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Sea Otter!

April 23, 2010

Bikes.  BMX bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, 30 pound full suspension downhill rigs, 15 pound hard tail cross country racers, unicycles, 29ers, steel bikes with down tube shifters, mountain bikes that have not ever seen dirt, road bikes converted to cross bikes.  Bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere!

There is no real way to explain the Sea Otter.  It is held in Monterey, CA at the Laguna Seca Raceway.  Over 4 days, the event sees over 50,000 spectators, and 10,000 athletes.  It is part bike carnival, part industry launching pad, part party.  And oh yeah, and there is lots of racing!

Only at the Sea Otter can you watch a road race on the Laguna Seca Track, while you watch dual slalom, and also see trials in the distance.  And the Expo – it is huge, and a who’s who of the cycling industry.  This year there were lots of product launches, and opportunities to test ride bikes on a demo course.  I visited with Scot at the Ibis booth, and got to check out a Mojo first hand.  I also spent some time over at the SRAM tent, checking out their new components, and trying to figure out what the blacked out components were on their bikes (their top secret stuff is blacked out with no logo while they test it out).   And swag, the first rule of the sea otter is to have a swag bag, the second rule is to try to find the best swag.  I have decided for some reason this was the year of the t-shirt.   Also, cool branded beer glasses can be had if you know where to look.  Of course, stickers, samples (tri flow is one of my favorites), and cow bells are abound.

Me with Scot from Ibis, and a really cool Mojo

Me with Scot from Ibis, and a really cool Mojo

But the riding is why we go to the Sea Otter.  I had a chance to ride the Cross Country Course with my dad and good friend, Mary Ellen, who was racing on Friday morning.  Riding the course with them made me want to race – I was figuring out where I could attack, and where I would have to defend my position.  It is a beautifully done course – through green hills, with ocean views.  There is tight, flowy, smooth single track, steep, gnarly, sandy climbing, and a couple of fire roads thrown in for good measure.  In all, 18 miles of mountain bike bliss.

Sweet Sea Otter singletrack

The next morning, we had a 7am start for our Gran Fondo.  That meant early to bed, and very early to rise.  Sea Otter Saturday is mayhem – not only are there all kinds of races happening, but they also have the Gran Fondo and Mountain Bike Tours that day.  It is a crazy day to say the least.  I was riding the Gran Fondo with my dad.  We got to the venue in the dark, got the car parked, and followed the crowd to the start.  They start the Gran Fondo on the Laguna Seca track – and it struck me as I waited for the start, with 1,300 other riders, that cyclists come in all shapes, types, and sizes.  I saw Joe Pro Racer types on $10,000 bikes and kitted out like pros.  I saw groups of women in matching jerseys.  I saw a guy on a unicycle (yes, it had breaks, and the wheel was huge).  I saw a guy on a steel mountain bike with flat pedals.  I saw a gal, pedaling her road bike in Keen sandals.  You name it, I saw it – but what struck me is that we were all there to ride our bikes.  I was amazed at the sea of people that were there at 7am on a Saturday morning to do a ride together.

Me at the start of the Gran Fondo with 1,300 other riders

The ride was beautiful, we started at Laguna Seca, and dropped down towards Monterey Bay through Fort Ord (now CSU Monterey).  Once at the bay, we rode along the coast, with the ocean in view most of the way.  The weather was phenomenal – sunny, clear, and warm.  The ride ends with a 5 mile climb up the south boundary road, back up to Laguna Seca.  Too soon, the ride was over, and it was time for lunch and a beer.  We watched the women’s and men’s pro short track that afternoon.  What incredible athletes, they really push them selves to the max.

All too soon, we were cheering on Mary Ellen at her race Sunday morning, and getting ready to pack up and head home.  Next year, I will be racing, and I will be racing to win my category!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen McNulty permalink
    April 23, 2010 3:17 pm

    I miss it already friend

  2. brkeyes7 permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:11 am

    Way to represent at Sea Otter! Its on my short list of events for next year. Sounds like a lot of fun.

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