Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sea Otter Classic

I entered the Mountain Bike XC race as a CAT2 rider. I have never done a cross country bike race of any kind before so after asking a few people where I should start, I decided this was probably a good place.  I have always wanted to do a mountain bike race since I was a kid so I was really excited to be finally competing in one so many years later!

My friend Gaylia helped me find a homestay with Sharon Osgood and her family that lived close by and whom I met at my first race in the US in 2004 at Wildflower.  They made me feel right at home and assured me the course would suit me.  I registered on Friday afternoon when I arrived and met up with the girls at Sidi who introduced me to a 24hr solo mountain bike champion, Timari Pruis to pre ride the course with. Timari was helping out at her sponsor's booth for the 4 day event.

We met Saturday morning and we chatted as we rode and I asked her too many questions I'm sure, but she was very helpful with riding tips as I crashed a couple of times (as far as I know she didn't laugh!) but I did as she told me and it worked and I followed her lines for most of the ride.


I rode the last 7miles solo as Timari had to get back to the expo but made it back in time for an icy cold pepsi (as it was nice and warm out) and had a visit to the Shimano booth for some mechanical repairs to be made....probably done when I crashed!
View from the top of the bike course 

 I was driving from the supermarket back to the Osgood's house and had just turned up the climb when I noticed a guy who had crashed his bike, trying to use his phone. The Grand Fondo for Sea Otter was going on and he was one of the cyclists in the event. I pulled over and asked him if he was ok...turns out he crashed a while back and his rear derailier had just snapped so he couldn't go anywhere. I put his bike in my car, told him to get in the front and asked if he wanted one of the cold beers I had just bought! I don't think he thought I was serious and just laughed. He said his friend was up ahead and both their girlfriend's had gone to the Monterey Aquarium whilst they rode so he would have been waiting a while. I dropped him off and told him to wait at the finish line for the Grand Fondo with a beer for his friend and then ask him when he comes in 'where have you been...I finished a couple of beers ago!"  Somehow I think he just went back to his car, threw his bike in and went to the medical tent to get cleaned up!

I got up early Saturday morning to make it to the event to warm up and get to the race track in plenty of time...I was wondering where all the women were for the start...turns out I was over an hour early for my start time. I went back to my car to warm up as it was cold and foggy. Then I got back on my bike to warm up again and head over to the race track.
Day Before was Clear

About 13 or so lined up on the line to start in my age group and a few people told me to sprint for the first few miles so that is what I did and lead out the group around the race track and onto the trail.

I was just hoping that I wouldnt get nailed on the downhill but as it turns out there were only a few of us together by the first downhill and I followed one of the girls down and onto the single track. I stayed with her for a short time and then she was gone....until the uphill where I caught back up to her. This was the theme until half way through and then we didn't cross paths again....I had made a little gap.

I came across parts of the course that the day before I had either crashed or taken very cautiously but during the race I was fine and went down one downhill I crashed on on Friday and didn't realise until I was at the bottom it was that decent....that was a positive.

As I rode along the course, I was passing mountain bikers from earlier categories and with one short downhill to the finish I caught up to the first junior female and slowed up so she could go down first....she stayed with the guys ahead of us and I stayed up with her....I felt pretty good about that!!!(and laughed at myself!).

There were lots of spectators at the finish and the riders all waited for their friends to finish and were chatting about their 20.2mile adventure with over 3500ft of climbing. Everyone and their bikes were covered in dirt but were all happy campers for having finished a tough race.
I did a short cool down spin and headed to the expo to tell Timari that I did better than Friday when we rode and did what she told me to and it worked and then over to the awards to receive my yellow jersey and goodie bag for winning my category. As it turns out 2nd and 3rd place live within 10 miles of me!
 Yellow Jersey

I got some food and went back to the Osgood's to shower and clean up before driving home as I was filthy and the dirt had really stuck to my gravel rash from the day before as I put Neosporin on it that morning.

The vibe of the whole scene was very relaxed, friendly and fun and I got to watch some incredibly talented downhill slalom races,road races, BMX stunts and XC mountain bikers ride/race.

I was most happy that I came out of it in one piece and could tick off having done a race I have thought about doing since I was a little kid.And I came out with a yellow jersey....still makes me chuckle!

Thank you to Gaylia for organising a great homestay and to the Osgood family for having me stay with them, you made my trip a very relaxed and pleasant one.

To my sponsors who provide me with the equipment I need to do my job (and some side gigs like this type of race!). Reynolds have some new carbon tubeless race wheels they sent me to use which were fantastic. Wilier for providing me with other type of TT bike....called a mountain bike, Nathan for the comfy and much needed hydration pack, Rudy Project for protecting my eyes both in and out of the bushes (upright and tumbling) and my head with their helmets, Mikes Bikes for always looking after me, Sidi for protecting my feet and keeping me clipped in, John Cobb for keeping my toosh comfy with his saddle, Saucony for my clothing and running shoes, Flora Inc for supplying my body with world class supplements, Profile Design for my parts and accessories(their sister co. Titec) and the crew at Mike's Bikes for getting my mtn bike race ready!