The Sea Otter Classic… It is the largest cycling event in the United States… if you have never heard of it, now you will. Sea Otter is a unique event because it is one of the very few events where all disciplines of biking come together and celebrate the riding industry and community. Everyone from the spandex wearing road racers to the kitted up downhillers come together from all over the country and the world for this event.
After traveling all day Thursday I finally showed up to Monterey, CA where I was able to stay with my amazing friend Ali and her family. I am so grateful for their support because I would not have been able to make it to this event without it. I met Ali Osgood last year at colligate nationals in Snowshoe WV, and she was one of the friendliest lady shedders I had ever met. 6 months later I came to Sea Otter and we actually got to spend a bit of time together, to realize we are basically twins from other twins. I was not the only one staying at Ali’s house her there was a whole crew of us… Joel and his girlfriend Lauren, and Sawyer all came down from Humboldt as well. Needless to say I got to meet, connect, and live with some awesome people over the weekend.
Onto the event…The track was mostly hard packed clay and fine sand. On top of the hard pack there was a layer of loose sand that varies in depth as you go down the track. In the berms and other low spots there were basically mini sand pits. Being from a massive conglomerate rock, otherwise known as the Keweenaw, riding in the sand is foreign to me. This made the track a bit of a challenge for me to get comfortable on. After 4 days of practice my confidence was lifted with my skills in the sand. I just had to push my speed near the edge of the breaking point of the sand but not a hair over… sounds easy right?
Back at the expo, I got to meet up with my biggest hero and dear friend Lindsey Vories. Lindsey has had a huge part in shaping and growing my love for mountain biking. I always loved being on my bike but she made me see it from another side. Not only can riding your bike put a smile on your face, it gives you empowerment and confidence in yourself as a human. Regardless to say seeing her is always awesome! I got to meet an impressive list of people in the industry and some of my long time hero’s such as Missy Giove. If you do not know her, she is a legend of bringing women into gravity mountain bike racing.
Sunday was race day and I was feeling nervous but with all the awesome people around for this event it made it subside. I was just so happy to be there to meet everyone and of course be on my bike in general… seeing as home got 8 more inches of snow the past weekend before I left. It helped the nerves subside because whether or not my run went well; I was having the time of my life.
This time I had the track mentally memorized. Gate. PEDAL. Right berm. Triple. Double. Double. Double. Sharp left berm. Small drop. Table. PEDAL. Rock garden. Table. PEDAL UPHILL. Left berm. Right berm. PEDAL. Big sandpit drop. High speed tuck section. PEDAL UPHILL. Right berm. Left berm. Right. Left. PEDAL. Cross the road. Step up. PEDAL. Double. Drop. Drop. PEDAL. Drop. Left berm. Right berm. PEDAL YOUR ASS OFF to clear the tables to the finish.
My run was going well, I was pedaling fast… holding speed, and then I noticed something… Ahead. On the high speed tuck section after the sand drop a girl a head of me crashes. Lying across the trail. Do I stop or do I keep going?? I have never had this happen. I noticed it was a friend of mine, and my heart wanted to stop, but my legs just kept going. I was caught off guard but tired not to let the situation get to me. She had someone there with her so I told myself she is getting help, and I probably would not have been much. I sprinted to the finish and crossed with my legs burning and lungs on fire. Breathing in dust and hot air can be rough for a Yooper. Then an official comes up and says I have to be shuttled right away back up to the start for a re-run. They would not count any of the runs that were affected by the crash. Its not very often you get a second chance at a downhill race but this time I was not sure if I wanted it.
I had given everything I had. Back up to the top I started my second run. My legs burned the whole way down the track but to my surprise at the end I was able to stand up and sprint to the finish. I ended up placing second in Women’s CAT 1 of the downhill, and having an unbelievable experience overall.
The 2016 season has started with full steam and I cannot wait to be on track again.