Sea Otter was a BLAST!

I have avoided the Sea Otter cross country race like the plague since I switched from racing skinny tire bikes on the road to knobbys on the dirt. I always heard about all the sand, the fire roads and the general “terribleness” of it all. Well, there was a lot of sand, tons of fire roads, but instead of terrible I experienced a whole lot of awesome, fast, crazy fun!
Before the race I got to hang out with all the cool people in the Marin Bikes tent, which is always a good time. Tsering was an angel and offered to feed me during the race, and I even picked up a legit trucker hat that looks like it says “suffer and stroke” 🙂 Then I went to warm up on the Laguna seca race track and got to chat up some awesome fast women like Emily Batty, Erin Alders and Vanessa Humic to name a few. The highlight of the race was the call ups for me because I was standing right behind Marianne Vos while the Olympians and national champions were called to the line ( well until she was called up which was pretty soon after the call ups started). I was already having a blast when the announcer yelled “go”, and rode right to the front of the group of about 45 women for the paved section of the race. I was nervous about the transition to dirt because there were some ruts, not many good lines, and so much nervous energy around. We all made it onto the dirt fine though, and by the first fire road climb I was sitting around 15th place. Well, there was some fun fire road racing, I crashed pretty hard on a rut and unseated my rear wheel from the dropouts (had a moment of panic that my race was over when my rear wheel wouldn’t spin until I tried resetting the qr skewer). Got passed by quite a few women and had to work to start catching them. The next large portion of the race was basically an exercise in passing on narrow climb-y sections and trying my darnedest to corner in the sand on the descend-y sections. Finally we came to the final fire road climb (of whose length I was completely unaware) and I was able to get around the last rider holding me back. I picked off a few women on this climb, including an Olympian 🙂 and was feeling really good and strong riding up the last of the ridge top rollers into the final dirt section that spit me back onto the race track. Overall I finished 18th, which met my top 20 goal for the day. I was a bit disappointed because the crash and not per-riding the course cost me a lot of time, but was so happy to have survived, and to check another XCT race off the calendar! As always, a huge shout out goes to our awesome sponsors who make racing my bike so much fun, especially Smith Optics, Gu, and Marin Bikes (you guys are incredible, and I would have died without that feed!)
Post race ( after I went to the car and ate ALL the food we had brought) I got to meet some of the reps for the brands that support us, watched dual slalom finals, and got to see Single Track High, which made almost all of us cry. A perfect day at the Otter if you ask me!
-Larissa