I flew in from Charlotte to Ontario. I grabbed the trailer from the hotel parking and made my way up to Monterey.
After arriving on Wednesday afternoon in Monterey I took a quick spin up the bike path and waited for Emily and Kerry Shields to get into Monterey airport. Unfortunately, due to fog, they were turned around and had to take a shuttle from San Jose to Monterey and did not get in until 3am.
Thursday morning we were suppose to be at the venue to set up by 9am but due to the lack of sleep and inaccurate directions we didn’t get there until 10:30am. No one is allowed to drive into the venue after 9am so we were extremely lucky and thankful that the staff was understanding.
We set up next to SR Suntour and the 2014 Sea Otter Classic was officially started. Thursday was spent doing bike maintenance/ builds. SR Suntour had our new carbon steerer forks in and we were working hard to get those put on before the races the next day. Also, Kerry was working on a full bike build for Emily’s new hardtail.
In the midst of all that we managed to go on a ride and check out the new xc track, which was disappointing to say the least. However, being a fast, nontechnical course meant the race would stay together, which would be a cool change of pace.
After riding and making sure our bikes were together we headed back to the hotel and waited on Sepp and Shayna to get in.
With everybody in and ready to race stxc on Friday morning we headed over the venue early and picked Russell up on the way.
Ladies went at 10:30 and with Marianne Vos toeing the line, it was bound to be a fast race. She took off and lead the whole thing taking the victory. Shayna and Emily came in 21 and 22.
Sepp and I lined up and I managed to get a front row start. The gun went off and I found myself wedged between Todd Wells and Stephen Ettinger in third, where I stayed for the first lap. Then my lack of aggressive tactics caused me to drop to the back of that group and ride there until further getting dropped to a chase group. I ended up finishing 10th and Sepp was 26th.
A quick spin after short track. Then I walked around and talked to some of our sponsors, which is really what Sea Otter is about. It is gratifying to shake hands with the people that support our race team. Also, it gives them a chance to see that what they are supporting makes a difference and that we are very grateful for their help.
I stopped by pretty much everyone on our role call. Sharing expo space with SR Suntour all weekend was good because we were able to get help from them with fork installation as well as get to know them a little better, which was great because they are a great group of people to hang around.
Friday night after some Thai food we hit the hay in preparation for a longer than normal day on the bike for the XC.
The course consisted of two 17 mile loops that were fast and not technical at all. A mix between hard pack and sand and gravel.
The race started on the Laguna Seca Raceway and as usual the pack of the pack swarm came and kept tension high at the front of the race. about 2mi in, before the first decent, I chose the wrong line and got pinched the field in a corner. After getting off my bike and back on I was a good way back but determined to make it up to the front while the groups were still together.
Unfortunately, I managed to cling on to the back of the front group at beginning of one of the selective single track climbs but fell off as other riders opened up gaps and so forth.
I rode a good race until the last 15min. I was sitting in a group for 14th but blew pretty hard up the last climbs. The beginning efforts got to me at the end of the race. I was disappointed on a less than ideal finish but happy with how I felt during the race. I felt strong, just ran into some bad luck. It seems like Sea otter is either good or bad for me every year. This year, not so good.
Russell on the other hand smashed it! 2nd place against some very stiff competition. Almost got Sauser too! That should feel good going over to Aus for the #2 world cup.
After xc I cooled down and prowled around the venue some more. There was obviously a lot to see and I didn’t have time to see much of it until the racing was over.
I stopped by Parlee for a donut with Ben Corbalis and called it a day.
As a team we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf for Clam chowder in a bread bowl and narrowly escaped the attack of the sea gulls. They were swarming! Especially, when Kerry and Sepp started feeding them our left overs.
Sunday morning we headed up to the venue for a team ride along 17mi drive. We had to do the obligatory beach cruise and got to snap a few cool team photos.
That was it and that is all for this years edition of Sea Otter. It was great to see all of our sponsors out there and also to see some of the new and exciting things happening within the cycling world. The venue is big and there are a ton of people, which give a very strong sense of community in cycling. Everyone is there for one reason, bikes! This is my fourth Sea Otter in a row. Maybe one day I will reach Geoff Kabush status, 20+ years.