This weekend my two teammates (known here on out as TDub and BK) and I from Team Clif Bar MTB and CX took on the Sea Otter Classic. Sea Otter has always been a challenge for me. In years past, I have done the following at Sea Otter: rented a motor home and almost crashed it, got strep throat, booked a ticket home for a week later and got so dehydrated I just stopped under a tree and began handing out bottled water to other racers. I have never been able to put together a solid showing at Sea Otter, probably because I get to used to the thin and cold air of the mountains and choke on thickness of Laguna Seca oxygen.
This year I came into the race without any expectations. All three of us had been racing CX into January and instead of doing are MTB homework the rest of winter decided to take a break. BK and I raced in Puerto Rico March and the previous weekend TDub and I raced in Rumble at 18 Road in Fruita. But other then that I didn’t have much intensity in me. I had instead been going for super long rides through the foothills of the Boulder County Front Range.
Friday brought on the first race of the weekend for us with short track. The Sea Otter short track course is notoriously bumpy and extremely hard to move up, so the start is everything. I decided in the morning it would be a good idea to attempt to ride the part of the XC to check it out before going to the line. I cut off section that I thought I knew well enough for the race and headed out to the new stuff. I looked at the time and decided I might not make it back in time for the start. I called BK hoping I could get him to meet me at the start with my number. No answer. At this point I am all the way at the bottom of the XC course and need to climb the back to the venue. I decide this will be a good warm up to drill it back to venue. Not so. But I did make it for the start and I got my number on the bike on the line. Didn’t start so well and then saw TDub on the side of trail after apparently having his bike launched out from under his arms by another racer. I moved up, got tired, moved back and then got pulled. The upside is I got to watch my good friend Colin “Care Bear” Cares of Kenda/Felt have a solid finish.
Saturday, Part 1, was the XC. This year it was a one lap 20 mile race. Kabush won in 1:14, so the race was full gas the from the beginning. I got off the pavement in safe and in pretty good position, which is a feat when riding with a bunch of MTB guys on the road. The course then rolls across a super hilly fire road and then into first single track decent. To my surprise, I was able to stick with the front group down the descent and up the next climb, and across until the course descended again. Me and some other guys on the tail end of the group got gapped off through the dusty descents, but we formed a solid group and kept going strong, picking off people getting dropped of the front group. By the time we hit the bottom of the course it was down to myself, Kris Sneddon, Niel Kindre and fellow Colorado bro Russel Finsterwald. I hit the climb first and kept going solid. I managed to get away from those guys and kept catching glimpses of JHK and Stephen Ettinger. Stephen was fading fast and I caught him hoping he could stay on my wheel and we would make it into the finish together, but no such luck. I came across the line in 9th. Which was not only my best Sea Otter results but probably one of my best results ever considering the strength of this year’s field. It is a nice validation after putting in some hard work this February and March.
That evening the Sea Otter hosted a CX race, I am pretty sure it is the first ever cross race held in April. But it was a fun event with no pressure and lots of people heckling. My highlights included taking a quesadilla feed, four dollar hand-ups, and possibly punching a spectator while trying to get rather risque hand up. Tdub and I finshed 4th and 5th and BK got 9th.
We are now off to the Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott Arizona, which will also be a super strong field. The race is ridden in memory of Brady, Troy and I’s fallen teammate, Mike Janelle. Come find us at the Kappius Components tent check out the sweet new hubs that BK and his Dad invented and just showed off at Sea Otter.
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Here are some fun photos from the weekend
MTB friends, Sunday recovery ride. There is a 1500 vertical MTB only decent.
Got to ride with my BBFs Colin and Stephen
And this thing is just cool.