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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sea Otter Classic 2010

Well, my very first Sea Otter Classic is now a few days behind me and after a long journey back to Canadian soil I had a chance to reflect on the whole experience.

Sea Otter marked the start of my race season, and the first year racing in the pro/elite category. After seeing the depth and calibre of the women’s field, I was a little intimidated at first; but after some good advice I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to compare my race time with the best of the best and simply use Sea Otter as a jumping off point for the rest of the season.
(photo by M. Mallory, CycleComponentNetwork.com)

On Tuesday April 13th, we packed up all our gear, and with my new 2010 Rocky Mountain Flatline and CycleComponentNetwok crew in tow we set out for our 20+ hour journey to Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California. We arrived the next afternoon and were greeted with warm weather and blue skies- This was a nice change from the cold and wet we left behind in BC.

After settling in me, Taylor and Andreas (two fellow CCN team racers) walked the DH course to get the lay of the land. We were so stoked to just get out there and ride our bikes after such a long journey. The course was very Kamloops like, and consisted of lots of jumps, berms, high-speed straight-a ways and lots... I mean lots of pedaling sections!

Practice for the pros were in the mornings, so it was great to be able to get lots of riding in and then walk the vendors area, and take in all the many events going on. Getting on course for the first time was actually a little surreal as there I stood, in line with some of the greatest riders in the world... Steve Peat, Greg Minar, Rachel and Dan Atherton and Sabrina Jonier, waiting to drop in! I was pretty excited to ride the new bike and get a feel for how it took to the course.
A lot of riders talked about using a short travel bike for the DH, but my Flatline World Cup felt great! With all the ruts and holes that developed through the course of the weekend I was glad to have 8 inches of travel.

Before practice on Saturday I had the chance to take in most of the qualifying rounds for the Pro-Dual Slalom. Having had the pleasure to watch the pros take to the Whistler Dual Slalom course during Crankworx last year, this was definitely an event I was looking forward. I even rushed back to the course after getting in a few last minute training laps in the afternoon on the DH course to catch the end of the finals. Besides racing the downhill, the Dual Slalom was by far the highlight of the weekend for me. It was pretty inspiring getting to watch the speed and fluidity many of the riders came through the course with; it definitely inspired me to hit the pump track and slalom course (when it’s built in Whistler) upon our return to BC.

The Downhill was on the final day of Sea Otter and the crowd turn out was amazing. The course was super fast, and any wet spots had dried up by race time, but there were also a few more ruts to contend with than previous days. The women were the first to race; I was definitely happy with this as the afternoons were scorching (for us Canadians at least). I was glad I brought along my Troy Lee Designs "XC-Lite" shorts for race day.

As the race got under way I made sure to keep the nerves down; I was fourth in line to drop into the course so at least I didn't have too much time to over think things. I did pretty good through the top section but near the end I ended up casing one of the gap jumps; this defeintely cost me some time. I was happy with my time, but as with any race there are always things you could have done better; I know for next year I can definitely pedal a lot more! Next year I will be looking forward to some redemption, especially since I'll know what to expect from the course.

All in all, the entire experience was amazing and it was great to see so many bike enthusiasts from all avenues compiled into one big venue! From a race perspective, the organization was great. The shuttle system was efficient, and every person I came into contact with just amazing! I got to meet some great people and I will definitely be back next year... I am looking forward to competing in both the DH and Dual Slalom events.
Thanks CycleComponentNetwork for making this trip a success!

Cheers!