A SEA OTTER CLASSIC
I FIRST STARTED COMING TO THE SEA OTTER CLASSIC for the road races. Specifically, to race on the famous Laguna Seca race course. There's nothing like diving down the corkscrew...
... tucked, at 60 mph.
Except for maybe today's XC MTB race.
We start on the same asphalt and race to the top of the same hill... then, 50-100 racers squeeze into a very hardtopass single track.
Instead of tucking to hit 60, we are flying over rock and ruts and carving turns...
... to get out of sight out of mind.
I was second through the gate, the guy in front could climb but he wasn't going nearly fast enough on that hardtail...
... as I go around his left another rider goes around his right and shuts the door on us.
He's gone, and I'm battling to get through myself.
Let me just say righ there, some people are cool and know you are being held up...
... some aren't.
As I'm closing back up to first, I completely overshoot a blind corner and go off course into the deep grass.
The gap increases to him, decreases to the hardtail.
10 minutes in and we are already catching the group that left 5 minutes ahead of us.
The trail is about 12" wide.
The only way around is through the tall grass, which requires a lot more power.
By the time I clear the first major climb of the day, 1st place is gone.
He was just a helluvalot faster.
We still have 90ish minutes of racing, which ends with one of the most heartbreaking climbs you'll ever do.
Time to settle in and go into diesel mode. Climbing at high threshold and descending like a demon.
Every now and then I look back.
Nobody is coming.
At mile 19ish, I'm feeling good and continually passing rider after rider from the previous when all of the sudden...
... that freakin' dude blows right by me.
I pick up the pace and hang on for a minute or so, but it's just too much.
The nightmare of cramping and battling the final 3-pitch climb is amazingly fresh in my mind. I opt to let him go and continue on at a pace I know I can hold for the entire day.
Yet another first rider up award to add to...
... the largest collection of 2nd places in the northern hemisphere.
That's the race story,
but not the story of my time at Sea Otter.
For me, this was a unique experience. After years blogging, and nearly a year working on my social media, and months of launching my podcast...
... some really cool things happened.
People took time to stop me, and introduce themselves and tell their stories...
... why they were there, racing.
Max studied with our son Trevor and has spent some time at the house...
... he was there doing his first race because his friends who make a really cool truck tent need someone to represent.
I hadn't seen Derek since he was 14 or so, when I was his counselor at church...
... he was there to get a better corral time for Leadville this summer.
Steve stopped by the van looking to purchase a changing poncho...
... he was there racing with his family.
Mark, who won, had been focused on the race since October...
... looking forward to aging up to the 60s. Any time on the podium with Francisco it's a good time.
I think this is Steve. He introduced me to his beautiful family as the guy who inspires him to get out and ride...
... it was the first race for his boys, and family trip back to Monterrey, where they were married.
This was by far my most satisfying trip to Sea Otter...
... maybe next year the race track will be complete and we'll hit the corkscrew again.
My friends, old and new, all had great races.
If you're struggling to get to the next level...
... check out the club.
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