We arrived in Salinas on Wednesday after spending two good days in SLO.
Thursday we headed to the venue where James had the tent and etc set up, real pro like.
I did an xc course lap with Russell with anticipation, due to rumors of a different course. I was sadly let down as it was the same as the last two years. Oh well, as Carl Decker outlines here, in this interesting perspective on the Sea Otter, it’s not really about racers or cool courses, it’s about the industry, what’s new, and promotion.
I don’t like Sea Otter because of the race. I like sea otter because it is a chance that all of your teams sponsors are in one place and you can go around and easily converse, face to face, and get to know them on a more personal level than just email. Also, it’s a great chance to get some cool new product 🙂
Friday was STXC day. I was pumped because the race was at 11am, which is perfect race time in my opinion. 20min plus 3 laps meant a 25min race for me and it was full gas the whole time. As soon as you stopped pedaling someone from behind came tail gunning and you could easily fall to the back of a group, or off the back of a group, which was the case in my experience. After a so-so start I was constantly being yo-yo’d off the front group and that couldn’t last long. Especially on a course like they had set up. No room to pass, just cornering and suffering.
I ended up 17th and was happy to get that out of the way and hopefully be opened up for the XC.
Friday afternoon I made some rounds to sponsors and then relaxed. That evening we convened as a team in Monterey for dinner with the Raleigh USA staff. Very cool to talk bikes and put a face to some names that I had heard before.
Saturday morning was the same routine, 11am start, perfect!
Per usual, the track start was hectic and wide open. I managed to keep my elbows sharp and maintain a top ten heading into the dirt and into the first single track section, which was key because the lead group formed there. Fernando and I made the cut and sat in the group the first lap all the way back to the raceway and back out for another lap. About 10min into the lap is the first single track section. Here a crash took place at the bottom of the single track climb and I was caught behind it. leaving a 5 second gap to the front group. Unfortunately, I couldn’t close it and sagged back into a chase group with Adam Morka and Andre Frisnickt f Scott Odolo. We rode together past the second feed, about halfway through the lap, and then I started to come unglued. I managed to back off some and hold it together to the gravel climb back to the raceway. I could see Morka and Andre bridging up to the front group, which was a little crushing (shoulda, coulda, woulda). I also looked back and saw a chase group so it was tt mode back to the raceway for me. I brought it in solo for 14th, which I was happy with. Just off the lead group and was able to dig deep when I needed to in order to hold off some chasers.
With Sea Otter done it was time to relax some more, just hang out at the venue and schmooze with the industry folk. I also made it a point to devour some delicious kettle corn, irresistible and addicting. All the while watching my team mates, Caroline, Lance, Jamey, and Laurel suffer during the CX race.
Saturday night we headed into Monterey and hit the Fishermans wharf for clam chowda! One of my favorite Sea Otter traditions.
Sunday, no alarms were set but we got to the venue by 11am for photo shoot at the team tent. Then a fun ride down the iconic 17 mile drive and back to the venue to help James break down the tent.
Just like that, Sea Otter came and went. I always dread it every year because there is so much going on. Though this year, with a different perspective it was a little more bearable and even enjoyable. The new Raleigh-Clement team is great and lends a helping hand in helping me to enjoy time spent at the venue.
Monday we hoped a flight to Phoenix from San Jose and settled down into our VRBO in Prescott where we will be for the next two weeks. This week for Whiskey 50 Proof and next weekend the Chino Gravel Grinder. Stay tuned!