For all the hype that surrounds the Sea Otter Classic, one might expect it to be the Queen event of the spring MTB races. Perhaps it used to be, but in the last two years, the ‘far-from-epic course’ keeps it from really feeling like a mountain bike race. Barry and Erik have told me stories of how gnarly the course used to be, compared with today’s 8 x 12.5min lap circuit comprised mostly of pavement and gravel roads. Nevertheless, it is still an important event, and with all the people it brings out for a weekend of bike racing, it’s great for the industry.
Since all of us racers have plenty of other great courses to race on throughout the season, perhaps we could look at it as ‘taking one for the team.’
Churning out 8 laps on the paved race-track…mustered an 18th place, and despite improving significantly on my performance from last year, I expected more of myself. I was trailing the large lead group going into the second lap and came frustratingly close to bridging, but just couldn’t quite make it. Each subsequent lap I was simply in the wrong spot, and the time gap started to grow second by second. In the end I conceded 5.5 minutes to the leader, a deficit that is normally in the top-10 range, but the fast Sea Otter course is a beast of its own. Simply stated, I should have been further up all day. Just not my day.
The SHORT TRACK the day before, on the other hand, went better. It was a tough, bumpy course. Short, yes, but more representative of mountain bike skills. I came in a more respectable 10th. My new 29er King Kahuna w/ the flyweight Stans ZTR Race seemed to swallow up the punchy power climbs, and for being a hardtail, was not bad on the bumpy flat sections either.