Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sea Otter!

Friday night I hitched a ride down to Leguna Seca for the Sea Otter Classic. Three hours later I showed up to bikes, trails, and camping as far as the eye could see. Oh, and the racetrack. I jumped on my bike and headed down to the expo. I was a bit late though so I missed most of it so I headed back up to where Jim was camped and got settled in.

The night was pretty nice. The guys, Jim and the other b-schoolers, got back from their ride and then we headed to Gino's for summa spicy meata balls!!!! The place was authentic, they even had A1 sauce.

That night I slept like a log, in the sense that log's sleep on the ground. I again forgot my sleeping pad and was left with only my Kmart sleeping bag for padding.


I woke up freezing around 6. The troops rallied and got ready for their race. Their race was at 730 and we headed down about 715. I jumped on Jim's mountain bike and rode down with them.

The timing of amateur bike races is more an art than a science. That being said, the race was delayed so we had another 45 minutes to warm up. We rode around on the track and headed up the hill. After the summit the track drops down into a corkscrew and you're up to 40 within seconds. I, being a MTB neophyte, took it easy while they blazed down it. I got halfway down it and looked up to see a metal barrier!!! The course was blocked off!

Jim locked up his brakes and headed straight through the plastic course markings. Ha!

We rolled around for another thirty minutes or so before the start.
I took some pics while riding of Jim and the gang. Then I saw the tandem MTBs coming through and got a bit excited. I tried to snap a pic but started heading downhill so I tapped the left brake. A tap was all it took...

Next thing I know it's man down. I flew straight over the bars. I get to my feet in front of the passing tandems. They ask if I'm okay which makes me feel better. I look down and my knuckles are all scrapped. There you have it. Funny how my last wreck was on a MTB at the UCSB races last fall. Maybe it's time I get one of my own!

After taking a few more pics I headed over to the medical tent so they could nurse my broke wing. I told them it was from some gnar gnar DH sludge wreckage. The medic confirmed my suspicions that a bone in my wrist did, in fact, hurt. He also said if I crash on it again I might need surgery as opposed to just a cast. I took a moment to prioritize and then jumped back on the bike and headed toward the expo. Here's what I found:

This Cinelli was pretty sweet. Plus, it has some interesting drops.
Super sweet Kuota. Funny, I like these wheels a lot more than the Zipp Flash Points, yet they're the same wheel. Good marketing. This was the first Max Lelli I had seen in person.
This one took the cake though. Although I like the beefier frame of the Kuota, since I'm such a big guy, this one really did it for me. Plus, the Lightweights and SRM. Oh and the lack of Look pedals also helped.

Oh! Garmin's here! Psyche!!! Turned out one of the team mechanics was racing. I went by the KMC booth and asked why their chain was better than my Ultegra. The woman on the right replied enthusiastically "Our chain use by world champion!" The sold me!

These ControlTech bars were pretty cool. They also had completely internal routing for the cables, which is nice!
These two win for coolest tandem.

This guy won for best kit.

After a while I headed back to camp to see if the guys were done with their race. Then we headed down for food and watched some slalom.

I figured hanging out in the sun all day and not drinking water would be a good pre-race. Around 2 I headed back to camp to nap and get ready for my race. Finally 445 rolled around and I headed down to the course. I took a few laps and got used to the climb and the descent.

At the start they decide to group all the Cat 4s together. I was psyched to race with the masters since they're usually smarter racers and much smoother. This helps to offset my distinctly rough and stupid method of racing. Plus, they're old! Ha!

The race begins. Start/finish is at the bottom of the climb so I head to the front and go hard. I get to the front near the summit so I don't have to go down the 40 mph corkscrew behind 20 guys. I ease off on the flats and sit in.

There are a number of attacks over the next 30-40 minutes but they're mostly on the flats and I let others chase. I usually end up falling back in the pack and then move near the front on the climb.

3 to go.
An attack goes on the climb and I go with it. Within seconds my left calf cramps, bad. I move out of the way and try to pedal. I'm losing ground and the pain is intense. Five or ten seconds go by and I get to pedaling again. By this point I'm falling back. The pack is splitting and I'm still losing ground.

Next thing I know I'm on my own on the flats. I put my arms down and try to bridge the gap. The SRAM support car passes me near the bottom of the climb and I get in its draft. I get a good two seconds of relief before the mechanic sees me grinning and speeds up. A girl in the car provides moral support so I make my best pain face.

By this point I can't see the peloton, my race is over. I do the next two laps alone and at some point am caught by the gruppetto and we all end up sprinting for 15th. Blah.

Lesson: It doesn't matter how few hydrogenated oils or how little sugar you eat if you don't drink enough water. Duh!

I said thanks to the mechanic for the draft and then Jim and I headed to the truck. I was sad to leave but knew I'd be back for years to come. We loaded all our stuff and headed to Half Moon Bay to crash at my parent's.

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