit stop of ours he caught up and remained our caravan buddy for the day!

We got to the venue just in time on Thursday to pick up our registration packets and have dinner with DenMother, Roger, Mark, Chuck, and a few others at the Black Bear Diner? I had a good steak!

Friday we slept in a tad, got to the venue around 9:30 or so, and took our time seeing the sights. Well, I somehow missed the new Specialized 29ers all weekend, but other than that we saw a lot!

We stopped by Specy early on so they could take a look at my suspension and make sure it was race ready!

Hit up Crankbrothers - they had their killer new wheelsets on display and a ton of racers rolling around on them all weekend! - Ergon - with some new grips and all the packs - Nema - lifestyle wear, bike shorts and jerseys, gloves, socks - SRAM - they had some BLINGing new colored parts out; stoked to see the red! I also highly enjoyed hanging out at the Clif Bar booth trying out their samples of new flavors (the white chocolate macadamia? is KILLER) and snacking on Builder Bars (those and Luna bars are my go-to easy food right now) and also stopped by Simbree for some amazing granola and energy bites! If you haven't checked this stuff out, definitely hit up the site. Organic, and it is sooo good you probably won't even save it for snacking on the bike! The Cocoa Almond Cherry granola is awesome in vanilla yogurt!

After we cruised around a bunch we hit up the Pro meeting. Not many people showed up! I know a lot weren't in town yet, and many others were working vendor booths. Found out a bit about the feed/tech zones and the anti-doping control info (totally new to me!) and it was over pretty quickly. Time to for lunch after that!

I had planned to do some course recon around lunchtime, but someone said beginners were going off at 1pm. Then I heard 2pm. I didn't want to get in the way of anyone's race, so we wound up holding off on riding until almost 5. :eek:

Lunch (it was the same all weekend!)

Eventually after cruising around the venue for another few hours we hit up the course with Christina (ex-DH champ and also raced XC!). She was keeping up with me no problem on a much heavier bike ;) Was fun to follow her lines down the hills!

She's back at it racing XC this year and doing really well! Despite our late pre-ride she still finished 2nd the next morning!!

Eventually it was dinner time! We stayed in Monterey last year also, but never made it past the hotel. This year was my first time seeing the water up here!


I had fully "moved in" to the hotel...

We didn't eat home cooked dinners, but everything else I had covered!

The micro-fridge was awesome!

Traci racing downhill!! Braaap!

Julia on her way to her first ever Sea Otter Classic podium!

Sweet SRAM parts

The new Intense 9-5-1 DH bike complete with the Crankbrothers DH wheels! Pimp!

I almost want to race DH again!

It was already almost lunch time after we cruised the venue for a bit, so it was SNACK time before our openers

I was in such a hurry to down this delish dish I didn't get a shot of it mixed up.


Justin working an interval

Justin spent the afternoon prepping the bikes while I chilled in the shade... then he took me back to the hotel to prep bottles and bags and he headed back to the venue to drop off about 3 loads of gear at the Sho-Air RV for the next morning.

Eventually (way later than I'd hoped!) we got out to a nice dinner on the Wharf at Cafe Fina. Great service and food. I got my salmon and rice, and we shared a spectacular dessert!

We got to bed kind of late for our 5 am wake-up call, but no worries!

Sunday started early; we got to the venue at daybreak and just before 7 headed in to see if Sam was up yet at the RV. He wasn't out and about, so Justin cruised around and I sat and enjoyed the calm morning.

Justin got his warm-up on and we headed over to his start around 8 am. It was HOT already.

On the line

I sat back down for awhile after he took off, and eventually headed out on Laguna Seca's race course to do his lap 2 feed. I cheered on the SSers and fast kids, and then came Justin solidly in the top 5 of his field! He was looking strong, but I knew he had missed a feed mid-lap. I handed him what I had left of my small bottle, and gave him his normal feed bottle, and then it was off to sit in the A/C some more!

Sam was really cool answering my thousand inane questions about racing, and Colt from Cycling Dirt showed up for a bit to do some interviews with the guys and update his site. Check it out for all kinds of race coverage!

It started to get a bit more hectic as the pro start was coming up in just about 2.5 hours. Scott announced that the race was changing a bit - men would do 1.5 laps, and women just 1. I was actually pretty stoked on that! It was hot out!

Eventually I went over to the start/finish to try to see Justin come in. Trevor and James were both done, and he had been in front of them at the feed zone. Hmm. He came in about a minute later and did not look good. He had cramped really bad on course after he lost his only bottle about 15 mintues in to lap 1.

