After weeks of planning and anticipation Sea Otter weekend had finally arrived. We packed the car to capacity and headed south from Ashland with four pasty Oregonians hungry for sun. On our trip down we made a detour to stretch our legs and enjoy the birthplace of mountain biking, Mount Tamalpias. After we got a good taste of the local trails we scarfed some burritos and continued south to Aptos where our driver Austin’s mother so kindly let us stay for the night.
The next morning we were up bright and early so we could get to the venue, get signed in and settled at our campsite, and relax until the Cat 1 start at 1:30 in the afternoon. Just as we had expected, it was hot, insane hot for us Oregonians. Bekah and Danny were right behind me at registration, signing up to race that afternoon as well. After Matt got done registering for Saturday’s pro race he disappeared in to the land of Sea Otter while Austin, our trusty Rastafarian water boy and cat2 crusher Shane, and I found shade under the only tree in the venue right by the pond. We kept cool just as long as we could until it was time to get a little spin on and make it to the start line. 1:45 ticked around and we were off with just barely over twenty riders in our 19-24 cat1 age group.
For most of the first lap I went back and forth with Austin, doing my best to not boil over in the extreme heat. I was doing fine until about halfway through the lap I charged one of the blind rutted descents and ejected a bottle. It was my only full bottle left so I stopped real quick to pick it up only to have Austin and another rider fly by and the bottle eject for good about thirty feet down the trail. I was frustrated to say the least but I knew the aid station wasn’t too far ahead so I conserved made due with the water I had until the aid station where I had to stop and fill my bottle and again watch Austin and a few riders re-pass me. We had caught up to group of riders from our category and stayed with them until the final climb where Austin was starting to lead them away when I had to stop yet again to relieve myself of the Redbull I had consumed before my race.
Frustrated and thirsty I finished up the lap and to my surprise Shane and Matt were waiting at the lap with two fresh bottles of water for me and news that Austin was about 2 minutes ahead of me. With new water, the first lap behind me, and Austin just ahead of me I felt my second wind. The second lap seemed to be a lot cooler with a slight breeze, full bottles, and faster descents without brake-riding-line-blocking roadies to follow. I managed to keep the rubber side down and get a fresh bottle at the aid station giving me enough water to squeeze down the 500 or so Gu’s I went through and finish the 40 mile course in 3:16, 9th in my age group.
I had survived the heat and had improved on last year’s time. I later found out that Danny didn’t get quite as lucky, he had ejected a bottle early on leaving him parched and nauseas starting his second lap. He made it a few miles and decided to turn back when he started getting dizzy. Bekah had survived the heat and crushed her race, finishing 10th in her age group and just under 2 hours. Like a lot of rider’s she didn’t enjoy the percentage of road there was in the course, but said her new hardtail handled it very well. It was a hot day of racing but a great break from the cold Oregon weather we had been used to riding in. The next day Matt was off in the pro race but got hung up in a crash midway through, dislocating his finger. He used a co2 cartridge to splint his finger and was able to finish the race rubber side down. We spent much of saturday hiding under trees and applying sunscreen since it was another scorcher. That night we went out to dinner with Marin and some of the factory riders. We listened to stories of Steve “Gravy” Gravenites fighting for his right to ride his bike all night and had a great time with the Marin crew. Sunday came around faster than expected and before I knew it we were already packing up, saying our goodbyes in the venue and back on the road north to Ashland. It was another Sea Otter for the books, my first year on a Marin and it was a great to meet some of the faces behind the names, looking forward to the rest of the season! See you at the Ashland Spring Thaw!
|Photos by Shane Stiles|
Till next time!