Oh man, the trip to California aka, my “sanity tour” is usually a highlight of the season for me. I was heading into the first set of races at Bonelli Park with so much excitement. Winter and spring training had been tough, with relentlessly poor weather leading to mainly indoor trainer workouts, but those indoor trainer sessions had been more intense than previous years and my power gains were huge. I couldn’t WAIT to put those power numbers down on dirt! And with the super light, hardtale Santa Cruz Highball under me, I was ready to crush souls.
The only soul, however, that was crushed, was my own.
The art of trail speed gets rusty and crusty when it sits untouched. And if that indoor power can’t be transferred to trail speed, I might as well be wearing a lead jacket.
Bonelli XC & STXC was a big o’ slap in the face.
A few hours drive north and I have a chance to redeem myself at The Sea Otter Classic.
I try to keep the idea in mind that every race and every experience is a learning opportunity. No matter how well, or how poorly the race goes – there is always some lesson to be learned.
On the plus side, the venue is so intimate, yet all the big names attend the race – UCI points – so I was able to fan-girl over some of my heroes. s.
At Sea Otter, the races are only a slice of the activities. The social side of re-connecting and making new connections through the week’s events and festivities tend to be just as enjoyable, if not more enjoyable than the actual racing. For me, the first stop was a trip to the Juliana / Santa Cruz Factory to pickup a bike for the enduro. I rode nearby trails to dial in the fit, then headed back to the factory for “Juliana Night’.
My hotel was near the beach.
The next few days I spent pre-riding the Enduro, XC & Short Track courses.
The enduro gets a lot of participants. Here we are waiting for the officials to start sending off the racers in 30 second increments. One of the major benefits of racing the Pro category is being able to start at the front. Look at at that line!!
My Enduro result wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t terrible either. I rode hard, but wasn’t feeling ‘up to speed’ yet. I had a sloppy slide out through a kitty-litter like corner, then caught the girl in front of me and couldn’t get by. Certainly an improvement over Bonelli last weekend.
Five seconds of fame on PinkBike!
In between races, I was either exploring the expo or hanging at the Santa Cruz / Juliana tent – with a sick espresso setup.
Check this link out, if you want to see pics of the Sea Otter Expo: https://www.mtbnj.com/forum/threads/bonelli-sea-otter.44449/page-4.
And plenty more fan-girl action.
Short track was next up, but not before a really awesome night out with a pile of bike industry gals.
My short track races was good. I was happy with how it turned out, I kept powering through each painful lap and finished on the lead lap. My result wasn’t great, again, but each race I was feeling more and more confident on the new bike and my power was starting to find it’s way into trail speed. The Sea Otter Short Track course is notoriously bland with lots of asphalt, gutters and sand. It is what it is.
I was a bit delirious by the finish and cruised along the xc course to cool down. When my brain started functioning again I decided I’d do a cool down lap on the xc course. As I rolled into the first single track the Clif Luna Pro team rolled past doing their cool down. Katerina Nash & Magdalee Rochette rolled down the single track with me. I say hello and we all introduce ourselves – although they need no introduction.
50 yards in we encounter a 7 foot tall chain link fence that is locked with a giant chain & padlock.
Without skipping a beat, Katerina hops off her bike, scales the fence and tells us to pass the bikes over. Which we do and promptly scale the fence after her. We then roll on chit-chatting and reviewing the rest of the course. I silently curse myself for wearing a skinsuit w/o pockets putting me in a position of having no phone to document the awesomeness of this event. Seriously, this may have been the best part of the entire trip.
The next day, Saturday, is the Cross Country race. I put down what I can and am delighted to find I’m engaged in some back and forth battles throughout the lap, and the super steep ‘barf hill’ is a spot I can hammer and MAKE PASSES. I get pulled though – and that stinks, but overall I’m pleased to end on a positive note.
Then it’s the dreaded, bike break down in the grassy field and off to the airport.
I get zero sleep on the red eye home and pull into the driveway just in time to head back out to the Mooch Madness race – one of my favorites – boy does it feel good to be on East Coast rocks.
Finally home, it’s time to catch up on snuggle time with this gorgeous pup.