Sea Otter Classic

The day after Moab Rocks finished on April 17th I travelled back up to Salt Lake City with Geoff and flew over to Oakland, California. Picked up the mini-van rental and pointed south to Monterey for the Sea Otter Classic. 

Sea Otter’s DH course was stage 1 for the Enduro

As a kid into cycling, like any other, I read all about Sea Otter growing up and it was a pipe dream of my father and I to attend the event together one day. We still haven’t been together but I plan to do it one day. This year marked my 6th visit in a row after a getting a late cycling “career” start to the event.

The slalom course was the fourth and final stage for the enduro. 

Every year slowly progressed better and better, until my little childhood dream of standing of on a podium at Sea Otter with some legends of the cycling world finally happened. On top of that I stood beside one of my best buds – Mckay Vezina. It was a special day. 

Post-race reviewing with the guys

Back to the beginning of the week after travelling post-Moab Rocks I had one “rest day” before pre-riding the endure course on the Wednesday and getting all the registration packages for my little over zealously planned three days of racing at Sea Otter – Enduro, short track cross-country, and olympic-distance cross-country. The fields were quite as deep this year as last but the front end of the fields were stacked with heavy hitters. 

Podium L to R: Mckay, Josh, Jared, Kurtis, and myself.

Day 1 for the enduro you may know guys like Jared Graves (multi time, multi discipline world champ), Kurtis Keene, Josh Carlson and Mckay Vezina. All top EWS racers and the fella’s I got to pre-ride with on Wednesday. We joked, we rode, we made fun of each other and we also all stood on the podium together the following day with Jared winning, Kurtis second, Josh third, myself fourth, and Mckay fifth. Mission accomplished on day 1 – to get that elusive Sea Otter podium after finishing 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th in previous years’ events. 

Photos below by Chris Vezina

Day 2 of racing was the short track. It’s a fast and furious short course that really comes down to having that fresh, top-end followed with a bit of luck from the start to get in the lead group. After being the lead group three of the last four years I figured out it’s quite a lot easier to fight upfront than it is to fight for ~15th.

Luck was not on my side as I got boxed in from two riders right at the start and the rider in front of me was slower to get into his and my very quick hesitation to slow down my momentum meant I was swarmed from both sides and back outside the top-20. Not long after the start there are  bunch of turns through an uphill sand pit and I watched the front group ride away while coming to stop back in the pack. Tried fighting to move up the gap was too much for my abilities on the day. Next year. 

Day 2 of racing was the hardest of the weekend; the cross-country race that took us around 8 short laps inside the famous Laguna Seca raceway that had nothing technical about it, just open climbs, steep climbs, a few turns and a  brutally fast pace. Much like the short track it’s important to have a good first lap to make that front group.

I was smarter than day and was into the 10-15th ish range by the end of the first lap and was pretty tapped out while sticking onto the back of this group while we went into these sand pits again and of course I came to a stop again and watched the group ride away. I was missing that little bit of zip needed to jump back onto the group but it also seemed like playing in a sand pit might need to be added into training for next years event! I just never could make it back up and as the front group split into many little groups I was caught by a group behind me and spent the majority of the race there and when it came to the final lap that group of 5 had more than I did on the final climb and they danced away.

I was trying to dance but couldn’t quite make those salsa moves turn into anything. 20th place there and nothing to write home about but after three days of racing I couldn’t have left anything more out there. 

It was great to see most of my sponsors, catch up with friends, and meet new people. Sea Otter is a unique event and one that I’ve already had great memories come from. The racing isn’t the usual courses we’re used to but fast riders on the line always make a hard race. 

It’s worth mentioning that I used the same bike for all three races: Pivot Mach 429SL with FOX’s new 34 120mm step cast fork, RaceFace Next SL cockpit, cranks, wheels, and Schwalbe tires (Nobby Nic’s for Enduro, Thunder Burt rear and Racing Ralph front for short track and cross-country). 

 

 

Photo: Kenny Wehn

Photo: Kenny Wehn

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