He couldn't really spin, so we went back to the RV where he laid in the shade and tried to massage out the cramps. Being the awesome supporter he is, he still managed to get changed out of his race clothes, get in some food and got right to work on my bike and a few others and helping get about 25 bottles packed up for the far feed zone. I tried to sit down out of the way as the rest of the Sho-Air/Specialized team arrived, and then it was time for Justin and John to head out to the feed zone.

The guys all got suited up, and I followed "suit". Most went out to warm-up on the tarmac, but I used my trainer in the shade. HR was HIGH for warm-up, but I stuck to it and headed to the start/finish just as the pro men took off.

After a short spin call-ups were happening. Thanks a TON to Trish for the umbrella! It was nice to have a little bit of shade at the start. Some of the women on the front line had cold bottles of water they were dumping in their shoes and down their backs, and that definitely looked like it was a good idea! I didn't have any extra, so pretended my feet weren't on fire! It was scorching hot on the line.

We took off in a blur and I felt pretty good on the road course. I was holding decent position onto the dirt, and pretty sure I was still top 10 on the first singletrack descent. I started having some GI problems and I think I was really over-heated, so started to go backwards. Tried to hold what pace I could and eventually forced myself to drink and take in some gel. Next time in the heat - water only! Had problems getting the Cytomax down.

My skin and brain were on fire for the early part of the lap. The singletrack was brutal. No air what-so-ever other than the hot baking oven feeling. The descents didn't offer any relief.

I picked up some water in the feedzone, and eventually felt like I was coming back to life.

Catherine Vipond of Norco Factory and Kathy Sherwin from Kenda/Tomac passed me and I decided I was NOT going to lose them. Kathy and I fell off from Catherine a bit eventually, and on the pavement climb I went around Kathy feeling pretty good. I rode the following descent like it was a downhill race and hammered it out from there. I started feeling pretty good on the fire road climb out, but man was it windy! Just tried to hold a good pace. I was reeling in riders, but had no idea who they were up ahead.

Once I turned off on the last singletrack I decided to just grin and enjoy it! This was my first Pro Sea Otter race, first UCI race, and the largest field I'd EVER raced in! I had no idea where I was at placing-wise, but I knew it had to be top-20. I was stoked to just be feeling better and able to put in some efforts again. At the final turn before the tarmac finish I saw it was Catherine in front of me. She saw me also and hammered up the short climb, and I was in pursuit. She turned onto the pavement ahead of me, and I cranked as hard as I could for most of the descent. Ran out of legs, gears, and room and backed off a tad when I saw no one was directly behind me.

All in all, was really happy with the race. I was able to learn a few things and generally had a good time. It was brutal out there, and after seeing Krista taken away in an ambulance I was happy to just be alive and able to stand up. Seriously scary.

I did a short spin with Catherine and Catharine Pendrel, and eventually it was time to grab my recovery drink.

I brain-farted and didn't think to call Justin, who was still down at the far feed zone for Max, Manny, and Sid. He and John didn't know Sam had had a mechanical and had to call it a day.

Got back to the hotel finally around 6pm and had a beer!

Team dinner in downtown Monterey Sunday night was a blast and great food to boot (more salmon and rice!). Specialized showed up a bit after us, so we were "hanging" with World Champ Sauser, Conrad Stolz, T Wells, and the rest of the gang! Super cool.

Monday morning we headed back into town and while we couldn't find breakfast on the Wharf, got some decent grub near downtown before heading down "THE" 1.

Overall - great weekend. We saw some cool stuff, got to hang out with some great people, picked up some good Simbree, and generally had fun. I couldn't have done it without Justin's support. He made sure my bike was working flawlessly, totally clean and ready to go, and that I was well-taken care of. Not only that, but in addition to dealing with me and helping me out, doing the feeds for some of the Pro men, and carting around gear for 2 days, he also raced TWO full laps on the course Sunday morning! No rest for the wicked. He makes it all possible.


Luke said...

wha...no pics from the team dinner?! you're fired! jk...great stuff! might have to check this out next year!

Zippy said...

Nice job! Did they make you pee in a cup? Kidding!

Pedal Circles said...

No, I was not one of the "lucky" random's that were chosen :) 3 men and 3 women did have to, though!

jameson said...

awesome report and congrats again... sea otter was an incredible experience for me too. I can't wait until next year.

Slater Fletcher said...

You got a good looking bike and a great Mann by your side. . . Maybe next year we will be up there with you guys?!