Monday, April 22, 2013

The Big Show, The Circus...The Otter

What ever you want to call it, the Sea Otter is definitely one of the biggest races of the year.  With a huge industry presence, World Cup caliber competition and a wide variety of events ranging from BMX to road racing and even CX its a must do least once.
Monterey - Can't go wrong racing in a place like this...

Last time I did Sea Otter was 2002.  I had a great result, but never the desire to return.  In 2002 we left Tucson and it just never made sense to attempt Sea Otter after spending a winter in WI.  This year with our extended stay in Tucson we had to make a comeback.  The circus was even bigger and more spectacular than I remember.  I'm not quite sure if I really liked it though.....waiting 35 minutes in line just to park 25 minutes away from the venue in a dusty field.  Crossing 3 spectator bridges to span
the Laguna Seca without getting wheelied on by a DH'er, and getting lucky to navigate the maze of the entire thing just to make it to the start line on time....that is if you really knew when your start time was.

Anyway I was there and tried to make the best of it....the circus started with a short track.  At it was definitely a circus when I rolled to the line in about 80th position...nothing like starting the first big race of the year in last place!  This photo tells all about 20 seconds into the race I was already 25 seconds off the back and standing still waiting to go thru corner #2.  Luckily I had great legs and used some cross skills to fight all the way back to 13th place!  Click below pic for video.

Day 2 was the XC on Saturday at high noon.  After being stuck in a traffic jam for way too long I decided I wasn't going to make it in time and had to abandon my car on the side of the road to make it to the start line.  I had a call up after the short track performance, but it didn't matter when the field barged to the line after about 15 guys were called up.  I started great but was boxed in before a pivotal moment and exited the pavement in about 30th position.  There I stayed for the next 15 minutes as the course descended at high speeds with only one line available.  Once the course started pointing up and opening up a bit the gaps were formed, but I slowly started picking my way forward.  I was riding mostly with Alex Grant from Sho-Air-Cannondale and we were working good together picking guys off one by one.  We ended up catching Olympic Champ Kulhavy on the last climb and dropped him!  Alex's teammate Ben Sonntag latched on at the last minute and we had a 3 up tactical sprint on the track!  It was fun, but I was really hoping for better than 19th after the way I felt in the short track...maybe I peaked a day early!

Overall it was a fast trip to Monterrey.  I didn't get to check out 17 mile drive or Pebble Beach, I didn't make it to Cannery Row, but I did get to the Wharf for a bread bowl of Clam Chowder!  Huge thanks to ProGold Lubricants, Trek Bicycles, and of course Andrea for making life just a little easier under the big top!

Andrea made it to 17 mile drive!  Saturday morning...I'm jealous.
Post race recovery Clam Chowder on the Wharf!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I am Golden. My bikes are dialed. I am hanging in California in a really nice place. San Luis Obispo to be exact. Thursday we will drive north 3 hours and be ready for the first big race of the year. The Sea Otter Classic. It's been since 2002 since I have raced the Sea Otter and thanks to my good buddy Doug Swanson I have the results that say (at least in my book) I had a pretty good outing at the last go.

 This year I am not sure exactly where I will stack up, but I am confident heading into the race that my equipment is the best and I am well trained. In fact maybe a little too well trained! Last week I finished up the last of the first month of base miles with a huge week on the bike. Most of it was spent on the new MTB's getting familiar with the big wheels and the last two days were amidst traveling to CA.

Last Tuesday I did a killer ride on the new SF100. I road up Reddington Rd, up the AZ Trail, up the Back Side of Mt. Lemmon to Bug Springs and then down all the way home. I was pretty impressed with the 29er's ability to descend...and maybe more impressed with its ability to bulldoze over rocks. I struggled on the steep stuff with step ups as my timing with my pedal stroke and the big wheels was a little off....working on that...

 Wed I went really really big with my first ride on the Superfly hard tail. Up Mt. Lemmon then down the back side dirt road to the Circle K in Oracle...then a 'U' turn and back up the dirt road to the top of Lemmon again. 13,000+ feet of climbibng in 8.5 hours and 125 miles.

Thursday was the last day in Tucson and I did Bug Springs one last time...its the best trail in Tucson! The desert was beautiful with all the cactus in full bloom!

 Friday we drove to Indian Wells to see Andrea's sister Carrie. Saturday morning I studied up some Strava segments and put together a pretty good route with over 5,000 ft of climbing. I was pretty impressed with the area....but the place is a little pricey for my wallet! After Saturdays ride we finished up the drive to our destination of San Luis Obispo...en route we found some of the best Mexican food I have ever eaten in Santa Barbara...Taqueria Cuernavaca! So Authentic and So Good!  


Sunday I was pretty tired, but the life of the Pacific Ocean gave me enough energy to finish up one last 4.5 hour ride up the PCH to Cambria and then up Santa Rosa Creek Rd....I think they were or did use this road in the Tour of California one year....pretty sweet climb that just got steeper and steeper.

 All in all it was a pretty awesome week! 36,250 feet of climbing, 400 miles, and 26 hours. I was pretty good until I took a day off the bike yesterday and now today I'm finally smashed! Time to rest up for Sea Otter!  Oscor is a great travel partner and is adapting to all his new surroundings like a champ! 

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Rippin' Crashin' Wrenchin' & Racin'

It's been a while since the last update! Here goes.....less than a week left in Tucson, which means sometime last week the countdown was on. Usually that means time to hit every mtb trail in town one last time. This year however it meant get an even bigger bike and really let it rip! So I borrowed a Slash with a full 6 inches of suspension and took it out for a few final downhill runs! Man that was fun until....I just clipped my bar on a rock outcrop and took a big time crash....oops no more downhill runs for this guy! Check out this video from the day before the crash when I went for an awesome ride with Josey Weik.  My bar looks like it was millimeters from the Rock that caused the crash.

Even though I wanted to do more DH runs it was time to make the transition thanks to the UPS man and all my sponsors! On Thursday all my goods for the season arrived including some new Oakley Racing Jackets, a full slew of Shimano XTR components, a new Superfly PRO SL hard tail frame, and a couple of Rock Shox! That's right...a new sponsor for the season. Rock Shox is on board w/ full support! Good thing too w/ new 29er bikes its nice to have the lightest suspension forks out there...
I spent all day Thursday waiting for the UPS man and once he arrived the wrenches started turning! By evening a had a Superfly 100 built and a Superfly Po SL half built.

Friday I had time to get in a shakedown ride on the SF100 w/ Momentum Endurance athlete Mike Carney who is down in Tucson getting in a solid week of sunshine and good miles. Everything felt great...after an awesome dinner it was up to Phoenix to stay the night w/ Brad Palumbo and family.

Saturday morning it was off to the races in Prescott! The Punisher....and yes the course lent itself to a punishment. It was a very open fast race course w/ lots of false flat climbs, big headwinds, and then ripping fast descents. There was just a few technical singletrack sections per lap.  You could pedal as hard as you wanted and really 'punish' yourself.  The race was almost like the start of Ore To Shore....a big group of guys battling for the 2 lines on the 4 ft wide section of trail. After the first climb TJ Woodruff opened it up and it was a mano y mano battle! Even though we are great friends we battled until the end. Trav made one mistake with about 5 miles of lightning fast racing to go and I got the slightest gap on the following climb and pushed hard to extend that gap every chance possible.

I took my first win on the SF100 and was pleasantly surprised with how it rode....especially in the tight singletrack. It was felt definitely got the job done!  Andrea scored another podium in the Womens Open race finished 2nd and 5th overall.  A few more days and then off to California!